Our front yard in early August

The other morning I woke up to a high fog. This is common on the California coast, but virtually unheard of in Davis in the summer months. I grabbed the camera and took a bunch of photos of our front yard since the lighting was very soft and even, producing photos with more detail and less harsh shadows.

This is my monthly stock-taking of how things look at a specific point in time. This will help me down the line to determine which plants work and which don’t. Luckily, almost everything in our front yard is to my satisfaction at the moment.

As I’ve said before, if you don’t already take photos of your garden at regular intervals, you should! You’ll appreciate being able to track the progress of your plantings over the course of time.

Plantings outside the fence
The green “mass” in the center is Bambusa oldhamii
Here you can see Bambusa oldhamii towering over the other plants. I will have a separate post about this clumping timber bamboo soon. The plants visible just above the fence on the left are butterfly gingers (Hedychium coronarium).
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Bog sage (Salvia uliginosa) in front of Bambusa oldhamii. We have three or four specimens of bog sage, and this year they’ve finally taken off (it took about three years). As its name already suggests, it prefers regular irrigation although it’s able to survive with relatively little water. Our bog sage is 5 ft. tall this year. The sky-blue flowers are striking.
Grasses looking great all summer. The variegated grass in the back is Miscanthus sinensis ‘Rigoletto’, the one in the front is Pennisetum orientale ‘Karley Rose.’
The black-eyed susans (Rudbeckia fulgida) have been blooming non-stop, adding a great pop of color amidst the grasses.
Pennisetum orientale ‘Karley Rose’ with Hot Lips sage (Salvia microphylla 'Hot Lips') in the upper right (taking a break from blooming right now)
Even though this Grosso lavender (Lavandula x intermedia ‘Grosso’) is done blooming for the moment, it still provides a lot of visual interest—and smells fantastic. The Jerusalem sage (Phlomis fruticosa) on the right is just starting to bloom.
Miscanthus sinensis ‘Dixieland.’ Unlike ‘Rigoletto’ seen in the photos above, ‘Dixieland’ has much wider blades.
Desert Sunrise agastache (Agastache rupestris x cana ‘Desert Sunrise’) on the left, bloomed-out Grosso lavender (Lavandula x intermedia ‘Grosso’) in the back, and black-eyed susan (Rudbeckia fulgida) in the front. The large clump next to the black-eyed susans is a firepoker (Kniphofia uvaria).
Partial view of the succulent bed next to the front door, plus assorted potted plants on the edge of the covered porch. The large green urn in the middle holds a Rhodocoma capensis, a restio from South Africa (click here to read an earlier post about restios).
The corner to the right of the covered porch: lion’s tail (Leonotis leonurus), sago palm (Cycas revoluta), Asian Lemon bamboo (Bambusa eutuldoides ‘Viridividatta’) in the ground.

110805_front_inside_eutuldoides 110805_front_inside_eutuldoides_culm

Asian Lemon bamboo (Bambusa eutuldoides ‘Viridividatta’). Two recent culms are now 8 ft. tall, two new ones just popping out of the ground. The culm color is fantastic. This specimen has been in the ground less than a year and it’s too early to say how it will perform over the longer term, but it made it through the winter just fine. It’s still very difficult to find in Northern California but it has become popular in Florida.
Sago palm (Cycas revoluta) on the left, lion’s tail (Leonotis leonurus) on the right
Succulent bed. The plant in the foreground (left) is a ponytail palm (Beaucarnea recurvata). I can’t wait for its caudex to get big like this one (actually, our specimen are three plants, i.e. three caudices, clumped together).

Front (left to right): Canna indica, golden lotus banana (Musella lasiocarpa)
Back (left to right): Bambusa oldhamii, Bambusa chungii ‘Barbellata’ and Bambusa multiplex ‘Alphonse Karr’


Bambusa chungii ‘Barbellata’, aka Baby Blue bamboo


Front: golden lotus banana (Musella lasiocarpa), dwarf fountain grass (Pennisetum alopecuroides 'Hameln')
Top center: variegated Eureka lemon (Citrus limon 'Eureka Variegated Pink’)

Wider view of the same corner. The cannas (Canna indica sp.) are amazing. They freeze to the ground every year and come back stronger in the spring. I thinned them earlier in the year and will need to do that again this year. Lots of rhizomes to give away!

Left: Miscanthus sinensis 'Super Stripe'
Center back: Northern sea oats (Chasmanthium latifolium)
Center: white-flowered Liatris spicata and Rudbeckia fulgida.
Front: Echinacea x ‘Fragrant Angel’, California gray rush (Juncus patens)


  1. The yard is really looking great! Are you going to be disappointed when the bamboos start blocking views from the upper windows?

    I think that Musella lasiocarpa is one I need to try next year. Very nice foliage! Does it grow quickly its first year like Musa and Ensete?

  2. I love the combination.... very nice and pleasant to look at.

  3. Love your garden Gerhard, it looks fantastic! I bet you get compliments from peep passing by your front yard :) I agree about regularly taking photos, it's good to look back at them every so often to take note of changes and progress.

  4. All, thank you for your nice words. It's very satisfying to see your hard work pay off, as you all know.

    Alan, Musella lasiocarpa seems to grow a bit slowly for me but it doesn't need quite as much water either. With more water and fertilizer, it might grow at a similar rate as musas or ensetes.

    Bangchik and Kakdah, welcome to my blog! I hope you'll visit again soon!

    Mark and Gaz, since we live on a corner lot, we regularly have people stop by and look at our plantings. One of our goals was to inspire people to do something with their own front yard--other than grow grass, that is. Most people don't really use their front lawns so why not save water and beautify your property by planting something with flowers or interesting foliage, or even vegetables!


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