Where did the sun go? Time to take pictures!

Here in the Sacramento Valley, there is one constant in the summer (and that means from May until late September): The sun shines every day. You can count the number of overcast days on one hand. I’m not exaggerating!

Yesterday was one of those rare days. While the sun did come out a few times, there were long periods when we had more or less solid cloud cover. Candy Suter of Sweetstuff’s Sassy Succulents, who lives 45 minutes east of me, even reported rain. We had no such luck, but I availed myself of this special opportunity and took a bunch of photos, both in the back and the front yard. Overcast skies equal even light, which makes for much better photography than the harsh contrast of a sunny day.

There is no theme to this post, but you get to see some areas of the yard I haven’t written about in quite a while. Sit back with a cup or glass of your favorite beverage because there are a lot of photos in this post.


Woodland garden in front of the dining room window. The big bamboo is Borinda fungosa.


Japanese forest grass (Hakonechloa macra) and Hosta ‘Climax’, one of the two hostas that remain from my Big Hosta Experiment of five years ago (ironically, this one was a freebie!)


Agave ovatifolia ‘Vanzie’ (read this post for more)


One of the bamboo stock tanks. On the left: Indocalamus tessellatus. On the right: Phyllostachys aureosulcata 'Spectabilis', from a small division I received from Alan Lorence (It’s Not Work, It’s Gardening)


Another bamboo doing fairly well, thanks to regular watering with gray water from the kitchen sink: walking stick bamboo (Chimonobambusa tumidissinoda)


Farfugium japonicum ‘Argenteum’ and Japanese forest grass (Hakonechloa macra ‘Albostriata’)


Same plus a few agaves: Agave mitis ‘Nova’ (large blue one towards the right), Agave hiemiflora (smaller light green one on the right), Agave guiengola ‘Crème Brûlée’ (variegated one towards the top, center right)


Cordyline australis


Four potted succulents in front of the Bambusa multiplex ‘Alphonse Karr’ in the back yard


One of the offsets from the Agave lophantha ‘Quadricolor’ I removed a few weeks ago in front of Sasa tsuboiana, a small groundcover bamboo


Another offset from Agave lophantha ‘Quadricolor’, parked temporarily in an unused raised vegetable bed next to the Bambusa multiplex ‘Alphonse Karr’ in the back yard


Aeonium ‘Cyclops’


Agave attenuata ‘Ray of Light’: given up for dead after the early December 2013 cold spell, it has made a magic comeback


Japanese maple (Acer palmatum) against the bay trees (Laurus nobilis)


This summer we installed two shade sails instead of the customary patio umbrella. It makes the area seem more spacious and yet more intimate at the same time.


My hammock seen through a potted black bamboo (Phyllostachys nigra)


Bamboo wind chime. I can’t get enough of the sound.


Abutilon ‘Souvenir de Bonn’


Angel wing begonias (Begonia ‘Angel Wing’) in bloom


They have been flowering for months now. What a nice surprise!


Agave petrophila, bought on Monday from Greg Starr at his presentation to the Sacramento Cactus & Succulent Society. The pot was made by Mark Muradian, a very talented potter (and cactus aficionado) from Fresno County.


Small Agave albopilosa planted in a hypertufa pot I made in the spring


Agave montana just planted in the back yard. The purple petals are from the chaste tree.

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LEFT: Fishhook barrel (Ferocactus wislizenii)  RIGHT: Silver torch cactus (Cleistocactus straussii)


Golden barrel cactus (Echinocactus grusonii) with passionflower vine (Passiflora × ‘Blue Eyed Susan’)


Purple cone flowers (Echinacea purpurea ‘Kim’s Knee High’)


Passionflower vine (Passiflora × ‘Blue Eyed Susan’) near the front door


I’m happy to see a couple of flower buds on the passionflower vine!


Asian lemon bamboo (Bambusa eutuldoides 'Viridividatta') and sago palm (Cycas revoluta)


Fan aloe (Aloe plicatilis)


Leucadendron ‘Safari Sunset’ with colorful new growth


Mounded succulent bed next to the front door


Agave desmettiana ‘Variegata’


Mangave 'Bloodspot'


We’ll have a bumper crop of Bearss limes this year!


All three Dioon edule ‘Palma Sola’ are flushing at the moment


LEFT: Agave ovatifolia ‘Frosty Blue’  RIGHT: Aloe cryptopoda


Agave ovatifolia ‘Frosty Blue’


Agave titanota ‘FO-076’ aka ‘Felipe Otero’ aka ‘Sierra Mixteca’


Agave ‘Snowglow’. Look to the left and right of it: the Yucca filamentosa ‘Bright Edge’ I removed here in October 2013 is trying to make a comeback!


Colorful tapestry outside the front yard fence


Dwarf Russian sage (Perovskia atriplicifolia 'Little Spire') and Echinacea purpurea ‘Magnus’


Black-eyed susan (Rudbeckia hirta)

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LEFT: My favorite here is Epilobium canum 'Carmen's Grey', a selection of California fuchsia with particularly gray leaves   RIGHT: White lavender, can’t remember which cultivar


‘Southern Belle’ sundrop (Calylophus drummondii ‘Southern Belle’)


‘Sonoran Emerald’ palo verde (Parkinsonia x ‘Sonoran Emerald’)


Aloe ‘Hercules’


Globe artichokes no more


Agave ocahui, bought on Monday from Greg Starr at his presentation to the Sacramento Cactus & Succulent Society


Hardy tapioca (Manihot grahamii), ecstatic to finally have free root run. The fern is Blechnum gibbum ‘Silver Lady’, which melts into a puddle each winter.


Hardy tapioca leaf (Manihot grahamii). I love the shape!


Mixed perennials inside the front yard fence


‘Newleaze Coral’ globemallow (Sphaeralcea 'Newleaze Coral') flopped over onto the lawn


Echinacea ‘Hot Papaya’


Echinacea ‘Coconut Lime’


Pink rain lilies (Zephyranthes grandiflora)


Feverfew (Tanacetum parthenium) blooming its fool head off. The plant on the left is white sage (Salvia appiana).


The feverfew started out as a small seedling from Alan Lorence (It’s Not Work, It’s Gardening) and has exploded since I planted it in the ground


  1. Isn't it nice when the lighting in the garden becomes even yet bright? Thanks for the lovely tour of your fab garden with a few vistas I've never seen before. The sails are a great idea, much better than the parasol indeed and it made it feel more airy and fresh too somehow. The agave snow glow, for a moment the two sets of variegated on each side of it were its pups.

    1. We first bought one shade sail but it looked a bit too lost all by itself so we got another. Much better. The little lights add a nice glow in the evening. Yes, they're a tad kitschy but they make me feel like I'm at a patio party.

  2. Nice look around -- some views that you almost never post. Love the sails! I have to figure out how to do that over my deck...

  3. Ah, I had wondered if that manihot I'd given you survived and had meant to offer another the last time we got together, but I see it's doing well. I'm amused by how you give the impression that your lot is enormous by the way you angle your camera, when in fact it's not very big. I love the planter with the angular orange rocks. I was so inspired by a previous post using these rocks, that the last time I drove thru the Shasta area, I stopped at a rest stop and collected several handfuls of similar rock to use in school planters we'll be offering for sale. Thanks for the idea! Sue

    1. Sue, I meant to show you the manihot the last time you were here. It's flowering for the first time, but I'll remove the flowers before they set seed.

      No, our lot isn't big (8100 sq. ft.) but a wide-angle lens adds a dimension of spaciousness :-)

  4. Wow, I love all the cool plants you can grow in your climate! Your shade sails are stunning! It's funny, here we consider using these to protect succulents from the winter rain. Thanks for the peek at some of the areas we don't often get to see!

    1. >>Wow, I love all the cool plants you can grow in your climate! <<

      I think the same thing when I look at photos of YOUR garden, LOL!

  5. I'm surprised how many flowers you have in your garden Gerhard, since (to my mind) you rarely focus on them I just assumed there weren't many. Oh and the idea of sunny day after sunny day sounds like heaven to me. (grass is always greener) Does your Salvia apiana always look so perfect? I was excited to finally buy one at Annie's a couple of years ago but was underwhelmed so I did not.

    1. The area outside the 4 ft. front yard fence does contain a lot of flowering perennials. There used to be more, but some perennials are short lived.

      As for sunny vs. overcast: I always wish for cloudy days, but I know what you mean about the grass being greener elsewhere.

      Yes, that Salvia apiana always looks good. It flowered for the first time this year. I should have photographed it. The flower stalk was at least 6 ft tall but flopped over so I cut it off. I love the looks of the plant much more than the smell. Too pungent!


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