March 2015 snapshot of the front yard

Tuesday was uncharacteristically overcast. We haven’t had have days like that very often lately—it’s been nothing but sun, sun, sun. I was happy and took the opportunity to photograph the front yard. These pictures will serve as reference points for later comparison, especially since in essence I’ve redone the area you see in the first set of photos. I didn’t set out to do a makeover but one thing led to another, and this is what I ended up with. It seems I’m destined to have a garden that’s forever stuck in the “immature” phase because I constantly keep tinkering…


I’m enjoying this Leucadendron ‘Safari Sunset’ in all its glory. Soon I’ll be pruning it to encourage bushier growth.


Contrasting foliage: Grevillea lanigera ‘Mt Taborintha’ (left), Leucadendron ‘Safari Sunset’ (middle), Lavandula × intermedia (right)


Wider look at this area. Yes, I know the saguaro is tacky, but what can I say? I like it.


Left: Aloe marlothii, back center: Sonchus congestus, right: Leucospermum ‘Scarlet Ribbon’


Leucospermum ‘Scarlet Ribbon’ (more info here)


× Mangave ‘Macho Mocha’ (more info here)


Large cape rush (Chondropetalum elephantinum), looking much better after I removed the plants that had been crowding it


Clump of Echium wildpretii. A gift from a friend, it’s basically a cluster of seedlings I didn’t bother to separate. It’ll be a sight to see when the flower spikes emerge in May!


Sea squill (Drimia maritima) added in November 2013. It hasn’t flowered yet but it’s large enough to—maybe this fall.


The “artichoke monster” is back (click here for a previous post)


Superb beardtongue (Penstemon superbus) and variegated Mexican bush sage (Salvia leucantha ‘Variegata’)


The variegation is striking where it exists but this selection tends to revert quite readily to all green. For this reason, its future in this spot is uncertain.

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Penstemon superbus again, on the left with Agave gentryii ‘Jaws’ and on the right with Aloe cameronii


Agave ovatifolia, twice as large as it was at this time last year, and Penstemon grandiflorus


Penstemon grandiflorus, with flowers that are more pink than they should be


The flowers in the foreground…


…are from a “dryland” seed mix and provide a much appreciated pop of color


Aloidendron ‘Hercules’. I’m curious to see if it will reach the top of the fence this year…


Bush marigold (Tagetes lemmonii ‘Martins Mutant’). This came from Cistus Nursery and was planted just five months ago, but it has already doubled in size. I like the aromatic foliage and the simple but cheery flowers (yes, I do like orange flowers).


Hesperaloe parviflora pushing a flower stalk (early this year)

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My favorite aloe in the garden right now: Aloe ‘Erik the Red’, a Leo Thamm hybrid from Sunbird Aloes


Agave parryi var. truncata, a gift from Candy ‘Sweetstuff’s Sassy Succulents’ Suter


My largest Aloe capitata (left) and my largest Yucca rostrata (right)


Aloe capitata will flower soon


Agave sobria × Manfreda variegata from Greg Starr (check out how small it was when I bought it in December 2013)


Agave parrasana. See the snail? I’ve flicked so many snails off my agaves already this spring. They don’t seem to do any damage, just hang out.


Agave ‘Sun Glow’


Agave ovatifolia with one of the first California poppies of the season (Eschscholzia californica ‘White Linen’)


The newest bed in the front yard (click here to read more about this project)


Agave desmettiana ‘Variegata’ leaning ever more precariously (click here for more)


I just know that one morning I’ll find it flat on the ground, flattening everything in its path

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At least the flowers are now beginning to open up


Ponytail palm trio (Beaucarnea recurvata)


I’ve been progressively removing more and more foliage to expose the caudices. I hope someday it will look like this specimen at the Ruth Bancroft Garden.

After an overcast Tuesday, we actually got some rain on Wednesday morning. Not much—0.18” according to the paper—but we’re so starved for precipitation that we gladly take even such a small amount. At least I won’t have to water for another week!


  1. Looking at your photos made me think of what your garden was like a few years ago and how you gradually changed your planting to more drought tolerant ones. The garden is looking wonderful and you have so many amazing plants! Hope you get some more rain soon :)

    1. Based on what the experts are predicting, this climate change is here to stay. I'm relieved to know what I will be prepared--or at least better prepared than some.

  2. Looks great Gerhard ! I completely understand the tinkering thing--I've been madly ripping out since last fall and I have large swathes of emptiness--waiting for new plants of course. Digging Dog is going to love me this year.

    1. In the olden days I would hang on to plants for dear life, now I know when to let go. Plus, we need to do our share to keep nurseries in business, don't we?

  3. I also have a hard time keeping myself from tinkering with a new - or renovated - garden bed. After all the work that goes into it, I want immediate gratification and small plants don't often deliver there. Your renovation looks great and you have lots of interest. I must get myself an Aloe capitata!

    1. Kris, in your climate you can grow just about any aloe, can't you? A. capitata is great. Heck, so many aloes are great. If I only I had a few acres, I would have a dedicated aloe garden, and an agave garden, an a garden with Australian and South African shrubs, etc.

  4. Looks terrific! I saw 'Safari Sunset' yesterday at the Huntington plant sale, and was hugely tempted. Maybe next time. Agave 'Sun Glow' is a stunner -- very hardy?

    1. The Huntington plant sale must have been incredible. Did you see Hoover Boo's post? She mentioned the 'Safari Sunset' too.

      Agave 'Sun Glow' should have the same cold-hardiness as 'Blue Glow' since it's a sport. So around 20°F or so.

    2. 20°F? Hmmm [rubs hands together]... I saw one at the Cactus Center, but I'm sure it and its pot must cost... well, probably more than I spent at the Huntington sale :~/ Hoover Boo's post was GORGEOUS. I have to make another visit to the HDG while some of the aloes are still in bloom.

  5. Wowsa, it's all looking so good. Amazing how much has changed since we were there last September.

    1. I wasn't even planning it, it just happened. And I like it that way.


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