Meanwhile, at home…

It seems I've been away from home more than usual lately. In late March we spent spring break on California's Central Coast. This was followed by a long weekend in Victoria, British Columbia where my older daughter will start school in the fall; a field trip to the Ruth Bancroft Garden  and a friend’s private succulent paradise in the East Bay hills; and finally, last Saturday, a visit to five gardens in the East Bay as part of the Garden Conservancy’s Open Day program (posts still to come).

In the meantime, our garden at home has been chugging along. Many plants are still in bloom, thanks to the mild weather. Things may change soon—the thermometer is supposed to climb into the 90s this weekend. Today we had a series of thunderstorms with towering clouds and menacing wind but not a drop of rain. If this keeps up, I’ll have to turn on the irrigation. Our drought it not over, no matter what some of the headlines claim. Ask any gardener in Southern California!

Today’s post is just a random collection of photos taken over the last few weeks. There’s a lot of good stuff, though, so be sure to page down all the way.


Beavertail cactus (Opuntia basilaris)


Considering how small a pot it is in, I’m blown away by the number of blossoms


This is magenta at its most brilliant


My claret cup cactus have been putting on quite a show as well


The one in the front of the bowl above is Echinocereus triglochidiatus


The one in the front of the bowl above is Echinocereus triglochidiatus


The tall one in the back of the bowl is Echinocereus triglochidiatus ‘White Sands’, a much taller clone


Echinocereus triglochidiatus ‘White Sands’


Closely related Echinocereus octacanthus in a separate pot nearby


Our small Meyer lemon is covered with flowers this year. Hopefully a few of them will translate into actual fruit. I like to used them for margaritas instead of limes.


Gazania ‘Sunbathers Tikal’


Gazania ‘Sunbathers Tikal’


Gazania ‘Sunbathers Otomi’


Tower of jewels triplet (Echium wildpretii)


Tower of jewels triplet (Echium wildpretii)


×Mangave ‘Macho Mocha’ sending up a flower spike, meaning it will soon die. Hopefully it will leave some offspring…


Black Lace elderberry (Sambucus nigra ‘Black Lace’), looking better than it ever has. Hard to imagine we planted this from a small 4-inch container years ago!


Black Lace elderberry (Sambucus nigra ‘Black Lace’)


Black Lace elderberry (Sambucus nigra ‘Black Lace’)


Black Lace elderberry (Sambucus nigra ‘Black Lace’) in the backyard


The Dymondia margaretae “lawn” is starting to fill in (click here for more details on this project)


Leucospermum ‘Goldie’, my one surviving leucospermum with its one surviving flower bud. It looks like it will open after all.


Cleistocactus strausii with two flowers


To me, these are among the strangest cactus flowers I’ve seen


Cleistocactus strausii


Fan aloe (Kumara plicatilis) with three flower spikes


Candelilla (Euphorbia antisyphilitica), native to Texas and Mexico


Euphorbia antisyphilitica is completely leafless but flowers freely, especially if irrigated. The flowers may be small, but I think they’re very pretty.


Gaillardia × grandiflora ‘Goblin’


My ocotillo (Fouquieria splendens) may be small, but it has a lot of new growth


Still one of my favorite agaves: Agave applanata ‘Cream Spike’


Succulent bed next to the driveway


This is the extension of this bed on our neighbor’s side


Our neighbor’s side is looking fantastic this year


Yes, Mexican feather grass (Nasella tenuissima) is considered invasive in certain parts of California but I love its airy look (and seedlings are very easy to pull out where they’re not wanted).


For some reason our neighbor ended up with all the red poppies this year (Eschscholzia californica ‘Red Chief’). The white-flowering plants behind the poppies are old-fashioned sweet alyssum (Lobularia maritima). They reseed year after year.


  1. That Tower of jewels triplet looks great! I'm still looking for my own Ocotillo - yours is very cute!

    1. I brought my ocotillo home from Arizona. I've seen them for sale in Southern California, but never here in Northern California.

  2. Despite your wandering, your garden is doing splendidly! The flowers on the Opuntia and look florescent. I read an article today about the development of Blackhawk in Danville, CA seeking relief to reactivate "proper" landscaping and abandon water restrictions given the perception of plentiful water - the short-sightedness of that viewpoint based on one season's rainfall (which didn't even benefit the entire state) is astounding.

    1. I get so aggravated when I hear about people wanting water restrictions to be lifted. Yes, we received more rain and snow this winter, but the bar was very low. And what we did get wasn't even up to historically normal levels. Astounding how many pundits claim we're done with the drought!

  3. So much beauty! Of course the cactus flowers are my fav...oh and the Echium...and the Mangave, and the fan Aloe...

  4. Looks good Gerhard...and a Leucospermum to boot! Maybe you'll have 2 flowers next year.
    Apparently all the weeds I pulled before I went down to Los Osos on Sunday grew back in the 4 days I was gone. Funny how that happens !

    1. We need to change the way we think about weeds. Imagine how happy we'd all be if weeds were what we're trying to grow, LOL.

  5. No problem with weeds here--it didn't rain enough. Again.

    Your Sambucus is beautiful, I've often wondered if it would do well here with no winter chill. There is a big one in the Huntington Shakespeare garden that seems to be happy. I love the foliage--black snowflakes!

    Do you have to protect your Aloe/Kumara plicatilis in winter?

  6. Beautiful! May I ask, did you trim your Black Lace Elderberry to give it its shape? (I'm wanting to buy one and trim it into a "tree" shape with a more-exposed trunk area). Lovely garden :)

    1. Yes, I do trim the elderberry every spring. I try to remove branches that grow through the center and generally create an attractive shape instead of random growth.


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