Wet stuff from the sky, and quick front yard update

Wet stuff from the sky? What could that possibly be?

While we’re not quite Arrakis, it’s been a long time since we’ve had this in Davis:


I had almost forgotten what it looks like, feels like, smells like (the smell is always my favorite element).


Alas, within five minutes the spectacle was gone. Ten minutes later, there was no trace it had ever happened.

Except for a few drops on this Agave applanata ‘Cream Spike’:


One side effect of this brief H2O-from-the-sky interlude was a short window of cloud cover—and the even lighting that comes with it. I continued to take random photos of the front yard until the sun came out 15 minutes later. But at least now I can give you a quick update of what things look like on September 21, 2016.


Agave attenuata ‘Boutin Blue’, frost-sensitive but doing OK on the front porch with a frost blanked on cold nights. Next to it: Aloidendron ramosissimus.


Succulent mounds where the front lawn used to be




Euphorbia mauritanica (see this post) and Bougainvillea ‘Bambino Baby Victoria’


Bougainvillea ‘Bambino Baby Victoria’


Succulent bed next to the front door


As this Agave cupreata has grown, its habit has become more open


Agave guadalajarana ‘Leon’. The bleached leaves on the outside are from when it was growing in a pot in too much shade. The new leaves look much better. I’m hoping by this time next year it will have lived up to its potential.


Agave guadalajarana ‘Leon’


Agave bovicornuta, the “big cousin” of Agave cupreata


Ferocactus emoryi


Agave applanata ‘Cream Spike’


Pedilanthus macrocarpus (with the cholla skeleton I brought home from Arizona last winter)


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


Peek into a rarely seen corner of the front yard. This small area is next to the house, around the corner from the front porch. It was meant for “tropicals” but because of watering restrictions it never had a chance to live up to its potential. However, this Canna musafolia is still going strong in spite of only getting watered once a week.


Recent purchases waiting to be planted


Recent purchases waiting to be planted


I’ve wanted a Hechtia texensis ever since I first saw this specimen at the UC Botanical Garden in Berkeley in 2013 (post here). For some reason I can’t quite fathom, this terrestrial bromeliad native to the Trans-Pecos area of western Texas is virtually impossible to find for purchase. I was thrilled when a few months ago Troy McGregor, the nursery manager at the Ruth Bancroft Garden, gifted me this pup from his own plant. Thank you, Troy!

In my next post I’ll have more photos of the front yard: the succulent bed along the driveway and the areas outside along the street.


  1. It still feels like Arrakis down this way, although I haven't seen any giant sandworms (yet). All your plants look happy and everything seems to be filled in quickly.

    1. Ha! I haven't seen any giant sandworms but we have ants and spiders galore :-).

  2. But wasn't it fun while it lasted, those brief five minutes?

    I was going to add, "No chance of frost, yet, is there?" until I looked at the weather map and saw frost advisories as far south as Ukiah. How can that be? Isn't tomorrow the first day of autumn?

    Nice to see your new plants flourishing.

    1. Frost??? Seriously? We set a new record for the hottest September 19th ever. Now it's a bit cooler, but on Monday it's supposed to 99 again (!!!).

  3. Great light for photos! I briefly looked at the ones I took your garden last month and they're pretty harsh, as you would expect. Oh well! BTW the succulent mounds in your former front lawn look so different in person via photos...I wish all of your readers could see them "in real life"...

    1. Loree, I know EXACTLY what you mean about the succulent mounds. They look so, well, two-dimensional in photos. Maybe I'll do a video.

  4. Those mounds are going to be incredible soon! I didn't say it before but I really like your choice of mulch color. Looks especially good with the reddish Ferrocactus spines. :)

    1. I'm still happy with the mulch color but I've found that all this rock, albeit smallish gravel, produces a lot of extra heat in the summer. Not a bad thing, necessarily, because a lot of cacti and agaves love the heat, but I need to do some plant adjustments in the fall (out with the old, in with the new).

  5. Your plants look good despite the cruel summer. Missing your lawn much?

    We've had some overcast here--enough to run out and garden a bit.

    1. I don't miss our lawn one bit. If I did, all I'd have to do is walk across the street--in any direction.

  6. Hechtia texensis! Top of my want list!![dies of envy] I have so much blog reading to catch up on, but had to say that your garden looks terrific - so many wonderful plants...! Had five minutes of rain here, too. Today, everyone's phone went off with, of all things, dust storm warnings :-/

    1. Luisa!!!!! I've missed you!!! I'm glad you're back.

      The first pup off my Hechtia texensis is yours.

  7. Lookin' good. Your 'Cream Spike' is absolute perfection. I've been having issues with 'Leon' too and had to lift him, near death, out of the gravel garden into a pot where he seems to be recovering but losing the lower leaves. Nearly killed my 'Boutin Blue' with too much sun -- yours is looking fab.

    1. Why is 'Leon' so fussy? Or maybe all Agave guadalajarana are?

      The 'Cream Spike' in the photo above had almost 20 pups when I bought it. After removing the pups and putting the mother plant in the ground, I haven't seen a single pup. Weird, eh?


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