Meanwhile, on the homefront…

From my recent posts, sparse as they have been, you might have gotten the impression that I haven’t been home much. Actually, I have been, but work has been unexpectedly busy, exacerbated by the forced absence of my business partner who has had to take PTO to be with an ailing parent overseas.

Gardening has been sporadic, but I have been taking photos. I’ve even started on a couple of projects in the backyard, relegated to also-ran status in recent years. All that is about to change, as you will see in a separate post later this week.

For now, let’s take a look at the front yard, specifically what used to be the front lawn. This is what you see as you approach from the driveway (literally steps behind the spot from which I took this photo). I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of this view. It’s everything I had hoped for.


A few close-ups that caught my eye:




Red buckwheat (Eriogonum grande var. rubescens) may be from the Channel Islands off the Southern California coast, but it looks like it’ll do just fine in our front yard. What you see are the dried inflorescences. The basal rosettes (several now) are still green and actively growing.


Cactus are best when backlit

Changes are afoot in the front yard as well. The Mexican sage (Salvia mexicana ‘Limelight’) you see on the right in the photo below is just too big and too sprawling. I’ve been wanting to take it out for weeks now, but the flowers are still attracting hummingbirds. So I’ll wait a few more weeks…


However, I did pull the trigger on the yellow-blooming Salvia madrensis, another sage from south of the border (on the left in the photo above). Being borderline hardy, it would get knocked backed every winter, leaving a gaping hole for six months. In its place is a variegated Leucadendron ‘Jester’ now. It’s small, and not exactly a speed demon, but it will be perfect here over the long run.


Another big change in the front yard is this Protea cynaroides ‘Mini King’:


I planted it next to my beloved Agave bovicornuta, and in front of an Encephalartos lehmannii, in a spot previously occupied by a potted Madagascar ocotillo (Alluaudia procera):


At 2-3 by 2-3 feet, Protea cynaroides ‘Mini King’ is a true dwarf, but with full-sized flowers. Mine has two flowers in their early stages. Click here to see fully developed flowers.


Protea cynaroides ‘Mini King’, developing flower

Another new resident of this corner of the front yard is Echium amoenum ‘Red Feathers’. This recently introduced echium from the Caucasus Mountains features attractive red flower spikes. I can’t wait for it to bloom next year.


This is where the potted Madagascar ocotillo (Alluaudia procera) is now:


I’ve also began to give the denizens of my front-yard pot ghetto permanent homes. This is one of them, Agave parrasana ‘Fireball’. It’s been on the brink of death several times, but I think I’ve nursed it back enough for it to survive in the ground. Larger specimens are very attractive.


This is what’s still left in the pot ghetto. I have homes for 90% of them. All I need now is some quality gardening time.


Arctostaphylos ‘Ruth Bancroft’, Grevillea ‘Flora Mason’, Banksia grandis ‘Compact Coastal Form’, Phylica pubescens, Arctostaphylos ‘Pacific Mist’, Agave ‘Blue Glow’, two tree aloe seedlings I’m treating as if they are Aloidendron ‘Hercules’


Phylica pubescens, Banksia grandis ‘Compact Coastal Form’


Banksia grandis ‘Compact Coastal Form’, to go in the backyard


Phylica pubescens, to replace the Salvia mexicana ‘Limelight’


Arctostaphylos ‘Ruth Bancroft’


Grevillea ‘Flora Mason’, one of eight flowers forming

Next post: photo from outside the front yard fence


  1. A mini rival to the Davis Arboretum you are creating. I am desirous of the Echium amoenum. Where did you get it? the link to Plant Select is 404.

    1. What a nice thing to say, Jane! Really, all I'm doing is planting things I like.

      I got the Echium amoenum from the UC Davis Arboretum plant sale. It is indeed from Plant Select. Does this link work for you?

  2. Everything is looking great! With the recent rain my nutsedge is coming back. Grrrrr, time to start pulling.

    1. Nutgrass is soooo hard to get rid of. Kinda like mealybugs. You simply have to keep at it.

  3. It's all looking so wonderful! Sorry you don't have more free time to get out there and garden. Even those of us without full-time demanding jobs can only eek out 10-15 minutes now and then. There is so much I want to do, if only there was the time to do it...

    1. The older I get, the more I realize how precious time is. Yes, money buys you things, but it doesn't buy you time.

      Sorry for the odd philosophical aside :-).

  4. You've got a great collection going, Gerhard. Channeling the same stream of consciousness as Jane, I'd say you're on your way to your own mini-Huntington Garden. I'm glad you got your own Phylica. I saw them planted out in the garden at Seaside last month and they looked great.

    1. It's definitely an idiosyncratic collection. Like any garden should be.

      I'm keeping my fingers crossed for my Phylica. I'm hoping by planting it now it will get a chance to establish itself before the summer heat.

  5. Oooh, a six-month gap in the plantings? Spoiled you are! ;)
    Really looking fantastic. Is Agave parrasana particularly fussy? Mine is almost dead, while all of my other potted agaves are just fine or even great. Of course mine could have been mislabeled...

    1. I think Agave parrasana likes to be in the ground more than in a pot. Many agaves are like that although others are happy as a clam in containers.

  6. Without the hardiness issues, I still go through a similar salvia seesaw, with my objection being size issues. Currently I don't have any of the big fall-blooming salvias, and I miss them! Can't wait to see what's cooking in the back garden. The front garden is a splendid accomplishment!

    1. Yes, it's definitely a size issues with these salvias. If only somebody bred a dwarf that's half the size...

      The backyard project involves hiring a tree service to remove a Bradford pear that I absolutely loathe (and has fire blight).

  7. Looks good, everything growing and thriving. Love the Banksia foliage. I ended up buying another Phylica at UC SC. It is such a cool, cool plant.

    1. Banksias are so cool. If only they imported more of the dwarf forms available in Australia.

      Good luck with your Phylica pubescens. Keeping my fingers crossed for yours and for mine.

  8. It all looks great Gerhard ! I took out S. Limelight many years ago; I love it but it gets so huge and blooms so late it just didn't make sense for me. You have a mighty fine selection in your pot ghetto;you must be chomping at the it to get it all planted---a few days of sun coming up !

    1. Yes, chomping at the bit is a good description. I need to get moving on the backyard projects before Christmas hits me over the head!


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