Front yard in late May 2017

It's been a while since I've done a more comprehensive post on the front yard. I'm very happy with how things are looking overall. In spite of a recent mini heat wave, temperatures have been on the mild side, prolonging the late-spring floral splendor. High time to give you a tour before summer catches up with us!

The succulent mounds that have replaced the front lawn look quite different depending on the time of day:



Afternoon view from the front porch:

The standout this past weekend was Echinopsis 'Johnson's Hybrid':

Its flowers lasted a whole two days!

The purple flowers in the center are from Verbena lilacena 'De la Mina'

The star in this mound is Agave vilmoriniana 'Stained Glass'

Agave vilmoriniana 'Stained Glass'

Yucca queretaroensis
Eriogonum nudum ‘Ella Nelson’s Yellow’

Just planted and still needing protection from the sun: Agave 'Desert Love', a Plant Delights introduction (natural hybrid between Agave ovatifolia, Agave parrasana and possibly Agave asperrima

Cowhorn agave (Agave bovicornuta) and Madgascar ocotillo (Alluaudia procera)

Agave parrasana 'Meat Claw' and Gazania 'Sunbathers Totonaca'

'Desert Museum' palo verde and Opuntia 'Baby Rita'

Opuntia cacanapa 'Ellisiana'

Euphorbia mauritanica

Bougainvillea 'Bambino Baby Victoria', originally presumed dead after the winter but making a comeback

Hardy tapioca (Manihot grahamii)...

...planted from a seedling, now a 15 ft. tree. I  love those leaves!

Recently planted Aloe elgonica swallowed up by California poppies and catmint

Seed pods on silver-leaf cassia (Cassia phyllodinea)

'Desert Museum' palo verde (Parkinsonia 'Desert Museum') and firecracker plant (Russelia equisetiformis)

'Desert Museum' palo verde (Parkinsonia 'Desert Museum') 

Flower stalk from red yucca (Hesperaloe parviflora) overhanging the sidewalk

Aloe excelsa amind a sea of lavendar and California fuschsia (Epilobium canum)

Mexican bush sage (Salvia leucantha), 'Southern Belle' sun drops (Calylophus drummondii 'Southern Belle')

Mexican bush sage (Salvia leucantha), 'Southern Belle' sun drops (Calylophus drummondii 'Southern Belle')

Baja fairy duster (Calliandra californica) and Aloe ferox

Baja fairy duster (Calliandra californica) and dwarf lavender cotton (Santolina chamaecyparissus 'Nana')

Baja fairy duster (Calliandra californica)

The yellow flowers are Hartweg's sun drops (Calylophus hartwegii); this species is much taller than the 'Southern Belle' sun drops you saw above

The apple green agave on the right is Agave mitis

Aloidendron 'Hercules'

BACK: Agave parrsana × colorata    FRONT: Agave parrasana

BACK: Agave parrasana   FRONT: Aloe broomii

Aloe broomii could easily be mistaken for an agave

Miscellaneous aloes and agaves; the orange-flowering shrub is bush marigold (Tagetes lemmonii 'Martin's Mutant')

Tagetes lemmonii 'Martin's Mutant' and Agave ovatifolia

Agave ovatifolia and cushion bush (Leucophyta brownii), in my book one of the coolest Australian plants

Look at the entire desert bed along the street; the tree is a palo verde hybrid called 'Sonoran Emerald'


  1. Your garden is looking so good Gerhard, with lots of inspiring vignettes there! Love the way a lot of the plants catch the light too, especially the Stained Glass!

    1. The idea was to create a series of vignettes that look good in and of themselves and hopefully tie together into something worthwhile.

      'Stained Glass' does glow in the early evening--my favorite time of day.

  2. Magnificent! So many gorgeous plants arranged masterfully. The foliage of hardy tapioca always tugs at my heart. My three foot specimen that has to spend the winter inside is throwing out new leaves. I can only imagine what a 15 foot tree would be like.

    1. In spite of its name, hardy tapioca isn't all that hardy. Mine loses all its leaves in the winter, and some branchlets along with, but it pushes new growth very quickly once it begins to warm up in the spring.

      I saw a variegated Manihot grahamii in Hawaii once. Now THAT was a thing of beauty.

  3. Fantastic, nice to see how things look filled in. I've got several of the same plants just starting out. I kind of wish I could fence in the front garden too!

    1. The fence around what used to be the front lawn caused quite stir in our neighborhood--plus a complaint to the city (quickly dismissed because our fence is not in violation of any ordinances). We're on a corner lot, and before, people (and their dogs) would walk across our lawn all the time. Our dog produces enough poop, we don't need other people's dogs leaving their goodies on our property, too!

  4. So then you're regretting getting rid of the lawn?

    Thanks for the extended tour, so many beauties. The front garden just gets better and better. The Agave vilmoriniana 'Stained Glass', the blooms on the Echinopsis...and on and on. Gorgeous!

    1. I sooooooo regret getting rid of the lawn. NOT!

      With the new mounds, I feel like I have a living laboratory right in my front yard. I love checking up on the plants every day.

  5. You have that Madagascar ocotillo planted in the ground?!

    1. No, it's in a pot. It used to have three stems but two died when I foolishly forgot to cover it in the winter. It is NOT hardy AT ALL.

  6. That last photo really sums up the incredible success you've had with your new plantings. And now I know I need to grab Aloe broomii when it next makes itself available.

    1. Thank you, Denise. I'm really happy this year with how everything looks.

      I'll keep my eye out for Aloe broomii, too. I might have gotten mine at the Ruth Bancroft Garden.

  7. Your front garden is looking exceptionally good, Gerhard! I'm very impressed by the Echinopsis with those huge, brilliant red flowers and, of course, 'Stained Glass', which I think is one of the most magnificent agaves around. I'm impressed with the Manihot too, a plant I've coveted since seeing it in Denise's garden at A Growing Obsession but I've no idea where I could put one without running eventually into a view issue with one or another of my neighbors. I may try duplicating your aloe-catmint combination, perhaps with Agave 'Jaws' filling the aloe's role - maybe, just maybe, that pairing would prevent the neighborhood cats from eating the catmint to the ground.

    1. That catmint has been in our garden longer than any other plant at this point. It gets a bit unruly by the end of summer, but I give it a good haircut and it comes right back.

      As for the manihot, maybe you can find a spot closer to the house where it won't block anybody's view?

  8. I can see why you are happy with this Gerhard, it looks fantastic !I don't remember seeing that Manihot when I got my tour, how could I have missed it ? --I have to think I could keep that alive here if you can out yonder in Davis.I planted 'Ella Nelson' this spring,but it's very small so I don't expect blooms til next year. Oh and that Agave v. 'Stained Glass' , I'd be out staring at it about 5 times a day.

    1. The Manihot grahamii is around the corner from the front porch, essentially under the Bradford pear. Yes, if I can keep one going in Davis, you'll have no problems in Napa.

      I planted that Eriogonum 'Ella Nelson's Yellow' last fall and it sent up a flower stalk in early spring--much earlier than E. grande var. rubescens.

  9. Guess you miss your lawn a whole lot, then? That Echinopsis is sublime, ditto for 'Stained Glass' and 'Desert Museum' and A. broomii and etc, etc.


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