Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Summer vignettes from the UC Davis Arboretum

Sunday morning was perfection: deep blue sky, sunny, with temperatures in the low 70s. In other words, it was the kind of day that would make summer my favorite season if it were like that all the time.

Given a choice between working in the garden and--well--not, I opted for the second option and took our houseguest from Australia to the UC Davis Arboretum. While the Arboretum is more like a public park than a classic botanic garden (it's open 24/7 and there's no admission fee), I find something photo-worthy on virtually every visit.

The photos below are completely random, but they will you give a good idea of why I love this place.

"See No Evil Hear No Evil" Egghead by Robert Arneson in the Mrak Hall Roundabout

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Cactus flowers brighten summer doldrums

I complained about the heat in my last post. It bothers us humans, but the cacti in our garden seemed to be unfazed by it. In fact, the abundant sunshines makes them happy, and when they're happy, they reward us with flowers. Which, in turn, makes us happy. So everybody is happy right now.

Cleistocactus strausii

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

The heat is on

I had something else planned for this post, but I simply have to talk about the proverbial elephant in the room: THE HEAT. We're used to hot summers here in Davis, but this recent heat waves is both early for the season and brutal. Yesterday (Monday, June 19), Sacramento hit 107°F (42°C), a record for that day. Some forecasts call for 110°F (43°C) on Thursday, not far from the hottest temperature ever recorded in Sacramento: 114°F (46°C) on July 17, 1925. We're a few degrees cooler in Davis, but not enough to really matter.

What makes things worse is that the nights are sweltering as well. Typically, we cool off in the evening thanks to the Delta Breeze, a wind coming from the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta and bringing cooler air from the Pacific Ocean. Lately, though, the Delta Breeze has been a no show.

I gave my potted plants a good watering on Saturday and am keeping my fingers crossed they'll make it through this heat wave without damage. It's too early to tell.

One thing is particularly ironic: Just 10 days ago, on Sunday, June 11, the day I visited the Ruth Bancroft Garden in Walnut Creek, we had a rare summer rainstorm that brought us temperatures 20°F below normal and a ½ inch of rain. I took a bunch of photos and want to share them with you today in hopes they'll make you feel cooler, too.

Agave cupreata

Monday, June 19, 2017

Linda's Sacramento backyard succulent garden

The Sacramento Cactus and Succulent Society (SCSS) has started a garden tour program this year that encourages members to open their gardens so others can see what kinds of plants they collect and how they display them or incorporate them into their landscaping.

A couple of weeks ago, we visited the garden of SCSS Vice-President Mariel Dennis. Yesterday, member Linda Roye opened her garden in Sacramento. I was afraid the heat wave we're currently in would keep people away, but there was a steady stream of visitors while I was there.

Linda's front yard is mostly California natives, but her backyard is all about succulents.As you can see below, it's not a large space but Linda has filled it with a wide variety of succulents: agaves, aloes, cacti, crassulas, echeverias, sedums, and many more. Racks and tables on the covered patio hold collections of potted haworthias, gasterias and other shade-loving plants.

Two Western red bud (Cercis occidentalis) provide some shade

Let's take a closer look!

Friday, June 16, 2017

2017 Sculpture in the Garden at the Ruth Bancroft Garden

Every summer, the Ruth Bancroft Garden in Walnut Creek, CA transforms itself into an outdoor art gallery showcasing pieces from regional artists. The tradition began 23 years ago, and it's still going strong. This year's Sculpture in the Garden kicks off on Saturday, June 17, with an Opening Night Sunset Social. Unfortunately, tickets are sold out. But you'll have until Sunday, August 13, 2017 to check out the art yourself--and maybe pick out a favorite for your own garden. 

When I visited the RBG last Sunday, June 11, quite a few pieces had already been placed; more have been added since then. Nothing was labeled yet when I was there and there was no price list. I tried to ID the artists whose pieces I photographed but I was only partially successful. I will amend the captions below as more information (including prices) becomes available.

As with any art show, I liked some pieces more than others, but I have the utmost respect for the creative minds who brought their visions to life. To me, creating art is the most mysterious and magical thing humans are capable of.

Artist: Wes Horn

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Ruth Bancroft Garden June 2017 plant porn

Please excuse me for using the words "plant porn" yet again. But posts with the "p" word in the title are human catnip, and like all bloggers I want to get as much traffic as possible. I hope you can find in your heart to forgive me for being so shameless.

As I said yesterday, this week is Ruth Bancroft Garden week here on Succulents and More. In my previous post I showed you the major changes happening right now as preparations are underway for a new Visitor and Education Center. Today's post is "just" a visual scrapbook of images I took walking around the garden. My next post will show you some of the many (over 100!) sculptures on display right now for the RBG's annual Sculpture in the Garden event.

Golden Coulter bush (Hymenolepis parviflora) and aloes

My partner in crime Brian and I walked through the garden in a rather haphazard fashion. By the time we were done, we probably covered each trail twice so the photos below are not in any logical order. But based on my own experience, that's how most of us tend to experience gardens anyway.

Grab a favorite beverage and sit back because this is a long post. The images take center stage; my observations are limited to captions.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Big changes at the Ruth Bancroft Garden

Ruth Bancroft, the humble Walnut Creek succulent lover whose vision would find recognition all over the world, will turn 109 this September. Big changes are in store for her eponymous garden, since 1994 a nonprofit affiliated with the Garden Conservancy. After decades of staff being cooped up in a trailer and visitors having to use portable toilets, ground will soon be broken for a multi-million dollar Visitor and Education Center that will offer office space as well as classroom and reception facilities--and real toilets.

Preparations have already begun at the garden. One of the Ruth Bancroft Garden's signature beds, planted with car-sized Agave franzosinii, is no more.

Or rather, it has been radically reconfigured to make room for the new building and the adjacent patio.

Friday, June 9, 2017

Revisiting Sue’s succulent garden (June 2017)

Among the most viewed posts on Succulents and More are the two on my friend Sue's front yard makeover. In the spring of 2015, Sue and her husband replaced their front lawn with a thoughtful design consisting of two distinct areas: a public space anchored by a golden rain tree (Koelreuteria elegans) and featuring star jasmine, fortnight lily and variegated euonymus, and a private courtyard with a large L-shaped succulent bed and a pergola.

This is what the finished project looked like in May 2015. And this is what the succulent beds looked like a year later, in April 2016.

Curious to find out what it looks like now, in early June 2017? Scroll down to see!

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Update on Jacaranda 'Bonsai Blue'

Two years ago, in June 2015, I bought a dwarf jacaranda sold by Monrovia under the name 'Bonsai Blue' and I planted it in large concrete container on our back patio. Click here to read my original post. A lot of people have asked me how that jacaranda has fared. Time for an update!

'Bonsai Blue' is very much alive. In fact, it's blooming for the first time ever! I'm very excited because I wasn't sure it was ever going to flower, seeing how it receives only a few hours of direct sun. In full sun, I imagine it would be covered with flowers, just like a regular full-size Jacaranda mimosifolia.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Mariel's garden: succulents, gargoyles, pottery, and a bottle tree!

This year the Sacramento Cactus and Succulent Society (SCSS) has started a garden tour program where members are encouraged to open their garden for other members. Yesterday I had the pleasure of visiting the garden of SCSS vice president Mariel Dennis. 

As you will see below, Mariel's garden is totally unique. Yes, there are succulents, but there are roses, gladiolas, butterfly bushes, geraniums, hydrangeas, fig trees, herbs, and a plethora of other plants as well. Then there's the garden art: glass ornaments, talavera pieces, head planters, and a whole lot more. And keeping watch over the front entryway are gargoyles that are unapologetically creepy.

At night, the backyard is lit up by a variety of light sources--from solar lanterns with glass blocks placed in front of them for added effect to rope lights laid on top of a gravel walkway. Mariel said that people have told her the backyard looks like an alien landing strip at night. But she loves it, and that's all that matters. I couldn't agree more. It may seem like a simple and obvious statement, but all too many gardeners are focused on what others might think of their garden. That should be completely secondary. We should create the kind of garden that makes us happy. If others like it, too--that's great. If not--well, too bad for them.