New plants, new projects, new blooms

While our winters are never severe here in Davis (hardiness zone 9b), January is usually a month of planning, not of doing. This year it's a little different, for a couple of reasons: While over the past few weeks the weather has been gray and/or foggy, without much sun, temperatures are still in the high 50s or low 60s during the day—good for planting. In addition, I brought home a bunch of plants from my Southern California trip and I've bought some more locally. All of them had to go in the ground because the last thing I want is to have more pots to keep hydrated.

For once, I didn't dilly-dally. Everything I bought in the last month has been planted. Below is proof .(The only exception are the Tillandsia bergeri offsets I got from Kay in Orange County; they'll be used in a separate project.)

As you look at these photos, please bear in mind that many areas are still rough and need finishing touches, including top dressing (gravel or bark mulch, depending on my mood and budget). But I'm glad I got going so the new plants have time to get established before the summer heat arrives. While that may seem like a long way off, it'll be here before we know it.

Let's start in the front yard. In the planting strip along the sidewalk, outside the 4-ft. fence, I removed several overgrown plants, including a cape rush (Chondropetalum tectorum), New Zealand wind grass (Stipa arundinacea), and autumn sage (Salvia greggii). I like this much better:

  1. Aloe cameronii (new)
  2. Felicia echinata (new)
  3. Sideritis oroteneriffae (new)
  4. Crassula arborescens 'Curly Green'  (from a 6-pack) (new)
  5. Aloe 'Tangerine' (new)
  6. Agave potatorum 'Cameron Blue' (new)
  7. Grevillea 'King's Fire' (new)
  8. Lomandra longifolia 'Breeze' (new)
  9. Felicia aethiopica ‘Tight and Tidy’ (new)
  10. Sedum reflexum 'Blue Spruce' (from a 6-pack) (new)
  11. Carex flaca 'Blue Zinger' (new)
  12. Acacia cognata 'Cousin Itt' (new)

Agave potatorum 'Cameron Blue'

Crassula arborescens 'Curly Green'

The collapsed leaves belong to a giant sea squill (Drimia maritima); they usually last into spring, but this year they're dying off early. The sea squill isn't new, but the Aloe 'Blue Elf' babies next to the streetlight are.

Aloe 'Blue Elf' (top left), Sedum reflexum 'Blue Spruce', Agave parrasana 'Globe'

Agave parrasana 'Globe' (all the way on the left), Aloe excelsa, Grevillea plurijuga ssp. superba (behind Aloe excelsa), Yucca 'Bright Star', Aloe marlothii

These are all new: Yucca 'Bright Star', Pachyphytum compactum
All new as well: Euphorbia 'White Swan', Graptoveria 'Fred Ives', Pachyphytum compactum

  1. Lavandula 'Meerlo' (new)
  2. Helichrysum thianschanicum 'Icicles' (new)
  3. Agave striata var. echinoides
  4. Calliandra californica
  5. Yucca linearifolia
  6. Agave gentryi 'Jaws'

  1. Aloe 'Erik the Red'
  2. Santolina virens (new)
  3. Aloe vanbalenii (new)
  4. Agave schidigera 'Durango Delight'
  5. Tagetes lemonii × lucida 'Gold Metal' (new)
  6. Yucca baccata var. vespertina 'Hualapei Blue'
  7. Aloe 'Moonglow'

  1. Aloe 'Erik the Red'
  2. Santolina virens (new)
  3. Aloe vanbalenii (new)
  4. Agave schidigera 'Durango Delight'

  1. Agave schidigera 'Durango Delight'
  2. Yucca baccata var. vespertina 'Hualapei Blue'
  3. Tagetes lemonii × lucida 'Gold Metal' (new)

  1. Leucadendron 'Jester' (new)
  2. Lupinus albifrons (new)
  3. Lavandula 'Meerlo'
  4. Grevillea lanigera 'Coastal Gem'

To the right of the front door:
  1. Phylica pubescens (new)
  2. Euphorbia grandicornis
  3. Leucadendron argenteum
  4. Euphorbia mauritanica
  5. Yucca linearifolia

Phylica pubescens, the 2nd one I'm trying. My first one didn't survive last summer because I didn't water it enough.

In front of the bamboo:
  1. Agave 'Sun Glow'
  2. Cordyline banksii 'Electric Flash' (new)
  3. Protea cynaroides 'Mini King'
  4. Encephalartos lehmannii
  5. Bambusa chungii 'Barbellata'
  6. Aloe reitzii
  7. Agave bovicornuta
  8. Agave parrasana 'Meat Claw'
  9. Dasylirion serratifolium
  10. Lessingia filaginifolia (new)
  11. Agave victoria-reginae

Close-up view of Cordyline 'Electric Flash'

In the backyard, Dicksonia antartica (new) under Acacia baileyana 'Purpurea'

To wrap up this post, a quick teaser of a couple of projects in progress. 

The first one is in the backyard, right near the spot where I just planted the Tasmanian tree fern (Dicksonia antartica) in the photo above.

The spot on the right, in front of the bamboo fence, was previously occupied by an old compost tumbler. Now it will be home to a new.... Well, I'm afraid I can't tell you quite yet. But I've started digging a hole.

The second project is in the front yard. See the Dymondia margaretae? I removed it yesterday and replanted it in the backyard. This strip will look very different the next time I show you a photo.

And finally a few blooms, just because they're there for our enjoyment:

Grevillea rosmarinifolia 'Crimson Villea', planted in November

Eremophila hygrophana 'Blue Bells', planted in October

Eremophila glabra 'Grey Horizon', planted in November

What's new in your garden? Working on any winter projects?


  1. Some great plants Gerhard. I'm not surprised to see you also tend to pack things a bit close. Just two plants that caught my attention, Acacia cognate 'Cousin Itt' is 5 feet across after 3 years here in Berkeley, and the Phylica pubescens too. Fun to get all that into the ground, isn't it!

    1. David, in the past I planted for the eventual size of a plant but I got tired of seeing so much bare dirt. Now I pack them in, knowing full well I may have to move some plants eventually. I've killed both Phylica pubescens and Acacia 'Cousin Itt' before, so as much as I'd love to see them make it to five years, I can't count on it.

  2. I typed out a long comment and realized it was almost identical to David's! The 'Cousin Itt' looks so perfect there, at least right now!

    1. I've seen so many awesome-looking 'Cousin Itt' lately that I simply had to try again. Even if it doesn't survive over the long term, I'm enjoying it now. (I've heard from several sources now that the previous generation of 'Cousin Itt' was weak because growers rushed them out to nurseries before they were ready.)

  3. My four Phylica pubescens plants are also doing well here in Oakland — a beautiful waist-high screen that is backlit by the setting sun each day. My concern right now is my potted Jacaranda Blue Boy, bought last June. it’s loosing its leaves and also some smaller branches. We have had some wind, so I’m hoping that that’s the cause. Up until Thanksgiving, it was lush with all its growth and leaves. I’m also redoing a large section of my front yard succulent bed, adding new large rocks and many new plants, from RBG, Annie’s and also Poot’s.

    1. Oakland has the right climate for Phylica pubescens. It doesn't seem to like heat very much.

      My Jacaranda 'Bonsai Blue' looked great until December when a series of windstorms knocked a lot of its leaves off. It's normal. They'll grow back as soon as it gets warmer.

  4. Wow! You have been busy! Everything looks great. I love that new-to-me 'Cameron Blue' agave. I'll be interested in seeing how your Phylica does. One I had in a large pot did well for 6+ months before going into decline. I've killed 2 in the ground but nonetheless recently planted a small specimen I'd been babying in a pot in the ground. The jury is out...

    1. To my surprise, I found that Agave 'Cameron Blue' at Home Depot. I've never seen one that size anywhere else.

      I bought the Phylica knowing it will most likely not make it. But it's such a pretty shrub, I simply have to try again.

  5. You've been busy!It looks great so far I must say. My (3rd) Phylica is in a pot under the canopy of a peppermint scented pelargonium. It lives ! Not certain what summer will bring.So will there be a Sherman-esque succulent tapestry in place of the removed Dymondia ? I can envision it !

    1. So far so good on the Phylica then. Keeping my fingers crossed. The more challenging a plant is, the more we seem to want it :-).

      As for a Sherman-esque succulent tapestry, that's a nice idea. It hadn't even occurred to me. But I'm afraid the echeverias wouldn't like the summer sun too much.

  6. The Crassula arborescens 'Curly Green' is a form of jade plant, you're probably going to have to cover it to keep it alive during the winter. Sue

    1. I don't cover my three Crassula ovata although they're somewhat sheltered. I figured the 'Curly Green' I got (a 6-pack for $4) will either make it or they won't :-).

  7. Nice work! Love that you’re a cramscaper too.

  8. You have been using your garden-time well and wisely. It will be fascinating to see how your garden develops this year.

    1. I feel like I should have some grand masterplan in my head. Well, I don't. I wing it, and I don't think that will ever change. That leaves the door wide open for pleasant surprises :-)

  9. I’m curious about where. You planted the Grey Horizon, I still haven’t planted mine... Judging by how many leaves laying around the Pachyphytum compactum plants, you found out like me how easily the leaves break off! Nearly all of them will make new plants though! Nice bit of work you’ve don there, looks great!

    1. I have two Eremophila glabra 'Grey Horizon'. One is outside the front yard fence near the Agave weberi 'Arizona Star'; that's the one that's blooming. The other is inside the fence near a Calliandra 'Desert Star'. In the winter, the sun is so low that this area doesn't get much sun so it's not blooming yet.

      Pachyphytum compactum: No kidding! The leaves break off if you look at them too hard. Even if only every other leaf turns into a plant I'll plenty new ones.

  10. So many gorgeous plants! What a dream to be able to plant in January. Okay, we could but the soggy ground might swallow us up if we tried:)


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