Photographic proof: the garden does just fine on its own

The past month has been very busy. I spent 4½ days in Austin, TX for the 2018 Garden Bloggers Fling, but that hasn't been the only thing that has kept me from doing much in the garden. Work has been consuming a big chunk of my time, leaving only parts of the weekends for puttering around outside. As a result, I haven't been able to get nearly as much done as I had hoped earlier in the year. Unfortunately, that seems to have become the new normal for me—I'm sure many of you can relate.

One thing I have been doing even at the busiest times: taking photos to chronicle the goings-on in the garden. Flowers come and go—sometimes all too quickly—so a postpone-until-tomorrow approach usually means you miss out.

This post contains 70+ photos taken over the past month. Some of the flowers are nothing but a memory now, but at least I've captured them at their peak.

What these photos prove is this: No matter how much we like to think we're indispensable, our gardens do just fine without us.

Danebrog poppy (Papaver hybridum 'Danebrog') from Annie's Annuals

I bought two Oriental poppies from Annie's Annuals last December. 'Danebrog' has turned out to be even more stunning than in the photos I saw. Unfortunately, Oriental poppy flowers only last for a few days, and even though there can be as many as half a dozen per plant, the show is over all too quickly.

Danebrog poppy (Papaver hybridum 'Danebrog') from Annie's Annuals

Drama Queen poppy (Papaver hybridum 'Drama Queen') from Annie's Annuals
Drama Queen poppy (Papaver hybridum 'Drama Queen') from Annie's Annuals

Tulipa saxatilis, a species tulip from Crete

Tulipa saxatilis, a species tulip from Crete

Harlequin flowers (Sparaxis tricolor)

Grevillea 'Flora Mason'

Aechmea revurvata 'Big Mama'. It flowered shortly after I finally put it in the ground.

Aechmea recurvata var. benrathii

Veltheimia capensis seed capsules

Jerusalem sage (Phlomis fruticosa) in all its glory at the base of Bambusa oldhamii

Jerusalem sage (Phlomis fruticosa) after most of the petals have dropped

Centaurea gymnocarpa

Agave weberi 'Arizona Star', Aloe marlothii, and friends

Aloe marlothii and Arctotis 'Pumpkin Pie'

Paper hybridum 'Danebrog' again, but I actually want to focus on the aloe, Aloe 'Nick Deinhart', a hybrid between Aloe speciosa and Aloidendron barbarae. I have high hopes for what I hope will be a 10-12 ft. tall tree aloe.

Alyogyne 'Ruth Bancroft', a hybrid between Alyogyne huegelii and Alyogyne hakeifolia found at the Ruth Bancroft Garden

Beavertail cactus (Opuntia basilaris)

Banksia blechnifolia, new leaves (left) and flower (right)

Mimulus 'Fiesta Marigold'

I almost didn't buy this monkey flower at the UC Davis Arboretum plant sale last fall, but I'm very glad I did. It's been a constant bloomer.

My first success ever with Verbascum bombyciferum 'Arctic Summer' 

California poppies in front of Agave 'Crazy Horse',  reputed to be a hybrid between Agave cupreata and Agave asperrima

New mound in the front yard

Agave potatorum 'Cameron Blue'

Echium wildpretii (left), Russelia equisetiformis (right)

This tower of jewels isn't as tall as some I've had, but it doesn't matter. It's still a beauty.

And it promptly fell over under its own weight!

Russelia equisetiformis

Yucca 'Bright Star' and Heliophila longifolia, an annual from Annie's Annuals

LEFT: Another annual from Annie's, Ursinia anthemoides   RIGHT: Euphorbia 'White Swan'

LEFT: Black Lace elderberry (Sambucus nigra 'Black Lace')  RIGHT: Mexican bush sage (Salvia leucantha)

Black Lace elderberry (Sambucus nigra 'Black Lace')

Apple-green Agave gentryi 'Jaws' and Yucca linearifolia

Baja fairy duster (Calliandra californica)

Part of the street border

Agave parrasana × colorata and Felicia aethiopica ‘Tight and Tidy’ 

Agave parrasana

Aloe broomii, the most agave-looking aloe I know

Sideritis cypria with its odd green "flowers" (actually, cupped calyces which will have yellow flowers later)

Scallop-shell horehound (Marrubium supinum) from the mountains of Spain

Aloe ferox and friends

Aloidendron 'Hercules', now noticeably taller than the six-foot fence

Cushion bush (Leucophyta brownii), or as I call it, white tumbleweed

I like all of these, but favorite still is the steely blue Yucca baccata var. vespertina 'Hualampai Blue' in the middle (yeah, the Latin name is a mouthful). 'Hualampai Blue' was discovered and introduced by Sean Hogan/Cistus Nursery in Portland.

Desert Museum palo verde (Parkinsonia 'Desert Museum') doing what it does best 

It's laden with flowers, and the bees go crazy, especially the fat carpenter bees

Our palo blanco (Mariousousa willardiana) blooming for the first time!

The bees love the puffy flowers of this Mexican acacia 

Euphorbia grandicornis

Cleistocactus straussii with its odd flowers

The flowers of Kotschy's stonecress (Aethionema kotschyi) don't last long, but the seed heads are showy, too, especially in front of this Ferocactus gracilis

Aethionema kotschyi in front of Ferocactus gracilis

Texas horse crippler (the BEST cactus name ever) getting ready to flower for the first time

Texas horse crippler (Echinocactus texensis) is a small, flattish cactus that's often partially hidden so horses step on it and get hurt. At least that's the story.

Its flowers are perfection

Echinocactus texensis flower

Hechtia 'Silver Star' (Hechtia argentea × Hechtia marnier-lapostollei)

Eriogonum nudum ‘Ella Nelson’s Yellow’

I love the sulphur yellow flowers of this buckwheat!

Euphorbia tirucalli 'Sticks on Fire' and Agave bovicornuta

Improved Meyer lemon in front yard

White sage flowers (Salvia appiana)

LEFT: Hesperaloe 'Sandia Dawn'   RIGHT: Dyckia marnier-lapostollei hybrid

Aloe 'Green Pagoda Spiral', thought to be a hybrid involving Aloe polyphylla

Leucophyta brownii (left) and Agave 'Blue Glow' (right)

×Mangave 'Lavender Lady'

×Mangave 'Mission to Mars'

Aloe vaombe in the last rays of the setting sun

Front yard succulent mound

This tillandsia wall planter is a recent addition

Whew, that was a lot of photos for one post. I hope you have a better idea now of what has been going on in my garden in the last month or so. What have been the standouts in your own garden?

© Gerhard Bock, 2018. No part of the materials available through may be copied, photocopied, reproduced, translated or reduced to any electronic medium or machine-readable form, in whole or in part, without prior written consent of Gerhard Bock. Any other reproduction in any form without the permission of Gerhard Bock is prohibited. All materials contained on this site are protected by  United States and international copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written permission of Gerhard Bock. If you are reading this post on a website other than, please be advised that that site is using my content without my permission. Any unauthorized use will be reported.


  1. What a spring explosion! I remember seeing that alyogone hybrid at RBG years ago and trying to get an ID, so thanks for filling in that blank. Must find A. broomii at the sales this summer!

    1. The Ruth Bancroft alyogyne is a stunner. The flower color is difficult to photograph but it's a pale purplish blue. And the leaves are beautiful (always a bonus). I'll look for it for you; the RBG nursery is the only place that carries it, at least now and then.

      I highly recommend Aloe broomii. So symmetrical!

  2. So much wonderfulness, so beautifully combined and captured! Hard to pick out my favorites from the lavish smorgasbord, but one candidate is certainly the pale stonecrop seedheads fronting the fiery Ferocactus spines. And both shots of that yellow Eriogonum: wow. Wow.

    What are the small hot-red blooms that dangle into the Yucca linearifolia? That's a magical effect; is it limited to May, or do they blink on and off all summer?

    1. Thank you, Nell! That yellow buckwheat is one of my favorites. It's a smallish plant so it doesn't need a lot of space.

  3. Just realized that the answer to my first question is probably the fairy duster in the next photo; I was thrown off by the change in scale. Fantastic fringey-feathery effect, even when not in bloom.

    1. Yes, it's a Calliandra californica. It blooms year round, literally. Even in the dead of winter it has some flowers on it. It's a bit unruly but I just can't bring myself to cutting it back because it has so many flowers :-),

  4. You've got a real bloom-fest going on! I envy you the poppies, which stubbornly refuse to grow in my garden. I'm also intrigued my Grevillea 'Flora Mason' (even if I've no idea where I could put it). Your new mound with Agave 'Cameron Blue' looks fantastic!

    1. I've heard that about poppies before. They grow best in lean soil with little irrigation.

      I got 'Flora Mason' from Jo O'Connell. The leaves are beautiful year round.

  5. Gorgeous! It's amazing how gardens continue to show off regardless of what we're doing... At least you're capturing it!

    1. Thank you, Renee. Sometimes it seems that plants do better if left to their own devices.

  6. Excellent record Gerhard, with many stunning photos, I’ll be referring to it when I finally post my photos of your garden.

    1. You wouldn't believe how many IDs I had to look up myself. My brain is getting old and/or overloaded.

  7. So much variety, I love it, thanks for sharing!

    1. Thanks to many trips to Annie's, the RBG nursery, and the UC Davis Arboretum plant sales :-)

  8. Way too much for one post! Just glorious!

    I'm surprised at how well the Sambucus is doing for you. I thought they needed quite a bit of water? (They're native here...)

  9. After half-way, I gave up thinking I would find a favorite vignette! All good. Thanks for labeling each of all those photos, so I'll need to look this over again.

  10. WOW, so beautiful all around. Can you tell me the name of the agave in background of the picture of Eriogonum nudum ‘Ella Nelson’s Yellow’? It's such a pretty blue-green. Thanks as always for sharing your wonderful garden!

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  12. Love that Aloe vaombe. Mine is starting to look like that now that it's outside.
    Is the cactus blooming red in the opuntia photo an echinocereus? Would you know which one?
    Amazing pix (as always).


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