Weekend Wrapup (WeWu) for 9/9/18: from billy balls to rusty saw blades

The weekend is almost over. The only good thing about it: It's time for another Weekend Wrapup (WeWu).

The calendar is relentlessly moving towards fall, but the weather here in Davis seems to be blissfully ignorant. It's 95°F right now on Sunday afternoon at 4pm! I'm looking forward to change of scenery, and temperature, this coming weekend when I'll be in Portland, Oregon.

But for now, let's dive right in. Hot weather, hot plants.

Billy balls (Craspedia globosa) is my personal "it" plant for summer 2018. The first one, planted in the spring, did so well that I've added three more. All of them are in the succulent mounds in the front yard. I'm keeping them well watered since they're still getting established but the heat doesn't seem the faze them.

×Mangave 'Mission to Mars' has turned out of to be a stellar performer, almost filling this Corten planter in less than a year. I bought it as a 4-inch plant at the first UC Davis Arboretum plant sale in September 2017.

Leucadendron 'Safari Sunset', planted outside the front yard fence, is sporting vibrant new growth

A few weeks ago I mentioned that I'd bought two sprinkler hoses. I've only used them a few times, but they seem to do the trick. The holes are spaced 12 inches apart, and the spray they emit is very fine. This means that I need to run them for a good 45 minutes to give the plants a decent watering.

Cactus flowers are one of the bright spots of our hot (and dull) summers. This is our twisted barrel cactus (Ferocactus herrerae).

Ferocactus herrerae

Speaking of flowers: A bunch of Argentine rain lilies (Zephyranthes candida) decided to flower. There's no rhyme or reason to when they bloom; they get the same amount of water every 10 days so it's not like flowering is triggered by moisture. But it's great to see so many flowers at the same time. I planted a bag of 50 bulbs about 10 years ago, and they've multiplied into several hundred individual plants since then.

In the bad news category, our 'Sonoran Emerald' palo verde lost a limb last weekend. I guess it simply got too heavy from all the new growth. Fortunately, there was no damage, other than to the tree. The timing was good, too, because the monthly yard pickup was on Labor Day so we could simply leave the branch where it had fallen.

Bad news, part 2: This Angel Wing senecio has thrown in the towel. It was protected from direct sun and received a decent amount of moisture. I think the heat was more than it could bear. So much for what is one of the nursery industry's "it" plants of 2018.

I replaced the Angel Wing senecio with Aloe greenii

It doesn't look like much now (it's still a small offset), but based on Brian's experience, it grows and flowers well in a significant amount of shade.

Another plant swap: Bye bye, Euphorbia antisyphilitica. It was just too ungainly. Welcome, Agave geminiflora 'Leaping Lizards'. It's a new cultivar with subtle variegation, introduced this year by Monterey Bay Nursery.
Most of my attention has been focused on the backyard in recent weeks. This is one corner I've been overhauling. The ponytail palm (Beaucarnea recurvata), Agave ovatifolia 'Vanzie' and Agave geminiflora were there. The aloes are new additions.

Left to right: Aloe helenae, Aloe dawei, Aloe 'Jenny Lind' (center), 2x Aloe 'Verity Nice' and Aloe deltoideodonta var. fallax (front).

Yesterday I picked up an Aloe mawii from a new succulent friend in Richmond:

Aloe mawii, a single-stemmed aloe from Madagascar that grows to about 6 ft. (I really should have swept the flagstone before taking photos.)

It turns out my new aloe buddy lives less than 10 minutes from Annie's Annuals. Even thought I'd just been there a week before, I couldn't let an opportunity like that go to waste.

I always find something at Annie's Annuals...

...including two coleus I'm trying in my Ensete ventricosum 'Maurelii' planter

Of course I couldn't resist the $1 deal on these "mystery aloes." Three leaped into my cart. They look like Aloe ferox or marlothii or a hybrid. It's hard to tell when they're this small.

A new agave has moved in: Agave salmiana var. ferox 'Mediopicta' from San Marcos Growers. It'll go in the bed next to the front door when I begin to overhaul it in the spring.

A delivery from Tropiflora Nursery in Florida plants showed up in the mail

Danger lurking within

I managed to unpack it within losing skin or blood: Hechtia 'Wildfire', an Andy Siekkinen hybrid (Hechtia texensis × Hechtia stenopetala)

Most of the other plants in the boxed were wrapped in newspaper

The biggest one was Tillandsia oerstediana, one of the largest tillandsia species. Unlike its "airplant" siblings, it grows best in a pot.

The other plants in the box, all of them terrestrial bromeliads

The most exotic by far: ×Nidusincoraea 'Selby', an intergeneric hybrid between two Brazilian bromeliad genera: Nidularium and Sincoraea. This plant is strictly for experimentation. I have no idea how it handles our lack of humidity and our winter temperatures.

After my Aloe mawii pickup in Richmond and my quick side trip to Annie's Annuals, I visited Troy McGregor in Martinez to see his newly redone backyard. You'll have to wait for a post later in the week, but here's a vignette:

Troy has recently taken up welding, and this is one of his first creations. The best use of old saw blades I've ever seen!

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  1. I'm enjoying your WEWUs - they're jam-packed! I love 'Mission from Mars' and the effectiveness of displaying it in a container has me wondering about my decision to plant all of mine in the ground. Re Senecio candicans, one of mine has been badly scarred by something, perhaps snail or slugs - it's as if it's been skinned of its gray cover. Where are the raccoons when I need them on slug patrol?!

    1. Just give your 'Mission from Mars' time. It'll be great in the ground, too, because it's one of the larger mangaves.

  2. Wowsa, lots being wrapped up here! Score on all the new plants, but that Agave salmiana var. ferox 'Mediopicta' is breathtaking! Also you're in for quite the weather shock, our weather flipped fast. From sunny and 90F to our coolest week since early June... a high of only 73 on Friday and maybe some sprinkles...

    1. Agave salmiana var. ferox 'Mediopicta' is sooo hard to find. San Marcos Growers seems to be the only source but they don't have a lot of inventory either.

  3. Another momentous WeWu! I passed on 4-inch pots of craspedia recently because they've been weak growers for me. No doubt drainage was an issue since they're thriving on those mounds of yours. Lots to learn from you as usual, Gerhard! My mangaves have been slow growers in the ground, where conditions are pretty lean.

    1. Denise, mangaves seem to thrive on extra water in the summer. Water them some more and give them some fish emulsion, they'll show their gratitude very quickly!

  4. Is that a Datura in your Annie's haul?

    I'm surprised that entire Palo Verde tree doesn't topple over -- it's growing almost horizontally! Except for the wound you'd never know a branch was missing.

    1. Yep, Datura wrightii. My first datura in a long time. I have a reasonably hidden spot when a Lupinos albifrons recently died (let's not talk about THAT). I thought a datura would be much tougher. Keeping my finger crossed.

      We need to be more radical about pruning out palo verdes. That was the biggest mistake we made. We were much too timid.

  5. Zephyranthes blooming here, too. I think they bloom mostly in autumn in SoCal.

    My 'Angels Wings' Senecio did the same thing, compete collapse, after looking great almost all summer. Oh, well. On to something else, like that giant Tilly, which is awesome.

    1. I'm sorry to hear about your 'Angel Wings' dying, too. Seeing how they come from the Falkland Islands where the highest temperature _ever_ recorded is 79°F (I looked it up), it's no surprise it didn't like the high 90s...

  6. Sorry about your limb loss! Love Troy's first creation and can't wait to see more of his garden. Lots of great new plants for you. Hooray! Agave salmiana var. ferox 'Mediopicta' is sure a gorgeous thing! Happy Portland visit!

  7. Sorry about your tree, glad it was relatively unscathed. I love seeing how plants are wrapped-up for shipping. I've seen so many different paper, packing peanut, plastic cup combinations. Love all your new plants and the Mangave 'Mission to Mars'...what a beauty.

    1. Packing plants is an art! As you said, so many different ways to do it.

  8. Yikes, Billy Balls? It’s Billy Buttons! Mine is near a drip line, and it’s extremely happy from what I can discern.
    Beers at Troy’s was fun, looking forward to what you got in photos.

    1. Biily balls, that's what I call them. Seems to be a common name, judging from the # of Google hit.

    2. Markham called it Billy Buttons...lol.

    3. Billy Buttons, Billy Buttons ! LOL 😂


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