Rain in May makes plants go yeah

May is typically the beginning of our annual 5- or 6-month dry stretch. By mid-May, the rainfall odds have gone done significantly. If it does rain, it's generally nothing more than a token amount. That's why the past two days have been so unusual. Not only has it been raining for an extended period, albeit on and off, but we've had over an inch since yesterday morning. That's a new historic record for May 15. (You know it's special when the weather oracles on TV talk about a "rain event.")

I'm looking at this as an unexpected gift—one last hurrah before we need to get serious about watering. Beyond that, the garden simply looks great after all the dust has been washed off. Plants are squeaky clean, and colors pop, especially reds and greens.

Here are some random photos from this morning. I'm sure I'll look at them repeatedly over the course of the summer when it's hot outside and the colors have dulled from an ever thickening layer of dirt.

Hechtia 'Wildfire', an Andy Siekkinen hybrid between Hechtia texensis and Hechtia stenopetala. The color really is that insane!

A second Hechtia 'Wildfire' I just received. It has a lot more green. I'm hoping that with strong light it, too, will turn a brilliant red.

Another recent Hechtia addition, this one an unidentified species from Mexico

Ochagavia elegans in a rusty piece of chimney pipe, an homage to the danger garden

Hechtia fosteriana from Andy Siekkinen; it really is this color—no Photoshop trickery

Cryptanthus 'Absolute Zero'

Vignette just off the front porch; the rhipsalis on the right are cuttings from the danger garden (now fully rooted and growing)

Succulent mounds in front of the house; I'll have a more extensive post soon

Fouquieria mcdougalii
Crested Euphorbia ammak 'Variegata'

Crested Myrtillocactus geometrizans, or "crazy brain cactus," as I call it
Ferocactus emoryi

Ferocactus pilosus

Aloe marlothii

Aloe 'Hellskloof Bell', a Brian Kemble hybrid between Aloe distans and Aloe pearsonii

First-ever flowers on Aloe lavranosii × rivae

Dusty pink flowers of Aloe juncunda × Aloe hemingii

Aloe cameronii; the offsets on the right are completely red

Aloe dorotheae
×Mangave 'Thunderbird'

×Mangave 'Freckles and Speckles'

×Mangave 'Inkblot'

×Mangave 'Moonglow'

×Mangave 'Purple People Eater' (yes, that's its current color)

×Mangave 'Mission to Mars'; this one is more pink than the one below

×Mangave 'Mission to Mars' and two clones of Aloe dorotheae: the one I've had for years stays mostly green, and the one I brought back from Hortlandia is all red.

×Mangave 'Mission to Mars'

×Mangave 'Crazy Cowlick'

×Mangave 'Spotty Dotty' (and Helichrysum splendidum)

Agave potatorum 'Cameron Blue'

Agave bovicornuta

Agave cupreata

Agave gentryi 'Jaws'

Agave gentryi 'Jaws' and Yucca linearifolia

Gleaming bark on 'Sonoran Emerald' palo verde and freshly washed agaves and aloes

Verbascum bombyciferum 'Arctic Summer'

'Desert Museum' palo verde already in full bloom, with petals knocked off by wind and rain

Bamboo leaves in gutter

I'll have a more comprehensive post about the front yard soon. It looks nice right now because I did a thorough cleaning in preparation for a visit by the California Horticultural Society last Saturday.

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  1. Wow, those are some seriously strong colors, everything looks fabulous. All clean and shiny. I can't believe you've gotten so much more rain than we have. I think we're at about a third of an inch since Monday morning (previous rainfall was when you were here for Hortlandia!).

    1. Even crazier: They're forecasting ANOTHER inch between Saturday and Tuesday!!

  2. Incredible colours on your hectia collection. Drool worthy, actually! I have a Mangave "Mission to Mars' but it is nowhere near as colourful as yours. Mostly a light lavender. Hoping the colour will strengthen once it gets moved outside into full sun. Your garden looks like it was at its best for your tour.

    1. Mangave 'Mission to Mars' responds quickly to UV light. It'll color up in no time after you moved it outside. But be careful not to burn it--once it's in the full sun, I'd cover it with shade cloth/window screen for a week or two.

  3. Your garden is beautiful in the rain. The colors were definitely popping!

    1. For sure! Soon all the reds will be dull because of the dust.

  4. Everything looks so great and happy! I don't understand how an all-orange or all-red plant can stay alive. There needs to be some chlorophyll in there somewhere, doesn't there?

    1. From what I understand, the oranges and reds are a very thin layer of dye on top of the regular chlorophyll layer.

      Still, the colors are insane!

  5. I can't decide whether I'm more envious of your Mangave collection or your Hechtia collection. Plants in both genera are ridiculously unavailable here but then I know you've picked up many of yours during your travels. We got a little of that air-clearing and plant-cleaning rain down this way too, with more possible this weekend. NOAA is calling the weather system the Great Puny El Nino of 2018-19. I think it should be called utterly fabulous.

    1. Kris, I'm not surprised about hechtias not being widely available since apparently most people hate them (too lethal). But Hans Hansen's mangaves should have much better availabilty, esp. in Southern California where they'd grow beautifully. I'm hoping that will change soon!!!

  6. The garden looks so lush and happy with the rainfall. Are any of the mangaves you've pictured from the shipment from Walter's that you wrote about in Feb? Interesting to know if they are surviving and growing.

    1. Yes, some of the mangaves are from the February shipments, others from an earlier one. The only problem child has been ×Mangave 'Carnival' (it almost succumbed to rot, but I'm nursing it back to health).

  7. We got almost 2 inches here-and a little more at the higher elevations.It would be nice if tomorrows storm would hold off til Monday ! But, this is an opportunity to clean my house thoroughly which I've avoided since spring came around. You sure do have a nice collection of Hechtias!

  8. I love the potted plants along the top of the fence by the sidewalk/road..., this may sound like an odd question but do you ever worry about theft (people driving or walking by and just taking a pot?) I've had plants disappear off my porch in the past, so have been reluctant to put cool plants in pots in publicly viewable areas (and I'm not in a high crime are or anything, just a typical middle class suburb!)

  9. Thanks for sharing the tip about two different clones of Aloe dorotheae. I fear I have the green one so will begin a hunt for red.Your garden looks amazing.

  10. The hechtias are beautiful. I've admired them here and on dangergarden's blog tho have not seen any in my neck of the woods. I'll continue to keep my eyes open. We are just an 1-2hr's south of Davis and so got hit by all the rain as well... lost a wkend outside in the garden but nice to know the soil's moisture content got an uncharacteristic boost to help carry us through to Nov.


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