Random snapshots from our garden, late July 2019

This post is a series of random photos taken in our garden at different times over the past few weeks. There's no real theme other than plants: some in flower, but all of them pretty even without.

This is what you see as you walk from the front door (behind us) to the driveway (over on the right):

I prefer to call it my “collection” of plants, but I won't blame you if you think it's hoarding about to veer off the rails. Just remember: My mantra is “if more is good, then more more is even more good.”

This is one of my favorite hechtias, Hechtia fosteriana.

Look what it's doing now:

What I thought were flowers refusing to open are actually ripening seed capsules. Why my plant is producing seed capsules is a bit of a mystery, since hechtia flowers are either male or female and you need both to get seeds. Most likely there won't be any viable seeds. Like most bromeliads (and agaves), hechtias are monocarpic so this is the beginning of the end for my Hechtia fosteriana. Hopefully it'll give me a pup or two before it dies.

In contrast, aloes are polycarpic, meaning they don't die after flowering. That's a good thing, especially in the case of Aloe 'Hellskloof Bells', a hybrid between Aloe pearsonii and Aloe distans (now Aloe perfoliata var. distans). This cross was made by Brian Kemble, the curator of the Ruth Bancroft Garden, in 1991. I have four 'Hellskloof Bells', and this is the first one that's ever bloomed:

I think the flowers are pretty spectacular...

...especially when viewed from the top:

More miscellaneous flowers:

Red buckwheat (Eriogonum grande var. rubescens)

Red buckwheat (Eriogonum grande var. rubescens) and ×Mangave 'Purple People Eater' in the late-afternoon light

I'm irrationally excited about this globe thistle (Echinops ritro var. ruthenicus), probably because I've had a hard time with this genus over the years. The flower heads will turn blue in the next few weeks.

Our lone remaining 'Desert Museum' palo verde started flowering in April, took a breather in June, and now is back with another major flush. This tree is the biggest bee magnet on our street.

As I mentioned earlier, flowers are nice, but I'll take interesting foliage any day because that's what you see most of the time.

Dyckia 'Silver Superstar' and Ferocactus glaucescens

Hechtia guatemalensis (allegedly)

Hechtia argentea

Undescribed Hechtia species from Brian Kemble

Hechtia lanata × myriantha

Bromelia pinguin

It's an enthusiastic offsetter

Look how this pup (and the new babies at the bottom) are dangling over the side of the container. I suppose the stolon will just keep going, making more pups on its way to nowhere-in-particular.

This year, our sago palm (Cycas revoluta) had its biggest flush ever

Agave mitis var. mitis is almost done blooming

A new offset is emerging from the center, a rather unusual behavior in agaves (only a few species do it that way)

Quick look at the area where our 'Sonoran Emerald' palo verde used to be (it fell over in May):

Not bad, considering this area bakes in the heat now that the tree is gone

We've tried several purple-leaved smokebush varieties over the years, but they all faded to a dingy green by mid-summer. That's why I was excited when Proven Winners introduced a dwarf variety called 'Winecraft Black'. It promised not only a much more compact size (4-6 feet) but also a deep purple color in the summer. See for yourself, but I think we have a winner! The purple leaves look so good in front of Grevillea 'Kings Fire'.

I wasn't going to include more flower pictures but, hey, let's enjoy them while they last. 

Angel-wing begonia (no clue which variety)

I even squeezed myself under a flowering branch for a selfie!

On that note, enjoy the weekend!

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  1. I've had the same unfavorable experience with Echinops, but your success inspires me to try again.

    “if more is good, then more more is even more good.”, lol spoken by a true collector !

    1. I have another echinops (in the backyard) that's about to bloom as well. I wonder if they're picky about location? Or maybe it's a matter of luck finding the right cultivar? They're thistles, for crying out loud, they should grow anywhere!?!

  2. You've accumulated quite the Hechtia collection! Everything looks great. I'm going to keep my eyes peeled for that Aloe 'Hellskloof Bells' - it's a beauty.

    1. Hechtias are hard to find so I buy one whenever I see one :-)

  3. Fun! The view from your front door is looking very desert. What an interesting pot the alleged Hechtia guatemalensis has for a home. What's the story on that?

    Cool your 'Hellskloof Bells' has bloomed! That is a great flower. Mine has grown but nothing else.

    Beautiful Smokebush--it even tempts me, a non-smokebush fan. Your 'Kingsfire' is a beauty too. I must have gotten plants from a bad batch, mine continues to malinger. Tempted to yank it.

    1. The tentacle pot for the Hechtia guatemalensis is from Diana Moulds: https://www.tentaclearts.com. It has a "reef" texture.

      I have four 'Hellkloof Bells'. My oldest and biggest has never bloomed. This one is in more shade. I wonder if that's the reason?

      Grevillea 'Kings Fire': My first one died. I think you're right about bad batches. That's what happened with Acacia 'Cousin Itt'. I tried three times before I finally struck gold.

  4. Your garden is looking great! The pairing of the Hechtia and the tentacle pot is inspired.

  5. How old is your Hechtia fosteriana? It’s such a beauty and would be hard to lose. Oh and that Bromelia pinguin! What a crazy plant. The offset you sent me is doing great, despite the fact it’s still in the stock tank (holding tank) where I stuck it after opening the box. It’s got plenty of room for the roots to run though.

  6. Your garden is so damn beautiful. Can't keep my eyes off your hechtias. Also, I have snake plants in my room, and I was told that if my dog swallows the plant, it can be harmful. Can you confirm it?

    Anyway, keep up the good work with your garden. Cheers

    1. Thank you, Roger! As for your sansevieria, I honestly do know if they're dangerous. Personally, I've never heard of that before.


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