Garden sparkles after unexpected rain

Our summers are long, warm/hot, and  dry—emphasis on the latter. We have a textbook Mediterranean climate so we typically don't get any rain between May and October. According to the UC Davis Weather & Climate site, the last time it had rained was on May 27 (a whopping 0.07").

Imagine my surprise and excitement when yesterday we not only woke up to cloudy skies but soon smelled petrichor—that incomparable scent of rain on dry asphalt and parched soil. No, it didn't last long or amounted to much (0.06"), but it was an unexpected gift and therefore precious.

I was thrilled for myself, but equally so for our plants. Beyond a much needed drink, they also needed a good washing off after months of dust. As the “rain” was letting up, I went outside and took pictures to document this unexpected boon.

×Mangave ‘Purple People Eater’

×Mangave ‘Mission to Mars’

Planting along sidewalk

×Mangave ‘Mayan Queen’ and Aloe ‘Tangerine’
×Mangave ‘Mayan Queen’ and Aloe ‘Tangerine’

×Mangave ‘Mayan Queen’

×Mangave ‘Desert Dragon’

×Mangave ‘Femme Fatale’

×Mangave ‘Silver Fox’

×Mangave from Greg Starr (Agave sobria × unspecified Manfreda)

×Mangave ‘Snow Leopard’

×Hansara ‘Jumping Jacks’, a trigeneric hybrid between Agave, Manfreda, and Polianthes (tuberose) created by plant wizard Hans Hansen of Walters Gardens

Agave ‘Ripple Effect’ (variegated sport of 'Mr Ripple')

Agave weberi ‘Arizona Star’

Sidewalk bed outside the fence (Aloe marlothii, Agave weberi ‘Arizona Star’)

Agave applanata ‘Cream Spike’

Yucca rostrata 'Sapphire Skies' and Agave americana 'Mediopicta Alba'

Agave ×ovatispina ‘Blue Rapture’ (Agave ovatifolia × Agave flexispina), a Plant Delights hybrid

Agave ‘Baccarat’ (possibly Agave gentryi × Agave montana)

Agave potatorum ‘Cameron Blue’

Agave potatorum surrounded by Acacia cognata ‘Cousin Itt’

Yucca queretaroensisAgave ‘Blue Glow’, Leucophyta brownii

Yucca queretaroensisAgave ‘Blue Glow’

Agave obscura ‘Red Skyline’, a Plant Delights selection

Agave gentryi ‘Jaws’

Agave albopilosa

Agave ovatifolia ‘Vanzie’
Backyard succulent area with bottle tree (still a work in progress)

Bottle tree inspired by the 2018 Garden Bloggers Fling in Austin, TX

Bromelia pinguin

Undescribed Hechtia

Aloe ‘Hellskloof Bells’

Aloe marlothii × Aloe globuligemma

Ferocactus emoryi

Ferocactus rectispinus

Grevillea 'King's Fire' (the diagonal branch is from Calliandra californica)

Grevillea 'King's Fire', Russellia equisetiformis, Agave 'Crazy Horse' (the gray-blue leaves in the upper right are from Eucalyptus gunnii)

Leaves from Centaurea gymnocarpa, flowers from California fuchsia (Epilobium canum)

Aechmea chantinii 'Shogun'

Ensete ventricosum 'Maurelii'

Vriesea fosteriana 'Red Chestnut'

Farfugium japonicum 'Giganteum'

Begonia 'Jive' (apple green, top right), Hibiscus mutabilis 'Flore plena' (front), Begonia 'Redmond' (top left)
Begonia 'Angel Wing'

And one non-plant photo that perfectly encapsulates this refreshing event:

It's quite possible we won't see rain again until well into October, but the wait is more bearable now.

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  1. It was great to have to turn on my windshield wipers on the way to work Monday morning ! And I used my umbrella too -a symbolic gesture since it's only about 10 steps from my parking spot to the door of the office. Your bottle tree is shaping up nicely !

    1. This is the time of year when I usually need to replace the windshield wipers on the cars that are parked outside. Our summer heat destroys them.

      Bottle tree: 6 more blue bottles to go!!!!

  2. You got rain?!! I'm envious to say the least. Your garden looks refreshed and, speaking of envy, your expanding collection of mangaves is fabulous. I added 2 'Purple People Eaters' to my own smaller collection several months ago but mine don't have the wonderful orange color yours does. Maybe waiting until November for rain here will stress them sufficiently to color them up.

    1. I feel weird even calling it "rain" when it was just a lively sprinkle. But enough to get some of the dust off.

      I have two ×Mangave 'Purple People Eater' as well. The one in the photo above is in full sun most of the day; it's a lot more reddish-orange (as well as smaller) than the second one, which receives more shade (it's more purple like in the published photos from Walters Gardens).

  3. Nothing like a little rain to spiff things up. Your collection of Mangaves is impressive and they have certainly bulked up. The sidewalk planting is looking gorgeous. Congratulations on finally succeeding with Cousin Itt! The steel planter lends a lovely dark contrast to all the textured greenery surrounding it.

  4. Is there a trick to 'Itt'? I have killed that plant.


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