Wednesday, April 22, 2020

More garden beauty to help us through home confinement

I want to continue the theme I started in Monday's post, The garden is giving back when I need it the most, because we need our gardens now more than ever. Feeling stressed—or worse, overwhelmed—seems to be the new normal for many of us. The rational part of our mind knows that this, too, shall pass, but being confronted with so much uncertainty can wear down the strongest of us.

I'm not immune to any of this, but I try hard not to get swept away by the constantly changing news cycles. Focusing on work helps, and there's Tofu, our new canine family member, to take my mind off the headlines. And if all else fails, I step outside into the garden with eyes wide open. There's so much to see right now that it doesn't take long for my mind to recalibrate itself. It would be so much harder to make it through this crisis without the beauty so generously given by the plants we tend.

Bee on Grevillea 'Kings Fire'

More photos taken over the last few days:


Speaking of Grevillea 'Kings Fire', here it is in all its glory. It's getting a bit too big for this space, so judicious pruning will be needed. I've been waiting for it to take a breather from blooming, but it's been in overdrive since fall.

Grevillea 'Kings Fire', dwarf smokebush (Cotinus 'Winecraft Black'), and a new cactus bowl with different Echinocereus species (white-flowering E. pentalophusE. × roetteri, E. dasyacanthus var. rectispinus, E. triglochidiatus 'White Sands' × E. coccineus)

The spot where the awful, terrible, no-good city-owned Bradford pear tree had been. Soooo much better now!

The yellow-flowering plant is Calylophus drummondianus. The aloe is Aloe cameronii.

This is just around the corner from the image above. Bromelia pinguin (in the tall Corten planter) has turned a beautiful red.

Our little dudleya corner just inside the fenced-in area of the front garden; Dudleya brittonii is getting ready to flower

Our biggest and oldest fan aloe (Kumara plicatilis) beginning to flower in the back yard

I'd say it's 12-15 years old. I can't quite remember when I bought it, but it's been in this pot for most of its life.
  
To me, nothing says “spring is here” better than nasturtiums (possibly except for California poppies). The nasturtiums were here when we bought the house 20+ years ago, and I let enough of them go to seed every year to keep the cycle going.
  
Tofu, our American bulldog × lab mix, is quite the explorer. He also likes to eat potting soil!

Sunny corner off the dining room

This is one of my favorite vignettes in the garden right now. Bromeliads, annuals, perennials, and the mighty (or soon to be!) Agave salmiana var. ferox 'Mediopicta'.

Different angle

Carex phyllocephala 'Sparkler'. I have two now, both bought in Portland. I've never seen it for sale here in Northern California. This is a plant a lot of people would buy if only they could get their hands on it!


The garden will continue to be my main source of inspiration for the foreseeable future. Having said that, I'm itching to spread out beyond the confines of our shelter-in-place bubble and start seeing friends and other gardens again.



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14 comments:

  1. Glad Tofu is settling in and training his family. So many beautiful images to keep your spirit's lifted. I have gained a whole new appreciation for how well nasturtiums can integrate into the garden.

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    1. I love the way nasturtiums weave their way through other plants and pretty much decide on their own where to go.

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  2. Gorgeous photos, although to be honest the Agave salmiana var. ferox 'Mediopicta' stole the show for me. It glows.

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  3. Thanks so much for sharing the photos of your garden and plants.Locked down here in Citrus Heights missing plant sales and club meetings and garden tours but so blessed to have a garden.Having someone local to look at is such a treat.

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    1. I can't tell you how much I'm missing plant sales and club meetings. There'll be a lot of pent-up demand in the fall :-)

      Glad to know you're (almost) local. We lived in Citrus Heights for a while in the early 90s.

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  4. Your garden's looking great, Gerhard. I'm glad you finally got rid of the Bradford pear you so despised! Tofu is a cutie but I have to wonder what it is he likes about potting soil. I hope that proves to be a passing fancy.

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    1. Our great Dane once got into a box of blood meal. Who knows what attracts them. Let's face it, dogs aren't the most discriminating creatures when it comes to eating, well, stuff.

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  5. Tofu looks right at home and getting into the garden vibe (no potting soil, Tofu!) My salmiana var. ferox is in the ground and needs some more growing to pull itself up out of the crush I've set him in. A feather bush/phyllica currently blocks a good view, but not ready to pull the phyllica just yet. Another reason why I usually opt to pot up agaves -- love your choice of container. It may be a complete coincidence, but when I started cutting back my 'King's Fire' is when it started to decline, and I've read various theories on how Oz plants don't like cutting back much since they're more adapted to burn culture. Of course, soil issues on the alkaline side could be responsible too. I grew Carex 'Sparkler' years ago and loved it -- I think Pam/Digging has grown it too. What a marvelous show you've got going!

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    1. You're lucky to have a phylica in your garden. I've failed three times now. I was going to give up but I recently saw a perfectly happy phylica in the UC Davis Arboretum. And I thought it was our summer heat they disliked. Go figure!

      I give all proteaceae a generous helping of sulphur in the fall to help with alkalinity (our native soil is quite alkaline) and hence chlorosis. I *will* have to trim our 'Kings Fire' because it's getting lanky...

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  6. Garden looks better without the Pear tree. Happy for you it is gone. Tofu was a good addition. Hope he's settling in well.

    My experience with all the Grevillea is that pruning them is of great benefit. They grow back much bushier and healthier. The tough part is cutting back the ones that never quit blooming. Small amounts of blood meal, especially in winter...but maybe not until Tofu decides to stick strictly with dog food.

    Your 'Cousin Itt' Acacia, the whole garden, really, looks fabulous!!! Ditto the salmiana 'Mediopicta'...how big is that one supposed to get, anyway?

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    1. Thanks for sharing your experience with grevillea pruning. I will need to tackle the 'Kings Fire' soon, whether I like it or not. I know I often plant plants that are too big for the space, but that's the price of wanting it all!

      The salmiana 'Mediopicta' can get 4 or 5 ft wide (see here) but with its roots confined in this Corten cube, it should stay smaller.

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  7. Such wonderful combinations! I'm especially taken with your Grevillea. Gorgeous. I just had the oddest thing happen with my Long John. After blooming all season with quite a lush display of red blooms, it took its time with the second flush. The branches are full of new flowers but they are coming out pale yellow/pink. It's as if it turned into a Peaches and Cream. Have no idea what could have happened. Any thoughts?

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  8. Love nasturtium. It has a lovely bright happy color, and in a pinch: its eatable. I think Tofu found the best corner of the garden. Oh the Fan aloe! It has a trunk! Never seen it anywhere except in a pot (zone 7...). It looks very cool.

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