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Showing posts from 2021

Mealybugs (grrrr) on my 2nd tallest aloe

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Mealybugs are the most persistent pest in our garden. Like aphids, they're often farmed by ants  who feed on the sugary waste the mealybugs produce. And since Davis is built on a giant ant hill, as I like to say, ants and mealybugs are a fact of life. Typically, mealybugs are the most active—and hence the biggest problem—from late spring to late fall when it's warm and dry. Mealybugs cannot survive freezing temperatures, but since we rarely have hard frosts, I suppose they just hunker down in their cottony cocoons. It may be December, but the days have been sunny and warm. I'm sure that suits the mealybugs just fine. They don't seem to be inclined to go into hibernation just yet. In fact, to my surprise, I noticed quite an infestation in our second tallest aloe, 'Erik the Red'.  From a distance, 'Erik the Red' looks great: But look inside the center of this one rosette: And behind it:  I have no clue why mealybugs prefer 'Erik the Red'. We have

Black Friday agave takedown

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As I mentioned a few weeks ago  in this post , I was toying with the idea of removing our Agave weberi  'Arizona Star'. Beautiful as it is, it had simply gotten too large for its spot and was becoming intertwined with the Aloe marlothii  to the left of it and the two mangaves on either side.  There's simply too much going on here: I happened to come across the photo below from October 2017—just four years ago!—and was stunned by how much everything has grown since then: For comparison, this photo was taken in October 2017 I'm sure you know where this is going, based on the title of this post. Yes, my big Black Friday activity wasn't shopping, but taking down our 'Arizona Star'. Before I got started, I donned full protective gear: long pants, long-sleeved shirt, a baseball hat, and a face shield. It's not just for show: Agave sap contains calcium oxalate, which can cause contact dermatitis , and I'm a bit sensitive. In my case, it's not serious or

9½ books that would make great gifts

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I love giving and receiving books as gifts. Even with the abundance of information available online, nothing can replace a book where everything you might want to know about a specific topic is contained in a one neatly contained package. Below are nine garden- or plant-related books that resonated with me this year. Eight were published in 2021, the other one ( Private Gardens of Santa Barbara ) in 2020. Like my interests, they cover a wide spectrum. Maybe you'll discover a title or two that's up your alley or that would make a nice gift for a plant friend!   Agaves: Species, Cultivars & Hybrids by Jeremy Spath and Jeffrey Moore 🕮   Read my full review Simply the best book on agaves available right now—and most likely for years to come. Covers all but the most obscure species. 2,000+ stunning photos, many taken in habitat. In-depth information on everything you've always wanted to know about agaves, such as taxonomy, cultivation, propagation, use in landscaping

Happy Thanksgiving!

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Happy Thanksgiving! Have a wonderful Thanksgiving with your loved ones. I'm grateful for many things in my life, and that includes each and every one of you who follows me on my often unpredictable gardening adventures.  Thank you for taking the time to read my posts. There'll be many more to come! “The love of gardening is a seed that once sown never dies.” —Gertrude Jekyll

Weekend Warriors Я Us, 11/21/21

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This weekend's weekend warrioring was more like gentle sparring than spirited jousting. With sunny weather and highs in the mid 60s, the conditions were ideal to do some fall planting. This year, the backlog of plants waiting to go in the ground is much smaller than in years past. This is by design because there isn't much room left except for compact fillers and low-growing groundcovers. NOTE: In the labeled photos below, green is for plants I put in the ground this weekend, and yellow for existing plants. The first tray of plants—small mesembs to be planted along of the edges of the succulent mounds in the front yard—fits the bill perfectly. The second tray is a mix of perennials from the UC Davis Arboretum fall sale and a couple of plants from my trip to Southern California in early August: I also planted two Aloe  'Dwarf White' that came from San Marcos Growers  via my friend Troy McGregor . This is a super compact hybrid, under a foot in height, with whitish flow

Private garden at Peacock Horticultural Nursery

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A couple of months ago, I visited Peacock Horticultural Nursery  in Sebastopol, CA and experienced the first rain of the season in western Sonoma County (Davis didn't get anything at the time). As I was exploring the many hidden corners of the nursery, co-owner Robert Peacock, after whom the nursery is named, invited me into the “Staff Only” area. In addition to housing a few propagation greenhouses, it's also Robert's and his husband Marty's private garden. The entrance is in a wooded part of the property: Beschorneria sp. glistening in the gentle rain Robert corrected me: This is actually Agave weberi 'Rainer's Selection'. I never would have guessed! Different Beschorneria  sp. One of the propagation hoop houses Closer look Looking back at the hoop house as I was walking away from it The heart of the private garden is a newly built mounded bed surrounded by a flagstone path: The mound is home to a large variety of succulents, ranging from ground-cover mes