Meanwhile, on the home front (Sep 9, 2021)

It's been hot—high 90s, a few times even above the century mark—and the air quality has been verging on unhealthy because of the Caldor Fire about 100 miles east of here. As a result, I haven't spent as much time in the garden as I would have liked. The plants, however, keep trucking on, heat and bad air and all, even cooking up a few surprises!

As I chronicled in this post from June, I was given a bunch of Epiphyllum cuttings, which I stuck in hanging planters suspended from the chaste tree in the backyard. Epiphyllums bloom in the spring, but this one apparently didn't get the message or got its seasons mixed up:

Red-flowering NOID Epiphyllum

I was gifted this clump by Megan and Matti of Far Out Flora when they moved from Davis to Madison, Wisconsin earlier this summer. Megan didn't know what hybrid/cultivar it was, just that it has red flowers. And it does!

Red-flowering NOID Epiphyllum

↴ Another flowering surprise came courtesy of a potted Agave striata. It had been neglected for a long time, and when I finally started watering it more regularly, it promptly sent up an inflorescence:

Agave striata flowers

↴ More flowering either imminent or already happening:

×Mangave 'Rio Verde', a natural hybrid discovered in San Luis Potosí, Mexico by Carl Schoenfeld and Wade Roitsch of the now defunct Yucca Do Nursery (more info here). This is the first time my specimen has flowered.

Aloe fosteri sending up a flower stalk rather early in the season. Confused?

Carmencita castor bean (Ricinus communis 'Carmencita'), a seedling from Justin and Max's Oakland garden, is doing very well with just a bit of water once a week

This is a volunteer tower of jewels (Echium wildprettii) in an unused raised vegetable planter in the backyard. It gets no supplemental water, yet it's persisted. It's large enough to flower next year. This plant is the very definition of “drought-tolerant!”

↴ Many mangaves have folded up their leaves to protect the central core against the intense sunlight. 'Night Owl' is a good example:

×Mangave 'Night Owl'

↴ But 'Pineapple Punch' behind is more focused on making babies:

×Mangave 'Pineapple Punch' 

↴ Speaking of babies, our hardy manihot tree (Manihot grahamii), now easily 15 ft. tall, is spreading the love far and wide. Seedlings are popping up everywhere. Most of them I simply pull and toss, but particularly attractive forms get potted up to be given away.

Manihot grahamii seedling

↴ Agave weberi 'Arizona Star' is pushing a pup in a very visible spot:

Agave weberi 'Arizona Star' 

↴ But not all surprises this week have been positive. One has been downright heart-breaking: rat damage on my treasured Dudleya pachyphytum:

Dudleya pachyphytum with nibbled-on leaves

Curse them, curse them all!

Time to bait the Rat Zapper again!

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  1. Gardens are always full of surprises ;) How much sun does your Epiphyllum get? I have 3 plants in my lath house and thus far I've had only a single flower (which coincidentally bloomed in late August last year). I had a brief flirtation with Echium wildpretii, which died in record time here. I'd assume I'd given it too little water but maybe it actually got too much.

    1. It might have been too much water. I've seen Echium wildprettii grow in the craziest places. Once I saw one on the UC Davis campus growing in a crack (!) in a concrete sidewalk.

  2. Mangave 'Rio Verde' in the back is lovely. Is it monocarpic?

    1. That is a very good question. I don't know yet. I'll know more in a few months :-)

  3. Blankety-blank rodents. Food for owls, hawks and coyotes.

    Stunning color on the Epiphyllum. The LA Arb filled a tall wall with baskets of them, Sherman Gardens the same with a long wall instead of tall. Ornamental and effective that way even out of flower.

    Davis, CA to Madison, WI...both college towns, but the weather will be a change! Fosteri was an Aug/Sept bloomer here. The foliage on that species is lovely.

    1. Last year there were signs of owls living in our bay trees but not this year. But we've had rats for as long as I can remember; everybody does. We're literally on the edge of town, with fields where they grow tomatoes and other crops close by.

      I've been surprised by how good my epiphyllums look, even after such a hot summer and with only weekly watering.


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