Spring in our garden: late, but great

This year, winter lasted much longer than it usually does, and spring arrived a good month late. Over the last ten days or so, a mini heatwave finally kicked things into a high gear. The generous amount of rain a seemingly neverending series of atmospheric rivers dumped on us from January through March definitely helped trigger a vigorous growth spurt.

In spite of all the trials and tribulations this crazy year has subjected us to, things are looking pretty darn good in the garden right now, late April 2023. Let’s take a look.

  Front yard, inside the fence

Geum ‘Totally Tangerine’ is a bright beacon in the front yard. Since it’s sterile, it doesn’t put energy into making seeds. As a result, it blooms for months on end—far longer than any other geum I’ve tried.

Geum ‘Totally Tangerine’

Major changes coming to this mound

Arctotis ‘Ultraviolet’

Volunteer California poppy (Eschscholzia californica) at the base of Aloidendron ramosissimum

Calliandra ‘Sierra Star’, a hybrid between C. californica and C. eriophylla

One of several Thymophylla pentachaeta I now have in the front yard. They’re very easy to grow from seed.

Thymophylla pentachaeta

Hechtia ‘Silver Star’, Agave nickelsiae, and a small Aloidendron dichotomum

Ocotillo (Fouquieria splendens) fully leaved out. Will it finally flower?

Dudleya brittonii hybrid

Another Dudleya brittonii hybrid, this one from Stephen McCabe

Echinopsis ‘June Noon’ will flower in a few weeks (last year, it had its first flush of flowers on April 12)

  Front yard, L-shaped bed along the sidewalk

Closeup of the new Succulent Hill, valuable real estate reclaimed last fall by removing the massive clump of Bambusa oldhamii. The bicolor California poppies are a cultivar called ‘Strawberry Fields’.

Aloe schoelleri about to flower

Aloe schoelleri

The globemallow was supposed to be a white-flowering Sphaeralcea ambigua. It's definitely not white, and it looks more like Sphaeralcea munroana to me. On the right, Salvia ‘Marine Blue’.

Bulbine alooides on left, desert globemallow (Sphaeralcea ambigua) on the right. The stems are so heavy with flowers that they have flopped over.

Cephalophyllum stayneri Malephora crocea, Calylophus serratus ‘Southern Belle’, solar fire (Ursinia anthemoides)

I bought this as Cephalophyllum stayneri, but it doesn’t really look like it and it flowers virtually year round (C. stayneri blooms winter through spring with reddish flowers). I’m fairly certain now that it’s Malephora crocea, aka coppery ice plant.

Calylophus serratus ‘Southern Belle’, solar fire (Ursinia anthemoides), assorted cacti

Solar fire (Ursinia anthemoides) is an annual from South Africa. It flowers quickly in spring and goes to seed just as quickly. I’ve had it in various places over the years, but it never reseeded. I’m hoping it might this time.

Wider look at the corner of the L-shaped sidewalk bed

Orange-flowering form of the yellow horned poppy (Glaucium flavum)

Helichrysum thianschanicum ‘Icicles’

The large agave on the left is Agave gentryi ‘Jaws’

Baja fairy duster (Calliandra californica)

Aloe marlothii × globuligemma (allegedly, hopefully), Teucrium fruticans ‘Cal Flora Form’

Aloe ‘Erik the Red’

Sulphur buckwheat (Eriogonum umbellatum var. aureum ‘Kannah Creek’)

Alyogyne ‘Ruth Bancroft’, a spontaneous hybrid between A. huegelii and A. hakeifolia originally found at the Ruth Bancroft Garden

Alyogyne ‘Ruth Bancroft’


Aloe ‘Erik the Red’ peeking over the fence

Fern-leaf lavender (Lavandula multifida) starts flowering in late winter. It’s my wife’s favorite lavender.

Billbergia ‘Fantasia’ (red clone), one of several billbergias now blooming

Billbergia ‘Fantasia’

Some cacti have started to flower as well. I'll have a separate post soon.

© Gerhard Bock, 2023. All rights reserved. To receive all new posts by email, please subscribe here.


  1. You would never know the garden had suffered any winter damage. Everything looks healthy and happy. Jealous of your 'Totally Tangerine'. I would love to find it but it doesn't seem to available up here any more.

    1. I haven't seen 'Totally Tangerine' since I bought mine. It blooms so much longer than any other cultivar I've tried. I hope it will make a comeback!

  2. The only thing more awesome than the wide variety of special-interest plants is your ability to name them all ! Really fantastic yard and blog post !

    1. I can name most plants in our garden, but not all. That's one reason I started this blog: to jog my memory!

  3. Spring! Isn't it grand? I somehow forgot you had a Fouquieria splendens. How could it not flower with all that rain? (fingers crossed) As for your comment on my post (re our hard winter), it's all about how you aim the camera. You'd be astonished how bad/empty some spots still are.

    1. We're back to winter, at least for a few days. Yesterday we didn't even get to 60°F, and this morning it sprinkled. All good, I'll take it so I don't have to start watering yet.

      I have lots of empty spots, too. I'll take my time filling them. I want to get it right.

  4. I'm glad to see that spring has made an appearance at last - and with gusto! I can't even imagine having a mass of Geums like you have. I was pleased just to get a handful of tiny blooms from one this year but I don't think it's going to give me any more. Ursinia and Glaucium flavum practically spit at me in their hurry to exit my garden. I'm still waiting to see if I get more than 2 California poppies this year.

    1. I'm on Glaucium flavum #3 so don't give up. Full sun for both, that seems to be key.

      It's funny, everybody talks about the poppy superbloom, but in our garden, we've only had a handful of volunteers this year.

  5. Your spring looks lovely! Happy for you that you get one instead of going from winter right into summer. The poppies here and there add a nice touch. Aloe schoelleri--not common--cool! Thymophylla pentachaeta one common name is "dog weed"--that is one good common name.

    Hope you get some Fouquieria flowers--this would be the year for it.

    1. I got Aloe schoelleri from a friend. It turned out to be a great plant for our garden. It survived the winter with no damage at all--quite a feat for an aloe from northern Ethiopia. The Huntington sold it in 2020 as part of their ISI: http://media.huntington.org/ISI/ISI2020/2020-16.html.

      Still waiting on ocotillo flowers....

  6. A flush of spring growth and bloom is very helpful to our gardening spirit.
    Whatever the correct name is for that ice plant (Malephora crocea), the color combination of leaf and bloom is gorgeous.
    I like the potted cacti on the fence. Were any ever "picked" off by passers by?

  7. Aloe Eric the Red is so cheery & bright popping over the fence. The Geum looks so healthy. Wow, everything is looking fabulous.

  8. Looking good! Love the Geums and the Aloes. Spring has been strange for us, as well. A very early blast of summer weather, followed by winter weather, and back and forth until now. Nice spring weather (70s) ahead. Yay.


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