Saturday, November 28, 2009

Santa Cruz County

Despite my present fluid garden state I managed some botanical adventures. An exciting set of visits to Native Revival in Aptos and Sierra Azul in Watsonville was punctuated by a visit to Cabrillo College's Salvia Garden! I saw some spectacular Salvias at this garden. The Mexican section was full of hummingbird visited flowers, and I saw some interesting S. leucantha hybrids. Both nurseries were full of botanical abundance, and lovely demonstration gardens burst with bloom and leaf. I've included a picture of a Protea with some apian visitors from Sierra Azul. Also included is a Salvia flower close-up and a picture of John in the Salvia garden. His excitement at all these plants is certainly palpable in this photo!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Yerba Santa!

The U.C. Botanical Garden's sale yielded much excitement this year - two plants belonging to the Eriodictyon genus! 8 years it's taken me to find these! I'm much overjoyed. Deppea splendens and Adenium have also entered my keeping. Along with a banyan tree. What do I intend to do with a banyan tree? you may well ask. For now it's in a container with some Gotu Kola. You can bonsai a banyan, right? I mean, how could a resist a tree this fantastic? The new leaves are so velvety!

Friday, August 21, 2009


The reason I haven't posted in a while has been due to the fact that we're moving. If would be a lot easier if we had a place to move to. But move we must, so dig up plants I'm taking with me I must! So as I'm transplanting and trying to keep newly yanked up roots moist I'll probably take a slight sabbatical from this blog. As soon as I'm settled into a new garden I'll start anew. In the meantime I've created another nifty blog for all to peruse which will likely be a bit less plant specific (no promises there, though) to detail any creative or other pursuits about which I wish to disclose information. But before I go here's my Hibiscus "Rum Runner" and an elegant rockrose (Cistus ladanifer) flower.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Datura, Aeonium, and Marian Sampson

Aeonium tabuliforme and Greenovia aurea are pictured together. It may be that the Greenovias are now considered Aeonium, but at any rate they are related and share some of the same habitats. I've been led recently towards Aeonium. They're connected to the saga of the floral history of the Mediterranean - a tale of climate change, relict species, and islands. Quite stirring! Since my last post we've been to Annie's and the U.C. Botanical Garden. It was a frenzy of leaf and blossom at Annie's. I ended up with another Datura metel "Double Lavender" and two Monardellas - M. odoratissima and M. undulata var. frutescens. The first has lovely white blossoms, the second striking purple. On the subject of Monardellas my M. macrantha "Marian Sampson" has just started this season's blooms - what lovely red floralness! Also included is picture of the M. unulata var. frutescens. At the Botanical Garden I saw the last of the Corpse Flower and brought home a smaller species called Amorphophallus rivieri, with similar floral qualities. It's just a speckled-stalked leaf right now. The botanical garden was awash with happily buzzing bees - especially the herb garden. My garden also has its share of apian visitors - mostly native bees, as near as I can tell. Though the occasional honey bee comes by. In other news of my garden - there are still quite a few Clarkias and Gilias continuing to bloom. Salvia clevelandii has started to show cerulean blossoms, and various Agastaches contribute warmer hues. A cheerfully yellow Grindelia blooms alongside. There's also new leaves on the native milkweeds and buckwheat flowers under the sun!

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Gathering Seeds

It's been busy these last couple of weeks - a trip to Annie's and Half Moon Bay Nursery and my Coming-of-Age party (held in my garden) But I've finally had some time to begin my seed-gathering efforts. Today I gathered some Clarkia unguiculata and Penstemon heterophyllus. It was a lot of fun once I found out how to get the seeds out of the penstemon pod. I also was able to get some of the new plants slid into a larger pot. The Daturas look particulary fetching, their fatal leaves lovely in the light. I'm also enjoying the indescribably wonderful fragrance of a blooming Tulsi plant (Ocimum sanctum) that I found at Annie's. My visit there was especially exciting - I also found a California native clover! So many interesting and alluring plants there - I was overwhelmed! In other garden news - Epiphyllum "Monastery Garden" bloomed. This was quite the event! I've included my hand in the picture for scale. Also pictured are tall Gilia with some Clarkia and the native clover.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

An Expedition Southward

A few days ago a small party and I visited Sierra Azul Nursery in Watsonville. This nursery is set in the Pajaro Valley and carries an impressive array of species from the world's Mediterranean climates. The demonstration gardens are presently featuring a sculpture exhibit, which we very much enjoyed. Some pieces disturbed, intrigued, or delighted. Some pieces did all three. At any rate I have pictured one entitled "Resurrection Series" that in particular drew me. I regret that I don't remember the name of the artist who created this piece! After a stroll through the gardens it was time to peruse the nursery itself. I was (as usual) overwhelmed by all the plants blooming and bursting from their little plastic containers. The Mediterranean herb selection cought my eye and I picked out a lovely Hyssop plant. I then settled on a few others, and after some tricky loading maneuvers (the car was a bit crowded) we proceeded on our way. I have pictured one of my new garden residents Philadelphus "Belle Etoile". This mock-orange smelled so good I had to bring it with me! I should also note that the nursery and gardens were filled with many different bees - honeybees, bumblebees, and others I couldn't name. I love watching bees in their pollination-drived ecstasies - I think it's the way they go into the flowers. At any rate, in my opinion this nursery and garden is definitely doing something right if there's that many bees!
On both our way to and from this area we made a stop at the pebbled section of Bean Hollow beach. We even saw a whale jumping in and out of the water a few times. I was pretty impressed, and I'm not really much of whale person. Then it was on to some pebble watching and tidepool gazing. One of our party developed a quite unnatural (as far as I'm concerned) aversion to those harmless little purple crabs in the tidepool area. I always found them quite nice, though a bit reticent. She said that it was something about the way they walked sideways. Anyway, the waves crashed and I picked up and sniffed various bits of washed up seaweed on the beach. I have included a picture of the ocean's dynamic cycling.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Floral Delights

Another bevy of blooms to delight the senses! The garden has been doing a lot of flowering - my oft-mentioned Clarkias and Hollyhocks have many more companions. The phenomenally fast-growing "Rodeo Rose" Lupine's flowers have now turned to the lovely two-toned hues pictured here. Maybe it signals pollination has occurred? Not sure, but it looks really pretty! And then there's the excitement of Digitalis obscura! Despite the fact that I waited till the only ones left were pretty straggly (buying indecision) it is now blooming with these attractively patterned flowers. What a foxglove! Also pictured is monkey flower (Mimulus fasciculatus) in orange, and Oenothera pallida in white. The latter evening primrose has a wonderful nocturnal perfume!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Clarkias in bloom!

It's been awhile since I have posted. Since the last update there've been a couple days of 90 degreeF weather (I was miserable) and a lot of Clarkias started to bloom (see photos). They sort of started one by one until coinciding in a sort of Onagraceous symphony of pinks, purples, and salmon. At least one I know reseeded itself from last year's plant, the others are from a mix of two seed packets - Larner Seeds "Hills of California" mix, and Renee's Garden's "Mountain Garland" mix. I suspect the latter is where the double one came from. In addition, the hollyhocks (pictured) on the side of the house are blooming. These provide a lovely backdrop to our living room! Everything from my previous sales and events is doing well. I've included a picture of a Datura discolor and Lupinus "Rodeo Rose" that I got at the beginning of the month from Annie's. These plants were planted 17 days ago, and this is how much they've grown. The Datura is just growing rapidly, but the Lupine seems sort of possessed. I mean, it seemed that every morning it was taller! It's actually a bit frightening, but in an exhilirating, fun sort of way. I think maybe it's because I used some Annie's potting soil in them. Their potting soil is the best I've used - it's reasonably priced and smells good too! Anyway, that's some of my garden highlights for now.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Rain Washed Leaves

So, my weeks of plant frenzy have culminated in this last weekend's Bringing Back the Natives garden tour and Native Plant Sale Extravaganza. What an exciting time! And it was all layered in amongst some substantial rain. So now all my plants are happily rain washed and hydrated. For the tour we went to 6 local gardens. I was very impressed by how nice all these gardens looked. They ranged from small to large, and I enjoyed the water features in many. We participated in the sale the day before, going to the Watershed Nursery and Annie's both in Richmond. I had previously visited the Watershed Nursery a year ago, when they were still Berkeley. Their new location is much more spacious and sunny. As before I found my visit here to be quite enjoyable and while there I procured this lovely little Rosa gymnocarpa (pictured next to Dicentra "Bacchanal") At Annie's I was very happy to find a small yet vigorous Datura and some pink flowers for Mom's deck. It seems that the selection of California natives at Annie's, always generous, has been increasing recently. Very exciting!
In other garden news my Clarkias are beginning to bloom. I've even included a picture! And also pictured is a beautiful Digitalis purpurea called "Faerie Queen" I grew this one from seed and it has finally bloomed!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

From the U.C. Botanical Garden Sale!

Here's the next installment of plant frenzy - Friday evening was the member's preview of the U.C. botanical garden's Spring sale. (Once again readers may refer back to last year's account) This year seemed a bit more laid-back than last year's, even before the attendees got the free wine into them. We arrived early, anticipating the ever-present crowd and limited parking. We passed some pleasant moments sitting on a live oak shaded bench while flowering currant and hummingbird sage photosynthesized behind us under the oak. Then, about an hour before the sale began we joined the already growing line. The time passed pleasantly as we conversed with fellow plant enthusiasts. But as the time neared a surge of excitement went through the line. Soon, the gate was opened and with mutual wishes to one another of "Good luck!" the plant hunters rushed into the garden. By then I'd decided to focus on getting some houseplants so it was to there that I made my way. I think I was actually the first one in this section and I procured several wonderful plants. After this I made my way to all of the other sections. I found several more plants, including some blue-eyed grass for relatives who were off running around somewhere in Big Sur. As my initial plant grab surge calmed I made my way to the refreshments and got a couple plates for John and I (John was once again stationed near the grasses.) The little sandwiches with basil and tomato were especially good and I very much enjoyed these. So, after a glass of sparkling water and a couple more plants it was time to go! We made our way through checkout and out the exit. As it was last year the plant loading area was an area of intense activity. Since we were close by we bypassed this and simply took our plants up to the car ourselves. After all this excitement I was pretty worn out. We came home and I passed a pleasant evening finishing my Thai hot and sour soup. So, just a few highlights are pictured - first, an Aeschynanthus from Borneo. This one is in a 6" pot with a width of nearly 3.5 feet! I imagine its aboreal habitat with clouded leopards frolicking in the vicinity. Next is Kohleria cv. Ampallang. I looked up this cultivar name and what I found didn't seem immediately connected to the plant, though I suppose you could see an approximate resemblance. Perhaps the word has another meaning. If anyone out there can determine how it got this name let me know. The next picture features some blue-eyed grass (Sisyrinchium bellum cultivars) and a Festuca idahoensis. I got the fescue from the grass area where John was waiting. There's more, but if I listed everything I wouldn't have time to plant! Stay tuned for my next adventure in plant-world!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

From the Regional Parks Sale!

I'm still recovering from the native plant frenzy of the Regional Parks Botanical Garden's once a year sale. Faithful readers will remember last year's account - a tale of milkweeds and monardella. Well, this year the sale was on a hot day, which brought manzanita-hungry and PCH Iris-lusting folks from all over the Bay Area. We lined up outside the entrance, excitement mounting as the availability lists appeared. I was surprised to see a couple of plants I'd been hoping for were not listed. But others were, including some I hadn't even imagined would be there. Soon I had a plan for what I would go after, shading my eyes from the Sun's ruthless assault as I perused the list. When the time to begin finally arrived I was able to get the plants I had hoped for! I have included some pictures of these green natives - they are still in their one gallon grower's pots, awaiting placement. Anyway, after several trips back and forth to where John stood, faithfully guarding these plants I sat down to rest. The grass was somewhat damp but I didn't mind, plants from the Sierra leafing out behind me as people passed by with boxes filled to the brim with branches and flowers. After some time the direct sunlight started to get really hot so we got in line. It moved quickly and we were soon walking down the road with our happy plants! Back here in my garden the last couple of days have proved to be uncomfortably hot - I think it hit at least 90F yesterday. Despite this everything seems to be fine. As usual I'm more distressed by the heat than the garden! As soon as it cools a bit I'll transplant my new plants. A couple of highlights from the sale - Dicentra "Bacchanal", a Western bleeding heart with intensely colored, scented flowers and a new Salvia clevelandii cultivar "Deer Spring Silver" California Salvia excitement! Also pictured here is a fern I picked up at work. I have never seen such a fluffy fern. I'm guessing it's a Nephrolepsis mutation, but if anyone thinks they recognize it and can give me a name that'd be great!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Before the Frenzy

I have 3 major plant events coming up in the next 21 days, so I though I'd post before the frenzy of these events overwhelms me. I will try to update for each of these events, but may end up covered in leaves, sniffing flowers. I'll try. So here are some pictures. The Brugmansia sanguinea has at last flowered and the rest is a bouquet of native flowers all sprung up from the green of my garden and the soil. Layia platyglossa, Nemophila menziesii, Penstemon heterophyllus, and Phacelia viscida. What pollinator-tempting lovelies!

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Spirals of green!

So many new plants and bursts of flower... here's some highlights. At last I found a spiral aloe (Aloe polyphylla)! The presence of spiral patterns in plants and the whole Fibonacci thing is pretty interesting - I suggest reading up on it - I was fascinated. This plant is still small so it hasn't started a whole lot of spiralling yet, but if you look closely you can see it! I've also welcomed a white bleeding heart (Dicentra spectabilis) and a new Japanese maple into my green realm. The maple is one called "Shin deshojo" and displays brilliantly crimson new Spring growth (see accompanying picture of red leaves). I selected this one for its beauty of form and leaf-springing-ness. I been looking at a lot of Japanese maples lately and I have to say that Spring is as colorful as Fall for these little trees! In other garden excitement - the Cynoglossum grande I planted last year has sprung up! After it went into dormancy I was a bit worried - it was planted way too late in May - but it has recovered and is pictured here! This is a nice part shade growing wildflower I remember seeing growing under oaks in the hills. My other wildflowers are in flower - tidy-tips, cream-cups, and super-silky petalled orange California poppies! And pictured here is my awaited combination of yellow/white flowered and red hummingbird sage.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Boronia and Vanilla

Once again the bursting excitement of Spring has kept me from posting! Lots of green-ness coming forth from bare branches and petals cascading themselves all about. The Layia platyglossa and the L. glandulosa will both soon be adding their blooms to the chorus of floral exuberance that is gradually spreading over my garden. But I thought I'd share three of my recent acquistions in this post - Acer palmatum "Sango-kaku", Boronia megastigma "Hot Chocolate", and Vanilla planifolia. These exotic indulgences are in the accompanying pictures. The maple is just starting to leaf out and the fragrance of this Boronia emanates from bell-shaped little flowers which are red-brown on the outside and yellow on the inside! The Vanilla looks great right now, but I'm bit concerned since I've seen two previous Vanillae perish slowly over the space of a year. It seems that they need warm temperatures, high humidity, and air circulation - which I'm going to endeavor to give this orchid. But if anyone reading has any information or advice on growing this tropical little twiner, let me know!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Rhododendrons in bloom!

I haven't been posting lately, what with all the excitement of the rain and transplanting native seedlings. But I have made several trips as of late to the U.C. Botanical Garden and I'm still much impressed by their rhododendrons! I'm not really much into rhododendrons one way or the other, though I do have a plant of the native R. occidentale, but these are really amazing. These Asian plants are huge shrubs and the flower clusters are also large. Their floriferous presence lends an incandescent glow of seasonal color. One can relax on the smooth rocks near the pond as the newts cavort in the water and see hints of rhodendron colors all around. The red one pictured here is actually the plant featured in the Garden's logo! In my garden it is also flower time, but of the Californian variety! I'm very much excited by the continued blooming of Fairy Lanterns and the first flowers of the white flowered Salvia spathacea! The flowers on the Salvia are actually more of a cream color, but very different than the crimson flowered one. The two are growing side by side and I'm eager to see what they'll look like together. The cluster of yellow daisies in the other picture is Lasthenia californica - California Goldfields. These lovelies are trailing down a slope near my room in cheerful native abandon! There are a couple more flowers blooming and there will soon be many more. Also the Winter-deciduous shrubs are starting to burst forth with tender new leaves of delicate Spring green. I will endeavor to keep my readers abreast with all of this seasonal excitement!