Monday, March 28, 2011

Plant of the week: Osteospermum 'Nuanza Copper'

I must say I have been a victim of prejudice, my own.  For years I wrote off Osteospermums as the common freeway daisy.  Of course the diversity of South African composites is vast. But there really wasn't much choice until the last few years. And yes there were some intriguing cultivars but I resisted them for their resemblance to the osteos of the past. Last year I gave in when a sad looking 4" plant came into my possession.

The plant was Osteopermum 'Nuanza Copper', I had seen the flowers many times and loved the muted purple and copper tones. Some of the flowers will be coppery then finishing purple.  It didn't do much at all last year. But about two weeks ago it sprung into action. I will tell you with full disclosure that the actual habit of the plant is poor,  weak and unbalanced. But if you can put up with that then you will enjoy the blooms.

Today I bought several plants of different cultivars in the same purple and orange tones.  We'll see how they do as well.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Plant of the week: Sedum 'Lemon Coral'

As a busy "been there, done that" gardener I find that I can sometimes limit myself. I think you will know what I mean. There are so many plants and varieties that we can grow in Southern California. At some point you really have to develop a screening mechanism.  It's like being at a crowded party, you just can't listen to every conversation, you must choose, you must ignore.  But just like that party, you may miss out on a good joke or some gossip.

A year ago, my gardening buddy Suzanne foisted a handful of cuttings upon me. Now, let it be known that I respect her opinion as a gardener and horticulturist.  But that doesn't mean we should agree on everything.  So when I saw that little pile of golden succulents I thought (as most would) that it was Sedum rupestre 'Angelina', a plant I first became aware of when I was living in England 7 years ago. So I planted that plant already,old hat, right? At least that's what I thought. And plants get re-marketed all the time, one year one name, another year another name.  Anyway I thought it was more of the same, but I did as I was told and just set the cuttings in a 6" pot of soil and put them aside.

Not long after I planned to forget about these plants did I notice a glow on the makeshift plant table near my potting bench.  This Sedum was luminous and it had grown-in like it had been there for months.  Some months later it was given a home in the new garden in the front yard. And I continued to admire it!  Little by little I have become addicted to that golden glow.  It's a bit like shag carpeting to which is really fun (just shag carpet in the garden not at home, sorry Austin Powers). Now I will tell you that like most all plants it does go through it's little ups and downs.  When it's not rapidly growing it's more green and when it is fed and happy it shines.

Recently I did a whole (little) area of it in the garden, see photos below. Now I'm convinced I need acreage.  Oh, I have plans, yes I do.

close up

more ground giving over to golden shag carpet

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Plant of the week: X Graptoveria 'Fred Ives'

Looking around my garden on Friday I started to notice how well things were starting to fill in.  It's such a joy to take a few wee cuttings from a friend's garden and watch them come into their own.

Such is the case with this plant of the week: X Graptoveria 'Fred Ives'.  This plant really fills that lush flower-like succulent category. It has this beautiful silver pink color that seems to really blend well with a lot of greens and grays in the garden. It doesn't get leggy like many Aeoniums so the maintenance is quite minimal. And as I have done in my garden, it's possible to employ them and ground covers . And as I said before that rosette looks like a wax flower, a flower that's more than a foot across. In the photo below they appear to be singles but soon there will be many heads of pups hugging the ground.

I just love heterosis.  Don't you?!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

A path to concrete happiness

I finally did it! After weeks and weeks of having them out on the ground, I set my paving stones.   This is the third and final path through the front yard.  I went back and forth on how it should turn out.   Being in my concrete phase I decided to make the stones myself. And having nature held up in high esteem,  I settled on doing a reptilian theme, using reptile vinyls to create the patterns.  I experimented with acid stains and was very pleased with the results.

So yesterday,  listening to Miike Snow, and  drinking a beer in the afternoon sun,  I fixed those babies in place.  I'm happy with it, what do you think?

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Concrete creativity

Alright, I'm going to let you in on a secret.  I'm a creative compulsive.  There I've send it, it's out there.  I own it!   Every few days I have to create something.  But lately in the garden my focus has been concrete,  molding concrete.  First it was the balls, then ball towers and now it's relics.  I want to create the sense that the garden, which is not quite a year old, has roots in an ancient culture.  This ancient culture's artifacts are being brought to the surface by Whiskey Creek, my little pond and dry stream bed.  So amongst the balls and stones there are also Buddhas and Quan Yins.

So, how did I do it?  Well still doing it.  I went "old school" and made my molds out of natural latex.   It takes a while and yes it is a bit messy but the results are really fun.  I set my molds in sand on my work table,  get them all ready and then get the concrete mixer going. Did I mention I have a concrete mixer? Originally I had justified the purchase by thinking I would mix custom batches of potting soil. That never happened but I'm so happy I bought it.

Anyway my plan is to keep doing more and more heads until I have hundreds.  Piles and piles.  Here's a look at a couple of areas of the garden where I'm starting to see progress. And a shot of the molds on some stakes in the garden, it kinda looks like some gruesome scene.

Don't you want some latex?

Slathered in latex

Heads on pikes, yikes!

Quan Yin and Buddha

First big Buddha!


and More!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Spring Fever: A propagator's vice... Update!


Just a quick update. The Asclepias seeds arrived today!  I sowed half of each of the packets immediately and put them onto the heat mat.  Will let you know when they start to pop!