Friday, December 16, 2011

Plant purchase: Urginea maritima

I broke down and spent some moola yesterday.  Roger's Gardens really does keep things interesting.  It's not everyday that I spend $17 on a single bulb but I was inspired.  Mind you, the bulb probably weighs about 5 pounds, really a whopper.

Urginea maritima is native to the Mediterranean, so it should do well for me. I hope I will see bloom the first year since it's such a large bulb.  I'll be ready for it when it shoots up with a huge spike of white flowers.

Here's my new baby

Monday, November 28, 2011

Ruffled by a dilemma!

After writing about Crassula 'Undulata' a thought began to rise from the depths.  "there had been another wavy plant!" he muttered.

I found the photo.  This was from my end of summer trip to the Puget Sound.  My landscaper buddy Shane showed me this Salvia in a client's garden. He said it was a Salvia officinalis cultivar (common sage) but couldn't remember the name.

Can anyone help?  Ruffled sage.... rippled, undulatus, wavy,  no luck with Google... And where can I get one???

Plants we like: Crassula ovata 'Undulata'

There are so many plants that I love or want to love.  It's so hard to figure out where to put them all. I remember when I first heard about Crassula ovata 'Undulata' (EuroAmerican has it as 'Jitters') from a post on Dirt Du Jour, heralded as the next great thing, I was actually unimpressed when I saw it in person for the first time. At some point I bought a few 4" pots and planted it up to see how it would look. Overtime I became more enamored, I started with this guy in a pot an in time it has earned my respect. Truth be told I like just about all the forms of the jade plant. They do grow so well in Southern California.

So, now I like it so much I want to really let it kick up its heals. The question is where?!  I think I may have the place,  right by the new screen in the outdoor dining area, should help to further define the space.  I want to keep the area paired down, two varieties of plants max and one of them has to be a Sansevieria.  The wavy jade will be a mounded contrast to the upright sword of the mother-in-law's tongue.

Being the frugal gardener that I am, I will be taking cuttings to get the look I want, not buying more plants.

Here's a look at the great texture you can get from this plant. It is also a bit glaucous which is nice and different, it also makes me wonder if is Crassula ovata... looks more like C. arborescens. And there is a cultivar called 'Blue waves' (name seems more appropriate than 'Jitters'. Anyway we like it!

Crassula ovata 'Undulata'

Wavy babies

Monday, November 21, 2011

Little houses on the hillside...

The plant tables I now have are a great improvement with my growing projects, but with this early cool and wet weather most things have slowed way down.  So, I decided to make the most of the sun and warmth that we do have and made little green houses.

It was super simple.  I took 4  8' long 3/4" PVC pipes and secured them to the side of the tables using screws, then bent them over to the other side and secured them there too.  Voila, hoops. Then I got some plastic sheeting covered the hoops and held it down with clips from the office supply.

yay, little greenhouses!

Friday, November 18, 2011


I'm getting desperate for privacy and a little tired of spending money.

Here is my solution... for now:

old chain link fence +

unwanted bamboo from one person's garden +

tie wire +

Thunbergia elata 'Lemon Star' =


                                                                       The before

                                                                        The after
You can't really see here but there is actually two small freshly planted Thunbergias planted under the bamboo, you can see the one planted earlier in the season to the left.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

crazy for cole

I have an obsessive personality and fortunately I'm usually able to put it to good rather than evil. Delighted by the thought of cooler weather I started thinking of what I would grow in the cool season.  There are of course many veggies that love our cool wet season like lettuces, beets, peas and of course all the cole crops or cabbage relatives.  This summer I had a real taste for sauerkraut and if you've bought the fresh sort recently you know that it's kinda pricey.  Anyway I decided that I would not only make (ferment) my own sauerkraut BUT I would actually grow the cabbage.  AND... I started the cabbage from seed, so when I say loud and proud "I MADE THIS KRAUT!" it will really be the truth.

So far I have planted 'Danish Market', 'Red Acre' and an Italian purplish savoy called "cavolo versa San Michele" ( I assume that 'San Michele' is the cultivar though I'm not entirely sure as I don't speak Italian). I have planted most of them out already and they are growing if a bit slowly with these shorter days. I should also say that I have planted some more 'Nero Toscano' kale which is an incredible grower, tasty and very healthy eating, I recommend kale chips with nutritional yeast.

As a test I fermented my own sauerkraut from a couple marked down cabbages and use the extra juice from a store bought kraut as the starter just to be sure I had all the right "bugs" to get everything going.  It took a week to ferment and it has been mellowing for about a month.  I think it could soften and mellow even more to be at its best so I'm hoping time will do that. Fermenting veggies! Yum!

By the way.... the straw is a craigslist score.  I have been waiting for Halloween to be over knowing that someone out there would have decorated with straw and sure enough three free bales!

Red Acre and kale

Danish Market

homemade sauerkraut!!!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Halloween 2011

I'm not dressing up this year... I know I'm boring.  But it doesn't mean I'm not thinking about Halloween.  In fact to prove it to you I want to share one of my favorite "evil" plants Dyckia 'Black and Gold'.  With beautiful ox blood rosette leaves it's a lovely addition to the garden for sure. But it has an evil side, covered with fishhook spines that could make a grown man weep.  And pardon my French but it is the kind of plant that screws you on the way in and on the way out, if you can get out. And honestly I haven't found gloves that could make the job of working with this plant much safer, I usually as the English say "grasp the nettle". In any case one could argue that this Dyckia resembles an evil octopus or squid dripping in blood...Waa ha ah ah ah (evil laughter).

What's your favorite evil plant?  Here's mine.  Happy Halloween!

Second spring

Today pottering around the garden I realized it's pretty hard to tell autumn from spring in Southern California.  With the exception of a little fall color from liquidambars it's just difficult to distinguish the seasons, even my early dormant apricots are trying to fool me with some fresh springy growth.

I wanted to share a favorite friend of mine again, a plant which at the moment embodies the our second spring... Agastache 'Acapulco Pink and Orange'. At the end of August I cut back a few of the still flowering Agastaches just to see how they would respond.  The new growth was tight and beautiful.  Now I have the treat of fresh blooms for probably months to come, I will certainly be repeating next year to see if I can achieve the same effect.

Here's this morning's Agastache

Defining moments backside

I had a question about how I finished the backside of the dining room screen.  I thought it best to answer with a photo. I'm not sure which I like better, the front or the back.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Defining moments

Maybe you think it's cliche or overdone but I love the sense of space and boundary in gardens. I love garden rooms, I love screens, fences and hedges.  Veils, pergolas and allees all create interest in the garden.

In the backyard I have been trying to carve out a beautiful dining area.  Defining the space from the rest of the garden was important to me as much for the pure esthetics as it was to keep myself from filling yet another area with plants.  I have to be strict with myself ("no Dustin, NO, BAD"),  because you see even though I love the look of spare landscapes I have a NEED for plants.  I also have a need to cook and entertain for friends, so the priority of the dining area has been mounting.

For months and months I have been designing and sketching different permutations of walls and screens to define the outdoor eatery. I wanted it to be a bit contemporary but also fun.  Finally about two or three weeks ago I settled on a design that would not only define the space but would allow for views into the other areas of the garden.  Voids in the screen would frame various "pictures" of the adjacent gardens depending on where you might be standing. This allows me to have my plants and have order (at least in one area of the garden). And to extend the permeable feeling I decided to have spaces between the slats of wood so that the area didn't feel too closed in.  Upon finding a great mark down at "the box store which must not be named", I went from 1" x 6" cedar to 1" x 4" redwood planks.  Just nailing the slats took two people 3/4 of a day, and that's with the help of a nail-gun. My buddy Jay likes punishment.

Oh and before you ask... yes I am trying to kill that tree.

I'm toying with the idea of painting the panels different colors, but for now I will enjoy the natural hues of the redwood.

                                                   The design, a bit rough but it worked

                                             Here's a few shots of the screen going up....

Here's some other perspectives

And the final product! Hooray!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Turning over a new Leaf... magazine

My garden lab made it into the first edition of Leaf Magazine!  Check it out. Blushing...

You can skip right to page 45.  ;-P

click here to see for yourself Leaf Magazine

Friday, October 7, 2011

Plant of the week: Aristolochia gigantea

Ever thought of getting a Brazilian?  Vine I mean...

This not so weekly plant of the week features Aristolochia gigantea or giant Dutchman's pipe, Brazilian Dutchman's pipe.  The largest Aristolochia I know of, it doesn't really resemble a pipe as some of the others in the genus, like our native A. californica does.  What it does resemble is fairly appropriate for the month of October and Halloween. Large fleshy inflated liver looking blooms swell until they pop,  when they turn from lifesize livers and to open lungs. The flower's bloody color and veiny appearance really elicit opposing impressions from visitors of either wonder or disgust. I measured the blooms today, incredibly they are 11 inches wides and a whopping 15 inches long! The vine itself has pleasant heart shaped leaves.

I've written about this plant before, but I felt it was time to mention it again.  It's hard to get the real A. gigantea, as opposed to A. littoralis which is more available and often listed as the former.

Notice my tiny hands next to this gentle giant

Monday, October 3, 2011


Hey there,

Sorry I have been away for so long.  I won't bore you with the details why I've been gone.

Progress has been in fits and starts but moving forward in general.  Here's a little update on glorious glorious boundaries.   You of course remember my post thinking outside box on fencing and how I was looking directly in on the four units to the north of me here is the new fence and a freshened up garage wall. Then I needed a front fence and gate.  And I wanted to improve the growing conditions for my smaller plants! (a big thanks to my buddy Jay for all his help with these)

                                      My other bit of progress for boundaries is the new front gate!

And finally two grow tables to keep my plants tidier!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Interesting things to do to dull plants

A little while back I was making my way out of a gated community in Laguna Beach. Imagine my surprise when I saw something inventive and fun!

Here is a great solution or alternative to dead heading... Just color the seed heads and voila! You have a whole extra season of interest.

I will admit I saw things like this done in Seattle circa 10 years ago by people like Daniel Sparler and the dynamic duo of Withey and Price. I was shocked, for one because there were so many new plants to me at that time.... I mean why couldn't there be a metallic blue flowering grass with glaucous foliage!? Cheats!  :-)

Anyway.  Something to think about. Enjoy!

P.S.  I love the way the Hydrangeas confuse the issue further!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Interesting combo...

Here's something interesting I discovered at the local mall.  A very interesting combo.  The planting can't quite seem to choose which it wants to be dry or wet. It's funny to see petunias and impatiens planted with Agave americana.

Just wait until the Agave grows to full size. Good luck getting out of your car!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Southern California's Best Garden Blog reward!

Well, after I don't know how many months I finally got Denise from A Growing Obsession her reward for being voted Southern California's best garden blog!  As you recall there was a vote for the reward and the plant that won was Furcrea macdougalii.

Today I brought said succulent to Denise's beautiful garden.  Below are a few quick shots.