Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Southern California's Best Garden Blog update!

Howdy.   Well, I will be honest and say that I didn't get a ton of responses about my little contest/enquiry... But the winner is still clear in my eyes.  And the winner is Denise of A Growing Obsession agrowingobsession.com .

I've followed Denise's blog for about a year now and think I have a good sense of her style.  Not only are her entries of interest to me as a gardener, but the way she weaves in other elements of her life and pop culture give it a real sophistication.  Very regular posts make for an addictive blog, I never have to wait long to know what Denise is seeing in the gardening world.  Of course having a professional photographer as cohort also gives this blog an edge. Mitch or M.B. Maher mitchellmaher.org as he is mentioned in the blog has a way of imbuing his photos with a rich dreamy quality them gives them such life.

So, a contest for a contest.  Help me pick a reward for Denise's hard work. Here are three plants I found on AGO that are on Denise's wish list.  Which one should I procure for her?  I'm counting on you all to vote!

a.   Furcrea macdougalii

b.  Aechmea blanchetiana

c. Canna 'Australia'

Monday, May 30, 2011

Gomphrena 'Fireworks' back in full force

Last year I blogged about a relatively new perennial (in frost free areas) Gomphrena. What a doer this guy is!   I kinda got sick of it in the Autumn, after months of blooms, and bouquets so I cut them back to rest a while. Now it's been blooming in full force for about a month or so I figured it was about time I reminded you all of its value.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Succulent yum

Just another quickie.  Here's a little homemade concrete trough with some Echeverias I picked up somewhere.  Juicy!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

plant of the week: Echeveria agavoides 'Lipstick'

There are Echeverias and then there is Echeveria agavoides 'Lipstick'.  Subtly can be hard a times,  I can tell you from experience.  And with E. agavoides cultivars there is a subtle difference and so it takes a keen eye to separate them.  In a pot it is a bit hard to tell E. 'Lipstick' from the others, but once you plant it out in the garden you will begin to see the difference.  This is, in my experience, the largest of the E. agavoides, and this should be the first thing you notice, they look like a big artichokes on the ground.  The other thing you will notice once this juicy plant makes its home is that it really multiplies.   The last thing you can look for (although there are other cultivars with this characteristic) are the red tips which are what give it its name.

I love this little green gem.  Here are just a few in my garden, can you see why I have so many?

Monday, May 23, 2011

Another quickie: local inspiration

Last week I was in Pacific Palisades and had a little time to kill. I had the choice of heading into Santa Monica to do some shopping,  go to the gym or stay in the area and do a hike. I was so close to a couple trailheads that it seemed silly not to avail myself of the experience.  Here's a little glimpse of what I saw on my 2.5 hour hike.  The floral display was truly inspiring.

Eriogonum fasciculatum and Mimulus aurantiaca

Trichostema lanatum

Yucca whippleyi

Huge satellite dish of a Phacelia haven't a clue which species

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Southern California's Best Garden Blog

OK kids. I'm looking for help here. I mean the comments page better be blown up, OK?!  What is your favorite Southern California Garden Blog?  And I don't mean mine of course!

Tell me.  Not sure what's the best way, but a contest is forming...

New plant: Encelia californica 'Gimbel's Golden'

I have always wanted to discover a great new cultivar. And I am always on the lookout. A few months ago  I was hiking with my buddy Mike in Griffith Park, and along the roadside I found a variegated stem of Encelia california.  It had to ride around in a water bottle for a while, but I took good care of it.  To my delight the precious cutting struck and I have grown it up to the 2 gallon size. I have high hopes. I think the yellow variegation and yellow flowers should make it a winner.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Plant of the week: Dianella tasmanica 'Tas Red'

Maybe a year and half ago my friend Laura gave me some little plugs of Australian plants, some Dianellas and Lomandras.  I carefully potted them up and eventually planted them out in the new garden.  For some reason I hadn't very high hopes for Dianella 'Tas Red' , it looked weak to me and was certainly not red.  But after a while in the ground it took off and made a very well mannered clump of glossy green strappy foliage to about a foot tall. Think tiny Phormium. Because it's so well mannered (and because I like a full look) it was swamped by some very exuberant Gomphrena 'Fireworks'.  But it did very well on neglect and being partially smothered.  And so I thought to myself ok this plant has merit.  But then just a few weeks ago I was astonished.  This little Dianella had actually produced a crop of magically purple berries on two stalks. Now I know Dianella tasmanica can grow these beautiful berries,  but never had I seen them grow on a plant in So Cal (don't ask me why they look awesome in No Cal.  So now I firmly love this plant, of course if it doesn't produce purple olives next spring I'll be pissed!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Heard's Gardens/ Cottage Nursery grounds update

Last week I was passing through Westminster, so I decided to take a small detour to the check out the old Heard's Gardens property to see if anything had happened with it.  Seems to be no takers on the property with the lovely exception of the weeds and wildflowers exploding through the gravel yard.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Annie's Annuals and Perennials

On the way back to Southern California I hit Annie's (www.anniesannuals.com). Based in Richmond, which I have to say looks a bit worse than my 'hood but I'm sure it's nice once you get to know it. Anywho, I just wanted to mention (even though everybody knows this) what a great resource the nursery is.  Chock a block with rare plants and a very nice selection of natives. I would guess about 30-40% of the nursery space is devoted to natives.  I'm so glad that this nursery exists, trying new and interesting plants for us. All of which by the way are beautifully grown, mostly in 4" pots.

Here are some shots from the trip!

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Planet Horticulture's newest digs

While in Sonoma last week I was fortunate enough to have a visit with Roger Raiche and David McCrory of Planet Horticulture (planethorticulture.com).  I've known these guys for ten years now and have seen them through their various garden incarnations,  I count four now.   Driving along the highway I had clocked a very "Planet Horticulture" garden,  and as it turns out it's Roger and Dave's new digs.  Awe is always inspired by the gardens that this duo create.  Back to a smaller property the garden is packed with gems, a Fort Knox of gorgeous plants. All of the containers look like they have a story to tell.

I'll let the photos do the rest of this post. Keep in mind that this garden is only a few months old!


Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Invasive in-schmasive this @#$% is gorgeous

More times than we'd like to admit gardeners have consequences on the environment. What happens when happy plants leave the garden and find a home in the wild? Well, then they have invaded the native plant community pushing out native plants to make room for themselves.

At the bottom of my friends' property is a large area of Myosotis sylvatica (not palustris, but ahem... that is what I thought it was), the forget me not, growing nearly as a monoculture. Native to Europe and Asia it seems very happy in Sonoma county. I have to be honest and say that I don't know which native plant would grow there otherwise, but it's gorgeous.   So what do you do?  It's hard not to love a true blue meadow.

Monday, May 2, 2011

The value of silver

The plant world is full of euphemisms,  how many times have you looked at a "blue" flower that was clearly not blue but purple?  Many times I'm sure.  The same is true for silver,  how many drab grey plants have passed for silver?

Four years ago we planted these Astelia nervosa in the front bed that flanks the driveway.  They have always been a delight.  The structure is beautiful, they are polite about their height and the color is radiant in the afternoon light.

The bed is punctuated with a Cupressus cashermiana that is maturing very nicely.

I hear a lot about the rise in the price of silver,  which of course has nothing to do with me. But I do know the value of silver in the garden.

California Flora Nursery, Fulton CA

Twice a year I go to Sonoma to help some old friends with their garden at their second home that we designed in collaboration.  It's a big property and each year the gardens are refined while they expand. So, today like most times that I'm up here I went on a little nursery trip with Scott for some plants and ideas.  We decided to hit a local nursery and we were not disappointed.

Thirteen years ago I made a pilgrimage to the best public gardens and nurseries of the Bay Area using the Where On Earth guide .  During that trip I visited California Flora Nursery.  It was much the same as I remembered, a nursery on a large lot surrounded by stately oaks and a good selection of native plants. One plant stands out in my memory, Sisyrinchum 'Quaint and Queer', which was new to me at that time. It seems cleaner and more organized today.  While the nursery does not carry a huge variety of plants, it has a great selection of mostly native plants and some fun exotics.  The plants feel well curated, like they were paired down for the ease of the shopper, and no where did I find a single weed in any of the pots.

In several places throughout the nursery there were some fun raised planters that had a rustic charm, one with a handsome cork oak as a bonsai.  Others had more of an alpine garden feel which brought me back to my days at Wisley.

Our haul (in the yellow convertable):

Clematis montana 'Grandiflorus'
Angelica hendersonii
Darmera peltata
Filipendula ulmaria 'Aurea'
Satureja douglasii
Fragraria vesca
Philadelphus coronaria 'Variegata'
Philadelphus coronaria 'Aurea'
Penstemon heterophyllus 'Blue Springs'

Elevated trough

Another fun raised bed

Handsome cork oak in planter

"Mini me" trough

general look of the nursery

Angelica hendersonii. Handsome!

Yellow convertible with Scott