April 26, 2015

Rainy, beautiful weekend

Must buy more pots! Story of my life. Agave gypsophila (with two pups not shown) and Aloe elgonica (five pups in the box) resting up before repotting.

It was a perfectly beautiful Sunday, after an overcast Saturday and a stormy Saturday night. Everything bright and glittering, dozens of hummingbirds, blue sky, white cloudlets. At some point I remembered that the Huntington Spring Plant Sale was this weekend, and it's a measure of just how perfect the day was, that I thought, "Oh, darn! Eh, whatever." Such a nice day.

There are two Giant Swallowtail chrysalides in the plastic box -- one is hanging on the side closest to the camera. Wake up, little dudes, it's spring!

Above the retaining wall. Most of the rocks in this photo have been in the family for the better part of a century. What can I say — we like rocks.

There were four of them at the feeder when I picked up the camera. Wasn't fast enough to get all of them, darn it. Major hummingbird activity this morning.

And finally, a video of my dog helping in the garden. No, really — he helps. Who's a good boy? You are, Jasper, yes, you!! Here's Jaspie helping his flu/cold/bronchitis-stricken human clean up her act, with cameo appearances by Smoky and Lulu. Good dogs all.

April 9, 2015

Extra strength

From strength to extra strength, California. Terra cotta pipe is from Stephen Penn.

Turns out that industrial salvage may be what transforms a ragtag collection of potted succulents into a garden. Who knew? Anyhow, what a blast I had last Friday over at Stephen Penn's Art Garden. (Huge thanks to Reuben of Rancho Reubidoux for encouraging me to visit.) Stephen, Raul and the crew were busy preparing to move the Vintage Garden-Industrial-Architectural Salvage operation to a new home, but Stephen spent over an hour showing me around and uncovering all sorts of rusty treasures. He was incredibly generous with his time and his collection, and I can't wait to go back. (The new location is closer to me, yay! I'll post more details as I get them.)

I brought home a truckload of wonderful things, including some fabulous rocks, industrial tools, some pipes, a cart, a metal box to put on the cart, some sturdy blue metal shelves, a manhole cover, a surveyor's marker (I think), and a few smaller items for DIY projects. I'm still figuring out what to do with everything. 

Stephen added this black iron pipe thing to the stack o' purchases before I left. I put it on an old plant stand, and now it makes me think of a dressmaker's form from the 1800s:

In other news, I located my old Canon point-and-shoot. Don't adjust your screens — the blurry photo below was the first non-iPhone shot I've taken in over a year :~/

(How do I work this thing again?)

OK, that's a little better. Aloe erinacea, from the UCR sale.

"Hey, you!"

"Yeah, you. You talkin' to me?" Hummingbirds are feistier than ever.

Opuntia (santa-rita?), new growth.

Agave titanota. I love titanotas, and this may be my favorite of the eight or ten here.

Aloe suprafoliata at dusk and out of focus, but oh, that blue. Plant was acquired as a rescue by my local cactus and succulent club.

Finally, I am now a member of the 35% siblinghood. Conserve every drop of water you can, people, and pray/hope/meditate/hold good thoughts for rain. I'll get by all right with my rock lawn and my backyard that is nine-tenths patio, but when I look at photos of Hoov B's garden I could weep. Read this post, and the comments, over at Piece of Eden, for more on the drought and the mandate to cut water use. I thought of Tom Stoppard's play when I read the comments. Et in Arcadia ego: "Even in Arcadia, there am I." 

April 1, 2015

Valley View

Another great photograph by Marc Crumpler. I can smell the grass, and hear the dawn chorus: birds, insects. Imagine the cattle on a thousand hills. California.

UC Riverside Botanic Gardens Spring Plant Sale, and more

Not UCR. Lowe's, in Redlands.

'Swamped' should have been the title of this post. In a good way: back to work after Spring Break, running to nurseries and plant sales, doing a little flashlight gardening in the warm inland evenings.

Note: what follows is in reverse chronological order.

Tuesday afternoon I ran over to Cherry Valley Nursery to buy some rock, and wound up with a wonderful plant. No, not the lovely Jasminum polyanthum I may spring for someday, but a wonderful hybrid calliandra that sounds perfect on paper:  "It performs best in full sun, and thrives in reflected heat exposures. The stems are hardy to about 18° F and the plant is root hardy to at least 15° F."  Wonderful pale branches. A photo from Flickr:

On Monday I stopped by Lowe's in Redlands to pick up some cleaning supplies. Apparently I arrived right after Altman Plants delivered the biggest order of succulents ever, or so it seemed. Not just agaves, but titanotas! (The titanotas are in the second row, right behind the Kissho Kans in the photo up top.) And Xerosicyos danguyi! I pounced on this one — check out Reuben's great photos of Xerosicyos at the Rancho.

On Sunday I thought deep thoughts about my garden. I love succulent collections, and I love beautiful gardens, and I want my succulent collection to be subsumed within a lovely garden. I love native plants, and want lots of them. I want birds and lizards to be happy here. I like the patio to be free of leaves, and I want to be able to move around, sweep, prune, and water, without impaling myself on spines and without knocking things over. The dogs need a bit of space. And since I spend a lot of time at the cabin each summer, and will spend even more time there when I retire, I need a water-wise garden that doesn't need constant attention. All this in the small, mostly patio, mostly pots, place that I rent. First, I need to do something with those cinder-block plant shelves. Fun project, eh.

Saturday was the UC Riverside Botanic Gardens Spring Plant Sale. If you ever go to one of the UCR sales (and they are super), keep in mind that there are always crowds. Parking is quite a ways from the garden, but there are shuttles to spare you the hike uphill, and kind volunteers at the garden entrance who will watch your plants while you take the shuttle back down to the parking lot, retrieve your vehicle, and return to the entrance to load everything up.

The only glitch on Saturday involved checkout. There are two lines (one for cash/check, and the other for credit cards). The lines always stretch to the moon, and there is always a wait, but this year the pace was really glacial. I had hoped to drive out to Claremont afterwards for the Sage Festival at Rancho Santa Ana, silly me, and so I was in line with my wheelbarrow o' plants by noon.

And there I stayed, for a blazing hot hour and a half. A volunteer — eyes narrow, mouth grim — had warned me that "new people" had devised a "better" system for checkout that was actually much slower than ever before. In any event, by the time I finally reached the front of the line, paid for my plants, fetched my truck, returned to the garden entrance and loaded everything up, it was after 2:00 — and the Sage Festival ended at 3:00. I threw in the towel and headed home.

The wheelbarrow:

Sharkskin agave in the bow, next to a Grevillea 'Canberra Gem.' On the opposite side, Distictis buccinatoria, another Ceanothus 'Concha,' and a Baja Spurge, Euphorbia xanti. In the brown box, two rosemaries, a ruby muhly, Euphorbia 'Dean's Hybrid,' and a Ludisia. (I blame Danger Garden for the Ludisia. Those leaves! It will go up to the cabin as a house plant for the summer.)

Here's the green box:

Some cacti in there. An agave 'Cream Spike' at the bottom next to a little red Adenium obesum. Two aloes: capitata var. quartziticola. Yet another Toumeyana bella, because they are tiny and tough and I love them. A really little Aloe erinacea. And almost hidden up at the top, in the middle, the find of the day: Yucca endlichiana. What a cool plant. Up close:

I should add that I'm taking boxes full of plants to donate to the local CSS at tonight's meeting: sort of a "one comes in, two must leave" kind of tough love. I'm getting a clearer picture of what works and what doesn't in my little patio. Kelly Griffin is tonight's speaker... and of course there will be interesting plants available. [Edited to add: home from work with a bug; may not make meeting. If not, will cry.]