Tuesday, March 31, 2015

That Agave

The only other one like it I've seen was at the Huntington.  It appears to be the same species (or hybrid) as this one at the Huntington:
 Though I certainly haven't seen every Agave out there to see.  The Huntington's is not quite as pretty as mine.  I'm not bragging--I had nothing to do with it. The plant did the work.
Both have leaves with a slightly scabrous texture. 
An Agave expert says A. marmorata, because of the distinctive way the newest leaf emerges encircled by the previous leaf.
The Huntington sign says:
Though of course signs are not to be wholly trusted at botanical gardens, even when they are not very helpful.   
Here's my Euro American tissue-cultured A. marmorata, which was for sale a few years ago.  EA gave it the common name 'Turtle Teeth' for sales purposes.  Heh.  It's greener and twice as big as That Agave:
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It looked more like the two That Agaves when it was younger:
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Not quite the same.  Rancho Soledad says of A. marmorata:   "This species is variable with some plants being quite large while others...are of more modest size; some have leaves that are a dusky green and sometimes these leaves are distinctly striped in pale blue while others are entirely green or gray."
Here's That Agave's first offset:
 Not much of an offsetter.  I've gotten one other, and it's small.  

Here is That Agave's baby picture, back in 2011.  It was a lot more green then than it is now:
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Agaves can vary widely within a single species, sometimes so much so as to fool experts for a while.  That Agave varies in a good way.  It explains why we often see "selections" of a particular plant for sale--the grower liked it better than all the others--it has some particular virtue (cold hardiness, compact growth) or feature (a more eye-catching color) that others of the same species lack.   

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Sunday Morning

Clematis 'Angelique' above
The sun emerged harsh.
 
A strange, sheer white sheet of fog drifted in from the canyon, like the gown of a ghost bride.  

In places, the light was still harsh, in other places it was vague and grey. 


Then the light was bright again.
'William Morris'
Fog or harsh hot light, this is prettier in person:
'Fourth of July', with 'Firefighter' to its lower left:
 The garden was quite stressed by our latest heat wave
 Though there were still plenty of roses
'Lunar Mist', a short climbing rose, color sport of 'Colette':
 'Hercules', are you branching?  Look at the center--are two rosettes forming?  I climbed up on the wall next to 'Hercules' and tried to look down into it.  Nope, he's too tall.  I'll need a ladder.  A tall ladder.
 From atop the wall, it was easy to look down into the Calothamnus
And look down into a potted Agave--hey!  I've been hoping for Trachelium seedlings for a couple of years.  Where does one appear?  Wedged under an Agave.  Don't you hate it when they do that?  Maybe it's hiding from the harshness of the sun. 
 I wish the fog had hung on longer.  'Jude The Obscure' doesn't reveal the best of himself in harsh sunlight.
'Brass Band' better handles bright sun
 Several years ago I gave up on 'Star Of The Nile' and pulled it out, but obviously  I left some roots.  How about that--there it is again, looking better than it ever did. 
Despite the beauties of a quiet Sunday morning...
Some are just not impressed.  

Friday, March 27, 2015

A Visit From Planta Claus!

Imagine someone dropping by to give you a bunch of beautiful plants!  
 The treasures include 'Mr. Ripple' and 'Jaws' Agaves, a Teucrium, x Graptoveria 'Opalina' (??)  Echeveria 'Opal Moon', and four Ballotas, which will join what I started calling The Dry Area.  The Dry Area began as a steeply sloped lawn of St. Augustine grass and a row of Prunus caroliniana.  The lawn and Prunus were removed and the slope somewhat flattened back in 2006, and it became a pathway through roses and daylilys, but the area was always too dry to make a satisfactory place for roses.  Last year I moved or removed almost all the roses and daylilys, leaving the area mostly fallow, except for a few Salvias, a Woolly Blue Curls...

 Leucadendron 'Ebony', 'Improved Meyer' Lemon, and a couple of Aloes.  
Leucadendron 'Pisa':
 The reseeding Nasturtiums, handy winter cheer for Southern California.  They will be toasty dead in a few weeks, but effortless  temporary beauty for now. 
 Leucadendron 'Little Bit', also quite cheerful:
 This winter, I added more Aloes and Aeoniums, more Leucadendrons, and now soon, the Teucrium and Ballotas. The Dry Area is already getting crowded.  

Thanks, kind and generous Planta Claus, aka A Growing Obsession.  

A couple of days of nasty heat, so gardening is again on hold.  I rescued a big bunch of roses for a vase, because they'd fry outside.
Can grow um.  Can't arrange um.  
 Plus a Freesia cluster, and a single Sweet Pea stem:

I was stuck in the house, sniffing rose/freesia/sweet pea perfume and meditating upon a garden forum post that went something like:  

I will plant a rose at the base of  a big mature tree that casts dark, dense shade.  The climate is arid high desert.  The soil is a mix of rocks and tree roots, and the rose will get no irrigation.  When will a rose in that situation become spectacular?

One's immediate gut response is:  "Never!"  or less kindly, "When h-ll freezes over."  Plants should be respected, I thought.  Why bother planting them if you are going to give them the exact conditions they need to fail?

 I did remember, though, a rose abandoned out back to deep shade and drought.  It had a terribly awkward growing habit,  I got it for nothing, and at the time I stuck it in a terrible location, there was no other place to put it.  
Less than ideal placement:
 Feeling acutely disrespectful and ungenerous, I braved the heat to cut back and move that poor rose, which had managed to bloom a little, despite terrible treatment.  It also got a deep soaking and a shade cloth cover, to protect it from the heat. 
Generosity of spirit breeds more of itself.  A pebble dropped into a pond causes ripples that radiate outwards.   

This month I managed to fulfill a promise to the Dahlias--I promised them real support this year, before they begin flopping everywhere, and at least made an effort.  How violet tomato cages will work as Dahlia supports--we'll see:
I also promised the tomato plants I'd protect them from rats and tie them properly--we'll see:
Formal rat-free zone:
  Planta--uh--Santa Claus is generosity symbolized as a pointy-eared guy in a red suit.
Holiday Hoover photo HolidayHooverDc2528.jpg
It can come in the form of a box of plants, too, or as a kind smile, or simply patience at a stop sign or in line at the grocery store.   
Are plants generous with their flowers?  
I'll be generous enough to chase this ball when you throw it.  You're welcome!

Thursday, March 26, 2015

The Rose Thing; Now It's Become A Thing; A Heck Of A Thing

 A commenter said her rose thing was still a few weeks off.  Here the rose thing is in full swing, about three weeks early.  'Perdita', above and below:
 'Perdita' in context, she's at the lower right:
'Perdita' here is on the lower left, with 'Pink Gruss an Aachen' above, and 'Gene Boerner' to the the right:

Also an Austin rose of the palest apricot, fading to white, 'Windermere' has an enchanting fragrance.  

'George Burns', red and yellow, is far less demure, and far less fragrant.
Striped crimson and coral, 'Red Intuition'.  
  'Firefighter', every reliable, simply red.
 A different sort of red in 'Munstead Wood'.  Freshly opened:
 'Munstead Wood' ages to a different color, still beautiful if not so saturated. 
 Geranium 'Rozanne' seems ageless as it decorates and disguises the bases of 'Ambridge Rose'.  The red-foliaged Coprosma fits in better when the orange Dahlias begin to bloom.  No, really!
 That's the rose thing. 

The Oak has become a thing.  A six inch Oak tree can be safely ignored--it's not really something--a rabbit or gopher might eat it in one night.  A six foot Oak tree, though, is a thing, and must be considered--should it stay?  One upon a time people would plant trees that only their grand- or great-grand children would see in maturity.  People were proud to send a letter to the future, in the form of a tree.  Nowadays, most of us want "fast growing".  Bah humbug. 
 A heck of a thing:  last year the sweet peas were blooming the first week of February.  This year, the first flower opened today.  
I was very disappointed the flowers were so late, but one whiff of that sweet-pea perfume, and all was forgiven.  Well, sort of.  The more flowers I get, the more forgiveness will be produced.  Hint, hint, you reluctant plants, you.