Tuesday, September 16, 2014


Waiting for better weather, stuck inside.  The heat has been terrible since the middle of last week.
'Joe Hoak' progresses.
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The baby Oak is five feet tall (150 cm) now, and oblivious to heat.  
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The beautiful Ozothamnus succumbed.
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The pumpkins are almost ready.
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I wait indoors, restless and grouchy, so desperate for activity I washed the floors again.

Natasha knows what to do.
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Monday, September 15, 2014

Fling 2014: Kuzma Garden

Don't you love this fountain?
The Kuzma garden, the second-to-last garden of the Fling, was the last for me--Beloved and I had to dash to the airport for the plane ride back home.  I was unable to give this garden my full attention  when watching for the arrival of a taxi scheduled to get me back to the hotel.  So this post doesn't quite do justice to a beautiful garden.   
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I was also attempting to get a photo of the fountain water to look hazy via a slow shutter speed, ruining many subsequent photos due to not readjusting the shutter speed.  
Not hazy enough.
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It was cool and drizzly for our visit.  
Too hazy.
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Hey.  Wait a minute.  Agaves, Anigozanthos, Palms, gravel--is this Portland or am I already back in L.A.?   No, wait...
Any visitor from the Southwest got a giggle seeing healthy, green dwarf conifers (bottom right-ish) mixed in with Agaves--we don't do that (unless we want dead, dried-up dwarf conifers mixed in with our Agaves).
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Dasylirion, Cuphea, Acacia, Arctostaphylos--is this L.A.?  No, of course not.  It's July and it's drizzling.  
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The property was spacious--12,000 square feet?  The appetizer was a shallow front garden with a square of decomposed granite (or maybe it was gravel) surrounded by shrubby drought-tolerants with an urn(?) in the center of the gravel.
Philadelphus?  Cistus?  
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Behind that, a rectangular house of some sort (so focused on plants, who has time for buildings?) that ran parallel to the street.  The back garden was the main course and dessert.  First, a gravel area just behind the house with choice plants, such as Agave ovatifolia, Acacia baileyana 'Purpurea', and a small, rare, fussy, gorgeous Silvertree, Leucadendron argentea (extreme left corner of photo)I was initially puzzled as to why the Acacia with 20' potential height was planted so close to the home, but perhaps that is for winter cold-protection, and it won't reach 20' in Portland.  Or will it?  This garden suffered losses last winter, which was a cold one.    
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Beyond the gravel area adjacent to the home was that gorgeous fountain, and behind that were hilly raised areas of xeric plants divided by curving gravel paths, the hills of course being for sharp drainage in wet Oregon winters.  There was a shed/garage at the left back corner of the property, a sitting area to the right of that, but most of the garden was plants, plants, and more beautiful plants.  I got no shots of the general layout, only of some of the many (and mostly very familiar) plants.  
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 There was a grand, happy Gunnera, of which we saw several in Portland, with my lens cap tossed onto a leaf for scale:
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Somewhat tender Rosa 'Mutabilis' looked splendid in the Portland climate.  It likely suffers a bit of winter damage this far north, just enough to stimulate a wild mass of bloom in July.  In my climate, it is a large green globe with only scattered, though continual, bloom.  Banana leaves behind.  They grow so quickly!
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Restio, Acacia(?), Anigozanthos:
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An...Arizona Cypress?  My Cupressus arizonica var. montana 'San Pedro Matir' subspecies looks similar to this one.  We saw many unfamiliar conifers in Portland--conifers all the more unrecognizable because they looked happy and healthy and not a drought-stressed brown.  
Isn't the texture delicious? 
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Oregon Agaves are smaller than at home--no surprise due to a colder winter.  Interesting that Agave americana, such a weedy pest  for us, is so well-behaved in Oregon.   What's also different is the gravel.  Gravel, like politics, is always local. 
Yes it was drizzling.  Drizzle also unfamiliar.
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A. americana var marginata, behaving:
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Fairly cold-hardy Trachycarpus is the common fan Palm in Oregon instead of Washingtonia, though I think there was a Washingtonia in this garden--I just couldn't bear to take a picture of it.  
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Phormium--so many familiar plants.
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One of the few wide-ish shots that were in focus--because of the drizzle, shots were quick and then the camera went back under my hat.  
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One of the several green roof examples we saw in Portland, where they seem to work well.  It's hot and dry for too long in Southern California.  
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Yucca apparently bloom at smaller sizes in a colder wetter climate.  Is that true?
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Yet another fabulous garden, as you can see.  I regret not being able to stay longer, and regret missing the next and last garden of the Fling as well.  No more leaving Flings early.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Random Saturday; New Aloes

 Ordinary plastic owl decoys made dramatic via a clever Halloween paint job.  They look better painted like this than with the attempt at realism the average plastic owl receives.  This was at Roger's Halloween boutique, which had lots of super cool stuff for sale, though the only truly frightening aspect were the prices. 

Four new little baby Aloes have joined the collection:  alooides, burhii, tomentosa, petricola.  Arid Lands is having an Agave and Aloe sale for September. 
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Anemone 'Pretty Lady Emily' now in full bloom.
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'Joe Hoak' continues on his way.
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The sun lit up the center of this day lily.  When looking at the photo on the screen, it was only then I noticed the Mantid hanging off the bottom of the flower on the right hand side.
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The dragonfly landed right in front of me as I was standing looking at fallen Dahlias. 
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Speaking of the fallen, beautiful Stachys 'Bello Grigio' dropped dead.  Oh, well.
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The Digiplexis just keeps blooming.
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The Koi are having a good summer.
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So is 'Aimee Vibert'
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So is 'Belindas Dream', of course.
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Those look nice together.
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And that with the sun.
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Silver silk Leucadendron argentea is not in my garden, to close with another Roger's shot.  I got the photo, though.
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I'm not focused.  Several days of 105F (40 C) weather are expected, starting today. 

Friday, September 12, 2014

Uh Oh!

At last report it's not moving this way, and it is reported to be moving away from any homes. 

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Propagation Methods For The Slacker Gardener

It was a surprise to find seed pods on young 'Moonlight' Grevillea the other day.  Usually young plants here fail to set seed their first few attempts.  Not so with 'Moonlight'.  

I got to thinking over the ways I try to propagate new plants with as little effort as possible.   Small covered containers filled with seed starter indoors, misting systems, constant monitoring--oh, so much effort!  So much focus!  Dedication!   Yecch!

The Aloe capitata seedlings I managed to get going this spring were a thrill, just not enough of a thrill to want to make careful, meticulous seed starting techniques a regular habit.  I still practice a lazy, sloppy, haphazard approach. 
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Yes, a seed in the pod.  It's not ripe yet, and since 'Moonlight' is a hybrid, any seedling would not be quite the same as 'Moonlight'.
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I frequently toss seeds into damp, shady places that stay damp enough to germinate seeds.    Out on the slope where 'Moonlight' is planted, ripe seeds opened and flew everywhere, but on that arid slope, how many have a chance to sprout and grow?  Might as well try tossing some in a damp spot.  If they fail--no loss. 
These will fail because they are not ripe.  There will be more, ripe seeds soon.    

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 Seeds can be difficult.  It's easier to look out for plant bits that have already rooted, and place them where they can grow further.
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If I bother with cuttings in a pot, I put a lot of different cuttings in the same pot, so I only have to water one pot. A jar over the bits that need to stay moist.     
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A raised nursery bed especially for rooting plants has also proven successful.  For the exceptionally lazy (me), choosing plants that are easy to propagate is advantageous.
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I also place cuttings in spots I walk by daily--location, location, location.   That way they have a better chance of getting attention and care.  Keeping items like a watering can and spray bottle of alcohol (for killing aphids and mealy bugs) right nearby is also helpful.  Otherwise I'll be too lazy to go and get what the plant needs.  The placement of  'Fred Ives' by a gate was a major success, because I can check for mealy bugs and black aphids several times daily.  Of course I did have to walk all the way to the gate to drop the cuttings into the bed, but somehow I managed.  
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Easiest of all is to grow a few reliable re-seeders so seedlings can be moved to empty spots.  My reliable reseeders are Cerinthe, Impatiens, Carex testacaea, Alyssum, and Lobelia.
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I stay alert for more rare seedlings.  There have been a couple of Aloes, a few roses of unexceptional performance, a Clematis or two worth saving, and one excellent cane-type Begonia with dark foliage and white flowers, which I would have paid money for--it's been that good.  

When the pond had a small leak back in July, the damp soil in the leak area produced two new begonia seedlings.  Most of the time of course random seedlings are weeds--Eucalyptus, Schinus.  The dreaded Alianthus is moving into the neighborhood as well.  Sigh.  
Oooh!  Leaky knife valve = free Begonia! 
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I've placed many a rose cutting under other roses, where it stays damp, but not wet.  All that baggie stuff, plastic cups, misters--too much work!  If the cuttings I casually jab into the soil grow, great.  If not, try another spot, or a cutting from a different rose, or a different time of year.  The success rate is not great--but neither is the effort involved. 

If I make the effort of putting a cutting in a cup of pumice inside a plastic bag--if roots do appear, when that moment arrives to take the cup out of the bag--several failures have led to the practice of placing the rootling in a damp spot, so the surrounding humidity supports the tiny plant.  (A need for dampness is a definite theme here.  There's not a lot of it in this garden.)
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If a cutting does strike, a slacker gardener must be careful not to leave eventually huge plants growing in the dappled shade of a small "mother" plant too long, so Junior doesn't overwhelm Step Mom. 
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For the potted plants I manage to water regularly, I toss seeds in the pot, to see what happens.  Echeveria from seed!  Now that's cool.  
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Actually, I'm more scatter-brained than anything else where gardening is concerned.  Slacking off I reserve for vacuuming and swashing the kitchen floor.  One of the great things about gardening is that it's the perfect activity for the unfocused--one can bounce from task to task and yet get results.  Propagation is one task where focus is helpful.  Must work on that.  Grevillea seeds are calling.