Sunday, November 29, 2015

Fall Project 2015 #2

Because of the holiday week, progress has been slow.  Also yesterday Something Very Bad (retina detached?) happened to my left eye, so progress may stop entirely for a while, but in the meantime, plants removed, and the design pondered.  I pondered while I dug out/moved/tossed.  For example, I started thinking something like this, photographed perfectly by Gerhard at Succulents And More, in front of the wall, with the 'Hercules' Aloe staying right where it is, and a lot of the Dymondia groundcover, especially right next to the street, to hold in soil and keep things tidy.  Perhaps the same pairing of 'Blue Flame' and 'Blue Glow' agaves around the mailbox post, and--a few Agave parryii truncata, and that's it. 
Can one have too many Agave parryii truncatas? 

However I have a whole lot (15+) of 'Joe Hoak' grandchildren now.  I must use them somewhere.  'Joe's yellow and pale green look okay with the Dymondia...
 ...but blends a bit into the wall color.  Not enough contrast?
The "normal" color of the same Agave looks better against the same color wall, but enough of those there.

Perhaps something shrubby right against the wall, such as a blue-ish Leucadendron, with the row 'o 'Joe' in front? 
 It seems right to have some shrubby-ness, because of the shrubby plants on the other side of the driveway.  Too much of a change, if one side was too minimal, right? 
Pondering from that angle, I wondered:
(instead of plants in front of the wall), what about a band of identical Agaves grid-planted to extend the strip of slate squares?  Too contemporary (and stark) for the house style? 
More ponder:  I like love the Leucophyllums on the front slope.  How do they look against the wall?  Sort of cool.  They have the great virtue of being slow-growing as well.  'Blue Flames' or 'Joe's in front of them? 
I got this big 'Molineux' rose moved to the spot (red mark) formerly occupied by 'Gold Medal' and 'Irish Hope', which is when and where the eye disaster occurred.
 Hopefully you forgive the disjointed nature of this post--want/need to keep my mind off this eye disaster thing until an appointment with an eye-disaster doctor.

Further pondering on The Project was interrupted by pondering whether to move this seedling Aloe from the Project Area or toss it, and then by seeing Aloe flower scapes emerging on the front slope. 
 As far as I can tell it is a cross of vertical growing A. cameronii...
 ...with pendent A. hardyi, which is one of the ones with flower scapes appearing.  The seed came from hardyi, which was blooming at the same time as cameronii, hence my guess.  Five separate scapes on hardyi, so I guess it's happy enough, despite some scorch from the summer heat.
 Aloe cryptoflora is relatively uncommon in cultivation.  This plant's first flower.  It's from summer-rainfall areas, so I was diligent about watering it this summer, though it turned red with stress (not diligent enough, probably). 
 Aloe vanbaleni:
 Aloe capitata peeking out!  Yay!  Such a charmer
 First flowers emerging on A. suprafoliata:
So, that's where The Project is at.  Wish me courage on the eye, if you would.  Luck I have, now and then, but courage is lacking. 

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

You Can Observe A Lot By Just Watching

 "You can observe a lot by just watching"  -- Yogi Berra

Watching and thus observing at the San Diego Botanical Garden today.  This Aloe 'Hercules' branches at knee-height.  Mine has branched at 10'--what determines the height at which it branches?  

 Aloe dawei
 A smallish Aloe with an interesting open and vertical growth habit.
 Aloe arborescens, as it begins to flower.
 At this, my favorite moment in the process, the flowers display a fetching blue tip. 
 A garden sculpture frames an Agave shawii bloom stalk.
 Aloe shawii cluster
 Agave horrida, possibly, beginning to send up its flower stalk
 Ferns in the foreground, a sculpture in the middle, a Quercus suber behind. 
 What a pure crimson this bromeliad displays!
 Cordyline, sunlit.
 I don't know what this besides Calathea lancifolia, totally cool. (Thanks to mr_subjunctive for the ID)
 Bromeliads do not require brilliant crimson color to dazzle.
 Opuntia helleri, native to the Galapagos Islands.  The fruits feed the giant tortoises of those islands.
 Strelitzia reginae
 From a different angle, the flower looks quite different.
 Aloe ferox is flowering early here.  The ones at the Huntington were not showing any signs of flowers a couple of weeks ago.
 Didn't see the label for this Aloe
 This Agave shawii is a lot different than the huge clump earlier.  This one is solitary and huge, shoulder-high.  Perhaps it has its own personal sprinkler at the roots, to make it so fat and happy.
There were a group of sculptures for sale throughout the garden.  Some of them (like this one) were quite nice, but they were also quite expensive.  This one was $19,000, plus tax.
 Plants are cheaper, and not without sculptural form.  A Restio: 
 Haemanthus albiflos
 Dioon foliage + sunlight
 Acacia covenyi, flowers just forming. 
 Sky.  No one can charge for that. 
 Nice hair, dude.
 Gerbera jamesonii 'Everlast'
 Watch, and you may observe. 

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Is That...Autumn Color?!?

Sort of.  The real Autumn color of here is brown, but early morning light and an actual touch of turn to the Japanese Maple provide a brief hint of it.
It was a tough year for the Japanese Maples.  A terrible heat wave in March, just as they leafed out, scorched the emerging foliage.  The lack of much winter rain left the soil too dry, and the cut back in irrigation made matters worse.  I hope a wet winter brings them back to health. 
The most reliable mix of classic Autumn is found in the koi pond.