Thursday, March 5, 2015

Why Did Itt Die?

I put Acacia cognata 'Cousin Itt' out of its misery.  What a beauty it was when I got it, just about four years ago, in March 2011:
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Poor 'Cousin Itt' slowly and inexorably declined.  Why?  I meditated upon the root system after I yanked it out of the ground. There were a couple of healthy roots running just under the surface of the soil, indicated by the red arrows:
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Everything else appeared to be dried up...insufficient water?  The instructions said sun and sharp drainage.  Cold was not a problem--we've been above 50F most nights for several years.  I gave the Cousin sun and sharp drainage, and regular water, although maybe not enough of it.  The soil is light, fluffy, but nutritious.  Or did the original commercial grower misgrow Itt in the first place?  After four years, I think it is my responsibility.
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Arrrgggghhhh!  I had four years to help Itt, and somehow I didn't.
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Not everything dies despite my poor care.  I've given Opuntia microdaysis nothing but glances for years.  I think I watered it once, maybe.   
Opuntia almost exactly two years ago:
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It's grown, as has the 'Blue Glow' Agave next to it.   
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Perhaps it's trying to make me feel less blue about 'Cousin Itt'.  The Opuntia is sprouting flower buds for the first time.  
At least I'm not a total failure.   Do I try 'Cousin Itt' again, maybe in a pot?  Oh dear no, not a pot.  Maybe I won't try 'Cousin Itt' again, for Itt's own sake.  

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Goodbye, Joe, And Hello, Joe

Goodbye, 'Joe'!

Today I said goodbye to original 'Joe Hoak'.  He's bloomed out.  He's not dead and gone though--by no means.  He's now four 'Joe's instead of one.  Here's one...
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...and another.
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And there's already a grandson!
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Digging out original Joe, which was easy since the roots were mostly gone, I found he was terribly infested with mealy bug.  And--wait!  What?  His last gift.
Ooooh!  Possibly Joe will end up being seven Joes instead of four.  These newfound offsets look bad, but at first, so did the now-beautiful sons.  
Hello, Joe!
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Today was a day of moving/removing plants.  It will be close to 80F (26 C) again by Friday, so I wanted to get the heavy digging done before then.  We got a little more rain--perhaps only .25", but the plants were noticeably happy about it.  So was I.  There was precious saved rain to water in the transplants. 

The California poppies on the west slope began to bloom just a day or two ago.
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They look fabulous with the lavender-blue Lupines, which look fabulous also with Agave 'Snow Glow' in the background.
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The poppies are like sunshine itself.
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Sunday, March 1, 2015

Finally The West Slope Reveal!

Mulching complete!  Now that the west slope is nicely mulched, it is time to reveal it.  Prepare to be underwhelmed because the plants need to grow.  

Sigh. Doesn't look much like the design drawing...
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A dozen (or more) 'Blue Glow' Agaves, seven 'Bright Star' Yucca,  three Cordyline 'Festival Grass' (which will get almost 6' wide (1.5 M) each), and three Russelia equisetiformis look lost in space right now. 
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The silvery green, feathery blobs are California poppies.  Along with the three volunteer Lupins, they are meant to add a little color and interest until the Agaves and other plants grow larger.  
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I'm a bit sad.  It doesn't impress.  I had to remind myself of what the front slope looked like at the start:
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Repeat after me:  the plants will grow, the plants will grow...

Leaving that slope aside, around the corner is a slope planted within the past four or five years--very simple and effective, though smaller than our west slope--just Agave attenuata and (bad!) invasive Pennisetum setaceum, so I won't envy it, I won't, I won't...
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I'm not sure the Pennisetum was intended.  It may have invaded on its own.  Next door to that slope is another interesting treatment on a nearly vertical slope.  The homeowners added a synthetic "rock" wall made of reinforced concrete to match the real rock.  The real rock is on the left and the added concrete is on the right:
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Can you see the difference?  I marked the seam in red:
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Not bad!  There are two added planting cups in the synthetic portion, each with an irrigation line.  I drew a red line just under the irrigation line so you could see it better:
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Good solution to stabilize a vertical slope.  
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Nearby that is a plant new to me, a California native very similar in look to plants known to gardeners by the common name "Dusty Miller" (of which so named are several different plants of multiple genus and species).  I think this is Constancea nevinii, aka Eriophyllum nevinii.  Cool, and very xeric.  This particular plant is shaded by a nearby Schinus.  In fuller sun it would be much more white/silver:
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I think I want that plant--maybe there's a place on that too empty slope...Oh, there I go again.  All the years and trouble of thought, work and planning to have a large area with a cohesive "design" of plants, and I'm ready to add random plants to it.  No!  No!  No! 
Are you yelling at me?!?
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No, not you, Boris.  Well, at least the slope is mulched and planted.  It's time to move onto the next project.  I'll add in small areas of succulent groundcover, like Sedum 'Coppertone', which is what the design intends, as the poppies and lupines die off, but I'm officially calling the painfully prolonged Fall 2012 Project DONE. 

Friday, February 27, 2015

Leonard Nimoy 1931 - 2015

Leonard Nimoy's last tweet: 
"A life is like a garden. Perfect moments can be had, but not preserved, except in memory."

Thanks for all the memories, Mr. Spock.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Aloe Seedling Graduation

 Almost done mulching.  I'm also moving a few plants around.   It's time to put one of last year's Aloe seedlings onto the slope, before hot summer weather arrives. 

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Mama Capitata, with winter-red leaves, is nearby:
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Eleven months ago, it was one of these:
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 Time will tell how many years it takes to bloom.  
Update:  the rest of the seedlings, still in the nursery bed.  Compare the size of the 'Blue Glow' Agave seedlings above them, which have finally grown a little bit, but remain tiny:

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Mulch Madness Some More

Early morning scented by orange blossoms.

The piles are smaller
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The brown blanket larger
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Here is roughly the same area in November of 2011. (I moved one of the Yuccas last year):
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A gorgeous late winter morning
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Aloe 'Roikoppie' has its first bloom.
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Old 'Joe Hoak' is about finished--he's a wreck. 
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Joe's last flowers are open.  The Dasylirion looms behind.  Back and forth.
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What a beautiful morning, scented with orange blossom and the forest-floor tang of fresh mulch.  Fill another bucket. 
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The first roses of the new season.  What a beautiful morning.
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Back and forth, back and forth, with my buckets of mulch.  What a beautiful morning.
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Saturday, February 21, 2015

Mulch Time

The annual mulching marathon.  Only six cubic yards this year.  
The first thing to do is get it off the street.  A pile to the back...
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Three piles in the front...
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Then the fun really begins.  
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A fresh, even mulch makes a plant stand out clearly.  
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Lots of distractions to enjoy while lugging all that mulch around.  
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With this scenery, seems more like fun than work.