Monday, June 16, 2014

Foliage Follow-up - Mastering the Mimosa?

I was initially at a loss for plants to feature in this month's foliage follow-up, sponsored by Pam at Digging.  Then I looked out my home office window and found myself admiring the mimosa tree in our backyard, Albizia julibrissin.  It recently leafed out and, although it will be a 2-3 weeks before it flowers, I think it's at its prettiest right now.  I admit that the tree has been a regular source of frustration for me since we bought our current house three and a half years ago.  Its messiness is something I've complained about many times and I won't repeat myself here but, giving the devil his due, the tree does provide a dramatic backdrop in our backyard.






While the Albizia makes a major statement in the garden, I find myself relying more and more heavily on succulents to add decorative touches.  There are pots of succulents throughout the garden.

A new Aloe striata and an unidentified stacked Crassula in a pot on the main patio

A collection of succulent pots on the southeast side patio

I planted this birdbath with succulents a couple of months ago but I recently swapped out an ailing Aloe in the center for the Agave victoriae-reginae shown here - it and the Oscularia deltoides in front will fill in (eventually)

The struggling Aloe deltoideodonta moved into this pot, which I hope will provide a more hospitable home

This recent acquisition wasn't labeled but I think it may be Aloe variegata

Echeveria pulvinata 'Ruby,' purchased at a succulent show in April, is happy in the partial shade alongside the dry garden



I've also been planting more succulents in the ground in areas in which herbaceous plants and shrubs have failed to thrive.  This started when, as I may have mentioned before, I placed pieces of an unidentified Aeonium given to me by a friend in the hard-packed soil underneath our citrus trees for lack of a better idea as to what to do with them.

I've cut pieces of these plants for other areas of the garden dozens of times without any apparent harm to the source plants



Later, at a loss for plants that could survive in the poor, fast draining soil of the sloped area beneath our Ceanothus hedges, I tucked pieces of Aeoniums in there too.

I'd estimate that these Aeonium, planted from a few single stems, have been in place about a year now, steadily multiplying



After seeing an entire border of Aeonium outside a design studio in Orange County, I think I may fill in the remaining space along the stacked rock wall under that hedge with Aeonium.

New ground for additional Aeoniums

This is the look I aim for (photo taken at a design studio adjacent to Laguna Nursery)



If the drought continues here, as it's expected to do, I expect you'll see even more succulents in future foliage follow-up posts from me.  Please visit Pam at Digging for her foliage highlights and to connect to the contributions of other gardeners.

24 comments:

  1. I LOVE the beautiful structure of the Albizia, but I can understand your frustration about the mess. We have a neighbor's Alder overhanding our property and there is not a time of the year when it is not dropping leaves, twigs, pollen, cones, etc. Aaarrrgh! I really like your aspirational photo, too. Looks like you are well on your way to propagating enough aeoniums to make it happen.

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    1. This is pretty much the only time of the year the Albizia doesn't make a mess, Emily. We had it cut back significantly in January - I'm hoping that helps limit the mess this year.

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  2. I can file that Aeonium hedge under the 'things I wished I could do' tab. That inspiration picture is amazing, and I'm sure your hedge will look equally good!

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  3. I was wondering if you had the ID for the mother of thousands that has the pink tint to the baby plant-lets on the edge of it's leaves in the birdbath?

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    1. It's Kalanchoe delagoensis x daigremontiana 'Pink Butterflies,' often just marked as 'Pink Butterflies.'

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  4. Indeed the form of your Mimosa is a beautiful thing. I am glad to read of you appreciating it just a bit. Of course I'm also happy to see you planting all those succulents! They will be so happy in your climate...

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    1. We're in the pre-messy stage with the mimosa but I hope the litter will be less this year due to the pruning it received in January. I have gobs of those Aeoniums - they're the plant equivalent of rabbits - so I might as well spread them about.

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  5. Hi Kris, you live in an awesome spot, so never mind if you can't grow paeonias and alliums! Albizias are among my many favourite trees and apart from the species I planted the variety "Chocolate" which has the most beautiful foliage. I'm glad that they flower very early in life and are very drought-resistant. What do you mean by messy? The falling flowers? I think their architectural shape is such a bonus. Smashing collection of succulents and I'm looking forward to seeing more of this view :)

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    1. As soon as the flowers come on, the Albizia starts to drop both leaves and flowers, scattering debris all over - if I want to keep the patio neat (a goal I've nearly given up on during the summer months), sweeping is required once or twice a day. The seedpods created after flowering drop most of the year and seedlings appear EVERYWHERE. I believe the tree is intent on world domination. However, I do love the shape and stature of the tree - and I've heard that the 'Chocolate' variety doesn't create as much mess. Like the Jacaranda (my all time favorite SoCal tree), my Albizia would be best in an area where the litter presents less of a problem.

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  6. Your Albizia is beautiful Kris! Although hardy enough for here I have yet to see a specimen here that is as big as yours.

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    1. Maybe its marginal status in your area helps keep in under control. I live in fear of missing some of the mass of seedlings it produces and waking up one morning to find myself in an Albizia forest.

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  7. Be still, my heart, while looking at that path edged with aeoniums. Lucky you to live in a climate where they'll grow! I love all your potted succulents too, Kris. And even a messy tree is a good tree if it provides shade in the summer -- at least that's what I tell myself when I grumble about our messy live oaks.

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    1. Yes, I forget how much I miss the Albizia's shade until it leafs out each June. The Magnolia grandiflora at the front of the house also drops leaves and flower debris continuously at this time of the year but, for some reason, that litter bothers me less than that produced by the Albizia. I guess that's because the Albizia litter is harder to clean up and because it's not just a seasonal event.

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  8. Amazing, I didn't know Aeoniums could grow like that. I did something similar in San Diego just sticking pieces of Jade plant in the ground here and there. I love Mimosas in bloom, but I like the foliage anytime as well. Lovely spreading tree.

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    1. I don't do anything to prep the Aeonium cuttings for planting - and they seem to do well wherever I put them so spreading them to difficult areas of the garden seems a good idea. They take root wherever they touch soil - sort of like the Albizia seeds.

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  9. That is a beautiful mimosa, most I've seen don't reach that level. I love your idea of a pathway lined with succulents. I always admire them when I see photos but we are just a bit too cold and too hot to do that here so I look forward to seeing yours progress.

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    1. I've noticed that those Aeoniums seem to get larger and spread faster in partial shade than they do in the hottest, sunniest locations, Shirley, so I expect you're right about the difficulties they'd have with your "death star."

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  10. I loved your inspirational picture when you showed it before and you are well on the way to achieving the same look, maybe I should be doing something similar here. The structure of your tree is lovely.

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    1. I've got to get busy adding more Aeonium to the space below the hedge. I'd tried some other succulents there but nothing takes off like that Aeonium.

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  11. One of those trees that are wonderful--in someone else's yard. Good post.

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    1. Yes, like the Jacaranda. If I had another couple of acres, I'd be glad to have both an Albizia and a Jacaranda sitting in open areas than didn't require clean-up.

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