Friday, November 3, 2017

Project Update: My pocket bromeliad garden

Work on my garden projects slowed but never entirely stopped when summer returned with fury in October.  In late September, I posted photos of a succulent bed renovation that was mostly done.  I'm now declaring that one done done.

Since my September post, I've added a few more succulents, mostly of the ground cover variety, and bark mulch

This area soared through October's nasty heatwaves without an issue


In early October, I provided a peek of what I called my surprise pocket garden.  This area sits behind the succulent bed shown above, in back of the clump of Agave attenuata and the Arbutus 'Marina' in that photo.  It's a narrow and fairly shady area running parallel to my neighbor's driveway on the northwest side of our property.  Since we moved in almost 7 years ago, it's been occupied by little more than weeds.  In my October post, I showed photos of a few plants, mostly bromeliads, I'd planted there.  Since then, I've added a stone pathway, more plants, bark mulch, and several pots.  Here's what it looks like now:

This is the long view from the walkway along our garage occupied by our garbage bins and my potting bench

This is the view from the other direction.  Shrubs and trees prevented me from backing up to provide a better view.


Because it's a narrow space and the pathway curves through it, it's not easy to see all at once.  Here are some close-ups by section:

The Agave attenuata on the lower left mark the edge of the succulent bed I showed at the top of the post.  I've added Aeonium arboreum cuttings, a noID bromeliad pup (an Aechmea, I think), and pups of a noID Sansevieria on the right.  I'm using dwarf mondo grass (Ophiopogon japonicus 'Nanus') as a ground cover between and around the stepping stones.

I want to fill the empty area to the right of the Agave attenuata here with more of the Seslaria 'Greenlee's Hybrid' shown planted next to the stone pathway but I haven't been able to find it.  I'm not sure if I'll keep the Kalanchoe prolifera currently planted between the 2 grass clumps.  It's interesting but looks gawky to me.

The pink-edged Aechmea 'Mend' and the flowers of the Aptenia cordifolia planted along my neighbor's driveway set the color palette for the area, which I picked up with shade-tolerant Pelargonium peltatum 'Pink Blizzard' and Dracaena marginata 'Colorama'.  Other than 'Mend', the other bromeliads I've used are all pups of Aechmeas, Neoregelias, and Vrieseas I've been growing in pots.

I found the Dracaena 'Colorama' and the "Satin Pothos" (which I think is Scindapsus pictus 'Argyraeus') in the houseplants section of my local garden center.  The Draceana was a bargain - 2 plants in each 4-inch pot.  I was concerned about whether the pothos would survive outside but it's been fine and now I wish I could find at least one more.

This area, near the end of the stone pathway includes more Pelargonium 'Pink Blizzard', Aeonium 'Lily Pad', Dianella intermedia 'Turutu' (received by mail order just yesterday), and the Villebrunea pedunculata I picked up on my visit to The Huntington Garden's sale last week.  My neighbor's Aptenia has crept up beyond the boundary line, as has the Senecio vitalis she stuck there but that's fine.


Two established trees and numerous large established shrubs inherited with the garden make it nearly impossible to plant in some areas so I filled in with pots.

Two sides of the same pots are shown here.  The photo on the left was taken facing the succulent bed.  The photo on the right was taken from the pathway inside the bromeliad area.  The largest pot already contained spotted Manfreda maculosa and I added a few Kalanchoe daigretmontiana and cuttings of Oscularia deltoides to cascade over the side.  I moved the smaller pots, one containing Cordyline brasiliensis 'Pink Joy' and the other a striped noID Aechmea, from elsewhere in the garden.

The pots at the terminus of the stone path were also moved from other areas.  The large one contains Dermatobotris saundersii, which I also picked up at the Huntington sale.  It's supposed to produce coral blooms.  The small pot contains my latest plant crush, Aloe 'Marsha Leyhew' (lower right), purchased at the same sale.  The mid-sized pot contains Billbergia 'Carioca', which recently surprised me by flowering.  Unfortunately, I didn't photograph the flowers at their peak but the photo on the upper right gives you an idea what they looked like.


The bromeliad pocket garden isn't 100% done as I'm still looking for more Seslaria and I expect to add more shade-tolerant succulents, dwarf mondo grass and mulch but that will be a piecemeal process.  Time to move on to other projects!  The weather is perfect for planting and there's a chance of some light rain this weekend.

View of the Los Angeles harbor from our backyard about an hour after sunrise


Wherever you are, I hope the fall season provides plenty of opportunity to get your hands dirty this weekend.


All material © 2012-2017 by Kris Peterson for Late to the Garden Party

26 comments:

  1. Sure looks great Kris ! I can't wait to see it a year from now when it starts to fill in. I hope you get some of that rain-we are expecting some overnight though probably not much more than 1/4". Nevertheless the cloud cover and cooler temps mean no watering this weekend.

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    1. The rain forecast for us is very similar, Kathy, and we're also enjoying the return of the marine layer and cooler temperatures. Enjoy your weekend!

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  2. Your new area, front and back, looks wonderful! Bromeliads in the ground -- Sigh.

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    1. I've never grown bromeliads in the ground before this myself, Alison, although I've seen others in the area do so. So far, so good!

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  3. This post makes me sad that we don’t have a winter trip to Los Angeles planned for this year. I so want to see your garden! You’ve got a lot of great plants tucked in there, bravo!

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    1. I expect I'll be cramming still more in there over time, Loree. I've long considered late winter/early spring the best time in this garden but it has its moments in other seasons. You're welcome to visit whenever your travels bring you this direction.

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  4. That bromeliad bed looks great! And that Agave attenuata is a showstopper, what a gorgeous, elegant plant it is! I should get one asap. I've never seen bromeliads in local nurseries, they only bromeliads I know are native aerial species that grow on trees, walls, fences, utility poles. Some have very pretty flowers. Wish a great weekend!

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    1. I've been thinking about adding some of the aerial Tillandsias, MDN. Right now there's only one, stuck on top of a basket hanging from the strawberry tree (Arbutus).

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  5. I so envy you new ground to reclaim and plant! This is going to be fabulous.

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    1. Adding topsoil to that area finally made it plant-able, Denise. I'm amazed it took me almost 7 years to get around to doing something with the space. Even my neighbor on the north side (the owner of the driveway shown in the photos) seems happy with it. Making an effort to give the area a more tropical feel, in keeping with her front garden, was key I think.

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  6. This little pocket garden looks great with textures and colors that will become even better when they fill in. Nice work!

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    1. Thanks Eliza! I look forward to seeing those bromeliad pups have pups of their own.

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  7. All your planting beds look magnificent. I admire you for knowing exactly what you want to plant and what you are searching for when you go to a nursery. What is the mulch you are using? It looks like pecan shells although it may be cocoa bean shells. It is a gorgeous color which complements the plantings. When Danger Garden remarked on the lack of a winter trip to LA, I am reminded of our abortive trip last year. The only vegetation we saw was the downed palm fronds along the LA freeways as we struggled to pull the trailer though torrential rain. But I know it isn't always like that. Maybe another year.

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    1. The mulch is described as "micro bark," Jenny. It's wood mulch but split into finer pieces than the usual wood mulch. I've used cocoa bean shells before. They had a delicious chocolate scent but they matted and became moldy, at least in my former shady garden. I was also warned off of them for use in open spaces as dogs can be poisoned by ingesting the shells.

      I'm told that this is expected to be a La Nina year with limited rain but then the weather pundits said last year would be a La Nina year too and we got more rain than I'd seen in years, even pre-drought.

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  8. Your completed succulent area looks excellent and the bromeliad area is developing the same meticulous beauty. Well done. I have been leaving broms in the pot and planting the pot in the ground...not sure if that is a good idea or not.

    Isn't the cool weather heavenly? I hope it lasts and lasts.

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    1. The weather is heavenly! We got another 0.07/inch overnight and this morning so the seasonal total is now 0.15/inch. It may not be much but I'm celebrating.

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  9. You are a very accomplished plantswoman Kris. Google doesn't think that is a word, but I'm pretty sure it is and just shows those who are in control aren't gardeners - more's the pity!

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    1. Thanks for the nice compliment, Christina! I've also found that Google isn't up on gardening terms or some other forms of uncommon vocabulary for that matter.

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  10. Now I'm really jealous. I would so love to have a suuculent garden like this. You have done it beautifully.

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    1. Your succulent-surrounded seaside-style she-shed has a charm I can't match, Chloris!

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  11. Your pocket garden is so charming. It looks amazing!

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    1. Thanks sweetbay! It's a lot better than the dirt and weeds I had there before, that's for certain.

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  12. Gorgeous! I am coming to appreciate succulents more and more. They are great additions to my garden, though most of them will not survive my winter. I recently brought a number them inside until next spring. They are definitely worth the effort.

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    1. There are succulent addicts in the Pacific Northwest who go to extreme lengths to protect their treasured plants. I have to wonder if I would grow anywhere near as many if I faced winter freezes.

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  13. I've looked at this post twice now, and every time I get more climate envy. I wish I could grow all these bromeliads in the ground.

    I love what you did, and I hope I get a chance to see your garden in person some day.

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    1. You're welcome to visit any time you're down this way, Gerhard. As to the bromeliads, I've still got my fingers crossed that they'll do well planted in the ground in the long haul. Other than a single Billbergia, I've never tried planting one in the ground before this.

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