Friday, June 19, 2020

Little garden jobs

I haven't tackled any big jobs in the garden of late but I've taken care of a number of little ones, some planned, some not.  After stretch of hot weather ended last week, we've enjoyed the return of "June Gloom,' which has kept our temperatures down.

This photo was taken around 2:30 yesterday afternoon as the marine layer was just beginning to lift.  The longer the marine layer remains in place along the Southern California coast, the cooler the daytime temperatures we enjoy.


One of the first things on my "to do" list was replanting a small pot on my south patio.  The Aeonium that served as its centerpiece had bloomed out and the whole pot looked sad.  It was a very simple project.  Harvesting succulent cuttings to fill the container was the most time-consuming aspect.

I collected 3 tiny pups of Mangave 'Jaguar' to start with and filled in with cuttings of Aeonium arboreum 'Velour', Aeonium haworthii 'Kiwi', noID Aloes, and Hatiora salicornioides


I also planted an empty pot with three succulents I picked up on my last trip to my local garden center.

For once I stopped myself from stuffing the pot with a lot of extra plants.  This palette consists of Crassula platyphylla, Graptosedum 'Vera Higgins', and Sedum rupestre 'Angelina'


These projects led me to address the driftwood piece I decorated with succulent cuttings back in November 2017.  It held up reasonably well for 2 years but I'd recently noticed that it had almost entirely fallen apart.  As with the first succulent pot featured above, I relied heaving on Aeoniums to cover the driftwood.

My glue pen was gummed up and I lost patience in fussing with the succulent cuttings so this piece is less complex than the one I originally created (and a piece of the driftwood had broken off as well).  I thought of displaying it on the top shelf of my work bench (top photo) but decided it would get too much sun there so I returned it to the base of the peppermint willow in my bromeliad area.


While I was working on the driftwood piece in the area adjoining our garage, I decided it was time to remove a large sweet pea shrub (Polygala fruticosa) that had seeded itself in the succulent bed there.

I didn't take a "before" shot but this photo shows the empty space left after I removed the shrub and the weed-like Santa Barbara daisies (Erigeron karvinskianus) growing through and underneath it.  These had obscured the Westringia in the background, as well as the ceramic pot and the bromeliad (Billbergia) on the right, and most of Mangave 'Bad Hair Day' in the foreground.

The Manfreda maculosa and noID Sedum in the pot were waterlogged during our rainy season but are looking good now and deserve attention

Billbergia 'Boracho' is also looking pretty good (and will look better still when I remove the ratty Arthropodium cirratum behind it).  I'm thinking a lower-growing Mangave like 'Jaguar' (shown on the right) would be a better pairing with the bromeliad.


In the same area, I removed several overgrown and damaged Aeonium arboreum along the path we use to haul our garbage bins out to the street for pick-up.

I took cuttings from the plants I removed and simply stuck them in the soil.  In time, they'll form clumps like that shown on the right.


In the cutting garden on the other side of the garage, I bit the proverbial bullet and pulled out the last of the cool season flowers in my raised planters.  With the Nigella, Orlaya grandiflora and larkspur (Consolida ajacis) gone, it looks rather bare now but there's lots of potential there.

These photos show the cutting garden from two angles after the cool season flowers were removed.  Twelve of the dahlia tubers I planted have sprouted, although something was nibbling on the emerging foliage of Dahlia 'Belle of Barmera'.  I covered her with a wire cloche but I'm not sure she's going to make it.  The plastic flats are in place to protect zinnias seeds and seedlings.  I've planted Gladiolus corms as well.

In addition to strawberries, I've squeezed two tomato plants ('Early Girl' and 'Sungold') and a pepper into pots


Yesterday morning, while engaged in my ongoing battle with the resident gopher, I also cleaned up the overgrown plants that were eclipsing the agaves and other succulents in my garden on the south side of the house.

In addition to some form of grass weed, I pulled masses of self-seeded alyssum and cut back the creeping blue-flowered Wahlenbergia 'Blue Cloud' by more than half


While I'm pleased with the more streamlined look of the succulent bed on the right side in the photo above (if not with my progress in battling the gopher slowly moving through the bed on the left of the flagstone path), I'm alarmed at the appearance of the tree-sized shrub in the background.  That's a toyon (Heteromeles arbutifolia), a California native and the City of Los Angeles' official plant.

I can't recall ever seeing the toyon's leaves turn red like this.  It's an evergreen shrub.  It flowered as usual earlier in the year but whatever berries appeared to be developing seem to have shriveled.  I'm hoping this was a response to the two very early heatwaves we had this year, and not a sign that the tree is dying.  I found one article suggesting that this may be a natural response to stress shown by certain native California plants (as described here).  The reddish foliage is more widespread than suggested in the article so I'll be watching the tree closely and will call an arborist if it shows further signs suggesting decline.  It sits atop a steep slope overlooking a neighbor's driveway and removing it won't be easy.


While the toyon isn't behaving as expected, I was pleased to notice a neighbor's Jacaranda in full bloom.  My own dwarf 'Bonsai Blue' Jacaranda has failed to produce a single bloom but my neighbor's tree was doing what it should do in June.

We have a peek-a-boo view of the flowering Jacaranda above and beyond  our hedge (left).  A short walk up the street got me a better view (right).


I'll close on that note.  Best wishes for pleasant weather to see you through the weekend.


All material © 2012-2020 by Kris Peterson for Late to the Garden Party

22 comments:

  1. Continue to admire how much you get done in hot weather. I sort of dissolve and seek shade. As always your garden is gorgeous. Would love to be able to go out and take multiple cuttings of aeonium and just tuck them in the ground. They are worth a pretty penny here.

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    1. I only did a little when it was scorching hot last week, Elaine. Since the marine layer (what we call June Gloom) moved in last week our temperatures have been remarkably pleasant. I'm knocking wood right now so I don't jinx it...The prices of Aeoniums in small pots aren't too bad here (roughly $5 for a 4-inch pot at the local garden center) but even then I might be able to make a killing just by potting up some of my cuttings!

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  2. The south garden is spectacular! Rich, instant reward for your tidying.

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    1. Thanks Nell. Unlike most of the rest of my garden, the south side area looks good pretty much year round but I do think it looks even better after its clean-up.

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  3. I really hope the toyon's okay, just stressed. Might you all plant a young one, just in case? They're such wonderful plants.

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    1. As in the case of my mimosa tree (Albizia julibrissin), the fact that the toyon sits at the top of a relatively steep slope makes it unlikely that I can remove its stump should it be necessary to take it down, and the fact that its removal would directly impact the neighbor below as it sits on the property line also complicates matters - an unstable slope could come crashing down into their driveway! There actually was a smaller toyon growing almost on top of the large one that I had my arborist cut down (the year before last I think). However, I've noticed sprouts coming out of the stump of that smaller tree so maybe it will have its day after all.

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  4. Little gardening jobs or pottering here and there, that's what I enjoy most in the garden. I love all your succulents and how you display them. I looked up Mangave'Bad Hair Day'and I see I could get one on eBay for $914.99 + $50 for postage! I think not. I love the Manfreda maculosa too. Your neighbour's Jacaranda looks fabulous. What is the red flowered shrub in front of it?

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    1. The price you were quoted to ship a Mangave 'Bad Hair Day' gave me a huge laugh, Chloris. To think I complained about how much Mangaves were costing me! At that price, you could probably fly from London to Raleigh, North Carolina and buy it at Plant Delights (one of Martha Stewart's favorite nurseries) while enjoying a holiday. I don't know if the UK would actually let you to carry a plant in from the US but still! 'Bad Hair Day' isn't even a pupping Mangave. If you were to obtain one, I suggest getting one that produces pups like 'Kaleidoscope', 'Jaguar', 'Snow Leopard' or 'Silver Fox' - at least then you could recoup the cost by selling the offsets to succulent-loving Brits.

      The red flowered shrub below the Jacaranda is a huge Bougainvillea. The red comes from bracts. The Bougainvillea's white flowers at the center of the bracts are relatively insignificant.

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  5. It feels so good getting those little jobs accomplished. I really like your driftwood display. I wish I could grow those aeoniums like that cluster you showed. I think they are so interesting. Have a great weekend.

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    1. I never knew how remarkably easy Aeoniums are to propagate until I moved here, Lisa, even though I had one (Aeonium 'Kiwi') in my former garden. When we moved in here, a friend gave me a handful of cuttings of Aeonium arboreum that came from her mother's house I think and, not knowing what to do with them I stuck them in the ground below my citrus trees and they flourished. Almost all the large Aeoniums in my garden - and there are a LOT of them - came from those first few cuttings. They're my go-to plants to fill empty spaces when I don't have anything else immediately in mind.

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  6. A lot of littles add up to a big difference. The south view is a favorite and it is looking fine. I find little jobs make me feel more productive - more things to check off the to-do list!
    Your Manfreda macula is looking marvelous - what a great plant.
    Have a good weekend, Kris. Ours is going to be a bit warmer than usual, which limits my outdoor work. You'd probably laugh at what I think is too warm to work! ;)

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    1. Some of those tasks weren't even on the to-do list but they needed doing so I think they should count! We've been lucky to have the marine layer bring our temperatures down. When we reach the mid-80s, I usually work in the garden only in the mornings and late afternoons. If the temperatures soar into the mid-90s, I'm lucky to do much of anything out there. And ours is usually a dry heat, while I suspect you have to contend with humidity, which makes things worse still.

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  7. You've seemingly crossed a lot off your to do list! That new look to the table centerpiece is fabulous, I can't imagine being able to harvest and move around aeoniums the way you do! On one hand I'm rather jealous, on the other I'm so glad someone is living the life of aeonium riches! I hope your toyon is okay!

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    1. Between the gopher and the toyon, I'm a little on edge about how my garden will fare this summer but I'm concentrating on the things I can control, while continuing unrelenting harassment of the gopher.

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  8. Love, love your containers and am so jealous of the Agapanthus below.

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    1. We can always depend on succulents here, Amelia - and Agapanthus!

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  9. Your repotted plants look lovely!!! I don't ever do much with succulents as they have never done well for me. But you have the perfect climate for them and they show it. Lovely!!!

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    1. There are times I wonder if I shouldn't grown anything but succulents, Cindy, but then I love so many plants...

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  10. Isn't June-Gloom weather great for gardening? My favorite gardening weather--disappointed we haven't had much of it this year. Looks like you had fun and were extremely productive as well.

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    1. I'm glad June Gloom finally arrived! It's been wonderful here, well except for being very windy and dry anyway.

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  11. Your photos and views are amazing Kris. You have created an amazing paradise! Enjoy the cooler temperatures whole they last.

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    1. The marine layer is hanging in here but it's exiting a little earlier each day...

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