Friday, November 20, 2020

Still focusing on the garden

Honestly, I'm not sure how much further my trust in the party currently in power in the US can sink.  The behavior of the White House and its minions in actively subverting the will of the people to gratify the ego of the current incumbent this week strikes me as tantamount to treason and the GOP's failure to stridently condemn it may forever cement this independent voter's position on the integrity of all members of that party.  I grudgingly accepted the court challenges filed by the incumbent but manipulating the electoral college process is beyond the pale.  That said, I'm still trying to manage my blood pressure by keeping my focus on the garden.  The good news is that the physical effort involved helps me sleep (most nights).

I took a good look at my potted succulents this week.  Some look good while others are in serious need of an overhaul.  But let's focus on my current favorites.

A friend passed this fountain base off to me years ago for use as a pot.  I planted the Mangave 'Red Wing' and its companions there almost exactly a year ago and it just looks better and better.

This mixed succulent pot near the front door, planted in June, makes me smile every time I look at it.  It contains Crassula platyphylla, Graprosedum 'Vera Higgins' and Sedum rupestre 'Angelina'.

This Aloe deltoideodonta and Cotyledon orbiculata have been virtually untouched in this pot since 2014

This quartet of pots alongside the front door was unplanned but I like it.  The noID red Aeonium probably needs to be beheaded and started over but I haven't gotten around to it (beyond replanting one broken rosette).  The Mangaves are 'Bad Hair Day' and 'Kaleidoscope', the latter a gift from a friend.  The plant in the small yellow pot is Kalanchoe beharensis 'Minima'.

Another friend passed along a second Mangave 'Bad Hair Day', which I popped into a pot on the other side of the front door.  The taller pot behind it could use a refresh, though.

The Crassula pubescens radicans in this pot could use a refresh too but I love the stressed red color of the scrappy plants against the green frog

I had more Crassula in this pot but it looked pretty sad so yesterday I pulled it out and planted fresh cuttings of the Crassula from elsewhere in my garden along with a small Echeveria hookeri I picked up on the fly on my last trip to the garden center

A friend, a true Mangave aficianado, gave me a pup of Mangave 'Mayan Queen' this summer and I decided it needed a pot upgrade.  I can't even remember what I previously had in this pot but 'Mayan Queen' is a perfect match (until she gets too big).

There are several pots and hanging baskets of succulents that need a rehab but my local garden center has already switched into its holiday season mode so there's not much of a selection to be had, and I suspect that's true of the local stores I haven't visited recently as well.  I expect I'll need to mail order succulents if I want to make major changes now rather than waiting until January.  One pot in particular makes me sad every time I walk by it so I need to do something about it sooner rather than later.

The pot is a rusted wok and I expect it got too much sun and too little water, cooking the contents this summer.  Mangave 'Tooth Fairy' in the center certainly deserves better!

The shortage of succulents in small pots is impacting my ongoing project on the front slope as well.  There, I've been using cuttings taken from other parts of the garden but the result thus far is underwhelming in the extreme.

Everything I've planted looks so small!  With only three exceptions, all the plants in the newly renovated space shown here are transplants, cuttings or divisions from other plants in the garden.

Top row: Aeonium arboreum (rooted cuttings still in their pot), Aeonium haworthii 'Kiwi Verde', and Agave bracteosa
Second row: Aloe striata, Baccharis mangellanica (new), and Graptoveria 'Fred Ives'
Bottom row: Lomandra 'Platinum Beauty' (new), and Pelargonium peltatum (new) with a transplanted Mangave 'Kaleidoscope'


These are two of the three bulbils I harvested from my two bloomed-out Agave desmettiana 'Variegata' in September 2019 and planted out in this bed.  They looked much more impressive in the pots I'd had them in.

I did a little work in the street-side succulent bed as well this week, although it wasn't my own idea.  After I told my husband I needed to cut back another of my 'Blue Flame' Agaves because the mother plant was careening into the street after producing two good-sized pups, he decided to tackle the job on his own.

He'd already started massacring the mother plant before I arrived.  I spent a good deal of time cleaning up the area after he'd finished.  I'll probably plant one of my homeless Agave colorata, and possibly Tithonia diversifolia (aka tree marigold), here after I supplement the soil in this bed.

I did a little work in my cutting garden this week too, though it had nothing whatsoever to do with succulents.  I finally cleaned out the remaining contents of the third of my raised planters to make room for more cool season flowers.  I'd pulled the last dahlias and zinnias weeks ago but a large segment of the planter had been taken over by strawberry plants and those had to go too.

The strawberry plants seemed to put more energy into reproducing than into producing berries in the raised planting bed.  I transplanted many of the plants into two containers and offered the rest to my neighbors.

I've planted some 70 Anemone corms and have sowed sweet pea, larkspur, Orlaya, and Nigella seeds in the three raised planters, as well as adding small foxglove and feverfew plants to provide color during our cool season.  The upturned plastic flats are intended to protect developing seedlings from bird visitors.  Every flat I had is piled up here but I could use several more.

I'd like to find some flower plugs to fill the two half-barrels in the cutting garden but there's little other than pansies, snapdragons, and Iceland poppies available at present.  I do love snapdragons but they're rust magnets here so planting them seems an exercise in futility.  

I planted Iceland poppies (Papaver nudicaule) and Violas in this half-barrel in the front garden in the hope they'll do better here than they've done in other areas of my garden in the past

I received a dozen tulips in lieu of the more climate-appropriate Triteleia bulbs I'd ordered from one mail order provider but they'll be chilling in my refrigerator for another couple of months and, even properly chilled, the likelihood that they'll bloom in my garden is low.  All the other bulbs I ordered, including those that were received nearly two months late last week, are now in the ground or in pots.  Meanwhile, I still have lots of seeds that need sowing elsewhere in the garden but that's a project for next week.

Best wishes for a pleasant weekend puttering in your own garden.


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

23 comments:

  1. I couldn't agree more with your opening comments. It is a very sad state of affairs indeed.

    But, happier subjects! I love that frog and crassula combo... perfect! While I understand you see your newly planted area a underwhelming won't they grow quite quickly? And it's amazing to me to think you could harvest that assortment of succulents from your own garden.

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    1. I hope things will grow quickly, Loree, although without rain that seems less likely and all we've had since the official start of our rainy season on October 1st is one twentieth of an inch. I'm most concerned that I've spread some of the succulents, especially the Aeonium 'Kiwi Verde', and bit too broadly.

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  2. I have been calling my two Republican senators daily, not that they care. I love your pots of succulents!

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    1. My senators are Democrats but I thought of writing to McConnell, which really would be an exercise in futility!

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    2. Yes, he would just laugh his evil laugh. I remember struggling to contact Paul Ryan, and being told that he didn't want to hear from me as I was not a constituent. Based on the power the speaker has, we are ALL their constituents.

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  3. Now you are making me feel guilty about my succulent pots. I think I am too mean with them trying to emulate what they get in a dry climate but it must be more than what they get from me. Is your A. desmetiana in full sun. I do find that the ones I have in the shade have much darker green bands. I took a pup and planted it in full sun and it did not do anything over the summer. of course I will be yanking it our for the winter. The A. des Joe Hoak is much paler though and I wonder if it is the variety you have. I have certainly been sleeping better recently and I am not going to put it down sold to working outside more.

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    1. The three Agave desmettiana 'Variegata' bulbils I selected for the renovated area showed the greatest degree of variegation, Jenny, but they don't directly resemble the parent plants. The variegation shown in the bulbils varied dramatically, with some showing none at all. The same Agave desmettiana produced pups, now mature, that more closely resemble the parent plants. Those do receive more shade. I have some 'Joe Hoak' Agaves in another bed, all of which are paler than even the bulbils.

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  4. Oh my your succulent pots are so gorgeous! I will have to focus on mine some day soon. For now, today when our weather has been just perfect, I have dug up all my dahlias, washed them and they are drying in the sun. Tomorrow, into the peat moss box!
    I try not to dwell on the terrible state of affairs. Can't imagine putting it all "back together" in January: I do not envy him!

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    1. I think the President-Elect and the nation as a whole will have lots of challenges to face in the future, Libby.

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  5. Your pots seem to be thriving at this time. Love the first one and the frog. I think you should be patient with your newly planted hillside. Those plants will fill in quickly. I hope you get some rest this weekend. I quite agree about the state of the political arena, disgusting and disturbing.

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    1. I added that Aeonium 'Kiwi Verde' partly because it was a relatively fast grower, Lisa, but I'm second-guessing whether I've spread it around a bit too thinly.

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  6. You know we are on the same page, Kris. Thank you for the journey through your succulents. I have been strangely lethargic this last week and need to swing back into action. I did stop and pull some grass and weeds in the driveway bed coming back from the mailbox and that inspired me to get outside in the morning and get back to work. Of course, I've been saying that every night. Oh well, I'm happy you are able to still be so active. You always accomplish so much.

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    1. The biggest challenge always seems to be getting out there and getting started, Barbara! However, once I do I usually get on a roll.

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  7. The plants in the newly renovated space may look small at the moment but it’s going to look wonderful when it all fills out. My own broken aeonium rosette is looking a bit healthier now so I’m more hopeful.
    Hang on in there Kris. It must feel as though America is on a cliff edge. I can only trust that sense and reason will prevail. Eventually.

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    1. I hope so, Jessica. I'm glad your Aeonium is doing better - they're pretty tough, all things considered.

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  8. Your fall planting reminds me of my spring one - we're very busy trying to get everything into the ground as quickly as possible. Hope you get some decent rain so everything grows well. The weather this year, along with everything else (!) could be a lot better.
    Enjoy the rest of your weekend, Kris!

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    1. I understand that this is probably a La Nina year, Eliza, which in Southern California means less than "average" rain: https://weatherwest.com/archives/7708

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  9. Ugh I hate Trump so much. I hate the Republican Party too tbh. I still can’t believe won in 2016 but not surprised he’s throwing a massive fit since thank God he lost this time around.

    On a lighter note, the succulent hat on your frog is so cute. Your succulents look great and are obviously very happy in your garden.

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    1. Succulents in general like it here, sweetbay, although some, like Sempervivums (which I love), prefer more cold than we get here along the coast.

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  10. I have only one container of succulents and it looks like your last one! I really should look after it better than I do.
    The little transplants will soon grow and fill up that space beautifully I feel sure.
    I feel very sorry for those in the US who are on a knife edge while that spoilt two year old holds the country to ransom. I do hope things resolve very soon.

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    1. Succulent pots can thrive on neglect, Jane - for a time. Given just a little attention, they're also very forgiving.

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  11. Container gardening can be very fulfilling and beautiful, and much less back breaking. Your pots are very pretty, planting up a wok is ingenious. Not hardy in my zone, I haven't any experience growing Aeonium, so when you say it "needs to be beheaded and started over", do you mean re-root the beheaded portion and replant?

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    1. In my climate, Aeoniums can be beheaded and the heads can be just stuck right back in the ground (or a pot) to root and grow again. Most experts suggest allowing the cut surface to dry and callous first but it really isn't essential here. I've legions of Aeoniums in this garden - it's my go-to plant to fill empty spots when I don't have anything else in mind - and the vast majority of those came from a handful of plants.

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