Rain, especially heavy rain played on repeat over weeks, does a lot to freshen a garden in drought-afflicted Southern California. With the rain now done for the foreseeable future (i.e. at least two weeks), it seemed an appropriate moment to take stock. I focused on foliage and, not surprisingly, succulents.
|Wide shot of my south side garden, which predominantly, but not exclusively, consists of succulents|
|Closeup showing Agave 'Blue Flame' (front), A. 'Blue Glow' (left, background), and A. americana var. mediopicta 'Alba' (right, background)|
|A second closeup, featuring more 'Blue Glow' Agaves, backed up another Agave 'Blue Flame' and a second A. mediopicta 'Alba'|
|This is a closeup of my largest Agave 'Blue Glow'. You'll notice that it's now sporting the start of a bloom stalk. I'm surprised it took so long to do so. It sprouted pups from its side over 6 months ago and its leaves gradually flattened afterwards, both signs of pending bloom. |
|I took this photo of an Agave 'Blue Flame' in the street-side bed from the area behind it. This view emphasizes its wavy leaves.|
|These are my largest Agave ovatifolia. The one on the left is my oldest, planted in 2012. It might be 'Frosty Blue', although I didn't have it labeled as such. The 2 photos on the right are different views of my Agave ovatifolia 'Vanzie', planted in 2015 from what I vaguely recall was a 4-inch pot.|
|This clump of Agave attenuata on my back slope was started from pups taken from my front garden. Those pups are in turn generating pups of their own, a small number of which are shown on the right.|
|It only takes cooler temperatures and a little rain to pump up the Aeoniums. Clockwise from the upper left is one of the dozens of clumps of green Aeonium arboreum in my garden, A. 'Cabernet', A. 'Sunburst', and A. 'Zwartkop'. The clump of 'Cabernet' was accidentally beheaded when I had our trees trimmed. I planted it in a sunnier location and its promise was realized.|
But succulents aren't the only plants that are flaunting their fresh foliage.
|This is the mass of 3 Acacia cognata 'Cousin Itt' on the south end of the back garden. I cut it back several months ago and moved the ceramic fish up in front of them. You can barely see the front tip of of one of the 3 fish here as the others have been completely swallowed up again.|
|Cordyline 'Can Can' seems to be happiest in a pot|
|Drimia maritima (aka sea squill) has responded to the rain by reappearing, as it always does. I have 5 bulbs planted at the bottom of the slope. I should have clustered some more closely but, with time, hopefully they'll multiply on their own. I never got any blooms last fall but maybe they'll do better with the increased rain this year. |
|Echium webbii (left) has flushed out again, showing off its silvery best. A noID Echium (possibly E. candicans) self-seeded along our south property line (right).|
|Hebe 'Purple Shamrock' is at its best this time of year|
|Leucadendron 'Ebony' has been enveloped by Leucadendron 'Chief' again but you still can't miss that dark foliage. The latter will be pruned once it finishes "flowering."|
|On the back slope, calla lily foliage (Zantedeschia aethiopica) has popped up everywhere. I had only 1 or 2 flowers last year but I'm hoping for better this season.|
We also have a fresh green carpet of moss in a few areas.
|The picture on the left is of a moss-covered path in the front garden. The photos on the right were taken on the back slope.|
Another storm, lighter than the previous ones, moved through Northern and Central California on Wednesday and, unexpectedly, reached far enough south to give us another 0.05/inch of rain yesterday. My "water year" to date rain total (counted from October 1, 2022) is 10.83 inches. If we get more before our rainy season ends in early April, it may be a good year. Earlier forecasts suggested that we'd be relatively dry from January through March but, as January was a big surprise, maybe the rest of the season will be too. At present, all I can say for certain is that we've already had more rain this water year than we had in total during the last one and more than double what we received the year before that. In the meantime, I captured what rainwater I could for later use.
|All 3 of my rain tanks are full so I have 475 gallons of rain stored for use as needed later in the year. I've also been collecting rain from the rain chain in plastic trugs like those shown here and using their contents to water the drier areas of my garden. I've already filled and emptied these several times over during the course of this month's storms. I'm in the process of redistributing the contents of these trugs now.|
Best wishes for a pleasant weekend. We're looking at ten mostly sunny days ahead here, which is a nice change after a nearly continuous stretch of rain.
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by Kris Peterson for Late to the Garden Party