Saturday, July 4, 2015

Succulents Are Not Cactus, (But Cactus Are Succulents)!

 I use aeoniums as ground cover in a number of spots for the simple reason that they are so easy to propagate. Just take a rosette and stick it in the ground and you have a new plant.They do best in bright areas or filtered sun. But they are not fool proof in that they do need some regular water. They are not cactus! The picture above is a spot that they are quite happy in, a neglected corner with just the right amount of sun and water.

This picture is a spot they are not too happy with, along the curb in the front yard. My garden helper put them in on his own when the creeping thyme wasn't doing so well. Naturally they can't be walked on so maybe not a great choice next to where people park and get out of their cars. But the main problem is not enough water in this spot. There are sprinklers here, but the soil is so thin and sloped that it just won't seep into the ground and these guys are thirsty (but they are still creating offspring I notice). They ball up and turn red when not happy. I am planning on replacing them with dymondia in the fall or next spring. Not my favorite groundcover as far as looks go, but I guess you can't beat it for being tough and drought tolerant. Almost anything will be an improvement over this!

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Fruitful Gardening

We have been enjoying peaches, grapefruit, lemons, oranges, blueberries, strawberries and one tomato from the garden this week. There are only a few grapes on the vines (need to prune next winter) but they are starting to ripen too. Fruit from the garden is almost too easy in some cases!

Friday, June 19, 2015

Big Love for Shasta Daisies

 I do love my Shasta daisies (Leucanthemum x superbum) that grow in the Moonlight Garden. They have been in the same spots for many years and never fail to produce lots of tall, cheerful blooms all summer. 


 My only frustration is that I have planted them in a few other spots, trying to spread their glory, but they have never taken off and in fact disappear. I suspect they must be very tasty to rabbits that don't venture this close to the house. 


They are practially pest free unless you have slugs and snails from what I understand (I don't have to deal with those pests, I am guessing the local rodents take care of them, but I did get rid of them with Sluggo (organic snail bait) when I first moved in and they have never returned.) Another nice thing about these big daisies is that they make the perfect landing spot for all kinds of friendly bees, bugs, and butterflies. One more thing - they make great cut flowers. If only I would get around to making bouquets for the house!

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Lovely Ground Morning Glories

It seems like the groundcovers that are not succulent in nature have a really hard time doing well with limited water. I'm guessing it is because they usually have very shallow roots. Convolvulus sabatius (Ground Morning Glory) is an exception. It is really more like a very short shrub, growing about three feet wide, along the ground, and I'm assuming it has deeper roots because of this. You buy it in one gallon containers and it doesn't naturally root, reseed or send out runners (unlike crazy vine morning glories) so maybe it isn't really considered a ground cover, more like a ground hugger! I do love the color and the easy growing nature of this charming plant, blooms all year round and drought tolerant too! You couldn't ask for more!



Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Primroses in June

A shady nook in the garden that rarely is seen by most viistors still has a few English primrose blooms left thanks to the cool, overcast weather we have been having. The hellebores were done blooming months ago. These primrose were in a basket I used for some dining room arrangements in March and were just kind of stuck in the ground when they stopped blooming, but I guess they had more buds to show!

Monday, June 15, 2015

The Overlooked Daylily

 Daylilies are another flowering plant that seems rather unfazed by the reduced water. Although I guess the blooms may be sparser than usual, they do seem to just do their own thing day-in, day-out without much care from me, or Mother Nature.


 I have them sprinkled throughout the gardens, here and there. Some in full sun, others in a bit of dappled shade, but lots of light.


 I have them in all colors, shapes and sizes.


 Some do better than others. I typically buy them from Oakes Daylilies, a catalog/website that I frequent. Although not all of the hybrids I have purchased work well in our climate, many that are beautiful do, and they rarely show up in the local nurseries. I guess they are really more of a landscaper's choice since they don't require much care and have a big impact when grouped.


 I know they are not everyone's' favorite flower because they only last and day and don't make great cut flowers, unless you are willing to groom your arrangements daily.


But there is something to be said for carefree, flowering plants that don't need much watering, any pruning, spraying, dividing, or fertilizing and yet bloom consistently for years. I do kind of love them!

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Tough But Pretty

Another plant that seems unaffected by the drought are the agapanthus. They actually do better under stress, and bloom more! On our SJC property when we bought it were dozens of agapanthus that were tucked in everywhere. They obviously had been divided from what I'm guessing were large clumps somewhere and the characteristic leaves were throughout many of the flowerbeds at the feet of the palm trees and other established plants. Although they are considered a rather pedestrian plant in our area, I was delighted. I love agapanthus! But unfortunately they were too immature to bloom. We are just starting to get blooms now, eight years later. Pretty white and blue flowers are starting to show up here and there. I know they prefer crowded roots to bloom, but maybe the shortage of water has been enough of a stress to cause them to send up flowers too.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Loving Lantana in the Drought

 There are some plants that have really come into their own with the reduced watering cycles. I don't know if is because they are just finally mature after about seven years, whether they look good because some of the other plants typically that steal the show are suffering from the drought, or if they just truly thrive getting less water. (There is a fourth option and that is that my garden helper has been relegated to some new projects in Laguna and has not got near them with his pruners recently!)

 


One of these plants that I rarely think about planting is good old lantana. These are out in the curbside garden strip. I would not typically plant large yellow or orange flowering shrubs in any of my gardens, but the wall in the background is the same gold color as the house and I had to work with that. I have planted white lantana in the Moonlight Garden more times than I can remember and it never takes off at all. I find this common among plants, some colors are actually a more robust plant than other colored flower bloom colors of the exact same plant. Or maybe these guys are just situated perfectly. Lantana foliage is poisonous to animals and so the rabbits that are so profuse out here leave them alone. Another plus is that butterflies love them!

I honestly don't see this garden very often. When I drive out of the driveway I turn immediately left on the street and this garden is to the right, and to go out and walk by it I have to go through the front gates and leave my buddies behind (they are a bit too much off the leash to run around in the street) and nobody is happy about that.

Friday, June 12, 2015

A Woodland Feeling

If you asked me for my philosophy on garden design, it would probably involve something about creating a specific ambiance in the garden. I wish I could say for certain what this charming mauve plant that I put in a few weeks ago is called, but the label is long gone. I'm guessing it is some sort native or wold foxglove. I absolutely love it because they have been blooming constantly since they were planted (this was five one-gallon plants) and they make the dappled shade under the pepper trees look downright woodland-like, an ambiance I am particularly fond of that is not easy to pull off in a drought. They are tall enough to have a nice proportion over the boxwood hedges that border this "island." But the best part is that the hummingbirds love them and they come down to eye level to enjoy them while we are sitting nearby in the garden! I really should go back and see if the nursery has any more while this cool weather hangs around, extending out planting season!

Monday, June 8, 2015

Our Cool Spring Blessing

The cool, overcast weather has been a blessing for those of us on water restrictions. Soon the gardens will start showing more and more stress from the drought. Right now the Moonlight Garden is still holding it's own without any help from the usual annuals I typically add in the spring to fill in the bare spots. I am losing about six birch trees in the Laguna garden that I planted about 18 years or 20 years ago. They are almost at the end of their short life span anyway so I'm trying not to stress too much. I've lost a lot of trees there in the past four years. I will be much more cautious about what I plant in the future, even though a number of the ones that died were already there when I moved in. In all fairness, I also took some out because they constantly grew tall and blocked neighbor's views, another mistake I have to own up to I'm afraid. I do love to plant trees!