Thursday, October 29, 2009

Halloween and Remake

It's that time of year. Halloween almost here. And time to remake beds in southern California. They do well if started in the late fall, can winter over in above-freezing temps and then grow into the spring. This gets plants established before the hot summer.

I am an informal gardener, so it's not always so easy to see the form in the way I've planted. But I like to plant where it seems to fit in my own quirky style. It can make for mess to the eye, until things get planted and grow. There's a method to my madness.

I certainly don't fit the organized gardeners of the first few categories in Nell Jean's post What Kind of a Gardener are You?  The plan you see below is for record only. I made it after I got all the plants in place and like where they were.  I knew generally what I wanted before I went to the nursery, but let my intuition be the guide once I got there. It seems to work for me.

One of my beds had an unusual number of plants on the wane this summer, so I've opted for more succulents and drought-wise plants. I did quite a bit of internet research before going to the plant store.

Here's the bed before I got any new plants in it. No pruning or transplanting done yet and some pots in places I think they might go. The bed is remade in three stages. This is the first.

Here is my drawing of the bed with the new additions and the legend being a list of the initials spelled out into words. The form of the bed has a rock bed on the left and right of a central rock with a crystal on it. The plants are interspersed in this structure.  I often intersperse according to color and texture, balance and creative license. Not your formal garden here.

 Hope you can read the legend. I did print. Skeletal map above with S's marking the newcomer succulents. A few other new plants came into the plan during planting.  I never could make a good outline of a paper until after I'd written it. This was the same. I made the plan after I tried out the plants in their pots on the bed.

Here's another photo before I planted.

 The rock bed is made with Arizona Travertine. It's related to porous limestone, but is a little harder. You can really see the orange, yellow and whitish colors of the stone, which I love, as well as the layers and porous character. That's what makes this rock so interesting.

Now for some photos after I got the succulents planted, the bed pruned and other plants removed or moved.  This is the second stage of my remake of the bed.

Here you can see one hen and chicks. Later I add another to focus the area. It's not so easy to see the burgundy aeonium and echeveria behind it to add contrast.

The full bed with sprinkler going. I wanted to get this shot before the sun hit the bed and make the photo too bright.

Now for the final touch done today, with a few more succulents and the annuals-- pansies. This is the third and, dare I say, last stage, of the remake.

Full bed with lone yellow pansy in the middle waiting for a place.

  Now I'll take you through the bed from the Bird of Paradise progessing to the plants by the door.

 Purple pansies and golden sedum with silver edged horehound to back.

Rock garden with sedum and thyme interspersed. Native penistemum in back left.

Both hen and chicks by the central garden crystal. Pansies in forground. The zinnias are still popping.

Next rock garden with pansies and sedum. The dried flower stalks are from the yarrow.  Chartreuse ornamental sweet potato wending its way through the bed at the back.

The rest of the rock garden the echinecea and rudbeckia on the far right.

This bed is not easy to photograph, but I wanted to give you an idea of a garden bed remake in my style.  Hope it's been possible to follow and even enjoy.  As it fills in I'll show more photos.

I have such fun doing this sort of thing. Really brings out the creative juices. I get so into the garden that I overdo it. After the second stage I had to rest with all the bending and stretching. I've had some pinched nerves in my neck, affecting my arms, and all that work got them inflamed again. But I didn't feel a thing as I was working. Only after the fact. And I do have plenty of dirt ground into my hands and fingernails, despite quite a few scrubs. All worth it as I step out the door and look on my handiwork. Gotta love a remade garden bed. All that potential waiting for time to pass.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Monday, October 26, 2009

Butterfly Love

I finally got some photos of butterflies in my garden. Even though they were the same variety, it is very exciting. I had to click fast, because they certainly don't wait for you. They were flitting about most of the time, as butterflies are wont to do. So I learned patience. A moving object is just hard to photograph.

The Gulf Fritilary

They are common visitors in my garden, but so busy in flight, that I hardly get a close look at them. Here it is perched on a passion flower, favorite of the insects and hummingbirds.

Lovely fluttering creature, for a moment I have the honor of breathing in your essence. Quiet you are on a blossom or leaf.


Wings closed tight I see the inner beauty of your flight. In your aberrant flight you seem not to know where you fly. But you find the flower or leaf that you need and settle into a momentary stasis. If I could be you for a moment, wings outspread in the sun, flying on the drafts of air. Velvet wings. Searching antenna. Seeking the light and the air.


So delicate, so ephemeral, the stuff dreams are made of, I bow to you little flittering creature of the air.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Dedicated to her

Fall 2006-- Trip to Northeast to visit friend dying of breast cancer-- beautiful autumn-- last time to see my friend-- this post and the beauty of fall dedicated to her

This trip was to New York state, 2 hours north of the NYC.  I'd lived there before I came to California and had a friend there to die of cancer the following spring.  I flew out for a quick weekend to see her.

The following photos taken during my last walk with her.

She loved to collect berries for wreaths.


The autumn colors were at their height. So much glorious beauty. I will never forget that trip. The next pictures are taken in the company of another friend I stayed with.

 These donkeys were lovebugs. We hugged and hugged. I couldn't get enough. Neither could they.

Berkshires, NY


Catskills in the distance

I know you hear me, dear friend. This is in your memory and dedicated to you in the spirit with which you lived and died.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Moon Planting

It's amazing that plants are so connected to the moon, as the sun and the seasons have a more obvious effect.  I've learned in my gardening that they do.  In the Farmer's Almanac there is a small section that describes gardening by the moon. The basic idea is to plant above ground vegetables when the moon is waxing and below ground vegetables when the moon is waning.  There is next to this a section that describes the best moon constellations for planting, fertilizing, pruning, etc. They go in to times for special work in animal husbandry, as well. Since I have no animals, I don't pay much attention to that.

I like gardening with the moon.  I've used the Farmer's Almanac suggestions and also a calendar by the name of Stella Natura.  It is set up like a regular calendar and tells you when to work with certain kinds of plants according to the zodiac constellation the moon is in. Not so far from the Farmer's Almanac, just a slightly different take.

I've done my own experimenting by noticing when plants seem to do best, if I take all this moon advice.  And I've discovered some patterns of my own.  It can get to be a bit technical, if you don't keep a garden journal.  But I just mark things on the calendar and note if the seeds came up, the transplant worked, or didn't, etc.  Sometimes I just remember.

I planted my fall garden seeds in old annual six-pack trays a week or so ago. I planted all the leaf seeds, the seeds of leafy vegetables, at what I though was the best time by the moon.  They came up in two days.

They were sitting outside on the patio. I plant them this way rather than straight in the garden, as the squirrels are hard at work burying nuts. If I till and plant seeds, that's the perfect place for them to plant nuts, or so they think.  So I'll give them a head start on the patio.

I am always so surprised when my seeds come up in record time.  Ever since I've been trying to plant by the moon, this will happen to me.  It doesn't happen every time, as I often don't select the very best time.  It's a matter of connecting with my intuition and all the moon planting advice I've read, and then planting.  It feels so good to get the right time.  Sometimes I can sense that I've gotten the right time when I plant. I have the feeling that I've put the money in the right slot this time.  Hope you understand what I mean.

Here are the little fellows just coming up-- my lettuces and mesclun mix.  Seedlings are terribly exciting for me.  They have all the promise of big plants with a salad to offer or big blossoms to come.  They are little plants coming into being.  I love it.

Here they are after a few more days. Getting to be big guys.  Secondary leaves just starting to appear. I used to always water them with chamomile tea to prevent damping off, but lately I haven't had this problem.

I find this part of gardening needs a delicate touch and a watchful eye. I have to be cognizant each day of the seedlings. They are easily disturbed at this point, by lack of water, too much sun, insects.  But it is one of the more fulfilling parts of gardening-- watching a seed grow into a whole plant with leaves and or flowers.  It can be a frustrating part, as well, when the seeds don't come up or they're struck down by something or other.

The moon planting just gives me a jump on seed sprouting and, later, on the strength and health of the plant (more on that later).  Have any of you done these kinds of experiments? Tell me about it.

Monday, October 19, 2009

My Blue Glory Bower

The Glory Bower Bush is one of the gems of my garden. I keep it in a pot, as I've not a sunny enough spot to give it the room it would like to grow in. But it does happily in a pot.

It's Latin name is Clerodendrum ugandense, from the Verbena family. It can grow to 8 feet high and 8 feet wide and doesn't mind being trmmed back to 2-3 feet high to become bushier.  Right now I keep it at 3-4 feet high and will trim it as it finishes blooming. It loves lots of water, which is another reason I keep it in a pot, so that it doesn't dry out in our heat waves.

It's buds are tight little ovals when preparing for bloom. They can even have a little color.  They cluster tight together.

As they prepare to bloom the buds spread out into the air.

The plant is originally from Africa, actually Kenya, rather than Uganda, as the name suggests. There has been some controvery about the Latin name. Now it seems to be called Clerodendrum myricoides 'Ugandense.'
It will take light shade and handle temperatures to 20 degrees F.

All parts of the plant are poisonous, so don't try to take a snack on this plant.  Another relative to this bush. C. trichotomym is used in Chinese herbal medicine for a variety of ailments.


The spiders enjoy it too.

In my garden it is very exciting when it blooms as its flowers are so spectacular, even though small. They look like butterflies with different colored blue petals and pistils that unfurl themselves like the anthers of a butterfly.  Butterflies and bees love them and can often be found hvering around them when they are in bloom.

Now for the glory of its blooms and a few shots of the plant in larger perspective. Enjoy.




Friday, October 16, 2009

Passion in the Garden

Well you've not seen anything more passionate in my garden of late than my passion flower vines. It's calling out for a post of it's own.

Blossoms, buds, new vines abound on this plant. 

It cascades off the trellis in layers, falling in abandon on vine branch after vine branch.  When these plants decide to be proficient, they really go after it. To give you the full effect, I'm just going to have to show you lots of pictures. Here goes, one after another. I just went crazy taking photographs of this beauty. It is showing off right now and who can resist a plant that has to show off.



Talk about passion in the garden, this passion vine is dong its best.  Striking three-lobed leaves just never stop and on each stalk is a blossom and more buds. And don't you just love the three layers of this flower-- petals, second layer of petals, then pistils and stamens. It just wants to be looked at.

After two days of rain the plants were sparkling with raindrops the next morning. Out in the garden and here is this show-off plant still abounding in blossoms and beauty.

I've tried to take pictures of this plant from every which-a-way to give you the idea of what's going on in this part of the garden. Passion is the only way to describe it. Now enjoy these last few and breathe in the life and joy of a passion flower in bloom.

Did I see a third layer of petals, the white ones?

Yes, indeedy, I did. And look at the red splotching on the pistils. What a pistol this plant is!!!