Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Echium wildpretii rescue...

There are very few things that have me dressed and wielding a shovel miles from my home at 7:00 in the morning. This is one of them.

On a whim I’d taken Lila with me to run a few errands one day. We stopped for a walk and did the circuit around my plantlust.com partner, Patricia’s, ex-garden. She moved early in the year and the garden has been on a slow decline ever since; new owners with different priorities. Patricia and a team of gardening friends (including yours truly) had performed a couple of digs, rescuing her fabulous plants from certain death. There wasn’t much left to see the day I walked, mostly just crispy leaves and tall weeds. But then I spotted these…

Against all odds there were Echium wildpretii growing, lots of them. These guys hadn’t been watered since who knows when, because the new owners planned to remove all the "plant material" and start over with lawn they were just letting things die. The echium came from seeds dropped by a plant which bloomed in 2012, this plant (photo from 2012)…

That blooming action was two years ago. Last winter (2013/14) saw ice, snow, lows of 12F and several days and nights below freezing. Yet there were new seedlings. The plants I'd just spotted were actually the second crop, I took this group of photos (below) in October of 2013. Those plants didn't make it through last winter...

But evidently their late (second year) seedy siblings did. So once I spied this treasure Patricia and I talked, she contacted the new owners, and here we were, with a small window of time in which to get what we could...

That's why we were there at 7am, you see we'd been told everything was coming out at 8am that day, to make way for the new landscaping (lawn) and we needed to be gone before the workers arrived (couldn't have any pesky plant freaks standing in the way of progress). Furthermore the two days prior had seen highs of 99 degrees, that morning it was muggy and in the 70's, these were not ideal digging conditions. Of course we didn't let that stop us. Here's Patricia's haul (she may have grabbed a few other things)...

And I had a couple of flats like this. Are you wondering where the soil is? That's the sad thing. When you're digging plants out of baked cement soil you don't get any roots. None.

Here's what we left behind, (look ma no echiums!)...


This is what the roots looked like on the plants I took home (dark because I'd soaked them in water). Not very promising right?

So I cleaned them up, removed some of the leaves, and planted them in the stock tank recently vacated of cucumbers (so much for that fall veggie crop I was planning on).

They've been kept extra moist and in the shade ever since.

A few of the really sad ones (super lacking in roots) went in a vase of water.

Things were looking pretty dire later that first day, and for a few days after, but then they started to turn a corner and perk up. Here's how things looked a week later. I've watered them twice a day, everyday and not let the sun directly hit the leaves. Several outer leaves turned crispy and were removed, but the ones which remain are strong and show promise (no more wilting).

When I tug on the plants they seem rather secured in the soil, perhaps they've sent out new feeder roots? One can hope.

The success rate for the plants in water wasn't so good. Two of four remain.

However those two are developing small roots and seem relatively happy...

All that work in hopes of getting more like this, one of the best Echium wildpretii in my garden ever...

If all goes well from here on out I've got 16 (!!!) echium to plant out in my garden. That's amazing. Of course now I'm trying to decide if I...
  1. leave them here all winter (risky, above ground containers are more susceptible to freeze damage).
  2. pot them up individually and then stage them here for the winter (ready to be whisked to warmer environs when the temperature drops).
  3. plant them out in the garden once the rains return in October (or whenever they decide to return) and hope for a mild winter.
What would you do? Cast your vote!
All material © 2009-2014 by Loree Bohl for danger garden. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited and just plain rude.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Tower o'spikes...

I've always had an aversion to strawberry pots, the shape and the pockets. I find them vulgar. Yes I know, it's a weird opinion but it's mine. So imagine how surprised I was when I spotted this chartreuse number at Crate & Barrel and had to have it. Had to.

My attraction is to the cylinder shape, so different than the usual bulbous outline. So what to plant in it?

What else!?

This root bound mass of Agave 'Baja' goodness was only $9.99 at Means Nursery.

I cut into the root-ball...

And then cut apart the agaves.

They're pupping fools!

The harvest, 14 plants (which works out to a mere 72 cents each)! I tossed the tiny pups, most of them broke into pieces during the separation.

Planting was easy, I just tucked the small ones in the pockets and filled it up with soil to the next level, repeat.

And saved the largest for the top.

Love it!

In fact I wish I could have bought another, but I as it was I got the last one.

All material © 2009-2014 by Loree Bohl for danger garden. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited and just plain rude.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Agave weberi, my favorite plant in the garden this week…

When I mentioned that Mr. Big, my Agave Americana ‘variegata’ was in danger of being unseated as the largest agave in my garden Renee asked who his competition was. At the time, and pretty much always, I completely forgot about the Agave weberi...

Why? I don't know, I guess because I see it everyday just outside the back door I don't really "see" it anymore. When I uncovered it from the mass of cucumber vine a few weeks ago I was surprised just how good it was looking. It was a gift from my friend JJ, someone had given her a trio, she kept a pair and passed one on to me, hmmm guess that was 2 years ago now.

Here's Lila for scale...

But wait, she wants to be sure you appreciate both ends.

Okay, she's outta here, enough of that silliness.

The stats on Agave weberi...
  • 4-5 ft tall, 6-8 ft wide (in the ground)
  • full sun, low water needs
  • winter hardiness 10-15F
  • according to Mountain States Wholesale Nursery: "this agave is often seen in the southwestern Unites States and parts of Mexico, but only in cultivation, as there do not appear to be any wild specimens left.
What's looking good in your garden this week?

All material © 2009-2014 by Loree Bohl for danger garden. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited and just plain rude.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Garden Tour, 2014

There are times I am certain this blog is more for me than it is for my readers. Being able to look back at a visual record of my garden over the last 5 and a half years is priceless. Last year I did a comprehensive garden tour and I've referred back to those photos many times, so with that in mind I was determined to do a "tour 2014." However every time I went to take photos the light was horrible, I'd snap a few photos and then give up. So you'll notice this post is a collection of photos taken over a week's time. You'll see blue skies, and cloudy skies, but hopefully end up with a snapshot of my garden as it is Summer 2014. Yes this is going to be a lengthy, photo-heavy, post...

Editing these photos also drove home just what a discontented year this has been for me. The front garden is not looking as put together this year, due to the "glue" plants (Grevillea juniperina 'Molonglo') dying last winter. Replacements (Juniperus conferta 'Blue Pacific') have been planted but are not yet of size. They'll eventually knit everything together, at least that's the plan.

Here is the north side of the house (on the right side of the opening image, photo taken while standing in the neighbors driveway). Things over here have grown in nicely.

Imperata cylindrica 'Rubra'

Mystery sedum on the chimney (this one's for you Alan). I have no idea how it got there and I never, ever, water it.

Mahonia fortunei 'Curlyque'

The clematis growing in our back garden (behind that bamboo, on the other side of the neighbors garage) was reaching around, toward the light. I started trimming it back but then learned they were actually excited to train it up over the top of the door. It didn't take long to fill in.

Back at the northeast corner of our house now, looking south across the top of the garden. You can see just a slice of the sidewalk to the front door.

And the front of the house, it was just last year that all of these plants went in...when the giant rhododendron came out and before that the Pieris japonica. They've all grown a lot!

A garden can never have enough sempervivum.

Soft and delicate meets sharp and sturdy.

I love the view out my front door. Usually there's a creature, or five, buzzing and flying around out there.

Cotinus ‘Royal Purple'

Now standing in our driveway looking back towards the house...

Yucca rostrata, Eryngium agavifolium and Agave americana planted at the corner of the drive and the public sidewalk.

Eryngium maritimum

Looking back toward the street as I walk around to the south side of the house...

Where the veggie garden is. I've already blogged about removing the cucumber, but the basil and tomatoes are still going strong.

Have you grown Sungold? If not you really should. They are the tastiest...

This is another view that makes me want to hide my eyes, the entrance into our back garden. Yes I'm still happy that we removed the privet but I really REALLY don't like the openness of this view (even with the offending garage color blocking cropped out).

And this angle suffers from the loss of the loquat I moved to the lower garden (and then gave to the neighbor). Those big leaves really broke up all that fine foliage.

The former hydrangea area, being overtaken by a happy clematis.

The growing Nothopanax delavayi makes me very happy (those 3 tall shoots slightly right of center).

It's new foliage is wonderful.

Towards the shade pavilion...

And turning back around to look northeast. That lighter brown structure is the neighbors garage.

I still love my hibiscus (H. syriacus 'Red Heart') as much as the day I bought it. I just wish the Begonia luxurians I planted at it's base (a gift from the Outlaw) were hardy, the combination is a good one.

The palm is growing...

And the Melianthus major 'Antonow's Blue' has certainly recovered from freezing to the ground.

I've got big plans for this loquat (Eriobotrya japonica), it's gonna help hide the new view.

The Senecio mandraliscae have enjoyed their summer vacation outside in the ground.

Okay now were down on the patio (I neglected to take the important "approaching the patio" shot). Southwest corner...

Southeast corner...

Under the shade pavilion...

And now I'm under the shade pavilion and looking north.

I've intended to feature this aloe, A. marlothii, as a weekly favorite. Poor guy keeps getting passed over.

Banksia blechnifolia got the "fav" treatment last May.

Looking back towards our garage and my circle pot.

And a new view! Standing in the graveled, planted, area north of the patio where the privet (and ivy and vinca) used to be, looking south.

And in the very northwestest corner of our lot looking out...

A wider view.

I'm still thrilled I managed to track down this variegated daphniphyllum.

Persicaria 'Brushstrokes'...light on the brushstrokes.

The stock tank pond.

Which has been blessed with water lilly blooms practically nonstop.

Top to bottom: Clifford (our Magnolia macrophylla), Papyrus, Sammy (Yucca rostrata) and Acacia baileyana 'Purpurea'.

My most successful castor bean...

And finally I'll end this tour with my favorite early morning, coffee on the patio, shot. For a look back at previous years: Garden Tour 2013, A Comparison between 2005 and 2012, and for a different 2012 tour a post on Apartment Therapy.

All material © 2009-2014 by Loree Bohl for danger garden. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited and just plain rude.