Tag Archives: September

hades called, wants its heat back

What a scorcher. Yesterday, while driving around, doing some shopping, I noticed the dashboard thermometer was reading 108 degrees. Gack.

It felt it.

The humans were sweltering and the garden wasn’t exactly exalting in the heat. Add to the heat my recent battles with gophers and you have a garden with some pretty rough-looking tableaux. Here’s a peek at a California fuchsia (Epilobium ‘Route 66’) seen through a chaparral currant (Ribers indecorum) that has defoliated itself in self-defense against the heat, dryness, and having its roots chewed by gopehrs.


Route 66 is the first thing you notice walking up the front steps, and it’s probably the star of the September garden right now. Ignore the dying foliage nearby.

Brown is one of the dominant colors today. Lavender is blooming, but there are way more dead flower heads than new ones. Still pretty.

Same goes for the San Miguel Island buckwheat (Eriogonum grande var. rubescens).

In the herb/veggie universe the fennel is going strong, but it’s also going brown. I skeletonized the image even further.

There are a few unglamorous typical California garden plants keeping the blooming going. The bougainvillea might as well be made out of plastic. Here it seems to bloom unless it freezes back or meets an electrified pair of hedge trimmers. This is a planting of two different double-flowered kinds, a magenta one and a whitish one that’s tinted with magenta.

Kahili ginger is probably the most charismatic flowering plant right now in the back garden. Ginger-scented early mornings or nights under the stars give you something to look forward to during a season that’s usually more gray and brown than green.

Gaillardia pulchella started out life as a plant or two from the nursery. It doth spread a bit.

Beyond the big and splashy, there’s a fair amount in bloom if you look closely. Here are a few random blooms, shown mostly as closeups because the plants in general are feeling the season change.





Going down the photos on the left:

  • Yucca elephantipes
  • Yellow waterlily
  • Arctotis
  • Salvia nemerosa ‘Snow Hills’
  • Salvia microphylla ‘Hot Lips’
  • Hummingbird sage, Salvia spathacea
  • Gutierrezia california
  • Galvezia speciosa–no the phot isn’t upsdie-down; this is a strangely long single pendant branch on a plant on the roof deck 8 feet above
  • Orange epidendrum orchid
  • Clerodendrum ugandense, butterfly bush
  • Ceratostigma plumbaginoides, dwarf plumbago

A couple of other sights in the garden:

A potted Stapelia gigantea approaching full bloom.

The flower does has a bit of a dead meat odor, especially up close.

Even closer…

Abundant buds on the stapelia. More stinkiness on the way. Ah to be a carrion-obsessed fly in this garden.

And a final photo: Not a fly but a dragonfly visiting the pond. Taking a break from the heat.

Thanks as always to Carol of May Dreams Gardens for hosting Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day. Click [ here ] to see what everyone else has to share!


Summer heat finally arrived–in September. Two hours north, Los Angeles hit 113 degrees on Monday, a degree hotter than Death Valley. At least one San Diego County town hit 109 on Monday, though down here near the coast it didn’t get much more than the low 90s. Still, really hot by what we’re used to.

Now that it’s turned hot I feel like as punishment I need to write on the chalkboard two hundred times:

I will not complain about it being a cold summer.
I will not complain about it being a cold summer.
I will not complain about it being a cold summer.
I will not complain about it being a cold summer.
I will not complain about it being a cold summer.
I will not complain about it being a cold summer.
I will not complain about it being a cold summer.
I will not complain about it being a cold summer.
I will not complain about it being a cold summer…

It was so hot that the contents of the snack bottle of vitamin Cs (aka chocolate chips) were turning into chocolate goo. John’s emergency response to stick them in the fridge averted disaster.

Over the weekend, knowing it was going to be a stretch of hot weather ahead, I tried to give a serious soak to the plants most susceptible to drying out. Anything in a pot got a good drink–a lesson I learned in August when we had two surprise days of hot summer summer weather. In August this Ceanothus lleucodermis that I’d carefully propagated from seed didn’t survive the hot spell to be planted this fall.

In addition to the potted plants, a small group that was new in August got an extra watering out of the weekly cycle. And the remaining zones of water-intensive plants and bogs got the extra soak.

Some plants didn’t seem to be bothered by the heat or dryness. This native bladderpod (Isomeris arborea) has been one of the most reliable garden plants, expanding and blooming like crazy in a spot where it has shaded roots. Another bladderpod in a more exposed location subsists on a similar amount of water, though it’s just one third the size of this plant.

The non-native Solanum pyracanthum is another plant that gets by with close to zero added water in a semi-sheltered spot near the first bladderpod. It has a much longer bloom season than my native nightshades, and it has the added bonus of a row of decorative orange spikes that decorate the center of each leaf.

A potted Stapelia gigantea also seemed to enjoy the hot weather. You can tell by the burned stems that this plant probably doesn’t get enough moisture. Still, it survives and blooms.

In my last post I mentioned a different stapelia species that stinks like carrion and is pollinated by flies. This S. gigantea has the same charming trait. The fifty pound potfull of stinky plant lives outside the window to my studio workstation. Like most people in the neighborhood we don’t bother with air conditioning, so working in my studio has been an…interesting olfactory experience. At least the stink is only really bad when you get close to the flower.

With heat often comes fire. Two recent evenings had extra-fiery sunsets. What looks like colorful sun-lit clouds in this photo is actually smoke from a 500-plus acre fire in Mexico that made it over the border. Fortunately the fire got extinguished and didn’t develop into another of the monster conflagrations we’ve experienced twice in the last seven years.

The rest of the West Coast seems to be sharing this same heatwave. The worst seems over, but there are probably more warm days ahead. So stay cool as possible–and remember to hydrate.