walk on by

Yellow, white, blue, lavender, pink…The front garden is crazy strident right now and I like it. The floral chaos is concentrated along the sidewalk in front of the house, where the plants present themselves at eye-level for anyone walking by.

If you were to check passports on the plants you’d find a number of California origin mixed in with others from Mediterranean climates. Here’s the gloriously sprawley Nuttall’s milkvetch, Astragalus nuttallii, from the California Central Coast, with a South African arctotis hybrid.

The deep violet chia, Salvia columbarae, hails from around here. The bright yellow Jerusalem sage, Phlomis monocephala, from Turkey. The chia is annual but reseeds itself efficiently. After the plant dies back, its seed heads stay attractive for several months. The phlomis starts to drop its leaves in summer’s drought but never goes entire bare. As it does that, the leaves turn more and yellowish- grayish-green in color.

To help control the floral chaos, I’ve planted incorporated a lot of each of these two plants, along with several of the milkvetch above.

The locally common bulb, blue dicks, Dichelostemma capitatum, with the salmon colored South African bulb, Homeria collina behind it.

A yellow crassula picks up on the yellow theme as you walk by.

A couple years ago I broadcast some seed of Southern California’s Phacelia parryi but never saw any make it to maturity. Just a week ago I noticed this, one of the last flowers on a small plant that has come up from that old broadcast. I probably would have missed it if it weren’t up at eye-level.

I tried shooting a walk-by encounter of the front garden using my cellphone’s camcorder feature. Unfortunately the result looks like it was shot with a, well, cellphone, and I’m too embarrassed to share it. Too bad. Gardens are best explored in time and space and not in still photos. Videos could give you a sense of exploration still photos can’t. Well, I love a project, and getting a decent walk-by sequence will be another item on my ever-growing punchlist.

12 thoughts on “walk on by”

  1. Am enjoying your blog. I especially like the effects you can do in SD with shrubby and herbaceous plants; we can’t pull that off for 1/2 the year, since summers are too hot and winters are too cold.

    The mix of Calif natives and Mediterranean natives is perfect; it really shows how plants grow similarly in analogous ecologies.

  2. I kind of like the chaos they’re creating out front!

    I’m trying to create a similar effect at the front of my house – with allysum, aubrieta, origanum and creeping phlox. Planted those perennials last year so now I just have to wait and see.

  3. That Homeria collina, we once drove to the Biedouw Valley. As we came over the pass and looked down over the slope, for a moment I thought it was just the reddish clay soil. Then I realised it was masses and masses of those flowers!!

  4. James, you’ll have to try again with the video. hahaha! I, too, like to mix CA natives with Mediterraneans, anything that deer won’t eat and Pholmis is one! Try looking for the pink variety. It’s heavenly…I think I found mine at Roger’s Garden, if that’s not too far for you. Eye level is good, unless you routinely crawl down at your plants’ level! When I go out to the garden with my camera, I always ‘see’ more, Funny, huh? 🙂

  5. That’s great. You’re garden certainly looks like it’s peaking. I love how the space above a retaining walls brings the plants right up to the perfect spot to appreciate them.

  6. David, thanks for the kind comments! I’m not sure you could pull this off in Albuquerque, but my yard only looks like this for a couple of intense months in the late winter and spring.

    Kate, your planting sounds fun and frenetic. My back garden is a lot tamer than this. There’s something about yards and wanting to make a statement–or livening up the neighborhood.

    HB, the phacelia was a terrific surprise, all right–I’d long given up on it.

    Maggie, I’m enjoying it now, but I’m also looking forward to a bit of calm when thing slow down.

    Ricki, yes, it’s for the neighbors, but I also like how the house welcomes me back whenever I return to it.

    EE, that sighting of Homeria sounds stunning! It self-sows a certain amount for me and I could see how it could colonize a large area. In some areas gets to be considered a pest, but in my climate it’s not something I have to worry about.

    Sue, I’ve seen one of the pink Phlomis varieties down here too. What I like about my yellow P. monocephala is that it’s one of the species where the summer leaves turn a strong yellow-green color before they’re replaced by the new set in the fall.

    Ryan, location, location, location works for a mantra on plant placement as well as real estate! There’s lots I wouldn’t have noticed if the bed hadn’t raised things to a comfortable viewing height.

  7. I do like the rhythm of the Nuttall milkvetch’s sprawl, a plant I’m not familiar with. Such a treat to view plants at this height. So many of the meditt plants are so good at spilling and sprawling.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *