Category Archives: my garden

a cliché i happen to like

How can you pick out a Californian from within a brig crowd? Just wait for a rainy day and see which one heads for the door to look at the amazing stuff falling from the sky. We don’t see much of the stuff, especially over our dry summers. This past weekend was moist, one of only two periods of rain over the last four months. So there was this Californian, outdoors with camera in hand.

Pictures of raindrops on leaves are pretty common, over in cliché territory, almost as common as photos of raindrops on roses, but there’s something satisfying about making more, particularly if you live somewhere rain can be pretty rare. Here are some quick photos from the garden.

The first few are of raindrops on Agave attenuata.

This one displays the nice out of focus bare green stems of Galvezia juncea in the background–probably more interesting than the wet leaf. Photo geeks call the phenomenon of out of focusedness “bokeh,” mostly used to refer to the shapes of bright spots in the blur. Lens reviewers drool over bokeh spots that are more circular than those that are irregularly-shaped like bladed lens apertures. Bokeh is a pretty unusual word so I had to go running to Wikipedia, where it pointed to “the Japanese word boke, which means “blur” or “haze”, or boke-aji, the “blur quality”. The Japanese term boke is also used in the sense of a mental haze or senility.”

And now a few on tree aloe, Aloe arborescens. It’s kinduv a scary-looking plant, dontcha think? But really cool, subtle, warm colors in addition to the green…

And I’m sure you’ve never seen photos of raindrops on spiderwebs (insert snarky smiley) so here’s one.

And one final drops on spiderweb photo, this one in front of California matchweed, Gutierriezia californica, with nice little yellow bokeh circles from the out of focus flowers.

october coffeeberries

October can be the cruelest month. The first couple of days saw a return visit from Satan’s HVAC guy. Freaking hot. And same goes for Wednesday of this week. October was the month of the big wildfires in 2003 and 2007.

This October also brought the first measurable rain since May, when the month saw 0.02 inches of rain. According to San Diego weather enthusiast John S. Stokes III, “[t]his is the 19th time in the last 163 years June, July, August and September have been zero/trace.” But after a dry summer we got some rain, and change is in the air.

One of the California native plants that weathers the dry spell best is the coffeeberry, Frangula california or more commonly known and sold by its old name of Rhamnus californica. With only occasional supplemental water the plants stay looking green. Give them a little more water and they can look absolutely lush.

You can buy different clones of coffeeberry, and they do do slightly different things. The most “normal” looking plant, from a non-native horticultural standpoint might be the clone Tranquil Margerita that’s sold by Las Pilitas. If you read any British garden writing you’ll encounter the word “gardenesque,” and this clone could be used to define the word. Neat, dense and well-behaved, with long, somewhat glossy leaves, it would fit seamlessly into cottage garden landscape.

Eve Case is a clone that goes back to its introduction in 1975 by the Saratoga Horticultural Research Foundation, a group that was founded in 1952 through the vision of horticulturalist Ray Hartman to give Californians more climate-appropriate choices for their gardens. Compared to Margarita, Eve is a wild woman. This clone’s leaves are coarser, a little reflexed, and come fewer to the stem than with Tranquil Margarita. If Margarita was gardenesque, Eve might be called “woodsy.” Here’s one of my plants of it–probably not the best examples of what this clone can look like. But it’s a real-life example of what gophers can do in a garden to retard the growth of plants, with this plant going into the ground after the previous one.

Mound San Bruno is somewhere between the previous two clones. The leaves tend to be a little smaller, and not so recurved like in Eve Case. My plant of it is a really bad example. I put in the ground and assumed that the little drip emitter would keep it happy. But some evil critter–gophers again–buried the emitter so that the plant got next to no water for several months. If the plant had a chance to get established it would have weather the dry spell just fine, but this plant didn’t fare so well. But as soon as I fixed the emitter it came back, and should look terrific after it gets a moist winter to get it established.

People grow coffeeberries for the reliable green foliage. But they also grow this plant for its berries. True to its name the berries mature to a dark shade like dark-roast espresso beans. I mentioned change earlier, and this seems to be the month when you see the berries making their transition in a big way.

Some plants have a multicolor mix of fruits at this point in the season.

For me Eve Case is just starting the transition, showing colorful spots on the original green berries.

Next in the coffeeberry spectrum are warm oranges…

…quickly followed by pink-inspired reds.

The final color stage is this namesake coffee bean color. The birds are sure to show up once they find out coffeeberry is served…

high-res camera in the october garden

Is a camera with more megapixels better? In our bigger is better culture your might be inclined to think so, but for everyday use more could be serious overkill. Here’s a quick look at some of what a super-high resolution camera can do with subject matter in the early autumn garden.

One of the main reasons for a pile of megapixels is for making large prints. My background in large-format film cameras got me used to being able to produce 20 x 24 inch prints that you could look at with a magnifying glass to see even more detail. That’s not a requirement for most photographers.

Here’s a shot of Corethrogyne (a.k.a. Lessingia) filaginifolia next to some stepping stones in the garden. Flowers this time of year are pretty thin, and this is one of the great plants that comes to the rescue by blooming in late summer and fall.

This is a full-pixel crop of the above. (Click to enlarge to 600 x 900 on your screen.) The dried flowers are pretty sharp, still. The open flower is a little blurry, but that’s more from being a little out of focus. It’s not great art, but if you were to print the first image full frame, the extra resolution would let you make prints with nice detail.

Related to the issue of making larger prints, images with higher megapixels allow you to make nicer looking cropped versions. You might want to crop an image for prints, or you might just want to be able to show closeups from a larger image for use on the web.

Sarracenia leucophylla “Super Swamp Ghost,” putting out some new pitchers for the fall. This is the original full-frame image. The picture has stuff on the margins that I thought was pretty distracting.

This is a slight crop of the previous, making a cleaner illustration with fewer distractions. You’d be able to do this with most images from most cameras.

But what if you decided to crop to isolate just the mouth of one of the pitchers? I saw the one large fly when I took the photo, but I didn’t see the smaller one to the right until I looked closer.

Or how about getting really close, to take a really good look at the bigger fly? Or how about wanting to take a look at the hairs on the interior of the pitcher that direct insects downward, into the tube, into the digestive juices, never to escape. This is where the higher resolution original image gives you more options.

Why yes, you’d be able to accomplish some of this with a good zoom lens on your camera. But if you wanted to extend the reach of your zoom, it helps to have a photo with more information in it. Also zoom lenses don’t generally give you same image quality as lenses of fixed focal length, so that a $150 fixed lens can give results that would dust a premium zoom more than ten times the price.

The rest of these images are just quick looks at other things in the garden, not necessarily anything you’d want to print at a large size. I’ve down-sized the images from 7360 x 4912 pixels to 900 x 600, and this blog page further reduces them to 300 x 200. (Click to see the intermediate size.) If you only need photos this size, there’s probably no real need for a high megapixel camera.

Another of the pitcher plants, Sarracenia Sky Watcher.

Sarracenia leucophylla, “Hot Pink” clone from Botanique.

Sarracenia Green Monster x xcourtii, a cross by Rob Co of The Pitcher Plant Project.

Sarracenia alata x minor with a garden frog, contemplating the universe, deciding if it needs a high megapixel camera.

Dried flower heads, late season, on black sage. Salvia mellifera.

A sure sign that autumn is here, the dried flower heads and supporting stems from San Miguel Island buckwheat, Eriogonum grande var. rubescens. If you water the plant more than I do it’d stay a little greener. This plant is anything but dead, with there still being lots of green closer to the crown of the plant. Some people would cut all this back, but I really like how it looks draped over this patinated wall.

Cropped and focused a little differently and photographed with a little more care than my quick snapshot this might make a nice wall print.

FYI, the camera used here was the Nikon D800E, which is categorized at 36.3 megapixels. That’s pretty extreme for a small DSLR. But if you want to talk about extremem miniaturization, there’s even a 41 megapixel cellphone camera, the Nokia PureView 808. Word on the street is that it’s not a particularly great picture-take much higher than when you set it at at 5 megapixels, within the range many cellphone cameras operate in. Making a 41 megapixel cellphone camera seems to be a mostly a stunt, technically an extremely high-res camera, but almsot useless when operated that way. The Nikon by contrast is actually a good camera.

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!

why i did it

I’ve been reading David Rakoff lately. How I got to doing it is a little morbid but I’m sure you’re guilty of it too: An author dies; you’re reminded that the author was someone you’d always meant to look into; and only then do you finally get around to picking up one of their books.

The book I’m reading is Fraud, the only one not already checked out from my library by other Johnny-come-lately’s. Fraud collects together some of his essays, many of which appeared on radio on NPR’s This American Life, or in various magazines. One piece talks about him–an adamant New York indoorsman–going to New Hampshire to climb Mount Monadnock along with a man who’d been doing it every day for the last five years. Even in a lovely description of the atmospherics on the summit you hear the city boy protesting and experiencing nature with ironic urban quote marks around everything: “Shrouded in fog, we cannot see more than thirty feet in any direction. It lends a false sense of enclosure to everything, like a diorama from the Museum of Natural History.” And in the first paragraph he dismisses the pleasures of nature: “You want greenery? Order the spinach.”

I am so not David Rakoff, a realization driven home through my recent battles in the ongoing War Against Gophers I’ve been fighting.

A year ago I thought I’d come to a workable truce, using a concoction of blood meal and chile powder to repel the beasts from the garden. But in July this year more things in the front garden started dying back or dying altogether:

The last of the Verbena lilacina plants, probably gone for good.

Two of the three San Miguel Island buckwheats (Eri­o­gonum rubescens var. rubescens) I planted late last spring. Gone.

Chaparral currant (Ribes indeorum). This one I was particularly upset about because the plant is the first big native that a person coming up the front walkway would notice. Not a good first impression of California plants for visitors.

One thing I hadn’t tried so far is using traps. I monitor the listserv for the native plant society, and many folks swear by traps as the only thing to work that doesn’t leave the garden littered with dead gophers that might be consumed by wildlife or pets. Traps sound unpleasant, but they seemed the way to go with the fewest chances of collateral damage. I was desparate.

So…off I went to the local hardware store and returned with these little death machines. I found an area in the garden that looked recently active, gopher-wise, dug a hole, and placed the two traps as directed, facing opposite directions in the tunnel, and tying the traps to something fixed in case the creature drag the trap deep into the tunnel system. That final direction about tying the traps to something immovable was almost Too Much Information…a wounded gopher in its death throes pulling a heavy trap deep into the tunnels. Ick. Really, do I want to do this?

Still, there’s a deniability to the process. I set the trap, but the gopher must choose to enter it. The gopher could chose to visit the garden next door instead, or paddle itself off to Aruba or hop a jet to Cairo. It’s a pretty bogus deniability, for sure, sort of saying something like semi-automatic weapons aren’t designed for shooting humans. But it helps me sleep at night.

My long-late mother used to tell a story about life in my recently-late father’s village. The area had a problem with dangerous feral dogs, and people were insistent that something be done about the dangers (i.e., do the dogs in–This is generations before and worlds away from today’s animal rescue ethic)). The population was heavily Buddhist, however, and people were reluctant to harm the dogs in any way. Their solution: poisoned bait. If the dog ate the bait and died, it did so on its own volition. The humans reduced the dog population, but came out of the deal washing their hands of what the dogs did, “all on their own.”

My karmatic glow dropped a few points about a week after I placed the traps, when one of them did what it was designed to do, dispatching what seemed to me one extremely large gopher, big as my fist and alarmingly heavy. It took a surprising large amount of effort extricate the gopher from the trap, pulling the carcass out of the twin spikes that pierced its little skull. Poison would be so easy compared to this, and way more deniable. But I did what I did and now I was dealing with the consequences.

There are more gophers in the garden, I know, but so far they’ve eluded capture. And fortunately for the garden whatever gophers may be left don’t so far seem to have as voracious an appetite as the one I caught. This California Fuchsia, ‘Route 66,” is beginning its flowering, just a few feet from where the gopher activity peaked. So far so good. But I suspect my karma points are going to take a hit someday soon.

I suppose I’m too sensitive a being worrying about all this. If I were David Rakoff I’d just order the spinach and get on with life.


We begin this month’s episode of Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day with the rare lavender-flowered California coffeeberry. Well, actually, there is no such thing and I’m making it up, using one of the older trick in the gardener’s book.

The flowers come from Verbena bonariensis, a tall, stemmy plant that sends it flowers up through any plants around it, making them appear as if they’re blooming with the verbena’s flowers.

The coffeeberry’s flowers are much more nondescript to humans. On the recent garden tour I spoke to a homeowner who was wishing that she hadn’t planted her coffeeberries so close to paths because the bugs seem to go crazy over its blooms, more so than just about any other native plant. Here we have the humble blooms of Frangula (Rhamnus) californica ‘Eve Case.’

The rest of the garden is definitely slowing down. The last few months have been high spring, but you can feel summer’s presence in the lengthening days and the plants slowing down their growth and flower production.

Fortunately some plants choose this time to begin flowering. White sage, Salvia apiana, is one of them.

San Miguel Island buckwheat, Eriogonum rubescens var. rubescens, just getting going.

Winnifred Gilman Cleveland sage, close to its peak.

Gutierrezia californica, California matchweed. It’s not a usual home garden plant, but it has delicate and tiny yellow flowers and miniature leaves that contrast nicely against larger, more substantial plants.

Saint Catherine’s lace, Eriogonum giganteum, probably the most stunning buckwheat. That’s “stunning” in buckwheat-speak, meaning it’s spectacular in a really humble way. Here it is, holding its own against a phlomis from Turkey, P. monocephala.

A closer look at the phlomis above.

We also have a pretty heavy flowering of Island bush snapdragon, Galvezia speciosa ‘Firecracker.’ Looking close, you can definitely make out its family resemblance to the common garden snappers.

A close look at the “rat-tail” floral structures of Verbena lilacina. This species has coloration identical to the verbena that opened this post, but it’s more shrubby, and comes from Baja, not Brazil.

Clarkia rubi­cunda ssp. blasdalei helps extend the flowering into late spring.

If you let your California poppies go to seed, you’ll likely have little scenes like this, young poppy plants sending out their first blooms–not always in the best of places, but there are usually enough of them that some will be coming up where you’d like them.

On the carnivorous plants we have some new blooms. This is a sundew, Drosera filiformis, “Florida Giant.”

And buds on another sundew Drosera capensis, white form.

The pitcher plants, however, are slowing down their flower production, just as the plants start to put out the amazing pitchers that make us want to grow them. These are the intensely raspberry-scented blooms of the ancestral form of Sarracenia rubra var. gulfensis.

During a couple weeks in later spring the orchid cactus, epiphyllums, go crazy with flowers. There’s really nothing orchid-like to their flowers, and their common names is just a piece of wayward marketing. But dang they’re spectacular in their gaudy, tacky, over-the-top-ness. These plants are John’s obsession. Unfortunately he’s not big on plant labels, so here I can only offer you the most generic plant names:

“White epiphyllum”

“A different white epiphyllum,” a plant in total full bloom

A close inspection of the above, Epiphyllum albus differentus

“Red epiphyllum”

“Magenta epiphyllum”

To conclude I’ll share this first flower of the local red columbine, Aquilegia formosa, a species that I’ve always enjoyed but haven’t grown in 10-15 years. Here it is, returned to the garden at last (courtesy last fall’s native plant society sale). Welcome home. You were missed.

That’s a lot of what’s blooming in my garden. Check out dozens of other gardens [ here ] over at May Dreams Gardens, where Carol hosts the monthly bloom day meme on the 15th of each month. Thanks as always, Carol!

black widow

So…there I was…watering my pitcher plants…when out jumped this little creature, a black widow spider. Note the bright red hourglass (or maybe psykter or Attic amphora) on the belly of the beast. I’d seen the unkempt-looking webs in the plants and was pretty sure they were in there. Finally, definite proof.

In this shot you can begin to make out the random character of the web they spin. Closer to cobweb than classical spiderweb, but it gets the job done.

What I thought was extra-interesting about the discovery is that the arachnid had set up household in a cluster of plants including the one with the label that you can begin to make out on the left of this image: Sarracenia Black Widow x flava var. ornata. Sarracenia Black Widow is one of the fetish plants du jour in the pitcher plant community, and it’s the mother of this hybrid made by Travis Wyman. (Thanks to Rob of The Sarracenia Project for the plant!)

A young seedlign of Sarracenia Black Widow x flava var. ornata

(That’s the seedling, to the right. Nice yellow colors, and hopefully the red tones will darken towards black later in the season and as the plant matures.)

Pitcher plant names can run towards the morbid: Abandoned Hope, Spatter Pattern, Gates of Hell, Green Monster. Black Widow fits right in. And this day the name wasn’t just flaccid posing. Like, you might want to think twice before adding Gates of Hell to your collection.

more than last month

After posting on Nasher Sculpture Center’s Sculpture garden–very much a rarefied 1%er’s kind of garden–it’s really comforting to return to the garden I call home. It’s April 15 in this 99%er’s garden, and time for this months Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day meme, hosted of Carol at May Dreams Gardens.

Every time I do one of these posts I worry that I’m showing you the same things. But since I stare at these plants for hours on end I hope you don’t mind the repeat appearances of some of the things that are still blooming. But in addition to the forever bloomers there are a lot of new things starting up this month.

Here’s an overview of the irrigated raised bed. There’s a native coyote bush in the back that I raised from seed, and it seems fine with this somewhat moist location. In front of it are some blooming exotics: a potted Euphorbia lambii with its chartreuse flowers, an Arctotis hybrid “Big Magenta” in the lower left, Salvia microphylla ‘Hot Lips’ to the right and a honey bush (Melianthus major) in the background, right, with its dark red bracts.

Euphorbia lambii detail.

There’s a lot from California (or very nearby) in bloom:

Verbena lilacina (from nearby in Mexico)

Blue-eyed grass (Sisyrinchium bellum) livening up the edges of the veggie plantings.

Some of the last flowers on the black sage, Salvia mellifera.

Takes 1-3 of Salvia clevelandii ‘Winnifred Gilman.”

A red monkeyflower seedling from a cultivar that died a couple of years ago.

The local stinging lupine, Lupinus hirsutissimus.

The local coastal sea daisy, previously called a coreopsis, I’m trying to get used to its new name, Leptosyne maritima.

Another ex-coreopsis, Leptosyne gigantea.

The local bladderpod, Isomeris arborea, with one of its bladder-like seedpods to the right.

Island alum root doesn’t so incredibly well for me. I suspect that I’m not watering it enough to make it bloom like mad like I’ve seen it do locally.

A fremontia that we have in East County, Fremontodendron mexicanum. It’s a plant that’s been imprisoned in a gallon pot from a plant sale last fall, waiting until I figure out where to put a really big plant.

The giant island buckwheat (Eriogonum giganteum) in bud. Last year the gophers got to it. I thought it was doomed. Looks like it’s pulling through.

San Miguel Island buckwheat (Eriogonum arborescens).

A succulent dudleya that you find out in the eastern parts of the county, Dudleya saxosa ssp. aloides.

Carpenteria california, in bloom since December.

The California poppies started up last month. They’re close to peaking.

This plant, a spreading form of chamise (Adenostoma fasciculatum) known as ‘Nicholas.”

And from other places we have:

Verbena bonariensis.

An unknown red aloe or aloe hybrid.

Three takes on santolina, S. chamaecyparissus, more in bloom than last month.

The rose geranium in the herb garden is a total monster. Pretty in lavender-pink, though. And it’s pretty easy to pull up.

Yah, yah, yah, this protea all over again…

You’re witness to the final moments of this Mexican evening primrose. It’s a noxious weed in the garden, and I pulled it up five seconds after I put down the camera.

Nile, oblivious to all my weeding and survey work in the garden.

Another weedy plant, Homeria collina. Not nearly as bad as the previous one, so it usually gets to live and reproduce in my garden unless it comes up in a seriously bad spot.

Fortnight iris, Dietes iridioides. Another pretty but really weedy plant. It’s still coming up from seed left by plants a decade ago. This is a flower on the one plant that gets to live.

A couple of takes on blooming graptopetalums.

Silver jade, Crassula argentea, just coming into bloom.

But of the exotics, the most splashy right now are the American pitcher plants, the sarracenia. These carnivorous plants have leaves modified into the bug-catching tubes that are often mistaken for flowers. But you’ll see the floppy mop-top flowers that these guys produce.

S. alata and flowers.

A natural hybrid, S. ‘Leah Wilkerson,” flowers and new pitcher.

A hybrid of S. flava by S. oreophila. The pitchers are just opening, and will turn a much more intense combination of red and yellow.

Happy Bloomday, every’all. For more gardens check out Carol’s April 2012 Bloomday post [ right here ].

the garden back home

We interrupt this brief series of looks at Dallas for a quick glance around my garden back home in San Diego. Actually I’ve been home from Texas for a while now, but I wanted to make a little better sense of the two hundred or so photos on my various devices before I posted the final selections. Until then, and until I can apply order the rest of the universe, here’s a light smattering of what’s going on.

March and April can be eyebrow-deep in flowers. But the winter rains that give a big boost to the plants haven’t arrived this year. Take these tiny chia plants (Salvia columbariae) as examples. This is some of this year’s seed-grown crop, nothing taller than two or three inches. The previous years they were closer to two to three feet tall–and stunning. Little water, big difference.

Out front, where many of the natives live, maybe 95% of the irrigation is natural rainfall. The plants would look better with supplemental water, so I sometimes wonder if I’m doing a bad PR job about natives if the garden sometimes looks a little straggly. I’m not sure whether it’s tough love on my part or just having gotten used to not needing to water. In the end the plants do seem to to pull along, and maybe that’s the more important message about the natives: They don’t always look great (how many of us do?) but they can survive without taxing the local water resources.

For the most part the following are plants, California natives and from farther afield, that came into bloom recently. A lot of the old dependables are still blooming away, oblivious to the season…

Win­nifred Gilman salvia

Verbena lilacina

An unknown lavender that self-sowed

Another view of the stinging lupine, backlit to show the little prickly hairs

Stinging Lupine: This plant is fairly well armed with tiny, unpleasant little hairs. But it's a local native that's totally dependable for a month of color.

Solanum pyracanthum: The species name of this nightshade translates into "fire thorn," pretty appropriately named. As the leaf dries the thorns are the last to lose their color.

The common gray santolina, new flowers against the dried remainders of last year's flowers. In my book, the soothing brown dried heads of flowers look lots cooler against the silver foliage than the egg-yolk yellow of the fresh blooms.

Salvia chamaedryoides

Salvia Bee's Bliss: a plant that a lot of folks rave about. It can be slow to get established, but once it gets going it's pretty tough and a great source of flowers for 2-3 months.

Phlomis monocephala

A mystery oxalis species--I lost its name. The leaves are ordinarily dark green, but the plant is dying back for the year, and the dying foliage is this subtle mottled effect.

Melianthus major, Honey Bush

Hummingbird sage, Salvia spathacea

Homeria collina

The silver-with-red leaved silver jabe plant, Crassula arborescens

Grapefruit flowers: kids, this is where grapefruits come from.

Geum Red Wings

Gaura lindheimeri

Sarracenia flava var. maxima, the first of the pitcher plants to have bloomed this year.

Euphorbia lambii

Eriogonum arborescens

Dichelostemma capitatum, Blue Dicks. Beautiful in the garden in huge groups, they're also really delicious for the gophers.

Desert mallow, Sphaer­al­cea ambigua

Daffodil--I think it's Ice Follies. Not many daffodil hybrids come back reliably in Southern California, but this is one of the classics.

Another look at Crassula multicava

Another crassula, C. multicava, with billowing heads of tiny flowers in winter and spring (and maybe longer if you water them more than I do).

Coreopsis maritima, our local native coreopsis, that's undergone a name change to Leptosyne maritima.

The first California poppy of the season

Blue-eyed grass, Sisyrinchium bellum

Thanks again to Carol at May Dreams Gardens for hosting this great way for garden bloggers to find each other. It’s also a fine way to see what’s in bloom around the world. Check out all the gardens [ here ].

january bloomday

Happy January Bloom Day, folks!

Lots of pictures this month.

Okay I cheated, with some multiples of the same plant mixed in. But a big dose of perky orange in the dead of winter seemed morally acceptable.

I guess it’s a typical Southern California January, with some ever-bloomers mixed in with the winter-flowering plants or last of the fall plants. You can hover over an image above to get the name, but here’s a quick rundown on the January backbone plants.

Some plants that say “California” but are from other places:

Aloe arborescens

A. andongensis

A. bainesii

Kalanchoe tubiflora

Jade plant, Crassula ovata

Salvia divinorum

S. Hot Lips

Protea ‘Pink Ice’



Oxalis purpurea

…and the really noxious

Oxalis pes-caprae

California natives:

Coreopsis maritima

C. gigantea

Ribes indecorum

Gutierrezia californica

Carpenteria californica

Mimulus aurantiacus

Isomeris arborea

Sphaeralcea ambigua

Galvezia speciosa

Verbena lilacina

Salvia mellifera

Salvia ‘Bee’s Bliss’

Salvia spathacea

There are also a few other things in bloom that didn’t make it into the mix, things like ‘Dr. Hurd’ manzanita, but you get the idea…

Thanks as always to Carol of May Dreams Gardens for hosting Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day. Check out the January post to see what the rest of the world looks like in the middle of January [ here ]