2021-02-02

Calliandra replaces Encelia

 I replaced a perfectly good Encelia farinosa (Brittlebush, Incienso) that had never flowered as prolifically as I wanted with Calliandra eriophylla (Pink fairyduster, Mesquitillo).

The Encelia was at times an inspired choice - it had a ~2.5' rounded growth habit with perennial gray - almost white- leaves that looked great in a summer evening garden.  It glowed in the moonlight.  

However, it grew a bit wide for the spot I had in mind and crowded the top and sides of the small sandy berm on which it was planted.  It never flowered as prolifically as I wanted (I've seen specimens absolutely covered with yellow flowers) and then it recently seemed to be a bit in decline. Pruning could have addressed this, but ultimately I wanted a bit more architectural interest, visibility through the its replacement, attractive flowers, and the ability to use more of the berm on which it was placed.  

 I think that its replacement, Calliandra eriophylla meets those requirements.  I've previously planted its larger relative, Calliandra californica, and it flourished in my garden against a south-facing concrete wall.  C. eriophylla should be a bit more dainty and with appropriate pruning it ought to be a bit more open, sculptural, and accommodating to adjacent plantings.

Purchases at Theodore Payne

 On 11/12/2020 I purchased the following native plants at Theodore Payne


Aquilegia formosa 4" - three @ $12.75 that are now share space in the front rose garden, since they will do well with more water than they are likely to get elsewhere.

Quersuc durata 1G - 1 @ 11.90 - A whim purchase.  Can I grow this on my hillside and keep it low?  This is a shrub oak tree and mine looks like it's two in a 1 gal pot, so root competition may keep it smaller.  Not local to PV, but rather the surrounding LA mountains.  PV is often left off of the "what grows here" charts since it is widely separated from documented occurrences by the moat of greater Los Angeles.  Calflora has a settable parameter with a default of 10 miles of "moat".  With 10 miles or more of separation between a place of documented growth and your area of interest the answer is "doesn't grow there", even if it quite likely used to or will. 

Arctostaphylos 'Howard McMinn' 1G - 1 @ 10.20 - Tony Baker suggested that I try this in the large pot near my front door.  It gets full direct and reflected sun in summer and hardly any light at all in winter.  Her suggested I pair it with strawberries, which I have did a few weeks ago.  Looking good so far.

Calliandra eriphylla 1G - 1 @11.90 - The smaller and pink version of Baja Fairyduster (Calliandra californica) that may be more garden suitable for me.  Need to make a place for this. This is an eastern desert plant, so my sunny and sandy soil berm will be suitable.

Oenothera elata ssp hookeri 4" - 3 @ 12.75.  Hooker's Evening Primrose.  Hooker is a last name.  This probably wants more water than I planned to give it, so I'm in a bit of a replan about where to put it.  These ended up low on the east side of the native garden berm, near a fountain. 

Lepechinia fragrans 1G - 1 @ 11.90 - I thought my parents might like this, since it is low water and full sun to part shade.  It might work well off the patio of their house.  I have one that's moved around my garden and is now on the lower side of my hill.  It doesn't seem to be doing incredibly well, but a winter in teh ground may help it along.

Dudleya traskiae 1 G - 1 @ 11.90 

Sisrinchium bellum 1 G - 1 @ 8.50 - Planted at my parent's house.  Not even sure why I bought this since I have a ton that could have dug up.

Festuca rubra 'Molate' seed 0.25 lb 17.00 - seems to work well in my yard.

Allium bulbs 2 @ 8.00





1.37” rain

1/29/2021 1.37"

Date RecordedAmount (in.)Cumulative
11/7/20200.240.24
12/28/20201.71.94
1/25/20210.242.18
1/29/20211.373.55

We are headed for a low rain year at current rates.  I'm adding supplemental water in the garden when it looks cloudy and I think the plants will be appreciative come summer if the rainfall totals stay low.


Brent - via iPhone

2020-04-14

Almost 16" of rain this year!

An incredible week of rain gave us nearly 2-1/2 inches in one day bringing the rainfall total to 15.93". That's a substantial amount for most places in coastal Los Angeles and on the fat side of a "normal" annual rainfall.

Something I particularly appreciated was being at home during the rain.  My work is normally quite insulated from weather, so it was nice to hear and see the rain falling.

I doubt there's much rain left in the season, but it didn't disappoint.
 
Date    Amount (in.) Cumulative
11/20/2019 0.53 0.53
11/21/2019 0.03 0.56
11/29/2019 1.88 2.44
12/1/2019 0.35 2.79
12/4/2019 1.02 3.81
12/7/2019 0.15 3.96
12/23/2019 3.29 7.25
12/24/2019 0.04 7.29
12/26/2019 1.69 8.98
1/17/2020 0.28 9.26
2/9/2020 0.13 9.39
2/10/2020 0.03 9.42
3/8/2020 0.05 9.47
3/10/2020 0.19 9.66
3/11/2020 0.02 9.68
3/12/2020 1.05 10.73
3/15/2020 0.35 11.08
3/17/2020 0.08 11.16
3/20/2020 0.16 11.32
3/23/2020 0.99 12.31
3/24/2020 0.01 12.32
4/6/2020 0.4 12.72
4/8/2020 0.4 13.12
4/9/2020 2.49 15.61
4/10/2020 0.32 15.93

2020-04-09

0.40" of rain on 8 Apr. More on the way

Our rainfall total is up to 13.12" as of Wednesday the 8th.  That's quite a nice amount for us. Rain continues this week - it's a cold storm, unusual for April, and the heater is on, mostly, while the rain falls though sometimes during interludes of sun the sliding door is wide open to the fantastic flower display in the back yard.


2020-04-02

Engagement and being a citizen

As I write this, (April 2, 2020) we are in the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, which seems like to disrupt the normal course of our lives for the next year or more.  After you've taken care of yourself, your family, and your friends, I urge you to turn your thoughts to the institutions that you support. 

Aside (skip this paragraph if you want):  The title of this article taps into a feeling I have that societal engagement is part of a citizen's job and I credit the novel Corona virus for giving me the space to articulate this thought on virtual paper.  I'll leave it at that, lest this paragraph become more weighty than the others. 

I suspect that government and corporate grants will enter a down phase in the next year or two, so if you believe in a cause then you might want to consider investing in it.  This doesn't have to be money, though that is sometimes the easiest investment.  It could be a gift of your time to create a bit of content.  It could be engagement by showing up at (virtual, for now) events or commenting on a blog post or news article.  All of these activities are things I would consider investments but the sponsoring institution also sees as engagement, which is one metric that they will use assess success or failure, to solicit grants, or to sell advertising.  It's one thing to count web traffic, but it's quite a bit more powerful to count people that are willing to pay to support you.

Since this is a native plant blog, the examples below pull where they can from native plant and ecology-oriented examples.

Change your CNPS membership into a sustaining monthly donation.  Why do a basic annual membership ($50) when you can donate starting at $5/mo as a Perennial Monthly Sustainer ($60 annually).  As CNPS puts it, "[Monthly Sustainers] provide much-needed, predictable income for our programs. Your gift will be automatically repeated every month."  Sometimes constancy trumps total value, as it allows year-round planning with a steady budget.  Don't forget to patronize our local nurseries and other native plant institutions such as Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden (reciprocal membership policy gets you in free at other particiapating botanic gardens, including the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden) and Cal Flora.

Donate to a local organization.  Go big with an endowment in your will or go small by picking a favorite charity through smile.amazon.com.  The Palos Verdes Land Conservancy was my pick at smile.amazon.com, which donates a portion of each purchase to the charity of your choice - smile requires that you use the web version of Amazon to pay, so if I'm on my phone I will fill my cart from the app, then log in through the browser to pay.  At the opposite end of the spectrum is an end-of-life bequest.  The SCCNPS was fortunate to receive such a bequest from the Conze estate, and has used it to good effect to promote native plant gardening.

Engage directly with news media by visiting their web sites, commenting on articles, and most of all subscribing to a news service such as a newspaper or monthly journal.  Journalism and research aren't cost free and a subscription supports this directly with the added benefit that it  may get you past a pay wall to view more content.  I subscribe to the LA Times since I support hometown journalism as well as High Country News, a western states monthly news magazine.  Neither subscription is ghastly expensive and occasionally I give a bit more to HCN.   But remember, even viewing the news and commenting could be valuable.  Imagine in the newsroom: "Look boss, our article on California native plants got 1,500 more views and 20 more comments than expected! Let's feature more of that." If you are already a print subscriber to the LA Times, then I believe you can access the online version with no added cost.  LA Times is running a limited time special right now - 8 weeks online subscription for $1High Country News has made their COVID-19 content free and offers a year of magazine+online delivery for $37.

There are many other worthy organizations that I am sure I overlooked.  Please comment with your own suggestions.

2020-03-24

Storm drops about 1" of rain; season total now 12.31"

There's been a lot of news on my feed about continued drought in California, including the area that I live in (Coastal Los Angeles). However, my backyard tally shows that, at least locally, we are within normal amounts of rain. I'm well aware of the Sierra snowpack issues, but for those of you gardening with established, locally-native plants your watering needs for the year have been met. Of course gardens don't necessarily need to look like they have dried up completely during the summer, so many native gardeners will add supplemental water to maintain some green. But consider that in a time of water scarcity, that this year we received enough as a gift from Nature. Date Recorded Amount (in.) 11/20/2019 0.53 11/21/2019 0.03 11/29/2019 1.88 12/1/2019 0.35 12/4/2019 1.02 12/7/2019 0.15 12/23/2019 3.29 12/24/2019 0.04 12/26/2019 1.69 1/17/2020 0.28 2/9/2020 0.13 2/10/2020 0.03 3/8/2020 0.05 3/10/2020 0.19 3/11/2020 0.02 3/12/2020 1.05 3/15/2020 0.35 3/17/2020 0.08 3/20/2020 0.16 3/23/2020 0.99

2020-03-18

Rainfall total 11.16"

I hope you are well

Just the basics, today as with so many previous days. I'm maintaining the South Coast CNPS web site these days too, and I find that I have little spare time.  If you are here because I often post about native plants, take a look over there from time to time too.  Content is being added and the site is evolving.


Date  Amount (in.) Cumulative
11/20/2019 0.53 0.53
11/21/2019 0.03 0.56
11/29/2019 1.88 2.44
12/1/2019 0.35 2.79
12/4/2019 1.02 3.81
12/7/2019 0.15 3.96
12/23/2019 3.29 7.25
12/24/2019 0.04 7.29
12/26/2019 1.69 8.98
1/17/2020 0.28 9.26
2/9/2020 0.13 9.39
2/10/2020 0.03 9.42
3/8/2020 0.05 9.47
3/10/2020 0.19 9.66
3/11/2020 0.02 9.68
3/12/2020 1.05 10.73
3/15/2020 0.35 11.08
3/17/2020 0.08 11.16 


More rain is on the way and the garden is already looking quite nice from the recent water.

2020-02-21

Spa!

Earlier this year we took delivery of a pre-owned spa. I built a pad of crushed rock (roadbed) for it to sit on at one end of the garden. I spent a lot of time using a compactor (both a rented "hopper" from the local big box and a hand-driven plate compactor.

This hard-working crew brought it into the yard.  The guy with his back to us was the lead and he had three helpers.  It came in on a plastic sled in order to clear the edge of the eave.

2020-02-10

0.16" rain; 9.42" rain for the seaon, so far

Sunday brought 0.16" rain split between the AM and Sunday night / Monday morning.

Date     Amount(in.) Cumulative
11/20/2019 0.53 0.53
11/21/2019 0.03 0.56
11/29/2019 1.88 2.44
12/1/2019 0.35 2.79
12/4/2019 1.02 3.81
12/7/2019 0.15 3.96
12/23/2019 3.29 7.25
12/24/2019 0.04 7.29
12/26/2019 1.69 8.98
1/17/2020 0.28 9.26
2/9/2020 0.13 9.39
2/10/2020 0.03 9.42

2020-02-08

Garden engineering: Trellis and gate

I label garden projects and thoughts about garden projects as "garden design".

Sometimes, it's enough to take a picture to visualize how experienced gardeners implement projects.
These are Tayberry bushes (growth habit looks like a blackberry) in England.

Of note is the wire (appears to be a medium gauge of galvanized), staple securing the wire and their method of keeping the uprights from bending inward. The garden timbers appear to be larger and longer than the commonly available 8' lengths in the US.

2020-02-03

wild Gladiolus? No.

When we asked we were told this beautiful plant was a "wild Gladiolus". Perhaps they have naturalized in Sissinghurst, which is where this photo was taken. Web searches on "wild Gladiolus" don't immediately come back with an unambiguous identity, so I emailed Sissinghurst, who, everhelpful, corrected us.


Hi Brent,

The plant you saw was Dierama pulcherrimum, Hopefully, when you google it now, you will be able to see it. It’s a lovely plant and easy to grow too.

Kind regards,

Helen Champion

What a rewarding email to read.  Indeed, Helen has it exactly right.  It's also known as a Fairy Wand or Wand Plant according to Native Sons Nursery who seem to occasionally stock it.

See also Pacific Bulb Society.

It turns out to be a hard plant to find in my area.  I have ordered one bare root plant and 20 seeds from out of state.  We'll see how it goes.

2020-01-24

Rain 0.28"

1/17/2020 0.28"

We're now at 9.26" for the season, which is not a cause for panic or for joy.

As of today, the 10 day forecast has a few days with 10% chance of rain, so I'm not expecting much change in rain totals for the near future.

2020-01-22

Malva propagation

I waited for the easy time of year to make cuttings, soak, coat in Root Tone (use your preferred brand of rooting hormone) and place in small pots. Several days of rain shortly after kept them hydrated.

I place two or more cuttings per pot to allow for attrition.