Purchase from TPF

I took advantage of some sale plants and the tax was about covered by my member discount, so I was out the door for $118.26

Carey pansa flat of 50 plugs $72
Asclepias fascicularis 4" 2 for $9
Bouteloua gracillis 4" 5 for $22.50
Allium unifolium 4" 3 for $4.50


Summer purchases and plantings from TPF and Annie's Annuals

We made some native plant purchases on 7/21/18 at the Theodore Payne Foundation (and had to hold them on the shady side of the house for several weeks due to hot weather) and I made some additional purchases at Annie's Annuals on 8/16/18 (arrived 8/21).

Corethrogyne filanginifolia - Silver carpet sand aster. I noted this good looking ground cover in use at several nearby properties when on the 2018 Payne Foundation garden tour. It worked best as sidewalk or pathway edging. Formerly known as Lessingia filaginifolia 'Silver Carpet' and still maintained under that name on TPF web site (and presumably others). We purchased two 1 gal. containers for $9 each.

I was particularly pleased to work with Juli on a native grass experiment.  We went "bigish" with 50 plugs of Carex pansa to test as a turf substitute and see how it does. I saw C. pansa on the Payne Foundation tour at nearby Mother Nature's backyard in Gardena where it is used for a lawn-like meadow effect and although TPF didn't recommend it based on my description of our locale (USDA Zone 11a, sandy soil, full sun) I think the climate is similar enough to Gardena that it's worth a shot.  If it doesn't work out on our pathway, we can move what remains to another location.   

Both the Corethrogyne and Carex were planted out in late August (perhaps 8/22).  Summer planting isn't ideal, but I used the practice of filling the planting holes with water, allowing it to drain, and then planting.  Subsequent watering has been by soaker hose for deep watering and shower-end hose sprayer in between the deep waterings.  Despite the adverse time of year for planting, the Carex seems to be establishing, with new growth showing just a week or two later and the Corethrogyne hasn't shown signs of early death.  Both are aided by the cooler and foggy mornings we've had between late August and now (early Sept).  Happily, the same weather is forecast for the next 10 days. 

Second thoughts: Based on the information I found later (noted below) we might have been better off with Carex praegracillis, since the implication is that C. praegracillis is better adapted to low moisure. TPF web site contradicts the message I took from the Greenlee quote and says that C. praegracillis requires moist soil. Our soil is sandy, and not particularly moist unless irrigated.

About Carex pansa John Greenlee says, "This creeping evergreen native western American sedge is perhaps the best and most widely used ground cover grass to use a lawn substitute and for meadow making. California meadow sedge is not a true grass, but rather a close cousin and member of the Cyperaceae family. It has dark green glossy foliage on slowly creeping stems that form a lawn-like colony, with far less mowing than any conventional lawn. It is our go-to grass for natural lawns and meadows. Originally found in nature from Baja to British Colombia, much of its natural habitat no longer exists. Usually found in the coastal strand, in prairies, and colonies near water, usually in moist sandy soils. In nature it follows riparian corridors from the beach inland until it integrates and is replaced by its nearly identical cousin Carex praegracilis."

Annie's Annuals sent the following items, which arrived on 8/21 packed tightly into a durable shipping box while I was away on travel.

Item ID Product Name Quantity Unit Price Total
2983 Aquilegia eximia "Serpentine Columbine" 2  @ $10.95
3993 Polystichum munitum "Western Sword Fern" 1 @ $8.95
906 Salvia apiana "White Sage" 1 @ $9.95

Again, the plants went into storage on the shady side of the house, and there the story might have ended except that last night I was reminded that they were there.  Except for the Salvia, they were all in fine fettle, since I had watered them from time to time between episodes of forgetfulness.  I don't know if the Salvia suffered a little trauma to its tallest stalk or it was in the early stages of a fungal episode, but I quickly planted the little guy in some sandy soil on a slope where it will get abundant sun.  I've lost these plants before, and I might lose this one.  The others will need to wait until later in the week.  I have them planned for pots, until a garden location inspires me.


Five Seasons: The Gardens of Piet Oudolf

Juli and I went to see Five Seasons: The Gardens of Piet Oudolf.  I was aware of his garden design philosophy prior to seeing the movie and Juli was not.  The picture below shows him in one of his gardens and captures the essence of his design philosphy.  Simplistically stated, he gardens for year-round interest and therefore pays close attention to form and out-of-bloom-season performance of the plants he uses. 
This is something that native plant gardeners have to cultivate within themselves too: both an awareness of out-of-season look and an appreciation for it.


Bug house has new occupants

The filled holes are about 1/8” in diameter. Note that the worst house in the neighborhood with the big crack has been avoided. 

Solitary bees or wasps may be the occupants. 


0.1" rain; 4.25" total for the season

4/19/2018 0.1" rain (gauge)
0.11" weather station

The rain gauge and the weather station seem to be synced back up again.  Perhaps it really was the power outage that threw the station off.

In any case, we are up to 4.25" for the season and it looks like that's about it.  This isn't an all-time low rainfall, but it's definitely on the lower end of the scale.


Purchases from Matilija Nursery

Back in mid december I made the following purchases from Matilija Nursery.  I hadn't been before, and I had a good time talking with the owner, Bob.  He was particularly impressed that I made the longish drive from home.  I managed to combine it with a trip to the Payne Foundation and a tasty rib lunch, so it wasn't too much of a chore for me.

Heuchera maxima (Island coral bells) - 5x 1gal for the front yard next to the driveway.
Iris 'Wilder Than Ever' - 5x 1gal also for the front yard next to the driveway.  I have a swath of 'Canyon Snow' and a swath of these now.  I hope that's a good plan - I was trying for something more orderly than random irises.  It doesn't look like they will bloom this year, but they do seem healthy. Planting out waited a month or so on the Bob's recommendation because the Iris weren't quite well-rooted enough when I purchased them.  Now, as I write in April, they seem to all made it past the crucial first month or so despite major garden soil excavations from the local skunks or possums (looking for grubs).

Monardella odoratissima (Mountain monardella) - 1x 5gal. This is A wonderfully strong and wild-smelling mint.  According to CalFlora there are two observations in Los Angeles County; one is identified as M. glauca, one as M. odoratissima.  There are three subspecies: Monardella odoratissima ssp. glauca, Monardella odoratissima ssp. odoratissima, Monardella odoratissima ssp. pallida.  I'm not sure which one this is.  Come by some time and take a smell - it's marvelous.  I have it atop a sandy berm in my back yard near a path so that passersby can reach out and get the smell on their hands.

Sisyrinchium bellum (Blue-eyed grass) - 4x1gal. There are a number of selections of this plant in teh plant trade - often cute dwarf varieties. I've fallen for their cuteness many times.  However, I've also had consistent bad luck with the cute ones lasting in my garden.  I think they require more water and shade than I can give.  I have had good luck with the regular species, so these augment some existing plants.  I had one volunteer this year as well, so perhaps with a critical mass of S. bellum I will have a self-sustaining colony. 


0.70" of rain; 4.15" total this season

Late March storms are bringing us up in rainfall and the weather station needs some fixin'. 

The weather station clearly wasn't making reasonable measurements in this storm, so I'm going back to the future and using the rain gauge measurements.  I will have to climb up and wash out the weather station - its performance suggests that it could be plugged. 

Previously I had 3.45" measured with rain gauge, and with this late March storm we now have 4.15".

As I write (~2 weeks after this March rain) we have a 10-20% chance of rain this weekend, so perhaps I will be able to add some more to the season.

 0.10" from rain gauge
 0.00 from weather station

 0.50" from rain gauge
 0.09" from weather station - power failure issue?

 0.10" on rain gauge


Rainfall total 3.45", but it could be 3.359". This is a two watch problem.

I have a weather station now, mounted up on the roof, with a wireless remote readout down in the comfort of the home.  It was a gift from Juli - Thanks hon!  I'm in the midst of figuring out how it's calibrated against my tried and true rain gauge. 

Here's the three first trials, broken down by storm:

Weather station 3/10: 0.39" + 3/11 (thus far) 0.18" = 0.57"
Rain gauge 0.69"

Weather station 3/14: 0.21" + 3/15: 0.12 = 0.33"
Rain gauge 3/16 0.3" (upon return from trip, so perhaps evaporation explains the difference)

Weather station 3/17: 0.009"
Rain gauge 3/17: 0.01"

That 3/10 storm didn't have close agreement, which was weird given the much closer tracking of the following two.  I checked for operator error a couple times, but without any mistakes found and I don't recall an errant jet of water from the hose.

This puts my backyard rainfall at 3.359" (weather station) of 3.45" (rain gauge) which brings to mind a favorite saying of mine, "Only the man with two watches doesn't know what time it is."


Arrived from Annie’s today

Houston and Juli gave me a gift card to Annie's Annuals a while back and today arrived...

1 Coreopsis gigantea (to bring to 3 the number in my garden). These look like Dr. Seuss daisys - they have such a loopy appearance in bloom. 

2 Deschampsia caespitosa (Tufted Hair Grass) because I want to see how it does and learn a bit about native grasses.  Usually I research the crap out of the plants I desire before purchase, but I see with a backward lens that this grass probably requires more water than I will willingly supply and that Calflora doesn't have any observations locally.  What is doing well is Nasella pulchra, which has naturalized on my hillside below the Ceanothus.  I do note that in an otherwise near-grassless yard that the dogs like to munch D. caespitosa.  Note: an alternate spelling is cespitosa

3 Eriophyllum confertiflorum - yellow yarrow, though it's not really a yarrow.

I got them all planted out last weekend, so I'm feeling good.

Brent - via iPhone


0.36" rain; 2.45" season total

2/27/18  0.1" (PM)
3/3/18 0.33"
3/4/18 0.02"

The state is breathing a sign of relief with this latest storm which brought high snowfalls (for a single storm) to the Sierra.  Still, we are far under average.


Rain 0.20"; rainfall total 2.09"

I recorded 1.78" of rain since January.  This makes 2.09" of rain.  That's not a lot of rain, though it's more than I remembered before I tallied up my notes today. 

We are lucky to have more on the way later this week according to recent weather reports.

1-9-2018 1.0"
1-9-2019 0.45"
1-13-2018 0.02"
2/13/2018 0.10"
2/14/2018 0.01"
2/27/2018 0.20"


Moving along in the garden

Moving along in the garden with purchase of five iris 'Wilder than ever' for the front.  For the back, mostly seeds right now except one 5 gal Monardella odoratissima which lives up to its name with a powerful and wondrous wild mint scent 

Brent - via iPhone


Pope's genius of place

Alexander Pope is credited with the phrase, "genius of place" in the context of garden design.  Much like wines have terroir and architecture has regional aesthetics, gardens can have this sense of regional belonging too.  I think that genius of place is what I would call a sense of place, regionally appropriate, scale appropriate, and in the natural service of its design principles.  Pope may say it better, below.

See this web page for additional commentary on the Earl of Burlington and Pope: https://misfitsarchitecture.com/2015/03/18/architectural-myths-16-genius-loci/

Moral Essays Epistle IV.
Of the Use of Riches
To Richard Boyle, Earl of Burlington

ARGUMENT The vanity of Expense in people of wealth and quality. The abuse of the word Taste. That the first principle and foundation in this, as in every thing else, is Good Sense. The chief proof of it is to follow Nature, even in works of mere luxury and elegance. Instanced in Architecture and Gardening, where all must be adapted to the genius and use of the place, and the beauties not forced into it, but resulting from it. How men are disappointed in their most expensive undertakings for want of this true foundation, without which nothing can please long, if at all; and the best examples and rules will but be perverted into something burdensome and ridiculous. 

In all, let Nature never be forgot.                      50
But treat the Goddess like a modest Fair,
Nor overdress, nor leave her wholly bare;
Let not each beauty everywhere be spied,
Where half the skill is decently to hide.
He gains all points who pleasingly confounds,   55
Surprises, varies, and conceals the bounds.
Consult the genius of the place in all;
That tells the waters or to rise or fall;
Or helps th’ ambitious hill the heav’ns to scale,
Or scoops in circling theatres the vale,               60
Calls in the country, catches opening glades,
Joins willing woods, and varies shades from shades,
Now breaks, or now directs, th’ intending lines;
Paints as you plant, and as you work designs.

-Alexander Pope 1688–1744

"In classical Roman religion, a genius locus (plural genii loci) was the protective spirit of a place" - Wikipedia
Genius plur. Genii - the superior or divine nature which is innate in everything, the spiritual part, spirit
lŏcus   - a place, spot; loci - single places; loca - connected places, a region.

I previously posted about a Garden Sanctuary design exercise / talk that I attended.  This blog post seems to be in a related vein of meta-design or something for which I have yet to identify the appropriate concise description, so I'm filing it under garden design.  Other possibilities: design philosophy, meta-design, motivation, design underpinnings.  The list goes on.  Since I'm more of a "here's an example of how to do it" person, I'm having trouble finding an description that works for me.