Calflora Mobile Search

Following on the previous blog post, also available from Calflora Calflora Mobile Search for plants, an interface to the Calflora database for mobile devices. Click on a plant name, and you will see one or two photos of the plant. Works on Android and iPhone. Check the current location box and (courtesy of HTML5) it will limit the search to plants observed growing near wherever you are.

Calflora Observer app for Android and iPhone

Back in last year's blog post "Ready to go live with What's Invasive!" I wrote about a smart phone app called What's Invasive!, an application used for mapping invasive plants.

The makers of What's Invasive! have teamed with Calflora to make the Calflora Observer Observer smart phone application with the purpose of making observations of wild plants, including photos, on your Android or iPhone. It's a free download and I'll be firing it up soon. Whereas What's Invasive relied on user- or community-defined plant lists, Observer allows reporting of any plant.


Rain 0.875"; season total 2.805"

We had a nice rain storm yesterday and accumulated 0.875" in my back yard over the day.

Recent rains have been:

6 Nov 0.24"
12 Nov 0.26" fell the day or night before
13 Nov 0.01"
21 Nov 0.875"


The ants go marching

I got this link to "17,000 Species in the Great Smoky Mountains. And Counting" (http://www.metropulse.com/news/2011/nov/16/17000-species-great-smoky-mountains-and-counting/) from my native plant listserv courtesy of Jeffrey Caldwell, along with an interesting observation from that report:

“...most of the plant species that you see in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park rely on ants to disperse their seeds,” Sanders says. “So one of the things we did was just put out seeds and look at what happened to them. And 166 out of 167 times, one ant species carried the seed away. So even though there there’s a lot of biodiversity in the Smokies, there’s some species that do a lot.” If one of those super-species was threatened by changes in its habitat, it could have wide-ranging consequences.

Most native plant fanciers appreciate the role of insects in the food web, but the role of ants was previously unknown to me. I seem to recall that a native (and distinctly larger) black ant was more plentiful when I was growing up, but I have hardly seen them recently. I think they've been supplanted by Argentine ants all along the western coast of the US.


Native plant detective story - Aesculus californica

I was leaning against the bar in a speakeasy in Malaga Cove, waiting for Juli to finish her Christmas shopping, when a girl got up from the table where she had been sitting with three other people and came over to me. She was small and blonde, and whether you looked at her face or at her body in powder-blue sport clothes, the result was satisfactory. "Aren't you Brent?" she asked.
   I said: "Yes."
   She held out her hand. "I'm Dorothy Aesculus. You don't remember me, but you ought to remember my father, Bucky Aesculus. You-"
   "Sure," I said, "and I remember you now, but you were only a kid of eleven or twelve then, weren't you?"
   "Yes, that was eight years ago. Listen: remember those stories you told me? Were they true?"
   "Probably not.  How is your father?"
   She laughed. "I was going to ask you. Mamma divorced him, you know, and we haven't heard from him since 2005. Don't you ever see him?"
   My glass was empty. I asked her what she would have to drink, she said Scotch and soda. I ordered two of them and said: "No, I've been driving and hiking all around, but I haven't seen him."
   She said slowly: "I'd like to see him. Mamma would raise hell if she found it out, but I'd like to see him."
   "I would too.  And?"
   "He's not in the phone book or city directory."
   "Try his lawyer," I suggested.
   Her face brightened. "Who is he?"
   "It used to be a fellow named Jep-something-or-other-Jepson, that's it, Jepson Herbarium. He was in the Singer Building."
   "Lend me a nickel," she said, and went out to the telephone.

Well, it wasn't as dramatic as all that.

One of the fun things about a new garden is the time you spend before you plant, planning the whole thing. Gardening is work and you expect to break a sweat doing it.  But in the planning stages you can live in a sort of Platonic ideal of a garden - filled with possibilities and not one drop yet of sweat.

I was spending some time considering the merits of California Buckeye (Aesculus californica) as a yard tree and went looking for data supporting its presence on the Palos Verdes Peninsula. It's a signature tree of my summer travels to northern California and I like it a lot.  Aesculus is one of the hallmarks of my summer travels with great looking new foliage, followed by 6 inch or longer flower spikes, and a distinctive early browning of leaf color before it loses them all.

However, I was regretful that I hadn't noted any in my travels around my neighborhood.  They are distinctive trees.  A few idle minutes with my underworld informants told me that there was information to be had in the Jepson Herbarium.  Sure enough, an occurrence was noted near Malaga Cove, but there was only one reported sighting from 2005 that noted only two trees, so anything could have happened in the intervening years! Were they the last ones?  I got a little excited about rediscovering what seems to be a rarely occurring native tree in Palos Verdes. Maybe there was no trace left? Maybe there was only one or none left!  The thrill of the hunt is similar to that of geocaching, except that the trees I was looking for could be well hidden or even extirpated.

Hot on their trail, this morning I went on a little walk and found what I think were two spindly looking, multi-trunked, Aesculus. I saw no dried flower spikes or fruits which would have made identification easier, possibly due to the poor health of the trees.  However, I had also expected either bare branches or completely brown foliage at this time of year based on what I know of the tree in N. California.  What I found were leaves still on the tree with a color that I'd expect to see no later than mid summer in hotter inland N. California areas.  See the photo of a typical leaf that I found on the ground nearby. The local climate is much cooler in summer and warmer in winter than N. California, so perhaps that explains the late autumn colors. Otherwise, it seems to match to Aesculus Californica. I've emailed some local experts for more info.

Are these are in fact PV-native or transplants?  Truly local plants will probably have genetic variations that are specific to their regional microclimate. Are there other stands of Aesculus elsewhere on the Peninsula?  Seems like there's a sequel in the making.

*Stolen without regret from Dashiell Hammett's The Thin Man


Rain 0.20"; season total 1.42"

We had rain again last night of 0.20".  I had regretted not having my rain gauge out in the yard for the first storm of the season in early October, but I found an old dog bowl in my back yard after that storm and measured the water in it to to get a handle on that storm's rain: 1.22 inches!  Based on the location of the dog bowl (out in the clear) I think it was a true reading even though 1.22" seems like a lot of rain.   I'll go with it for now as the official first rainfall of the season at my new home and feel good about having a complete record for this season.

The San Pedro annex, only 10 minutes by car away, received 0.35" of rain to my 0.20".


Local trails and busy but not forgotten

I'm busy doing some things other than blogging.  One of the fun things I'm doing is familiarizing myself with local trails.   It turns out there are plenty of obscure and undocumented ones, such as the "Mailbox Trail" which quickly devolves into a single track along the edge of George F Canyon.

 George F turns into another canyon system further along, and the trails are wide and well maintained in this area (for horses).

That's Toyon (Heteromeles arbutifolia) on the left with the red berries and Lemonade Berry (Rhus integrifolia) looming over the right hand branch of the trail.  They're easy to tell apart this time of year with the red berries only on Toyon, which is also known as Christmas Berry.  When they are not in bloom, I think the easiest way to tell them apart is by the leaf edges:  Serrations on the Toyon, smooth or wavy on Lemonade Berry. This seems to be locally true, anyway.

I have been assured that all trails are public access, yet already I've run into what appear to be bogus trail closings promulgated by local homeowner groups (thinks to self, "Hmm.  I don't see the advertised trail hazard that motivated trail closure with not one but two chain link fences across the trail.  Curious - these fences seem designed to cut off down-trail access into a gated community that is advertised as open at the public-access trailhead.  Wow, even the horsemen passing within eyeshot of the trail closure don't seem to think there's a hazard.")

I sense some advocacy in my future. Until then, I'm just a quiet trails anthropologist and I'll keep a photo record documenting trail conditions without trying to perturb the system. 

I'll be back in a bit to tell you more about native plants - I have tremendous plans for my new yard.  Until then, I'm a bit busy.  See you on the trails.


Charlotte to Charlie to Charles to Chuck

There were several if these large spiders around the house a couple weeks ago. They were at my old house too until they mysteriously disappeared - I think the neighbor sprayed.

This one started as a relatively petite Charlotte and ended as thuggish Chuck over a couple week period of time.

The camera angle makes it appear that there's a large blurry spider on my lawn, but it's really just 50 cent piece sized spider in the foreground of the shot.

- Posted at great expense from my iPhone


First rains of the winter

I'm happy that we're getting some rain.  Often it will rain in October and then be dry again until much later in the year, so an early start on the winter rains isn't necessarily a harbinger of a wet winter.  Traffic was typically slow yesterday morning and this morning due to our first rain of the year:  We had a small amount of rain yesterday A.M. and more today that appears to be making more of a lasting impression.

My new house is in a rain "shadow" on the east side of a coastal hill.  As I drive around the hill on which I live each morning, I've noticed that my east facing, leeward, side of the hill seems to consistently have less moisture than the ocean side.  This seems an intuitive result for storms arriving from the ocean and it's also true for fog, which can be a significant contributor to soil moisture.

Sadly, my rain gauge is not out in the yard yet so I'll have to make an educated guess on the precipitation from this storm.  I would have liked to start the winter with some solid measurements.

Addendum: I found an old dog bowl in the yard with 3.1 cm of water in it, so I'm going with rainfall of 1.22".  That's a lot!


George F canyon

Click for a full panorama.

- Posted at great expense from my iPhone

Location:Lomita,United States


Out of the Box: California native plants for hedges

Joan Bolton of Santa Barbara writes a nice blog about gardening and garden design. A recent blog post called Splendid Hedges has recommendations for California native plant hedges. Joan recommends Lemonade berry (Rhus integrifolia), Hollyleaf cherry (Prunus ilicifolia), Catalina cherry (Prunus lyonii), Ceanothus 'Julia Phelps', Toyon (Heteromeles arbutifolia), Howard McMinn manzanita (Arctostaphylos densiflora ‘Howard McMinn’) and Oregon grape (Berberis aquifolium) as hedges.

I guess that most people think big when they think of hedges, even though the ~1 foot tall clipped box (Buxus) hedges used as borders and in European knot gardens are equally hedges in my mind. Here's a nice photo that I found at Boxtrees Nursery (in England of course).

Maybe there's no smallish California native plant that lends itself to that style of hedge since the smallest pruned and maintained size among the plants that Joan recommends are the last two, which she says can be maintained at 6 feet tall and 4 feet wide. Or maybe with our high population density we're really talking about privacy and screening views when we in California talk about hedges.  I looked briefly online for examples of California natives in a tightly sheared hedge, but didn't find any pictures. I do recall pruning a Lemonade Berry hedge with loppers and an electric clipper at a friend's house in Hope Ranch when I was a teen.

Scanning the archives of my (northern California based) listserve I came up with these suggestions for hedge plants:
Rhus integrifolia (the previously mentioned Lemonade Berry)
Galvesia speciosa (some selections will grow with a more compact habit than others)
Bacharris pilularis (Coyote Bush)
Garry elliptica 'Evie' or 'James Roof' or even the straight species
Rhamnus crocea can be used as a very formal hedge
Ribes viburnifolium (Evergreen Currant)
Cercocarpus betuloides (Mountain Mahogany)
Garrya elliptica
Arctostaphylos 'Sunset' was recommended instead of McMinn as it was said to be more hedge-like and not require much in the way of pruning

Las Pilitas nursery, always a source of interesting information, has a section on hedges and screens. They include some more iconoclastic selections.

Finally, in a related blog post earlier, Naked behind a screen in the garden, KarenH suggested that I look at a Los Angeles area online native plant resource called Project SOUND, which I have mentioned very occasionally here. It's nice to see that it's up and running and thank you KarenH.


Garden miscellany

Here's an interesting garden juxtaposition. To set the stage: This photo was taken at the LA County Museum of Art. The permanent garden that lines the walkways between buildings has a high level of LA-style design: Bright red painted steel uprights for the walkway roof, exceptionally straight and perfectly aligned COR-TEN steel retaining walls, COR-TEN steel raised planters that resemble wooden planter boxes, and a range of imported plants starting with turf grass and ending with palms.

Surrounding the BCAM building and LACMA's courtyard is a 100 palm tree garden, designed by artist Robert Irwin and landscape architect Paul Comstock. Some of the 30 varieties of palms are in the ground, but most are in large wooden boxes above ground. - Wikipedia (but of course those wooden boxes are actually steel that resembles wood boxes, so Wikipedia is wrong in that small matter.  Also the palms are not all, strictly speaking, palms.)

Given the high level of design and the mix of imported plant materials I thought that this reindeer (clearly made from artificial plant materials, surmounting a "bark" hill that is dotted with plastic flowers, and surrounded by a synthetic box hedge) was a sly comment on the permanent garden.  Alas, it is a marker for the entrance to the Tim Burton exhibit and destined to move on when the exhibit closes on Oct 31.  The reindeer was a prop in the movie Edward Scissorhands.

Tim Burton has a fairly prolific career so there was ample material but when it was all said and done I was left feeling like I'd had a Dodger Dog and a large Coke instead of a five course gourmet meal.

Here's another "garden" looking north from the end of the Palos Verdes peninsula.  I believe that's Rhus integrifolia (Lemonade Berry) in the foreground.  I saw a large Mimulus on the cliffs as well in full late summer dormancy.

Landscape Resource

I just found what looks to be a useful online plant palette design tool associated with a website called Landscape Resource.  It has an obvious URL (http://www.landscaperesource.com/) that I can't actually make an active link since I'm bound by the site's overly broad terms and conditions which state in part,

8.  You may not create a link to this website from another website or document without Landscape Resource's prior written consent.

Maybe I'm the only one who reads those things. I emailed them and had a speedy and friendly reply from Rob Maday who told me that he agreed and that the Terms and Conditions were under review.

The site looks promising enough that you should check it out.  Hopefully, you'll someday soon be able to refer traffic directly to their site.


World's largest and most florific Cal. Poppy

That's one California Poppy (Eschlozia californica maritima) plant overwhelming a downhill rose. I posted on this poppy earlier in May! of this year and it's amazing that it's still producing blooms.

- Posted at great expense from my iPhone


Naked behind a screen in the garden

I stumbled across a good article about Naked Ladies the other day - Amaryllis belladonna, not Playmates.  The author, Joan Bolton, comes from nearby Santa Barbara so her gardening know-how would appear to translate well to Los Angeles.  Browsing her blog I quickly stumbled across some information that I thought would be more immediately useful in a post called Splendid Hedges.  Recall that I just posted how I need to hide a neighbor's front yard with a hedge or screen.

Here's the naked view from my front yard this morning.

My property is slightly higher than the neighbor's and the scrawny roses currently planted along a low wall don't provide enough height to hide the garbage cans and piles of brick in the neighbor's yard.   There's also no amount of planting that I can do where my walkway meets the retaining wall, and that's the area that I'd like to screen the most.  On the one hand, I admire the neighbor for having the balls to buck the wall to wall green grass trend and plant an orchard instead.  On the other hand, I don't want to look at their garbage can storage area.

For purposes of continuity, I briefly considered extending the fantastic (you'll have to imagine the sarcasm in my voice) Eugenia topiary  into hedges or adding more Eugenia as a dedicated hedge, but after about a nanosecond I concluded that I was going to demo the incongruously-placed and uninteresting layer cake topiary. (A highly innovative stacked sphere topiary is visible at left in the above picture.  Imagine many similar but purposeless topiary sentinels, like Easter Island statues.  Ugh.)  So, no Eugenia hedge for me.

I then spent a good long time thinking and reading about native plant hedge solutions, but it turns out that native hedge plants may not be the best solution.  Most hedge plants tend to be taller and broader than I need or want and they don't address the gap where the concrete walkway abuts the retaining wall. But, while I thought I was thinking about hedges,  my mind apparently was spinning up other ideas.

It turns out that there may be a partial hardscape solution: Extending the ornamental fence that already exists on the front side of my property might do the trick, provided I grow low arching shrubs in front or climbing plants on it.  This would definitely be a harmonious solution that would take up the minimum of space.  There may even be standard fence panels that are a bit taller than those I currently have that would give it a bit more screening.  The picture below is a crude mockup of how it might work.

Extending an imaginary line from the top of the large white-flowered rose in that picture says that I would only need to overtop the fence by a foot to two feet to get all the screen that I wanted. 

I haven't had a chance to closely observe it, but I think that the sun exposure in this area of my garden is partial - it's shaded by the Jacaranda street trees in the PM and by the house in the AM. Foggy days are likely too.  This kind of exposure is consistent with the mixed success that the previous owners apparently had with roses in this area. 

To cover the planting gap where the concrete meets the wall I'll want vines or arching growth that I can tie or train to the fence.  This narrows the selection process nicely. This seems to be the short list:

Calystegia macrostegia (Morning Glory Vine). My locally native variety has small white flowers but the Channel Island selection "Anacapa Pink" has large pink veined flowers. Evergreen.
Clematis ligusticifolia (Virgin's Bower or Yerba De Chiva). Winter deciduous.
Lonicera hispidula (California or Pink Honeysuckle) - a vine-like shrub that has relatively sparse growth. Semi-evergreen.
Vitis 'Walker Ridge' (Walker Ridge Wild Grape). Smaller selection. Winter deciduous.

Put one of those on a small fence and I won't feel so naked any more.


Can I compost my whole yard?

I'd love to unleash a giant mutant lawnmower / chipper / shredder robot on the whole yard, make a giant pile of compost*, and start fresh with the gardens. Doing something similar by hand is a daunting task; there's some exciting possibilities in my new gardens, but it will take some heavy demolition work to get to a useable state.

Some pictures:


Franciscan manzanita video

Back from the Brink: for the last wild franciscan manzanita

It has long been known that the Presidio is home to the last Raven's manzanita on earth. Surprisingly, a chance discovery made in 2010 during the Doyle Drive reconstruction project revealed the existence of the Franciscan manzanita, thought to have been extinct in the wild for more than 70 years. This 23-minute film by San Francisco filmmaker Melissa Peabody tells the compelling story of these two icons of California's natural heritage. Produced 2011. Presidio Trust.


All new garden challenges

I haven't been posting much because I've been super busy trying to finesse a change of address. There's going to be all sorts of new native plant opportunities: an east-facing hillside covered with Oleander and Brazilian Pepper has the most potential for native habitat and maybe a small vineyard while an old swimming pool that has been filled will offer an opportunity for a more formal garden closer to the house. This still isn't certainty yet, so I'm treading lightly in terms of my planning and hopes.

See you in the garden.

Location:Rancho Palos Verdes


View from tent 35

Down by the creek.

- Posted at great expense from my iPhone


Recent Tritelia laxa garden history

'Ithuriel's Spear'

Below: on or about June 12th.

- Posted at great expense from my iPhone

Blog Hiatus

I may be posting infrequently for the next couple weeks. Take care!

- Posted at great expense from my iPhone


Madrona Marsh demonstration garden

Fairyduster and Shaw's agave.

Aster, Nasella, Eriogonum, Salvia, Toyon.

- Posted at great expense from my iPhone


Creek Watch app

A fresh update of the Creek Watch app reminded me that I ought to actually use it, so tonight I took a stroll along the Dominguez Channel and made a few reports.

From the friendly app:
"Creek Watch enables you to help monitor your watershed. Creeks and streams are a vital part of watersheds; they provide water to drink and sustain plant and animal life. However, they can also be a pathway for pollution to spread, and they are often too numerous for water boards to monitor without help.

Creek Watch provides an easy way to lend a hand by reporting on any waterway you pass. We then aggregate reports and share them with water control boards to help them track pollution,
manage water resources, and plan environmental programs.

Creek Watch is an IBM Smarter Planet Project developed by IBM Research-Almaden. To learn more visit http://www.creekwatch.org."

- Posted at great expense from my iPhone


Looking forward to the Lair

I'm packing today - the house and for our Lair of the Bear vacation.  The blog may go into brief hiatus depending upon how much fun I'm having doing other things.

See also Cannonical list of things to bring to the Lair


0.52" Rain; season total 17.99"

0.28" of rain on 16 May
0.24" of rain on 17 May

For a total of 0.52". This is a large amount of rain for May in southern California and it fell gently over two nights, soaking in almost completely - ideal for gardens.

- Posted at great expense from my iPhone


Rain 0.05"; season total 17.47"

A surprise shower hit overnight and we got 0.05" in 90250.  Only 0.01" was recorded in the San Pedro annex. The timing of this rainfall isn't so surprising - we often get little showers into late May.  However, I have yet to record significant rainfall in June, so this is definitely near the end.


Local garden tour

I just discovered this in my email. It sounds like fun. There ought to be plenty of native plants, but also many Mediterranean plants on this tour.

South Bay Water-Wise Garden Tour

This Sunday, May 15, 2011
10:00 am to 5:00 pm

This is the first year of this tour, organized by Peggy Kramer, an OFG Workday attendee and whose sister leads a garden tour in the Oakland, CA area. 2 of the nine gardens shown this year are Ocean Friendly Gardens:

- Torrance area: This one was the site of a Hands-On Workshop (HOW) on Site Evaluation, sponsored by the City of Torrance. Then South Bay-Surfrider OFG Committee returned on Thanksgiving to join the owners, their family and OFG class participants to help build the garden. Now they just need an OFG yard sign!
- Gardena area: The owners attended an OFG Class and realized they already had an OFG and applied for a sign.

Check out the tour website.


Twisted and tied

While looking at houses the other day I saw an interesting arbor structure made of primitively bent, twisted, and tied copper tubing.

There's a small electric light at the top:

There's no overall shot. I think that I tried, but it didn't come across well and I discarded the photo.

- Posted at great expense from my iPhone

Rain 0.01"; season total 17.42"

A surprise shower hit last night bringing our rainfall total to 17.42".  Here's what the rainfall looked like in my back yard for the past several years. 

As you can see, this year was second overall in rainfall total for the years that I have tracked, but still only about 2/3rds of the largest rainfall in 2004-05.  This is an illustrative data set since it captures the full range of rainfall that California tends to get.  It also illustrates the frequently recurring or maybe constant drought theme in our state - only in years of greater than average rainfall (and snowpack) do we have a real surfeit of water given the public appetite.


Largest poppy ever?

The largest I've seen. The flowers here are from only one plant of our native poppy.  It's the coastal variety which has a yellower color than the safety orange of the interior variety.  The flowers have lasted an extremely long time on this plant too.

This one is planted near the coast on a hillside, so perhaps it's in an ideal habitat.  Shown below, it sprawls over a couple nearby rose bushes and an iris.

- Posted at great expense from my iPhone

First Matilija blooms

They are growing on shorter stalks this year than last and there appears to be some rust on many of the leaves.  Perhaps this is due to our wet winter.

Two days ago there was one. Today there were five or so blooms.

- Posted at great expense from my iPhone


More garden blooms

More allium unifolium (foreground) and penstemon 'Margarita BOP'. Assorted Gilia capitata.

Tritelia about to bloom

A CA native, but not locally native.

- Posted at great expense from my iPhone


Is Devon Skies Blue-eyed Grass native?

 Maybe.  Probably not.

That's completely unhelpful, so I'll try to elaborate.  I'm not a plant professional, so I'll welcome corrections.

Right off the bat, the 'Devon Skies' part of the name indicates a selection or hybrid.

A little Googleing says that Blue-eyed grass 'Devon Skies' is in the genus Sisyrinchium, which is promising since many species of Sysyrinchium are native to western states.  All are new world, but Sisyrinchium from midwest states or the east are not unheard of. I wasn't able to find a species name, suggesting that it's a hybrid.  If I'd found something like "Sysrinchium bellum 'Devon Skies'" then the bellum part of the name would indicate a species native to California and I'd know this was a native plant selection.

A little more Googleing finds this blurb on Plantlust.com

"Super in the rock garden or front of the border. (It's sterile too!) We just learned that S. 'Devon Skies' was found in Edmund and Rita Heaton's UK garden (the National Collection Holders for Sisyrinchium)."  Ahh. So that's why it's Devon Skies and not Lake County Skies. 

This all suggests that its parents are not known and in a Sisyrinchium collection of national significance I would think the parents could be from anywhere.  So that's why I say maybe.  But the real answer is probably not.

If you really want a native, I'd buy one of the species known to be California natives.  There's many, though in my neck of the woods the optimum time to plant and grow these has passed for this year.  Sisyrinchium bellum (blue eyed grass, western blue eyed grass) is widespread in California, so it's probably native near you.  There are dwarf selections if you like cute and compact: my girlfriend picked up one that's fantastically florific right now.  I think it was Sisyrinchium bellum 'Fort Bragg'.

From a question on my native plant list.


Garden blooms

Onion, gilia, penstemon

Pch iris

More pch iris

Douglas Meadowfoam. Limnanthes

Limnanthes isn't as big as it appears in the previous picture. See below. Massed as it was earlier in the season and elsewhere in the garden it looks quite nice. I like the frog, a find at Tuesday Morning, I think.

Checkerbloom or checkermallow. Sidalcea or some such from memory. I've always thought that this is sort of a garden underdog perhaps because it is a bit fragile and easily overwhelmed by plants around it.

- Posted at great expense from my iPhone


Margaret's mallow update

My friend Margaret writes,
After we had the heavy rains in December, my mallow just seemed to stop thriving. This photo was taken today. Note that this year the seedlings started growing.
Part one of my pruning is evident in the photo. Part two will occur after the trash is picked up. I do hope my mallow can make a comeback.
I have collected the seeds from the cut branches.

I wrote back,

You have really well-draining soil, if I recall correctly. However, you may want to transplant a seedling or two to a slight mound that will provide better water shedding from the trunk in case that is the problem.

If you follow the label link to Margaret's mallow you'll see that this was an early 2009 transplant from a 1 gallon pot, so it's had a two+ year run. Maybe that's all you get from Lavatera assurgentiflora. The main native plant web sites that I surveyed didn't call out a specific life expectancy, but this web site says that it is short-lived:


so perhaps it's run its course.

Back to my blog vacation.  See ya.


Bee road?

An astute observer on my native plant garden list suggests that this is a concept useful in the U.S.

'Bee road' plans to save key pollinators

Co-operative's Plan Bee scheme will set up corridors of wildflowers as a food-rich habitat for honeybees, hoverflies, butterflies and moths.

Back to my blog vacation.


Before and After

It's for sale now and I doubt it will ever look better.  Let's see how I started and how I ended up.


In between


After (same area shown at right with French door)


End of March blooms

I'm still taking a break but these were too easy to pass up.
I liked the structure of this Phacelia tenacetifolia much better the night before when the background wasn't so distracting.

Its flower:

Bay and Douglas's Meadowfoam. There's a single Meadowfoam in the Tenacetifolia pot if you look carefully.

Ceanothus and Western Redbud.

Heuchera 'Wendy'

- Posted at great expense from my iPhone