Euphorbia terracina

Here's a weed that's easy to pull and one where you might feel that an investment of time now will have a real preventive impact. The weed is Euphorbia terracina (Geraldton carnation weed, false caper), and it's just getting established nearby. Early prevention could make a difference, so exterminate on sight.
Euphorbia terracina


Jubata or Pampas?

I started reading about Pampas grass (Cortaderia selloana), and then quickly decided that I really ought to be reading about Jubata grass (Cortaderia jubata).  Both are undesirable invasive weeds along the California coast, but Jubata grass is more widespread.

According to Cal-IPC one way to discriminate is by pannicle (flower) height. 
Jubata grass (Cortaderia jubata)
Jubata grass (Cortadaria jubata) is a perennial grass six to twenty-three feet tall with long leaves arising from a tufted base or tussock. The inflorescence or flower cluster is a plumed panicle at the end of a long stem. Stems generally are at least twice as long as the tussock. Plumes consist of hairy female flowers, deep violet when immature, turning pinkish or tawny cream-white at maturity. Jubata grass is easily confused with, and often called, pampas grass (Cortaderia selloana). The two species are distinguished by stem height, leaf, plume, and spikelet color, florets, leaf tip, and presence of viable seed. The tussocks of jubata grass are less erect and more spreading and not fountain-like, when compared to tussocks of Cortaderia selloana.


Planting the fall garden

Fall is like New Years for California native gardeners - always the promise of literally turning over a new leaf.

I mentioned just the other day about how I shopped online at Annie's Annuals for some fall plantings, but additional guilty pleasures of local plant sales weren't far away and offered other tantalizing new plants as well as old favorites to augment what's working. 

I couldn't stay away from the SCCNPS plant sale where my tastes ran to really local plants and then less than a week later I made a trip to the Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden nursery, Grow Native, in Westwood.  I did manage to exert enough self-control to avoid the Payne Foundation's plant sale this year.  Nonetheless, all told I had about 20 new plants.  My prior tendency has been to get them in the ground a bit at a time, but this year I did them all in one fell swoop.

How did I manage to prep and plant that many new plants?  The magic of government furloughs came into play giving me ample time to enjoy a curious mental state half way between unemployment and retirement.  I guess there's at least one thing for which I can thank the radical edge of the Republican party.

I've decided to keep track of what I've planted using the simplest method possible: I just take a photo of the installed plant next to its empty container.  Not the most aesthetic, but definitely the easiest way for me to maintain my records.  This is a long post, so click to read more at your peril.


Fall growth and renewal in the garden

You know it's fall when the bulbs start to poke their head above ground. Here I have an unknown exotic (bottom) that I enjoyed immensely last year and a few sprouts of Crocus sativus (saffron crocus - top) of which I have many pots. Perhaps this year they will bloom and I can give them as Easter gifts.

Of course, one sign of fall is ripping the Agapanthus (Lily of the Nile) out to make room for more interesting and important plants....

Order from Annie's

My recent order from Annie's Annuals and inner thoughts:

1 Cirsium occidentale "Cobweb Thistle" 3 $8.95 $26.85 (loved these last year but not certain they have self sown)
2 Clematis ligusticifolia "Western White Clematis" 2 $7.95 $15.90 (A purposeful purchase for the fence in front)
3 Dudleya traskiae "Santa Barbara Liveforever" 2 $8.95 $17.90 (Couldn't resist a channel island plant since I live on a former channel island)
4 Gilia tricolor "Birds Eyes" 1 $4.95 $4.95 (why not, shipping is the same whether ordering 7 or 8)

Subtotal $65.60 (YIPES!)
Discount (25% off) -$16.40 (Whew!)
Sales Tax (7.5%) $3.69 (Damn Revenuers!)
Shipping $13.95 (Less than the cost of making the drive, I guess)
Gift Card Card $10.00 (ahhhh)
Total $56.84 (Grrr, but muted somewhat.)

It appear that there was some unexpected handling issues and the Dudleya plants got loose (open slots in photo), acting like large and heavy bulls in the china shop, crushing and breaking everything they tumbled into.  Near disaster was averted, however: I immediately got all these planted and the crushed plants seem to have recovered quite well.  Had I needed to call Annie's I'm sure they would have treated me well, since they have in the past.


Flora of Lair of the Bear 6-16-13

I took these pictures last summer during a family vacation near Pinecrest.  Pinecrest Lake is shown below.

Pinecrest Lake
I took a simplistic approach to identifying them with the help of CalFlora.org and my own intuition, so the IDs could be wrong.


Fall means plant sales!

The local chapter of the California Native Plant Society (SCCNPS) had their native plant sale the other day and of course I was there. Some of the plants have already made it into my garden.  The SCCNPS sale features and identifies many locally native plants, many of which are propagated from local seed or cuttings.  This year I found myself gravitating strongly to the locals.

This Red Buckwheat (Eriogonum grande rubescens) joined two others that I planted in the last year.  Three is a magic number that has many visual aesthetics and one of the earlier plantings had died, a victim of animal activity in my garden, so I had to replace it. 
Red Buckwheat (Eriogonum grande rubescens)
Of the two existing in my garden before this new one was installed, one was planted somewhat earlier in the winter than the other and the earlier one is by far the larger and more robust.  This just goes to illustrate that fall to winter is the best planting time for many of these native plants - they sink deeper roots that allow more top growth if they get just a few more weeks / months in the ground with cool temperatures and moist soil.


Curious small piles of dirt

The other day I noticed some curious small piles of dirt in Juli's garden among the Fragaria (Strawberry) plants.  In the picture below, little earthen piles are located midway between top and bottom at left and right sides of the photo.  I thought they were earthworm castings at first. 

It turns out that there was a small flying creature (yellow, perhaps a wasp) that inhabited them. Here it is, a bit out of focus due to my cell phone camera's autofocus "feature".


Early fall in the San Gabriel Mountains

It's my favorite time of year - fall.  Fall in the southern California mountains has some nice surprises in it - even those plants that have gone to sleep to endure the summer still often have something to offer.  A case in point is the Crystal Lake to Mt Islip trail, which I've hiked a couple times in the past year.  It's a good hike, rising from around 5,000' to about 8,000'.  The Curve Fire in 2002 wiped out many of the established conifers, but there has been some regeneration of the understory plants.

I think this is Hesperoyucca whipplei  (chaparral yucca).  This used to just be called yucca, but there was a recent renaming.  Don't let anyone tell you that the Latin names never change, because they do. 
Hesperoyucca whipplei  (chaparral yucca)

More below.  As always, I welcome corrections on my plant IDs.