Saturday, June 12, 2010

Early Warning Signs

What makes a gardener and why do some people make a garden and others not? When I walk around my neighborhood I admire the diversity of gardens and how variously people use their outdoor spaces. The ones that are most curious are the yards where no one has planted anything. It’s hard to imagine how this could occur over a 40-year span, the age of most Brentwood/Crestview homes. But you do see the occasional house where there is nothing, no foundation plantings, no beds, not even a nandina.
I know I’m her mother, but isn’t this the cutest thing you’ve ever seen? A baby, a sunsuit, a pot of seasonal color. These appear to be portulaca, a plant I turn my back on these days, because of how its blooms shut down midday. Who needs a flower that doesn’t stay on duty? I just barely tolerate pavonia for that reason. Anyway, this little toddler who loved to water the pots has now begun her own garden and it’s gratifying to know that my mother’s legacy of gardening was passed down to both Rachel and Grace. I have both plants and pots that were my mother’s. I treasure my time as their caretakers and hope to pass them on in due time.

Meet Felicia

She may not look like much but she’s got two buds on her left and right canes, which since she’s only been in her spot less than a month, is very impressive. She comes from the Antique Rose Emporium in San Antonio and was chosen because the authorities say she tolerates a lot of shade and will still bloom. She is now queen of the remote side yard/gravel bed. Meanwhile Reve D’Or in blazing sun has shown very little activity despite having been potted more than two months ago. So, go Felicia!
After cutting back the top-heavy Icebergs after their spring bloom extravaganza,I expected a quiet summer. They surprised me by ramping right back up with another round of floribundance. You can’t see in this picture but all their new leaves look like someone took a hole-puncher to them. Research suggests it’s a leaf-cutter bee doing the hole-punching but I’ve never spotted anything but beetles on the roses. As long as they leave the rosebuds alone, I’ll ignore the leaf decimation.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Gray Gardens

Are gray plants the bomb? Yes, they are and here’s why. They impart Visual Cool to our hot landscape and they totally rock the green-blues of agaves, opuntia ellisana, (thornless prickly pear), and yucca.
In this picture from left are powis artemisia, Russian sage (with purple blooms), culinary sage, and bottom left, salvia apiana or white sage, and almost hidden, a santolina, which really needs to be moved since the other guys are taking over. Other grays in this bed are silver leaf germander, cenizo (purple sage), lavender, and Elijah’s blue fescue.
Salvia apiana is new to my garden and it has really found a place for its striking rosettes of celadon leaves, robust mounding growth habit, and bulletproof heat shield.
Plus it has a great backstory. It grows wild in California but has been ruinously preyed upon by commercial herbalists and other immoral entrepreneurs who yank the whole plant out of the ground, tie it in bundles, and sell it as smudge sticks to hippies and crystal-gazers for use in their sweat lodges and home meditation shrines. Oddly, the scrunched up leaves smell like really bad B.O. Maybe the plant smells better when burned? Probably not. The path to enlightenment was not meant to be easy.