Tuesday, September 30, 2014

I've seen the devil and he has “fuzzy” brown spots...

We’d just sat down to dinner when there was a knock at the door. Ready with my standard “no thank you we don’t need whatever it is you’re selling” speech I was surprised to see my friend, and fellow garden blogger, Anna smiling back at me. That’s when I remembered a previous conversation we'd had…she’d gone dumpster diving and was bringing me the spoils!

Anna works at Drake’s 7 Dees and the orange spotted opuntia had finally misbehaved one time too many which caused her co-hort, William, to give it the heave-ho (misbehaved = covered him in painful glochids). Anna being the soft-hearted individual she is couldn't stand to see a perfectly good plant be tossed and asked me if I wanted to rescue it, of course! Sadly it had gotten pretty banged up...

It came with a surprise, something you don't see everyday: a fern growing out of the bottom of a container of opuntia.

This is the label I found inside the pot. Not terribly helpful but at least it told me it wasn't hardy (the plant had been kicking around the nursery for ages, pre-Anna, pre-William, who knows how old the label is)...

A little further down (when I was still under the illusion I'd be repotting this guy) I found this one. Try looking that name up online, you get absolutely nothing. I'm going with Opuntia microdasys.

The new pads are so beautiful, but I quickly decided there was no way I was going to wrestle the plant out of the container. Why? This thing is PURE EVIL!!! (and thus the name of the post)

Those cute brown polka-dots turn to a fine (sharp) fuzz that gets everywhere. EVERWHERE. I decided the only way to deal with it and not end up in the ER was to hold the pads with tongs and cut them off near the base, let them callus over and then (carefully) replant them.

There are a thousand filaments of pain per square centimeter right there, trust me...

Here's the plant post surgery.

When it comes time to replant I will be wearing long sleeves and disposable gloves. And reminding myself to not breath in while doing it!

The other plant Anna brought was a Opuntia engelmannii var. linguiformis, I much prefer their long, lethal, but quite obvious spikes and limited glochids...

Thank you for the painful plants Anna!

All material © 2009-2014 by Loree Bohl for danger garden. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited and just plain rude.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Back from the Bay, with treasures…

Andrew and I just wrapped up a nice, week-long, trip to California. The best part? We drove! You know what that means…I bought plants. Our first stop was a visit to Gerhard’s wonderful garden in Davis, CA (yes, there will be a post, I took a lot of photos). I also left with plants, Gerhard’s a generous guy...

This Agave lophantha 'Quadricolor' is one Gerhard divided from his main plant and had tucked into a holding area (above photo from his garden). Now it's mine. What a beauty!

These two pups also came from Gerhard, on the left Agave havardiana (which will be fine here in the ground) and on the right a pup from his Agave 'Joe Hoak'. Initially I passed when he offered the baby Joe, after all I already have two and I didn't want to be greedy, but then when I saw the mama plant, well I changed my mind. His plant is so silver, I realize it might be due to the light of Davis vs. Portland but it just looks so different than my others, I had to take one!

Another gifted pup Agave ‘Sharkskin’ this one fell out of it's container in transit so it's temporarily sharing a pot while it gets a few roots.

Once we arrived in the Bay Area our home base was in Berkeley, with a Saturday morning trip into San Francisco and a few brief wanders into Oakland or Richmond. High on my list of must-see destinations was The Dry Garden, a nursery in Oakland. That's where I found the top plant on my list of things I hoped to bring home: Sonchus canariensis...

I had one of these that I loved, and lost to root-rot last fall. It was my fault for not noticing the container wasn't properly draining. I will do better with this one.

This was an exciting find at Flora Grubb, Agave xylonacantha. I was pretty sure I'd never seen it and the reaction of all the employees ("isn't that great, we just got that in, never have had that one before") confirmed it was something special.

This one is a bit of a head scratcher. Labeled as Furcraea gigantea 'Striata' it certainly doesn't fit with any of the photos I find online, bought at a quick foray into a big-box store (curiosity ya know).

Lupinus albifrons “Silver Bush Lupine” (the small leaves) and Lupinus sericatus “Cobb Mountain Lupine” (the big ones). When I stopped in Berkeley Horticultural Nursery I discovered all California natives were on sale and that included the L. albifrons, which I love so I grabbed a couple. The L. sericatus was a find at Annie's Annuals. Both are very very silver...

Also from Annie's: Lessertia montana “Mountain Cancer Bush” which I fell in love with in Heather's garden.

Greenovia aurea ‘Gran Canaria Form’...

And Echium fastuosum round out my Annie's purchases.

I've long lusted after Salvia apiana but never found a plant I thought measured up to what I see in photos. This one is gorgeous...(also from The Dry Garden)...hopefully it will stay that way.

When in the Bay Area one must buy a Leucadendron, it's a rule. L. 'Safari Sunset'...

Here's what Andrew was doing while I was investigating nurseries and gardens, his book haul:

Plus one more too big for the stack...

But this is a garden blog so we should end with an image of the plant haul! (and a disclaimer...a few of these (the Caesalpinia gilliesii, verbascum and Eryngium paniculatum for example) were not purchases from this adventure). Looks like somebody better get busy planting!

All material © 2009-2014 by Loree Bohl for danger garden. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited and just plain rude.

Friday, September 26, 2014


Here’s a sure-fire recipe for a successful garden vignette:

1. Buy a super fabulous (large) focal point urn
2. Score a hard to find (and equally fabulous) plant to put in it
3. Bury them behind a couple of big plants so that nobody but you knows they’re there

Brilliant no?

Never one to do something halfway I took it a step further and also hid this excellent small tree, a Magnolia laevifolia.

The hidden container plant is a huge Grevillea 'Austraflora Fanfare' my friend JJ found for me at San Marcos Growers last spring. Back when I positioned the container and grevillea (and planted the magnolia) the melianthus hadn't yet emerged from the ground and the hakonechloa was only about 6" tall. Now I know. I won't make the same mistake again, at least not here. No doubt something similar is bound to be repeated elsewhere...

All material © 2009-2014 by Loree Bohl for danger garden. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited and just plain rude.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

My favorite plant this week isn’t growing in my garden...

Months back I toyed with the idea of combining the “my favorite plant” feature with a new one, something along the lines of “what I’m currently lusting after.” Ever since then the fav’s have been battling somthing fierce to see who gets to be written about, so it never happened. But the time is now! See that little plant snuggled up next to the rocks? It has captured my imagination and won’t let go…

What is it? I wondered that myself. A little puff ball skeleton, it was an anomaly in very simple garden I featured last week on the plant lust blog. All alone, it was like it sprung unexpectedly from seed, maybe a gift from a visiting bird.

I thought about posting it here and asking you all what it was, I thought about posting it to the “Plant Idents” group on Facebook. Yet before I could do either of those my plant lust co-hort Megan pinned it to a plant wishlist Pinterest board (we definitely gravitate towards similar plants). Now I know it’s Artemisia versicolor 'Seafoam'

The description from the Plant Select® program says all the right things: "Vigorous, attractive groundcover with lacy, mounding foliage of silvery blue. Good winter presence. Clump forming and non-invasive. Perennial. Xeriscape. Garden loam, clay or sandy soil. USDA zones 4b-8." Really could it be any better? Still the images I find on a Google search give me a little concern, it might be a little weedy for my tastes, especially when it blooms. Have any of you grown it?

All material © 2009-2014 by Loree Bohl for danger garden. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited and just plain rude.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

The Ricin Report

I almost called this post "the come back kid" but then decided to go with something a little more scandalous, or at least to try. So back towards the end of July when I declared the castor bean pictured below my weekly "fav" plant I was pretty sure it was going to be the reigning champion for size this growing season.

But ever since it bloomed (and look seed pods!) it's slown down.

Where as this guy, who was under 10" then, has exploded and seems determined to reach the top of the fence and beyond. Right now he's almost 5ft tall, in just 2 months time he's grown that much!

And that trunk, it's beefy, over an inch wide. It should be noted this monster is from seedlings given to me by Alison last spring. Alison your offspring is amazing, thank you!

It's especially wonderful that the foliage is in a place I can see it up close.

The three plants out in the front garden haven't grown much at all since the July post.

Back then several people said increased water would do the trick, along with heat. The heat we've had and the watering has stayed pretty consistent between them all, in other words it alone shouldn't account for the growth spurt on the comeback kid.

As you can see these two seedlings haven't grown more than a couple of inches.

What's the difference? I'm going with Heather's theory that they grow to fill the space available to them. The one in the back garden had nothing encumbering it's march up and out, where as the ones out front had to contend with neighbors nearby. Whatever the reason I'm thrilled at this beefy Ricinus communis in my garden...

All material © 2009-2014 by Loree Bohl for danger garden. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited and just plain rude.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Lunch (and a stroll) in the Pearl…

Earlier in the year my gardening friend, and former neighbor, Bridget, moved to Portland’s Pearl District. “The Pearl” is known for its restaurants, art galleries, shopping and condos. What about gardens? Yes, if you know where to look there are a few of those too. After a lovely lunch Bridget shared one her favorites with me…

I suppose calling it a garden is a bit of a misnomer, after all it’s more of a planted walkway between two buildings. However there are enough interesting plants to keep a pair of plant lovers gawking. I think this is Osmanthus 'Jim Porter'…

Metapanax delavayi

Schefflera delavayi

Are you thinking what I’m thinking? These are all plants taken from the Cistus catalogue. I wonder if it’s a Cistus Design project? Here we have Aspidistra under-planted with Trachelospermum asiaticum 'Theta.’ The Aspidistra is looking a little rough around the edges, lack of water? Winter damage?

I’m still not a fan of pots jammed full of multiple plants, but these are quite attractive. Sort of mini-gardens.

Mahonia eurybracteata, likely ‘Soft Caress’

The walkway opens out on to Jamison Square, the first park in the Pearl and a popular one with kids due to its fountain and wading pool.

But instead of joining the kids we turned left and walked by the Ecotrust Building…

And on to explore the rain garden at 10th @ Hoyt. A visit to this space was the second post I did on this blog when I started back in 2009. The building was designed by the architecture firm I used to work at and this space really captured my imagination.

The landscape design was done by KLA Architecture, if you’re interested there are better photos and a nice write up on their website, here. The concrete and rusted forms come alive in a rainfall, something we haven't had in a couple of months.

The older photos, on my blog and their website, show the gunnera at a much more impressive size. I wonder what happened?

Hope you enjoyed this urban garden adventure...

All material © 2009-2014 by Loree Bohl for danger garden. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited and just plain rude.