Friday, July 10, 2015

Let's have more of that...


It was finally time to complete a couple of small projects I'd been thinking on. Neither of them are terribly innovative - in fact they're both versions of things that I've done before. But when something is working, and still making you happy, why not have more of that? First up - a new Agave mound...

You're looking at patch of Sedum (below), I can't remember exactly which one but I've decided it's too much of a good thing, kind of boring. Let's crank that area up a notch! The empty patch in the Sedum was an Agave planted poorly last summer (it died over the winter).

A pail of rocks was left over from this project, I can't do any digging here without finding a rock or seven.

I dumped it in the area where I'd removed some of the Sedum. Then I dumped another pail full of mixed gravel and soil. Then I placed the plants I'd been collecting. Why are there no photos? Because the light was horrible, sharp contrasts between sunlight and shade. And I was working and "in the groove"...

Here's the finished project. Although this photo is a little deceiving in that it's not that perfectly rectangular, thank goodness.

Or maybe it is. Damn. Oh well, the remaining Sedum will obscure the edges soon enough. The basalt pieces are helping to hold the mound in place. I built the rock, soil, and gravel mixture up from the surrounding soil, providing the sharp drainage these plants need.

The thin spikes at the back belong to Agave striata, the bright agave at front right is Agave 'Mateo.' There are a few potentially hardy Echeveria sprinkled around and dead center is an Agave parryi 'J.C. Raulston' pup. I should have thought to photograph my other Agave mounds and include them here, just for comparisons sake. I did not. They've been hugely successful - I'll do a future post on them.

The next project involved creating more of my custom dish planters. I completed this trio back in 2013. They've been through a lot since then and keep on looking good. Although to be honest I did root prune the Agaves earlier this spring. It was time.

I detailed the construction "how-to" in the original (2013) post: here.

The only thing that's different with the current planting is that I mounded the soil a little more and ran the gravel all the way out to edge, rather than trying to maintain a empty channel around the edge.

It's remarkable to see how the plants have grown up around them in two years time. The Nolina 'La Siberica' was barely visible back then, now it's taller than the dish planters. I think I'll be upping their height in the near future (cutting taller poles).

Anyway, so that's the originals - now to the new ones! This area has been giving me trouble. It doesn't look too bad here...

But from this side you see how things at the front are flopping forward and it looks a little "empty"...

Here's what I added.

Last summer that Adiantum pedatum (behind the planters) turned crispy and disappeared. I'm hoping to avoid that this year (I've been careful to water it, a lot).

This combination isn't going to last long term. The tiny green leaves belong to Corsican mint (Mentha requienii), a perennial herb. It will eventually grow to conceal the gravel and create a green mound, and it smells so good! The dark leaves belong to Sweet Potato Vine (Ipomoea batatas), such a common plant but I love it - well, until the slugs get a hold of it (hopefully up here they won't). I wanted dark leaves that will cascade and that's why I chose the vine. Next year I'll do something more permanent.

Here's the side view.

I'm happy with the change, it fills a void and creates interest.

This one I'm not so sure of, it might be too lonely over there. Originally I thought it would tie-in with the metal all around, but instead it just sort of sticks out. Luckily I have another section of pipe and another dish and I'll be adding a second. I just need to find the right plant to put in it.

This one is Trachelospermum asiaticum 'Ogon Nishiki': "Ogon Nishiki' translates to 'Gold Brocade' in English, on this remarkable evergreen vine from Japan. New growth emerges in tones of hot orange-red and then changes to gold that is irregularly splashed on deep green leaves. NO OTHER HARDY VINE has foliage this color and this dramatic. Slow growing trailing plant to 2' in a season. Part shade to shade in rich soil with regular water during summer. We have yet to see it bloom. Irrelevant." (Xera Plants)

Love it!

All material © 2009-2015 by Loree Bohl for danger garden. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited and just plain rude.

41 comments:

  1. So you use rocks as a base, then a soil/gravel mix goes on top (when planting for sharp drainage)? What's the soil to gravel ratio?

    You reminded me that I have to leave some room for my shredded umbrella plant that I need to buy still.

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    1. I'm afraid it's not terribly scientific Alan. Basically I saved all the pea gravel top dressing that I removed from containers when replanting/potting them up. I can't reuse it as top dressing because pouring it off inevitably means some soil is mixed in. So for a couple of months I was just pouring it into a big pail with this project in mind. I'd guess it was about 70% gravel, 30% soil. However once the plants were placed in that mixture I then added soil all around them and worked it down into the rocky/gravely bits. So there was a little more soil in the end.

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  2. Your new projects are great! I was surprised at how much the other plants have grown around your original pots! Your new additions are equally cool! You have such a great eye for filling space beautifully. Trachelospermum asiaticum 'Ogon Nishiki' is a wonderful plant but, you're right, it looks a bit lonely there. Can't wait to see what you do with the other pot/pipe that you have.

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    1. Pot pipe! What are you suggesting Outlaw?

      (thanks for the kind words)

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  3. The new planted metal dishes look great, but yeah, that one on its own needs a buddy. I have lots of crispy ferns this summer too. I'd love to see a post about your other Agave mounds. I understand the "in the zone" comment. Taking time to take photos from a camera that you've placed somewhere out of the way of the work is a PITA.

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    1. I have posted about the agave mounds in my "agave report" series, but it's been awhile. I'll revisit it soon.

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  4. DG..you have the most amazing design eye. Props!!

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  5. Nice 'little' changes that's making a big impact Loree! The dishes instantly adds height and depth to the areas you've added them, and stylish planting combinations on them too.

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  6. Often it's the small things that have the biggest impact. Not that I would consider your birdfeeder-top plants "small." I've long wanted to make some for my own garden. I think this post has given me the nudge I needed.

    I really like the new combinations you came up with!

    As for your new agave mound, I don't think you can ever have enough drainage. Add all those rocks is a great way to ensure your babies will be happy.

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    1. I hope you do make a couple, I'd love to see your take on them.

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  7. I love the new additions! I'm fond of sweet potato vine, too, but I've never grown it on the ground where slugs could get it. Didn't know they liked it, too. Nice use of the pedestal saucers to elevate them. For something more long-term next year, I could see Chiastophyllum oppositifolium in the ones with sweet potatoes in them. The elevation would show off the pendulous blooms wonderfully. Seeing these again, I'm somewhat reminded of houses in The Jetsons. Lol

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    1. The houses in The Jetsons!!! OMG, you're right, and I LOVE that. I will look into your suggestion, thank you!

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  8. I recently planted a hanging dish planter in my garden using succulent cuttings and pups from elsewhere in my garden but I've though from the start that I need something larger and more dramatic as a centerpiece. After seeing your dish planters, I'm sure of it. All you changes and new additions look great, Loree - I wish I could find that Trachelospermum locally.

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    1. I'd love to see images of your creation Kris, and you can mail order the Trachelospermum from Cistus!

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  9. AnonymousJuly 10, 2015

    Those pole dish gardens are great. What are they made from?

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    1. Glad you like them! I detailed the building here: http://www.thedangergarden.com/2013/07/percolating.html

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  10. How magic gardens are made: one project at a time.

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  11. All looks amazing, and those stands are so creative.

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  12. Hi Loree, your garden looks awesome! I really like the new agave mound. Here in San Diego where I garden, you can just plop agaves in the ground, no soil preparation needed, but my favorite plants are roses, need a lot of soil preparation as well. With the current drought, it is not advisable anymore to plant roses, so I am looking into other beautiful and interesting plants that I would like to see growing in my garden. I think your blog delivers great inspiration. Love your succulent dishes as well.
    Warm regards,
    Christina

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    1. You know I am terribly jealous of what you can grow in San Diego, that's pretty much my dream gardening climate. Thanks for the kind words!

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  13. AnonymousJuly 10, 2015

    Your garden is amazing! As a newbie to the agave world, any suggestions for must have plants? Heading to Plant Delights tomorrow and I'm hoping to find some amazing plants.

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    1. Well I am late in responding so you've probably already been there, what did you buy? I would have said to buy anything (and everything) that catches your eye! I hope to make it there someday.

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    2. AnonymousJuly 11, 2015

      Well, I did not give you much notice. Here are the goodies that I picked up today: Agave sisalana 'Vegas Strip', Agave desmettiana 'Joe Hoak', Agave americana 'Mediopicta Alba', Agave gypsophila 'Ivory Curls' (a surprise since it wasn't listed on their web site), Aloe boylei, Amorphophallus konjac, Leonotis leonurus 'Snow Tiger' and a couple of banana trees. I guess it's a start, unfortunately my wallet is not as big as my eyes.

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  14. That Ipomea is going to look fabulous in about a month !

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    1. I hope you're right. The heat has backed off a bit (a nice break) and I think that's what it really responds too, yes?

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  15. I was actually quite impressed with just the sedum groundcover and the other accent plants, but I don't abhor a vacuum! Good amping up the volume, anyway.

    The pedestal planters are so attractive and full, now. The first shot of the morning light (my guess) coming through the plantings, is something I could enjoy all day...from your back patio?

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    1. I do like the sedum, but it's even better now! That photo is with the morning light, on our first overcast day in weeks and weeks. It's almost from the patio, but a little more towards the steps headed back up toward the lawn.

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  16. Each little change adds to the fabulous whole. I admire your design eye and your energy for change!

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    1. Energy for change, that's not something you seem to lack Mrs. Mulch.

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  17. I would have been patting myself on the back if I had accomplished your "befores", but that's what makes your garden so special.

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  18. I am also quite fond of 'Ogon Nishiki'. I bought it for that orange new growth, and had hoped it would make a thick groundcover like other members of its species. However, it grows where it wants to in long stringy trails, weaving in and out of whatever it encounters. I am okay with that though.

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    1. I like your description, that's kind of what I was hoping for. I went looking for another today, to join it in a second planter - no luck.

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  19. How do you know when to root prune agave? Is is necessary?

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    1. In my experience (and you know I'm just making it up as I go along) Agaves in captivity (aka containers) eventually start to loose their good looks. They don't grow new leaves and their color changed. A rational person would pot them up into a bigger container. I don't have the space, $ or desire to do that. I've found that pulling them out of the container and cutting of about 70% of their roots, then re-potting them up with new soil, does the trick. The reason I don't just re-pot in the same pot with new soil is that the root mass is so substantial as-is that it takes up most of the container. Hope that makes sense!

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  20. I love it! Very super cool and mostly unstabby. I could totally snuggle that sweet potato vine. ;o)

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  21. I seriously love those raised planters.

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