This month I thought I would do something a little different, the focus is on plants from the front garden, favorites still - but ones that grow out there in the public realm.
The front garden tends to get short shrift, from me and visitors. I walk by it, and through it, several times a day. Both the sofa and the table where I work have views out to the front garden. In the winter, when the patio furniture is stored and the containers are all tucked away the back garden is rarely visited, and the front garden becomes an even more important source of inspiration for me. However most of my photo taking for the blog happens in the back garden (maybe because I'm a little self conscious of snapping photos where everyone can see me and wonder what I'm up to?). And while visitors approach through the front garden they rarely spend time there. It's a pass-through space, not a linger space. It does however provide a advertisement for doing things a little bit different. There's no doubt a plant lover lives here! So, on to the front garden...
But wait, something about this image was bothering me. It took awhile to realize what was wrong, why it didn't seem right.
That's better! The green front door was missing, nothing a little photo coloring/editing can't fix (it looks so professional, ha!). The door is open a lot because we've got a glass security door and Lila loves to park herself in front of it to keep tabs on the neighborhood.
I'm still mourning the loss of my ground-cover Grevilleas (winter 2013/14) thankfully the several Blue Pacific Shore Juniper I planted to replace them are slowly filling in...but I digress, let's take a closer look at a couple of plants I'm really digging this month!
Here's the fist plant I want to focus on, Opuntia echinocarpa 'Portal Blonde' (Wiggin's Cholla). This was a gift from Sean, at Cistus Nursery, late last winter.
"A Cistus Intrduction: One of Sean's original collections from 1981 from the east face of the Sierra Nevada just downhill from the Whitney portal. This small cholla, to about 4 feet, is clothed with arm golden spines that fade cream as they age. Yellow flowers in mid spring. Lovers of particularly well-drained soil and easy to grow. A fine container or landscape plant. Zone 3."
It's the spines that grab me...(yes, really).
You may have noticed this fine creature lurking in the background. It's an Ochagavia carnea that I picked up from Dan Hinkley (Windcliff Plants) at the 2014 Plant Nerd Night. It's been in the ground since later that spring and is forming a couple of pups at it's base.
"Chilean bromeliad, proven a warrior in the PNW, taking extreme weather events of the last decade in stride. Rosettes of barbed glossy leaves form substantial mounds, showy pink heads appear at the center during late summer. Full sun or very light shade in average draining soils."
Next up: Hebe ochracea 'James Stirling', no, it's not dead.
See, there's a sort of green cast if you look close.
I love this Hebe! It's hardy in Zones 7 to 9, reports of its size vary but it's supposed to be a dwarf variety - remaining fairly small and certainly less than 2ft x 2 ft. Want to learn more? There's a nice little article about this pant in the SF Gate.
Time for a plant update. Remember the Cotinus coggygria 'Royal Purple' I chopped back to short sticks in May? Here it is now...
Nice rebound eh?
Rhamnus frangula (Fine Line Buckthorn), the sort of bad-hair-day plant just right of center. I was just admiring how columnar it was growing and then we had a brief downpour, the poor thing was splayed out in every direction. It's recovered fairly well thank goodness, that upright habit is why I planted it...
The great bark is another reason (photo reused from an earlier post). This one isn't invasive like other thin-leaved buckthorns apparently are, and it's extremely cold-hardy, good down to Zone 3. Eventually it will reach 6 ft tall, and might (like after a strong summer rain) spread to 3 ft wide.
I love this view of the front garden from the northeast corner of the house (that's the Rhamnus again, on the right), it looks so wild. You can see the edge of the sidewalk to the front door.
Just around the corner from the Rhamnus is this combo: Amsonia hubrichtii backed by Canna 'Australia' with Daphne x houtteana, Euphorbia rigida and Agave ovatifolia...
I featured the Daphne x houtteana as a favorite in November of last year. It earned favored status then for staying alive when I buried it in a very unfortunate spot. I vowed to find a better home come spring and I think I did, it seems very happy here.
It's reported to have lightly scented purple flowers in late spring, I didn't get any this year. It wants full sun for best color, even moisture and grows in Zone 6-9 (eventual height of 2-3 feet). That's my favorites wrap-up for July, what have you been appreciating in your garden? Please tell us about it!
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