Tuesday, July 28, 2020

And so I watered...

I make a sort of game out of watering the front garden—how long can I hold out? How little can I get away with? I do it as infrequently as possible. I push these plants to see just how far they can go. Until last week I hadn't watered at all. We had some rain and cool temperatures in the first part of June, so I wasn't being too awful. However, by the time I broke down and watered, it had been over a month since we'd had measurable rainfall, and temps had been in the 80's and 90's with 100's forecast. It was time...

View from the front porch looking north, towards the neighbor's driveway...

Once I was out there it was good to spend time up close and personal with the plants. To see the details I might have otherwise missed, like the flower buds of Mahonia gracilipes using the sturdy leaves of Agave ovatifolia 'Frosty Blue' as a backdrop.

Here's the second of the pair of 'Frosty Blue' in the planting area against the front of the house. It's the smaller of the two!

Fruit and thorns of the Citrus trifoliata (or Poncirus trifoliata).

The carpet of Adiantum venustum on the north side of the house is super lush, even with no water. Hopefully it will stay that way, it's hard to get the water to soak in on this slightly sloped part of the garden, I tried.

My well behaved (because of lack of water) patch of Imperata cylindrica 'Red Baron' (Japanese Blood Grass).

Out in the hellstrip the volunteer sedum is looking a little dry—and somebody needs to trim those dead leaves on the yucca! The sedum will carry on no matter what, that stuff is tough, it hitched a ride here from my garden in Spokane...

The one and only Juniperus conferta 'Blue Pacific' that produces cones. I have 7 of these plants. I wonder if this one wasn't mislabeled?

I finally did some hard-core pruning on the Arctostaphylos densiflora 'Harmony'... I am so happy with how it looks now. The creeper growing under the manzantia is Podocarpus alpinus ‘Orangeade’, or at least that's what it was when I bought it. I don't think that's a valid name any longer.

The trunks of the Tetrapanax papyrifer in the NE corner of the garden are fabulously grizzled old specimens (old at 9 years).

I love their moss... and the fact it's still green!

One of my many Agave parryi 'JC Raulston'. I had a garden visitor over the weekend who pointed out I haven't done a comprehensive agave report in quite some time. I vow to do one "soon"...

I was told 'JC Raulston' isn't supposed to pup. Thankfully my plants don't know that. They aren't crazy prolific puppers, but they have thrown out a few.

Agave 'Mateo' is being over taken by the rosemary. I can't let that happen! At least pruning will smell good.

For the longest time I was set on a balck mondo grass monoculture bordering the sidewalk to the front door, I'm glad I got over that. Now it's a mix of the mondo, sedum, sempervivum, Grevillea x gaudichaudii, Eryngium proteiflorum...

And whatever else I mix in, like a Mangave 'Whale Tale' (just left of center) that made it through last winter but hasn't put on much growth since. Maybe some water will help...

This is probably kind of a confusing photo. I was standing in the garden, looking toward the street, and liked this view of the Erica arborea var. alpina. Its neighbors are photo-bombing from every side of the image!

The Yucca aloifolia I transplanted this spring seems to have taken hold. The Cotinus coggygria  'Royal Purple' appreciates the support.

Whereas this Yucca rostrata seems to be a little irritated that it's neighbor, a Pittosporum
divaricatum, wants to get cozy. I had threatened to move (or get rid of) the pittosporum, but decided I really like it here. I just need to do a little pruning.

Tucked under both plants, but still getting sunny southern exposure, is Mangave 'Bad Hair Day'...

It was in the ground through last winter, and lost some leaves, but seems to be recovering well.

Lavandula allardii 'Meerlo' sill looks good after a couple of winters, it's a Zone 9 plant (that's Agave 'Silver Surfer' keeping it company).

This pair of Agave bracteosa seem frozen in time, and size. Not every agave has to grow big, but a little increase size would be appreciated.

When I planted the adopted Agave 'Sharksin' this spring I miscalculated how big the cotinus would be. Hmm. I should probably wack it back a bit and give the agave some summer sun. Do you see it hiding in there?

Arctostaphylos x 'Austin Griffiths' and more Agave parryi 'JC Raulston'. It's the time of the year "Austin" sheds bark and drops leaves.

Here's the sad Loropetalum chinense var. rubrum 'Hindwarf' I've recently mentioned I might tear out. This exercise in watering and really looking helped me to realize it gets to stay. Sure it's not got the super dark foliage I would love, but it is growing and put on a great bloom show late last winter. Plus the color is a nice contrast, even in it's less than dark state.

Yep, another 'JC'... and the color is so odd in these photos, my phone wasn't liking the light that morning. I should have gotten the camera...

I had to laugh at these arctostaphylos berries stuck on the opuntia spines. They look like miniature opuntia fruit, kind of. They are a little hard to see, but there is four of them in this photo.

Another wide shot, from a slightly different spot.

And a Cheilanthes, a dry, rock-garden fern. The blue plant is my moon carrot, Seseli gummiferum. It doesn't want to bloom. Maybe next year...

Agave ovatifolia and beneath that I think it's an Agave ocahui (bought without a label).

This is the other side of the first 'JC' I shared in this post, behind it a long suffering Agave ovatifolia that gets shaded by the Arctostaphylos densiflora 'Harmony' until I get around to cutting it back.

Fading Santolina chamaecyparissus 'Lemon Queen' blooms

The same, with a Corokia cotoneaster.

And one last shot, of the area to the south of our front porch. It needs work. I don't want to mess with the in-ground agaves but something has got to change. That Euphorbia rigida is no longer earning it's keep (it's annoying me). A future project...

Thanks for joining as I did my watering chores!

—   —   —

Weather Diary, July 27: Hi 100, Low 63/ Precip 0 

All material © 2009-2020 by Loree Bohl for danger garden. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited and just plain rude.


  1. How long did it take to water all of them?

    I would have been lazy and just put the sprinkler on it for an hour or so, ha ha!

    1. That doesn't work...it's not flat like a lawn. The taller plants would get all the water.

  2. I'm amazed you haven't had to water more often. Seeing how wonderful everything looks, I would never have known!

    We've had some days in the high 90s and are expecting triple digits by the weekend. I need to step up my watering ahead of that.

    1. Thanks...they're a pretty drought tolerant bunch out there.

  3. Even though I'm more a cram-scaper in NJ (the garden state) and love perennials and bushes much more than agaves and other pointy things, I adore your garden. For the last photo, with the agaves by the front door, have you thought of taking a page from McMenamins Kennedy School and planting nasella where the euphorbia currently are, and perhaps moving the red-striped squiggly plant to the left where the larger euphorbia is? So many cool plants! Thanks for sharing.

    1. Here's a surprise, nasella doesn't like my garden. I've tried it and it just won't take hold. Crazy right? I end up yanking it out because it looks so bad. I do like your idea. As for the striped squiggly plant, that's a cordyline that I thought would die in it's first winter here so I just plopped it in where I could see until it died. Two years later...still there.

  4. That was a fun tour. I can't imagine ferns growing on a slope like your Adiantum have done but then ferns of any kind (with the exception of Western sword ferns) are an anomaly here. I love the Pittosporum divaricatum/Yucca combination. That Pittosporum is one I've yet to see here yet.

    We're supposed to heat up significantly this weekend so I've been watering selected areas more deeply this week in the hope of heading off the ill effects of getting seared.

    1. I bet you could get that Pittosporum divaricatum mail order from Cistus...

  5. Have enjoyed the cool wet weather as it means I don't have to drag hoses and pumps around to water things. However, now that the hot weather is here took pity on my potted agaves and mangaves and gave them a good drink last night. Like you it's a good opportunity to tune it to what's going on in the garden. Your JC Raulston's are gorgeous.

    1. Thanks...they used to be more pristine but I haven't kept up with trimming the old "leaves" and thus now it's nearly impossible to do.

  6. Your plants must know you love them and will step in when it gets dangerously dry. That's the only explanation for them looking so good. My Red Baron needs more sun. It's growing but does not have the beautiful red yours has.

    1. They're also pretty drought tolerant ;)

      Interesting about your blood grass. Mine is right on the NE corner of the house and only gets early morning and late afternoon sun.

  7. I feel fortunate we had a cooler summer; the home owner needed to watered very little so far.
    I love all the bark shots, good job on the Arctostaphylos pruning: if the limbs are hidden, one misses on half the beauty of the tree. The close-ups of Mahonia gracilises buds and 'Frosty Blue' is frame worthy: I'm mesmerized by the tire-track pattern on the agave leafs.

    1. I've never heard the bud imprints called a "tire-track pattern" I like it though, and it certainly fits!

  8. I remember the black mondo grass monoculture phase! Very much enjoyed watering the garden with you. And belated happy birthday!

  9. It was time for a front of the house update. Watering is one of my least favorite chores, too. But with your garden, it is anything but boring!


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