Wednesday, May 26, 2021

New plants from the Sunset Western Garden Collection

It’s an exciting day when a box like this shows up at your front door.

In case there was any mistaking what's inside.

I didn’t see this warning…

…until I’d already torn into the box and lifted out the plants.

They came wearing little custom shower caps to keep their soil in place.

Exhibit A, Little Miss Figgy, a fig sized to grow in a container!

For now she’s living in a container just a smidge bigger than the one she came in, while I decide exactly where to plant her, long term.

The second plant (Exhibit B) is Skyscraper® Senecio, Senecio ficoides 'Mount Everest' PP22188. In their words: “Like Blue Chalksticks, on steroids. Senecio Skyscraper is a strong, upright grower, reaching 2-3' in one growing season. No staking or support necessary. Fabulous new structural component for succulent gardens.”

Unfortunately there was a hitchhiker in the pot, my nemesis the dark oxalis. There aren't many weeds I continually battle but this one is a problem. I tried removing the soil and working the oxalis roots out from around the senecio but finally just gave up and...

Beheaded it! Ha, yep! I chopped it all off and tossed the weedy soil. 

You see I have a history with this senecio and I've beheaded it before. My friend Janet Sluis, director of the Sunset Western Garden Collection, shared a small start with me during a visit I made to the Bay Area in December of 2019. Getting it home in my luggage proved tricky and I injured it. After winter spent under lights (in the basement), spring came around and I cut off the good parts, stuck them in this container—and they thrived. Since that first year I've overwintered them in the shade pavilion greenhouse and they've loved it. Here they are last winter...

And now they're outside and doing even better. It's true these blue chalksticks stand tall!

So what did I do with my new blue chalksticks? Well the majority went in this container...

The fact it's placed right in front of a Mahonia eurybracteata 'Soft Caress' (another Sunset plant introduction) is purely coincidence.

A few short pieces were tucked into my dish planters.

They'll tower over the other plants by the end of the season.

A front view of the dish planters, in case you were curious.

Any left over senecio were tucked in the ground. I used do this annually with the common senecio. Tuck them into the ground in the spring, let them grow, and take cuttings in the fall to overwinter. Rinse, repeat. I'm not sure I'm ready to start that up again but it will be fun to see how they do in the ground vs. in a container.

Since we're here and talking Sunset, I thought I'd quickly hit on the past plants I've been given to trial in the garden. We all know I LOVE my Mahonia x media 'Marvel'.

This wonderfully fragrant Lavandula allardii 'Meerlo' has been happy for a few years here, even though it's rated as a Zone 9 plant (and I garden in a Zone 8 plot). I thought our "out of the blue" February freeze (and snow and ice) was going to be the end of it. When I snapped this photo on March 17 it was not looking good.

But what do you know? 

That's some fresh new growth.

Then there's the podocarpus, P. macrophyllus 'Miu' (aka Roman Candle™ Podocarpus). Can you spot it below in my overplanted wonderland? 

Some tips have extreme variegation and others are a bit splotchy.

I pruned back a few things that were taking advantage of the available sun, so I'm hoping it will be a little happier going forward.

All material © 2009-2021 by Loree Bohl for danger garden. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited and just plain rude.


  1. Nothing better than a plant delivery! The "shower cap" preventing the soil from falling out is a fantastic innovation.

    1. And I immediately put them to use when I packed up the plants I took to the garden bloggers swap last weekend.

  2. Plant deliveries always add a positive flip to the day. I'll be interested in seeing hour the Senecio does - I'm tired of my floppy specimens.

    1. I'm sure there will be photos throughout the summer.

  3. Interesting plants. Isn't it great when one plant makes so many more? I love the photo of your three saucer planters. The whole scene looks very tropical

  4. That dark Oxalis is horrible stuff!

    I have it growing in some pots as well. It is growing in the pot with old Agave parryi and it is a pain to keep under control. I really do not know where it came from.

    1. Ha!

      I was wondering why my comment came up as "Unknown", but then I realised that I was signed in under my wife's Google account earlier and i had not logged out, ooops!

  5. I am always gob smacked by your gardens and plants .. you should be deemed a botanical garden ! I can't imagine gardening in a zone such as yours (I think I might go a little mad with plants too ?) .. Love the shower caps, perfect for travelling .. and what better than getting a plant order. I'm afraid my order is a very plain Jane coming soon and I don't even know where I am going to put most of it ? .. Deadly deal when placing an order just after winter ?
    I am laughing at how adaptable your "blue sticks" are .. they remind me of rosemary but on steroids ? LOL
    You have to wear a Panama hat while you are gardening and a brightly coloured shirt too please ? LOL

    1. Whenever I wear a bright orange t-shirt the hummingbirds get very close, it's kind of funny.

  6. The same senicio survived last winter, well half of it did, uncared for in a pot on west facing wall outside an oregon city beauty shop.

  7. Janet SluisJune 07, 2021

    Ha! As you know, I am always conservative with zones. Better safe than sorry... How low did you go?
    Oxalis?! Oh dear 🤦🏻‍♀️

    1. If I remember right I don't think we got to below 26 this winter. I think last winter saw 23?


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