Wednesday, November 10, 2021

2021 tour of my garden, the public side

It's that time of the year again, time for the annual garden tour. Today we'll walk the front garden, and on Friday I'll share the back garden. These photos were all taken September 15th, it's hard to believe that was almost two months ago! Since then the garden has undergone its autumn changes, editing these images it was wonderful to see it in it's late summer glory.

I recently learned that my "bulletproof" ground cover—Juniperus conferta 'Blue Pacific'—is actually quite frequently killed—or so says someone on a Facebook plant group whom it appears works at a nursery. I asked why/how and his response: "Amended soil, dead. Planted two millimeters too deep, dead. Walk past it with a water can, dead. Plot twist is that people see that they are drought tolerant so they don’t water them enough the summer, they are actually pretty thirsty right when planted." Who knew!? I guess I got lucky.

I never tire of this image, those are the sexy legs of Arctostaphylos x ‘Austin Griffiths'...

Cozied up to it, Erica arborea var. alpina—I love this combination.

Another image of the combo, with another manzanita—Arctostaphylos 'Monica'—creeping in. I planted 'Monica' thinking it was something else, something that stayed smaller.

As you can see, it's definitely not "small" as it towers over the third manzanita—Arctostaphylos densiflora ‘Harmony’—on the right. I had every intention of doing a rather drastic pruning (lifting the canopy, removing unwanted "filler" branches) this summer, but breaking my ankle over Memorial Day weekend, and having surgery on June 11th, put a damper on a lot of this year's garden plans. It will be there when I get to it, right?

Another view of the mess "collection"...

Corokia cotoneaster, Thuja plicata 'Whipcord' and a bunch of agaves (of course!).

I love that at some point I just randomly stuck a sun-loving fern in there, I think it might be Cheilanthes lanosa (Myriopteris lanosa), but sadly I've kind of lost track.

Moving north along the public sidewalk, the neighbor's driveway is now visible on the right, through the tetrapanax trunks (the driveway you saw in the first couple of photos, at the top, is ours, at the south end). I planted another Erica arborea var. alpina here, it looks small but has grown so much since I planted it. I hope to have situated it so it doesn't block the agave's sun from the south.

This brave Agave parryi 'JC Raulston' pup popped up in the middle of the juniper, I'm trying to make sure it doesn't get lost.

The pup's mama, with Erica texture.

Another plant I wish I could have given some attention to this summer, the massive Cordyline australis. I planted the original back in 2006 and it's been killed back to the ground and resprouted a few times—each time developing more trunks. I want to cut a few out and trim the other ones up. If it lives through this winter then I'll definitely be tackling it in the new gardening year.

Turning back to admire the tall Tetrapanax papyrifer.

And then we stop to admire this favorite vignette before...

... walking on up the north side of our house/our neighbor's driveway.

On the left, Mahonia x media 'Charity', and I was thrilled to see our Trachycarpus  fortunei (palm) looking so good from this vantage point—and a little surprised at the size of the Albizia julibrissin 'Summer Chocolate' (chocolate mimosa tree, the brown leaves).

Turning back towards our front garden and the northeast corner of the house, and yes, that's the neighbor's other car just visible on the left of the photo—our lots are ridiculously close (good thing we like our neighbors).

Self-planted Euphorbia rigida and Imperata cylindrica (Japanese blood grass) kept in check by shade and lack of water (the gutter downspout you see flows away from this area).

I adore the foliage of this Rhamnus frangula (fine line buckthorn), the only thing that would make it better is if it was evergreen. Oh and that tetrapanax against the house? A pup from the plants out at the corner, it traveled all the way across the garden to come up against the house. I kind of love the big leaves next to the small leaves, so it stays but gets cut down so as not to attain height and block the window.

*Sigh*... so dreamy. Agave ovatifolia 'Frosty Blue' with Yucca rostrata.

Turning to the left, towards the street, we see the foliage of the hardy orange, Poncirus trifoliata, just starting to color up. The leaves have all dropped now.

Turning back, to take it in from another angle...

Now I've walked back along the public sidewalk and up our driveway to share this view towards the same area.

These legs belong to a Fatsia japonica, in front are a pair of Woodwardia unigemmata.

I planted the ferns here unsure how they would do, too much sun? Not enough water? (nearly none in the summertime) They've really surprised me.

The next colorful leaves belong to Leucothoe fontanesiana 'Rainbow', a plant that wants to get big, like five ft tall, and six ft wide big... 

Luckily it also works fantastically in a vase so I'm always cutting on it and keeping it from reaching that size.

I think both the white-marbled and red-accented foliage is lovely.

Moving a little closer to the front door...

After completely ignoring the plants in my hanging Hover Dish planter for months, I looked up one day and realized they were mostly crispy dead—they were mostly succulents but still need some water. Another ankle injury loss. I replanted with scads of Agave bracteosa, a curling mass of agave leaves will be most welcome (fingers crossed for that).

Multiple agaves are the star of the area to the left of the front door.

As well as the Feijoa sellowiana (pineapple guava) in the large pot.

To the left of the area above is our a/c unit which I've finally managed to somewhat hide with a large Coniogramme japonica (bamboo fern).

It's a fabulous plant.

Here we are again. Hopefully you'll forgive me for including more than a few photos of this vignette.

Just for fun, an unusual angle—I took this shot standing on the front porch looking down at the Amsonia hubrichtii, Mahonia gracilipes, Agave ovatifolia 'Frosty Blue', and Daphne x houtteana.

Now I'm back on our driveway and looking at the planting area on the other side of the a/c unit.

These things were all freshly planted this spring and are settling in nicely.

Just a few more photos...this is normally my veggie garden area over the summer. However, since Andrew had plans to paint this side of the house I was told not to plant tomatoes, since they would inevitably make painting even more difficult. As you can see the painting was finally in progress when I took these photos.

Instead of veggies the stock tanks became a holding space for my mini-agave nursery. Friends have given me pups, and I've pulled pups from my plants. I have plans to use these in new "upcycle and plant" creations in the coming year. 

The one edible that made it into this area was a big pot of basil—it wouldn't be summer without basil.

These aeoniums colored up nicely over the summer and I enjoyed their bright faces near the back door.

And that's it for this (long) look at the public facing sides of my garden. If you made it through this post and are left wanting more then come back on Friday for a look at what lies beyond the agavegate...

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


  1. If there is something I regret is that I don't have room for an Arctostaphylos, like your ‘Austin Griffiths' for instance. I look at it with awe and envy with equal measures. I also took notice of the potted bamboo fern, it's magnificent.
    Woodwardia unigemmata is an impressive fern. I'm growing one that is turning massive, to my delight. When the tips of the fronds touch the ground they seem to sprout a new baby fern... I'm still investigating this phenomenon.

    1. I've seen how massive Woodwardia unigemmata can get (at the Miller Garden) and I am jealous. I just don't use enough water for that. I'm also in awe of the baby fern business, I've heard of that happening but haven't seen it.

  2. PlantPantherNovember 10, 2021

    I'm is too hot in the summers here (Davis, CA) for so many of the lush plants that you grow. But agaves and mangaves are happy here, so I'm busy building my collection :) Wanted to ask, what is in the stock tanks holding up the small potted agaves? I am thinking of getting some tanks after seeing them in your posts, but don't want to fill them entirely with soil (as I'll never be able to move them if needed), so thought I might try whatever you are doing here.

    1. I normally grow veggies in those tanks, so they are full of soil. The pots the agaves are in are sitting directly on that soil, in fact many rooted in place and weren't so happy when I had to pull them out so my husband could paint.

  3. I would love to be your neighbor across the driveway.

  4. I don't know what I like more: Arctostaphylos or A. 'Frosty Blue'... they are such gorgeous plants!

  5. Your garden held up well against the mix of weather and mobility challenges. It always amazes me just how many plants you manage to fit in. I'm very fond of red and green mixes with pops of silver and chartreuse. I've only got one Arctostaphylos (on my back slope) but I think my garden could use more even given the competition provided by Arbutus 'Marina'. I continue to envy the Tetrapanax.

    1. Do it! (another arctostaphylos) I continue to wonder why you don't have a big tetrapanax like Denise.

  6. Drool....the whole thing, Loree. The Coniogramme japonica is new to me and boy do I have some plant lust. On the lookout for that one, for sure. The Juniperus conferta 'Blue Pacific'- I saw that too on Facebook and was quite surprised. I have three and they are in completely different situations and area all doing well with no special attention. Am I just lucky?

    1. I picked that fern up at Secret Garden Growers, she's got some great ferns! And ya... I am still a little suspect about the juniper being so difficult.

  7. (Retrying after Blogger swallowed my comment yesterday)

    I've seen so many photos of your garden--and visiting it in person a number of times--but you still manage to surprise me. How come I never noticed Erica arborea var. alpina before? Was it there the last time I visited?

    And that Leucothoe fontanesiana 'Rainbow'? I can't pronounce it, but it sure is cool.

    And finally Amsonia hubrichtii! I've never seen it in any nursery in California, and I've been looking!

    What I'm trying to say is that your garden looks FANTASTIC!

    1. It was (the erica) but much much smaller, probably about the size of the second one I show here. Thank you... and we'll find you that amsonia the next time you're up visiting!

    2. Just stunning. It’s been so fun following you blog over the years.

      Jim N. Tabor

  8. Thank you for this virtual tour. I live on the East coast so it' a bit too far for me to walk past your hose and admire your garden.
    What is the name of the plant in the top right corner of the ninth picture from the top, below the words "Cheilanthes lanosa?" It looks like it's of Australian origin, similar to a bottlebrush.

    1. It is a bottlerbush, Callistemon sieberi. I went through a pretty serious bottlebrush phase, there are five of them in the front garden!

  9. Thanks for sharing the photos of your front garden.

    Previous photos of your Rhamnus frangula plant inpired me to buy one this summer :)


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