A trip up North

North of San Diego County lies the vast expanse of Orange County. I talked the hubster in to a road trip up to Long Beach on Saturday. Our first stop was Roger’s Gardens in Irvine. Wow, was that place impressive!

So many gorgeous plants, every specimen in stunning condition.

I showed admirable restraint and left with just 4 plants — Helianthemum nummularium, an impulse buy lace leaf lavender, and 2 Aeomiums I’ve been looking for, Garnet and Cyclops.

I’ve got this forest of (what I think are) Aeonium arboreum atropurpureum going on in the front garden and I want to build it out with some variations on the theme. These new purple aeoniums will be perfect for that plan.

Our next stop was Beachwood BBQ and Brewery in Longbeach, where we had lunch and sampled a few beers. Here are 2 of them, the Pablo Escobeer Coffee Porter on Nitro and the Un Atout Saison, both of which were excellent, perfect pours. The hubster explained that Beechwood has some kind of state of the art system for keeping lines clean and dialing in the perfect level of carbonation for each beer on tap. I didn’t take a picture of it, but it was an elaborate panel of dials and gauges — very impressive. The food was fabulous, too.

Our final and most important stop was to the Cross Pollination Pop-up at Urban Americana, hosted by 2 of my garden design/blogosphere heroes, Denise M. of A growing obsession and Dustin Gimbel of Second Nature Garden Design. I think I managed to not embarrass myself too much. I mean, I didn’t ask for anyone’s autograph or anything. Very adult of me. Urbana Americana was itself amazing enough to be worth the trip, but I was there for the plants and the pottery (and the people)! Dustin and Denise were both absolutely delightful to talk to and I am so glad to have met them in person. I left with 2 pieces of original Gimbel pottery (one complete with an Albuca specimen)…

… and this amazing Rhipsalis which I’ve already gushed about in the April Bloom day post. But just in case you haven’t seen enough, here’s another picture of it.

Sadly the gods of traffic did not smile upon our drive home, but that’s just life in Southern California. We did have an easy trip up there, and all in all it was well worth the trip!

Bloom Day April 2018

Welcome to April’s bloom day, the back yard edition.

Natives make a big showing in April, including anemone, Carpenteria californica.

… a white Ceanothus whose identity I can’t recall,

And the little Ray Hartman Ceanothus in the backyard,

Sphaeralcea ambigua ‘Louis Hamilton’ is still at it, as gorgeous as last month,

Dudleya pulverulenta crazy octopus arms inflorescence. This plant has a common name of chalk lettuce. That cracks me up.

The Desert Museum palo verde just started blooming….

… though the wild form blue palo verde Parkinsonia florida has been at it for a few weeks now.

Verbena bonariensis has just started flowering this week. I had a few of these plants last year (they succumbed to powdery mildew) and they were a well-behaved 24″ or so. This year — this new plant is a good 5 ft tall. I guess it’s healthy?

Verbena de la Mina is also flowering. I admire this plant’s toughness but I prefer bonariensis’s style.

Penstemon heterophyllus X ‘Margarita BOP’, with some NOID esheverias

A mimulus of unknown variety:

A NOID salvia from Lowe’s and Salvia clevelandii…

I think that’s it for the backyard natives. Here’s a photobomb from one of the cats.

The yellow aloes (maybe A. barbadensis? I really have no idea) are still flowering in a couple of different spots.

A calla lily left over from some previous owner’s garden plan (it’s not like I have a plan myself)

Oops! Natives I forgot… Salvia chiapensis, with photo bombing from the other cat this time. Yes, the cats are the same color. I swear there are 2 of them.

And another salvia, chamaedryoides I think

The yarrow is just getting started.

The Ito peony is stunning right now. Except that it really needs some deadheading. Note the chihuahua standing on the patio. I took this in the morning, when the sun just started to hit the back garden. She was warming herself up in the sunlight, staring off in to space (she does this a lot).

Aloe stricta (I think) and blue elf aloe, with desert penstemon and more yarrow in the background.

I’m not sure of the identity of this plant (Lepismium cruciforme maybe? A Rhipsalis of come kind?) but it’s got tiny pink flowers right now.

Speaking of Rhipsalis, check out *this amazing plant* (!) Isn’t it stunning? (Ok, its not flowering this month but I figure, so what). I picked this up on Saturday from Here. More about that adventure in a post later this week.

I also got this amazing plant on Saturday, Albuca spiralis. It smells like vanilla cake.

Good lord, I’m not even done with the back yard yet.

We’ve got Gomphrena ‘Fireworks’…


… and some flowering Aeoniums:

I leave you with a parting little dog shot. Happy flowering!

Garden bloggers bloom day is hosted by Carol at https://www.maydreamsgardens.com/2018/04/garden-bloggers-bloom-day-april-2018.html.

Watermelon Radish Update

Way back at the beginning of year I planted some watermelon radishes. That first attempt didn’t really work. I think I planted them in too shady a spot, maybe too damp/too cold… the seedlings got all elongated and then they only formed sort of a skinny tuberous arm instead of a radish. The next batch, planted a few weeks later in a sunnier spot, were far more well behaved. Tonight I harvest one — success!

Its a little small, and was spicier and less sweet than I expected, but still delicious.

You never know who might drop by

The blue paleo verde (Parkinsonia florida/Cercidium floridum) has been in bloom for over a week now, shown here with a yellow flowered aloe.

Sunday afternoon I noticed something “big” (maybe an inch and half long?) but non-hummingbird like in the yellow flowers — turned out to a be a Tarantula hawk, maybe Pepsis grossa.

Turns out they mostly eat nectar, but get their ominous sounding name from the fact that females stalk, sting and paralyze tarantulas and then lay their eggs in them. I’ve never seen any tarantulas in my garden (or anywhere for that matter, aside from seeing one last fall in Zion National Park). Maybe there are more creatures (inducing tarantulas) out there in my neighborhood than I realize.

Good thing I’m not overly scared of spiders.

Wednesday Vignette

An itoh peony…. in my garden! You have no idea how excited I am about this. Some women swoon over shoes and handbags: I swoon over plant finds. A few years ago I made a concerted effort to find one and failed, and then, Saturday morning, there this was at the Poway Lowe’s, next to the chimneas. This — its first bloom — opened today.

Wednesday Vignettes are hosted by Anna at Flutter & Hum.

California Natives

Last weekend we stopped by the Elfin Forest Preserve, to check out the spring bloom. We where not disappointed!



Another Ceanothus (I think) not quite open…

Rhus of various species (my poser botany skills can’t keep them all straight)….


Mission Manzanita…. (love the berries)

Buckwheat (Eriogonum fasciculatum)…

Bushrue (Cneoridium dumosum)….

And what I think is a native California rock rose (Crocanthemum scoparium). I tried to grow one of these in my back garden last summer but sadly it didn’t make it. Sorry for the lousy picture!