The Grandma Jacaranda

The jacaranda trees in San Diego are just starting to bloom. Yesterday evening I spotted this giant in South Park: it’s the biggest jacaranda tree I’ve ever seen! Usually these guys are relatively small, widely used as street trees. South Park is an older neighborhood, and I’m betting this tree has been here for many, many decades.

Too much time at the office (and on the road)

I’m back! I’ve been busy… first with 5 days at a conference, then with a rush of project milestones at work.

First, I was on the road at a medical conference for work in the lovely city of Austin, Texas.

This is a city with so much horticultural appeal it was host to the 2018 Garden Bloggers Fling this past weekend. I was there for the prior weekend at the end of April, and sadly, didn’t see nearly enough of Austin during daylight hours. The convention center exhibit hall was where I spent most of my time there. But I did have a chance to catch up with some of my very favorite long distance colleagues, eat some amazing food, and sample a few of Austin’s local beers.

I made an meager attempt to catch the Bats from the Congress avenue bridge, but showed up too early, got hungry, and cut out for Indian food instead. Next time, Austin, I promise to have more fortitude. I’ll bring snacks.

Late April in Austin was all about the birds. The local great tailed grackle population was putting on quite the show, trying to impress one another with lots of enthusiastic whistling and carrying on that echoed off the downtown buildings. There were other, err, shenanigans down by the lake shore.

I have to say they out performed the mockingbirds by far.

I did have a couple of opportunities to do some walking around, spotting lots of agaves in bloom…

Gorgeous trees up by the capital building…

and these friendly little guys,

…plus a few snapshots of what Austin has to offer…

(Street Scene With Hyundai)

Definitely a city I need to visit again!

The Ray Snow

Ray, the Ceanothus in the front yard, has been putting on a quite a show of Blue flowers for the last couple of weeks.

Along the way the flowers start to drop off the tree, and accumulate on the pavement, like snow.

It really piles up after a few days….

… piling up on the plants underneath….

… cracks in the driveway…

And edging the sidewalk in blue even a little ways down the street.

Ray’s done by now for this year, but I like the psychedelic edge while it lasts.

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

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.