Don't be fooled. Inside this thin coating of sweetness is a fiery core of total insanity.

Friday, July 27, 2018

Friday Miscellany -- Things In My Garden That Don't Suck

I was planning to do a post called "My Garden in May," but I went away in the middle of May to visit my son and his girlfriend in Massachusetts (since then, they've moved into their new house in RI), plus a lot of the garden had areas in transition that I had torn apart and not put back together, so I thought, "Not now."

Then it was going to be "My Garden in June," but I went away to the Hardy Plant Study Weekend, plus I still had things in transition, plus the garden was in a chaotic state because immediately after the Study Weekend we were having our house painted, and the garden was strewn with plant pots and the pot ghetto, much of which normally sits snug against the house on the south side in a warm sunny area near the hose. Those pots still haven't been put back.

Now, it's really hot, and the garden is looking kind of fried, and honestly, I feel kind of fried myself. So, instead of doing "My Garden in July," I've decided to just do "Things That Don't Suck."

I bought a new Dahlia recently, and I love the color. It doesn't have a name, the tag just says 'Dinner Plate Dahlia,"although the flowers are not that big.

In the spring I dug up all my daylilies, because I knew some of them were infested with gall midge. I set them all aside and waited for them to flower to see which ones I was going to keep. I'm so glad to see so many pristine flowers on this red one. It's called 'Chicago Apache,' and it's a keeper.

In the winter I sowed seeds of Daucus carota 'Dara' hoping they really would produce red Queen Anne's Lace flowers. And they do! I love them. I'll be sowing lots more next winter.

Daucus carota 'Dara'

One of my late winter/early spring projects was remaking the bed (the Lost Bottle Bed) in the photo below, which is the first thing you see when you enter the gate into the back yard on the right hand side of the house. It needs a thorough weeding, because one of the plants I put in as a ground cover was Oxalis oregana, but oodles of weedy small-flowered yellow Oxalis have also sprung up, so I need to weed those out. Everything still needs to mature and fill in, but it looks promising and is starting to look the way I envisioned it.

I recently found a bunch of Stachys 'Hummelo' at Sky Nursery. They had seven, and I kindly left them one to sell to someone else. They're going to make a nice swath in a future meadow planting, along with the Amsonia hubrichtii behind them.

This area below along the back steps looks pretty cool. It's a combination of tuberous Begonias, Podophyllums, Bromeliads and fancy leaf begonias.

My two best looking Bromeliads

I've started to amass a good number of Agaves (and a couple of Mangaves), mostly non-hardy, but some are slated to be put in the ground if I ever get around to redoing the gravel garden.

(left to right) Agave desmettiana, Agave lophantha quadricolor, Agave victoria-reginae, Agave schidigera 'Shiro Ito No Ohi', Agave bovicornuta

Agave lophantha quadricolor

Agave victoria-reginae in front, Agave Schidigera 'Shiro Ito No Ohi' behind

Mangave 'Bloodspot'

Mangave 'Macho Mocha' and his buddy (who growls when you tug on his arm)

Agave ferdinand-regis

Agave parryi 'Cream Spike'

I've lost the tag for this one

This is my last living Moby baby (Agave ovatifolia), which has a split personality

Agave arizonica

Agave utahensis

Agave 'Baccarat', variegated Agave parryi -- with the weedy messy mess of the gravel garden behind them

I think this is a sharkskin Agave, which really needs a bigger pot -- see the pup in the shadows of the top left corner? Who knows what lurks underneath the gravel top dressing...

Agave havardiana

I bought an Agave 'Blue Glow' during the San Francisco Fling, and it is now so big we never move it from this corner of the greenhouse, even though (according to the thermometer) the temperature in there reaches 122 F on summer days. It is moveable, so if it ever decides to flower, we'll just have to gird our loins and break out the trolley and maybe two strapping big men to move it.

Agave 'Blue Glow'

This smaller 'Blue Glow' spends its summers in the front garden under an Arctostaphylos

The photo below isn't a bomb crater. Gardeners recognize it as something promising -- a blank space ripe for new plants! Before our temperatures got meteoric,  I spent a few mornings here cleaning everything out of it -- weeds, plants (some of which got potted, some got tossed), garden art, rock edging. I'm sure my neighbors enjoyed the spectacle of me dancing round with huge chunks of weeds, shaking soil off the roots like a fat, aged, sweating, dirt-streaked 60s folk singer shaking a tambourine.

In the fall I'm going to plant it up as a mini-meadow, with plans to redo some of my much larger front beds in the same style.

Note the hoses, absolutely ubiquitous here in the summer, especially lately with our temps this week in the 90s -- I am so sick of hauling them around

I hope there are some things that don't suck in your lives and gardens.


  1. That was fun. You have lots of good stuff.
    I'm hoping there is something left to like in my garden by the time this heat and drought subside.

  2. You have a LOT that doesn't suck! I love all the accents you've added to your potted agaves. I should do a post like this as I tend to fixate on what does suck (that Metrosideros! the scorched 'Cousin Itts'!). Summer can't end too soon.

  3. You have plenty that are enjoying your weather, I just have Stipa gigantea, it is magnificent this year. Maybe with all our boiling hot sunshine and lack of rain, it thinks it is in its homeland of Spain!

  4. Lots of great stuff in this post! I really need to learn to pull beds apart the way you do instead of just throwing more in all the time. Your agave collection is impressive!

  5. Ha! Love the title! You know I understand how you feel. It's important at times like this for us to listen to your wonderful friends telling us how much good there is in our gardens.

  6. I'm impressed that you scored Daucus carota 'Dara', you don't really see any of them in nurseries so seeds are they way to go. It's just beautiful. Your Agave 'Blue Glow' is a stunner, although the name is a bit odd as it doesn't seem very blue. Excited to see what you'll do in the fall with the new bed you cleared up.
    That old woman always gives me the finger whenever I finish posting a comment...

  7. Your garden doesn't suck at all. And I like the green you chose for your house. I am really tired of the heat too. Mostly I'm just tired of sweating all the time and not being able to be outside during the afternoon which is when the butterflies are visiting. I've got all that Milkweed out there and how am I supposed to know if a Monarch has visited if I can't stand to be out there for more than five seconds? End rant. Here is what I wrote in reply to your comment on my blog: I water everything by hand with the Pocket Hose. It is very lightweight and easy to maneuver and doesn't smash plants. Before the Pocket Hose I absolutely hated watering, lugging those heavy hoses around, getting more water on me than on the plants. In fact I almost gave up gardening because of how much I hated that chore. Now I really enjoy it. I water every other day, depending on the weather and the plant. It's my therapy. The Pocket Hoses will last about two years before finally leaking and popping. I buy them when they come on sale and store them for when one of them bursts. To me it's money well-spent. Try buying just one first and let me know what you think.

  8. You have lots of things that don't suck! I'm fried too, Alison. Oy. But the bottle bed looks amazing, the color on that Dahlia reminds me of Pelargonium sidoides (from you, of course!) which I love. The new bed too, such possibilities that await a cooler day.

  9. All that empty space waiting to be planted, how thrilling! I bought some Daucus carota 'Dara' “flowers” at the market a couple of weeks ago (although they weren’t labeled so I didn’t know their name), they are just fabulous in a vase...

  10. The Lost Bottle Bed looks particularly fabulous, not sucking at all. Lots of other stuff that Doesn't Suck, too.

    What sucks here is the weather. Probably the hottest July on record for So Cal. :(

  11. Only in the PNW would gardeners have Podophyllums in pots! I think you will have to try that Dahlia in a vase with the Daucus carota. Our temps were much better this last week but no rain so hoses are about to be schlepped around here as well.

  12. I like the ceramic hand reaching up from inside the pot. A blank space for new plants is a beautiful thing!

  13. I feel for you re the high temperatures. I live with them and their good buddy humidity from May-September. I expect them but I never get used to them!


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