Tuesday, September 6, 2016


I think it has been a most unusual year-weather-wise.  First we had unseasonably warm temperatures with no rain in February. That was enough to kill some plants in my garden, because I was gone for 5 weeks and the watering system was off. Then we had a spell of temperatures over 100º- 16 in all. The rest were in the 90s which feels cool! Then came the rain and lots of it. Somewhere in the region of 16" in less than a week. Are we done yet, I wonder?
But that rain has been a blessing for some plants and the death knell for others.

Cactus and succulents like dry conditions. Correct? But when the rain comes they burst into flower. First you might notice a slight protuberance on the stem. Sometimes smooth and sometimes fuzzy. It's a signal that within days a glorious flower will arrive.

Is there anything more beautiful? Each day a new cactus opened.

Echinopsis oxygona

Gymnocalcyium baldianum

The flowers on the stapelia, Stapelia gigantia are jostling for position. I kept my eyes open for maggots but this time it would seem no flies visited. A blessing.

Day lilies have burst into bloom again. I always worry about out of season blooming thinking that maybe there will be no spring bloom. Sometimes this happens in the fall with my Philadelphus but it has always bloomed again in the spring again. I certainly hope this will be the case with these day lilies which have been putting out blooms every day for over 3 weeks.

Ditch lilies are blooming on the ground because their foliage is now hidden by the ever increasing size of the Philippine violet. The flower stems just grew out along the ground until they found the light.

But among all the good surprises there have been some bad ones. A few cactus have rotted inside and the gopher plant, despite being planted in very free draining soil is rotting. I have noticed a lot of splits on the stems which may result from them taking up to much water. Rather like tomatoes which split after too much rain.

I have actually pulled a couple out because I can see they are a lost cause with many of their leaves brown and stems rotting. I am so sad because come spring this is one of my favorite plants lighting up the garden with its chartreuse blooms.
But our lakes are full and the landscapes are green again so the loss of a few plants is a small price to pay. Although I have heard recently that a lot of post oak tress are dying and they are blaming inconsistent weather patterns. I hope the same doesn't happen to the live oaks too or we are going to see vast changes in our landscapes.


  1. Your cactus flowers are spectacular. Maybe the the gopher plant will return from seed. Sixteen inches of rain in a week is almost unfathomable to me - we received less than that during our entire rainy season. I can appreciate the strain the sudden shifts in weather conditions places on the garden. We had a little experience with that in the form of the intense heatwave we had in June, which killed off plants almost overnight. We expected it was an omen for the summer to come but the rest of the season actually hasn't been too bad. Current predictions are that La Nina conditions will keep rainfall low again this year but, as the forecasters were wrong about El Nino's impact on SoCal, I'm holding out hope that they'll be wrong about La Nina too.

  2. You're rich with flowers! Like Kris, I can't imagine that much rain in a week. I know the PNW has a reputation for rain but rarely does it come down so strongly in such a short time. I also seem to always have a Euphorbia rigida piping up from seed here or there, hopefully you'll be rewarded with new plants soon.

  3. I've had the rotting stem issue with some tall sedum, so I can sympathize. (Although my sedum were stuck in very NON-well-draining heavy clay soil.)

    Sorry to hear of your losses, but those flowering cacti sure are beautiful!

  4. Your cactus flowers are beautiful. I noticed one of my gopher plants seems to be yellowing at the base. I dug it up and reset it to help with drainage so I'm hoping it will be okay. I've not had any come up from seed.

  5. The cacti are gorgeous! It has been a very strange summer here as well - very cool May and June followed by two months of blazing heat and virtually no rain.

  6. The weather has been nuts. Agreed. I love all the cactus blooms!!!!! Sorry about the gopher.

  7. Your garden is always a delightful education and inspiration! And indeed, my daylilies have been blooming and the gopher plant rotted in the rain. It's never easy for us, but you always triumph with such a lovely garden.

  8. I never had any luck with gopher plants, I'm sorry to see yours give it up that way. I'd consoled myself with photos of yours when mine all failed to thrive. I hadn't heard about the post oaks - I hope their difficulties won't be life threatening. Texas without two types of oaks will be a significantly more barren place overall.

    I just read on another blog that the Stapelia is a member of the milkweed family and after blooming may develop a very characteristic pointed seed pod filled with seeds and fluff. If yours does, looking forward to seeing that!