Friday, August 11, 2017


I have worked all this past week on the sunken garden. Unfortunately the heat and humidity mean only a 3 hour slot in the early morning and two of those hours in the full sun. There is still much more to be done.

I'm afraid I am one of those gardeners who has great difficulty removing plants. It is even difficult for me to remove a plant that is not performing well as I will always give it one last chance. I pulled most of the blanket flowers just leaving one or two that look as though they will make it to fall. I hate to pull them all because the American goldfinches love their seeds.

With some semblance of order on the lower level, I turned to the surrounds. A few years ago a Pride of Barbados, Caesalpinia pulcherrima, seeded in front of the pool. It dies back to the ground in winter, and is slow to return,  so it never becomes hugely overgrown. It is a good companion for the iris. I don't think there are many plants that shout 'Summer' quite as loudly as this.

Last year I saved some seeds and finding them among my seed store just 10 days ago, I soaked them in water and those that swelled I planted in seed compost. They are now an inch tall. I will hold them over the winter and plant in the from next year.

Along the low wall there was a tangle of Russian sage, Perovskia atriplicifolia, mixed in with Ruellia and errant strands of fig ivy, Ficus repens It feels liberating to have removed the lot. All that remain is the gopher plant with some underlying pink skullcap. In the fall I plan to add some santolina to be backed by columbines.

Working further along I reached the squid agave, Agave bracteosa. Judging by the fact that I removed over 50 pups it has been quite a long time since I did a clean out.

I saved the best. What on earth am I going to do with them all? I potted up a few and planted about 6 outside in the areas where we cleared yaupons this year.

And as I promised myself this past spring I removed all the muscari bulbs growing along the edge. I was tired of their scrappy foliage and few blooms. After pulling out the bulbs I begin to see why they didn't perform. They were all too small to be a success. Probably due to poor dry soil which I plan to amend. Many of my bulbs we3re blind this year and this points to poor care on my part.
I'm taking back my rocks. No more ruellia, mealyblue sage, pink crystal grasses growing in the holes.      And I really mean to keep to this.


  1. I despise working in the heat, so I know how hard it's been for you. We're at the tail end of a two-week heat wave right now, and I've been going nuts with not gardening. If you are seriously going to chuck those Agave bracteosa, you can chuck a few in a box and ship them to me, I'll pay for the postage. I can't find them in nurseries here in the PNW, even though they're one of the few that are hardy in our climate.

    1. Send me your address in the contact me section and I'll send some to you.

  2. That's the best looking squid agave I've ever seen! Mine are still all munchkins by comparison. Maybe I'll try growing the Ceasalpinia from seed too - they cost a fortune in the local garden centers.

  3. Your garden looks terrific. I know what you mean about taking back your rocks. All my rocks would be covered with plants in about a year if I didn't stop the plants. Why do they love growing in and around rocks so much? So strange. I love that Squid Agave! That's the largest one I've ever seen! I have one about 1/4 that size and I thought that was as big as they got. I better get my squid a bigger pot!

  4. I'm afraid I'm a complete wimp and have let the weeds take over my island beds this summer because the heat and humidity have just been too much. I get out for ten minutes at a time and pull a few, but they are three steps ahead of me all the way. I'm completely in awe of what you have achieved in your beautiful garden.

  5. How big IS that Agave bracteosa? Wow. Maybe I should water mine more. Yours is so beautiful!

  6. Between our vacation and a sudden lack of rain, I feel like the garden is out of control. Always hard to work in it when it is dry. But, unlike you, I dug out three perennials that wete as big as shrubs and sent them on their way.