Sunday, January 31, 2010


Blame it on my recent trip to California but I now have a big love affair with succulents. I think it has been growing over the last year, as more of these plants make their appearance in our nurseries. I wonder if it will turn out to be a fad; like the Victorians and their love of grasses, which eventually went out of fashion only to return again at the end of the 20th. Century.

I'm dreaming of something like this. I have the perfect spot for these Woolly Pockets I saw at Descanso Gardens. A hefty price for a display like this so I am busy thinking how I could achieve this with less expensive materials.

I have never seen such beautiful displays of succulents everywhere.

In true conservation style, this business on Balboa Island had converted their fountain into a succulent garden.

We stopped by Roger's Gardens in Newport Beach and that was where I made one of my first purchases.

This Delosperma sphalmanthoides, tufted ice plant. Hardy to 0F ! This one will be going into my rock garden.

This magnificent display of Aeonium 'kiwi' growing in the ground at Quail Gardens had me hooked.

I found it for sale in their garden shop, along with a couple more must haves. I always head to the garden shop at the end of the visit and rarely leave empty handed. Who can resist a few little pots of succulents.

I couldn't leave California without an aloe. This one Aloe 'David Verity' and

Aloe marlotti with its distinctive spines on the center of the leaf. Just a little 2" pot so I don't know if it will ever flower for me. Both these aloes will stay in pots as will the aeonium.

Here's the rest of the collection now tucked away in the greenhouse and potting shed until these freezing temperatures go away. Meanwhile, I'm getting my planters cleaned out and my hanging baskets relined.

I bought 8 of these coir liners in the fall when Walmart was cleaning out. I had to cut them to fit but they did the job.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010


I must tell you about a little visitor who came into my garden while I was away. My grandson, Savar, brought garden gifts and hid them around the garden. I soon spotted the lizard but had to have a clue about where to find the frog. He was in a patch of thyme. What a lovely idea. Next time you come, Savar, I will have an animal hunt for you!

But I had other visitors too, and they are not quite so welcome. In my potting shed I noticed a blanket had some mysterious holes. "Mousey work" I thought, spotting other tell tale signs.

As I lifted the pile of coco fibre basket liners out ran 3 mice. 'Three blind mice, three blind mice, see how they run' and I ran straight out to buy some traps. I wouldn't mind the little things coming in out of the cold but it is their habits I don't like. Poop all over the show and wee in the corners. I'm much kinder to the cotton rats, using the Havahart trap, but then they live outdoors.
They aren't even clean in their nests. The long and short of it is we have disposed of 5 mice.
I much prefer lizards and frogs.

Saturday, January 23, 2010


Returning home after a month away, and and with all that cold weather, I was really nervous to pull into the driveway. Yes, much is lost but I have decided that I am not going to dwell on what can't be changed and look forward to a new year in the garden.

Imagine my delight, when this morning I spotted the first of the windflowers Anemone decapetala. This white one was just glowing in the morning sun.

And then a second one, this time one of my favorite blue flowers. These wildflowers are always the first to bloom, usually in February.

It won't be long before this viburnum is in bloom. The pink buds open to white flowers. The leathery leaves are evergreen which make it a good plant for winter structure.

I can't help myself. There was quite a bit of this but.....

underneath the soggy rotting leaves of this one in a pot, new life. Removing pups is no easy matter but I managed to deliver three decent ones. I don't care whether A. desmettiana is hardy, I love it and it pups so easily that there are always plenty of replacements. I believe I am partly responsible for their demise as I do water them. However, this year it really didn't matter because the temperatures dipped well below the 25 degree.

In fact well below the 20 degree label on this agave I bought in the fall. I thought it too late to be planting so I put it in the greenhouse. The photo paints better picture. This agave is sodden and has no hope of living.

I think this might be a good idea. Spotted on the campsite in west Texas.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010


When we travel, and we seem to do quite a lot of that these days, I always have plans to keep a diary. Sometimes I manage as much as a week before I give up. I have many of these unfinished diaries most started as we travel around the US in our trailer, others on visits to England.

Children's garden at the Huntington Museum

This winter's trip to California left me with no time to write even a word. Our days were so busy with visits to so many interesting places. By the time we returned to our home on wheels and I made the dinner it was all I could do to crawl into bed. I have my photographic record but the most I can do now is make a quick record of where our travels took us and add a few photos of my favorite memories. Here goes.
The day after our trip to the Huntington, (see earlier post of this fabulous garden) we drove down into LA to visit the La Brea Tar Pits.

Not a garden you would have wanted to walk into thousands of years ago. Still pools of water, where animals went to drink, turned out to be a deadly trap. Underneath that still surface was a thick viscous tar from which there was no escape.

The next day we visited Descanso Gardens, former home and gardens of E. Manchester Boddy. Cool and shady walks among camellias.

In the afternoon we enjoyed the California native plants growing in the 86 acre Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden, in Claremont. We fell in love with the Manzanitas which were in full bloom.
The smooth burgundy colored bark of the Manzanita tree.

The following day was the big game day, so with only a morning free we hiked nearby in the San Bernadino Mountains.

Where bees were enjoying the blossoms on the wild gooseberry bushes.

The big game.

Friday morning - cycled from Santa Monica to Venice Beach.

Arrived at the Getty Villa in Malibu for our 1:30 pm time slot.

After which we enjoyed the sunset at Malibu.

Saturday we drove down to our old haunt in Laguna Beach. We had the good fortune to live in SoCal in the 80s. It is always wonderful to walk along the beach.

Sunday was moving day. On down to San Diego and arrive just in time to see the seals (pupping season) at La Jolla.

We spent Monday morning in Balboa Park and the afternoon in Old Town San Diego.

The lath house.

The Alcazar garden.

On Tuesday, on our way to visit and spend a couple of days with friends, we enjoyed a morning at the Quail Botanic Gardens.

We were fortunate to see A shawii in bloom.

Succulents have been arranged to reflect an underwater garden.

Our friends who live in the hills above Fallbrook are growing Cherimoyas.

While Texas experienced the coldest spell of weather in years we have been fortunate to enjoy beautiful weather every day for the last two weeks, but now the rain is chasing us home along
I 10. We have seen some beautiful gardens but I am looking forward to home and my own garden-and I'm bringing back a few of those gorgeous succulents.

Friday, January 15, 2010


Surrounded as I am with the wonderful blooms of a Southern California winter, I only have one to offer of my own. My traveling cactus bowl has a single bloom on an unamed Mammillaria.
For more January blooming plants around the world visit Carol at Maydreams.

Thursday, January 7, 2010


As the garden visits stack up I wonder if I will ever have chance to post about all of them. On Monday our first day in California, we visited the Huntington Library and Museum, in Pasadena, and there was just so much to see. Nearly 200 hundred photos. I knew my favorite part of the garden would be the Cactus and Succulent Garden and it was. We took a tour with a docent and then later, after we had visited the other gardens and the art galleries, went back there to wander around by ourselves and take in all the wonder of the desert.

Henry Huntington never saw his cactus garden in all its glory. He died in 1927. Eighty three years later the cactus collection at the Huntington Museum and Gardens, in Pasadena, California, is considered to be one of the most important in the world for its age and size. I had seen photographs of the garden and it was on my list of gardens to see.
My opening photograph had to be of Aloe arborescens, which was in full bloom. Bees, heavy with brown pollen sacs and rufous hummingbirds flitting among the open flowers.

In 1902 Henry Huntington moved to Los Angeles, where he purchased the San Marino Ranch, transforming it into the current Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens. Between 1907 and 1908 William Hertrich was given the job of developing the cactus and succulent garden on a small area of the Raymond Fault scarp. Today the collection has grown to cover over 10 acres and it is truly spectacular. Many of the cactus were already mature when they were planted and today have attained a size larger than any found in the USA.

Hundreds of barrel cactus are massed together to create an amazing sight. the following are a few of the sights from the cactus and succulent garden.

I wonder if these agave with their glaucous leaves are A. ovatifolia? Although labeling of plants is very good I couldn't identify this one.

Mammillaria compressa

Dyksia forestiana x