Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Earth Day is coming up

Join us at the gardens on Friday April 22nd for Earth Day! 50 Cent will not be in attendance but I am sure he would approve the meme at left.

We will be doing the usual garden maintenance you guys are so good at: weeding, pruning, planting, making compost and generally making our world a nicer place to be.

Time of start is TBD, but if you'd like to join in email annie

Monday, February 15, 2016

Too hot to trot

Watch this space...
Today Matt and I wanted to get our customary "one task and out" done, but we ended up not completing it because it was so hot!

We started out weeding in the left bed as we tried to decide on the Task of the Day. I wanted to move a tree aloe (Aloe bainesii aka Aloe barberae) from the cactus wall where it was not thriving, to the left bed.

When we got in there, we realized we'd need to weed the slope in front of it, then cut out a few long branches of yucca to access it.

OK with that done, the nearby area looked ratty. A recent failed experiment with a huge puya had left a gap, and the columnar cacti in the spot looked unplanned: the Echinopsis pachanoi (San Pedro cacti) we laid on the ground to root have grown about 12" of height since 2009. That's slow. Now you know why I get really upset when people lop them off and steal them. The Euphorbia ammak cactus we planted in 2009 looks great, but it's off to one side. Another sits behind a thick yucca nearby, so that needs to move into center stage, and be joined by a third from over by the compost heap so we can make a nice looking trio.

I removed an ordinary looking Opuntia and some Crassula ovata (Jade Plants), and also the Echinopsis pachanoi cacti. We'll put them elsewhere. Then I started trying to move a Euphorbia ammak.  But the heat! We left the area cleaned up, planted the yucca branches quickly, and retreated to the house to recover.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Reiner on the move

Today Matt and picked a quick task to complete: we noticed a gap in the right side of the brights bed and both said "big agave!" at the same time! Off we went to locate on that was outgrowing it's previous location...

We came upon a Agave weberi "Reiner's Selection" at PRG that was being crushed under a big Malva. We dug the beast out and it was a sizeable plant! We left a few pups in the ground to grow on, and wheelbarrowed the monster up to PG.

Didn't take long at all to plant, and looks great under the Cussonia spicata. I'll look for a nice variegated Coprosma to go behind it and balance things out.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Before and after

Here's a good "before, after, and today" evolution of the left bed as you walk into the garden.

L-R: February 2009, February 2010 and February 2016
In 2009 we had a Leucadendron at the front - that was killed by dog pee. You can also see lots of small clumps of Dietes that did really well in the end.

By 2010 the Leucadendron at the front was killed by dog pee. I replaced it with a very successful Cortaderia selloana "Silver Comet" and our Cardoon (Cynara cardunculus) is to the right, behind it. I'd put a small Agave americana variegata at the front, and some yellow Osteospermum are flowering away merrily to the right of that. The Brugmansia was the biggest plant in the bed, and a small Phormium tenax "Rubrum" and a clump of orange flowering Chasmanthe are poking up at the back. A small Coprosma australis (variegated) and a Euonymus japonica "Microphylla Variegata" (Variegated Boxleaf Euonymus) can be seen as smallish, yellowish blobs on the left side too/ We'd made a nice twig border around the bed front to define it too.

And today in 2016 the Cortaderia selloana "Silver Comet" did so well that we've divided it and retained a clump at the front, with a nice Phlomis fruticosa (Jerusalem sage) to its left. The Cardoon (Cynara cardunculus) is still going strong, too. The Agave americana variegata at the front got too big and moved elsewhere, and the yellow Osteospermum didn't last: I replaced them with Cotyledon orbiculata var. oblonga clumps.

The Brugmansia is still there, but dwarfed by the big Hakea suaveolens, and the small Phormium tenax "Rubrum" is now huge though you can't see it since the Dodonaea viscosa (Purple Hopseed Bush) planted in 2009 is bigger. I moved a red Cordyline nearby, and the clump of orange flowering Chasmanthe got swapped for a yellow clump you can see flowering. The Coprosma australis (variegated) got huge and was very successful, and the Euonymus japonica "Microphylla Variegata" (Variegated Boxleaf Euonymus) struggled a bit but lives on, seeming to do better this last year. The twig border composted away, and was replaced by stones again.

Good to look back now and again to see what plants do best, and remember which ones not to buy again ;)

Sunday, February 7, 2016

One job

Matt and I went out to do a quick task and decided on removing the last of the Agave tequiliana stump. We got all the leaves cleaned up but the main core is so heavy and rooted that we'll have to complete it another day. 

In other news the Aloe arborescens are flowering beautifully!

Saturday, February 6, 2016


Nate and Debbie
Today's volunteer workday was warm and sunny, and the ground nicely damp after all the recent rain storms we have had - the perfect day for a spot of serious weeding.

Emily, Debbie and Nate joined me in the garden and set to work - those three in the front border, while I set about weeding the Agave gypsophila bed in the middle back bed, the bottom of the steps, parts of the brights bed and the back border.

Matt chainsawing
In the meantime, Matt went to rent a chainsaw from Action Rentals.

We've been trying to get a chipper from the city in order to clear the gigantic pile of brush up in the dog area, but the plans always fall through, so in a fit of desperation Matt located a chainsaw to at least cut the fallen tree into smaller parts we can chip next time.

As the saying goes, when all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail... and Matt was naturally keen to chainsaw anything he could while he was able to wield the power tool.

Agave tequiliana, ex
With that in mind he took down the Agave tequiliana from the cactus wall - once stately succulent, now post-flowering wreck.

The gaping hole left by the Agave tequiliana means we have a spot for a very impressive cactus of epic proportions to fill. What will it be? A ghostly giant Agave franzosinii? A spine-laden Opuntia subulata (Cane Cholla)? Or a replacement Agave tequiliana, but this time the variegated form?

Agave gypsophila bed weeded
In a last fit of chainsaw madness, Matt also cut 1/3 of the Pittorsporum on the terraces that was dead.

Not a bad day's work!

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Before and after: storm drain

Here's a good before and after photo set.

The first photo is of the storm drain looking out towards Pennsylvania Avenue from January 25, 2009. the second photo is almost the same view from today, seven years later - the Agave americana in the first photo is the one you can see further back in the second photo.

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