Friday, January 31, 2020

Moar planting! When will it end!

Matt sawing
Matt and I took another weekend trip to PG and PRG to plant some plants - it's that time of year, and all the plants we have accumulated in the last 9 months need to get planted!

We had a great time and lots of new species went in - lots of them thanks to Jamie who donated Grevilleas and Leucadendrons galore recently. I hope they do well!

While I was busy planting three Agave potatorum "Cameron's Blue" at the top of PG, Matt took our chainsaw and cut down a tree. Yep! One of the dead cherry plum trees is GONE! It finally succumbed to years of drought, but lets face it they're not very long lived trees anyway, and it was about 15 years old. Oh well, more sun for the other plants. Thank you, next!

Matt CHAINsawing!
He also removed the stump of a Pittosporum and generally tidied up a lot of things. More to go - I don't think the remaining cherry plum trees are looking that great... *cackle*

What else got planted? Quite a list:

2 Grevillea gaudichaudii
2 Westringia “Blue Gem”
2 Grevillea sp 
2 Leptospermum scoparium prostrate
1 Agave americana medio picta aurea

Most of those were from Jamie - thanks Jamie! After that, we headed out for lunch, and after THAT we planted at PRG. Here's the list:

3 Agaves and a Leptospermum
1 unidentified Manzanita
1 Yucca elephantipes
1 Agave geminiflora 
2 Salvia  canariensis
1 Furcraea of some kind
1 Cortaderia selloana “Silver Comet”

And by then we were knackered, so we went home. Hope you like the new plants! Come to the Volunteer Day on Saturday and find out more about 'em.

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Plant Profile: Salvia "Anthony Parker"

Latin name: Salvia ("SAL-vee-ah")
Common name: "Anthony Parker" Sage
Originally from: A cross by Frances Parker of Beaufort, South Carolina
Blooms: Covered in spikes of deep blue-purple flowers much of the year
Light: Full sun to part shade..
Water: Winter rain is enough, but in some areas a little irrigation might help.
Height x width: 4' x 4'
Zones: 9a-10b
Where to find in P. Garden: One in the brights bed.

This Salvia is a cross between two species we know and love: the incredibly tough, xeric Mexican sage, Salvia leucantha (throw a rock at PG and you'll hit one) and the very much less drought tolerant Salvia elegans (Pineapple Sage) with the lovely red flowers and incredible pineapple scented leaves. We had a S. elegans back in the day, and it was epic, but required more water than we were willing to give.

Would you expect a cross between those two Salvias to create a dark, midnight purple flowered plant that's possibly even more tough than Salvia leucantha? I would not, but "Anthony Parker" (or "Tony" as I like to call him) is flowering away like a fool right now in January, and I haven't shown him a drop of water in years. Take that, pineapple sage!

This cross was discovered in the garden of designer Frances Parker of Beaufort, South Carolina and was named after her grandson in 1994. No guarantees on the parentage then - a case for 23andMe?

Thursday, January 23, 2020

More planting

Leucadendron "Jester"
Last weekend Matt and I went out and I watched Matt plant some new plants, because I've been sick with a flu/bronchitis thing for a couple weeks now.

First thing we planted was another Leucadendron "Jester" and a Leucadendron "More Silver" in the middle back bed.

Now, we have had many Leucadendrons over the years, and they have often failed and dropped dead for no apparent reason too.

Leucadendron "More Silver"
However,  I think I know what's up now: they can never be watered. So, these two, a gift from Jamie, were put in and will be studiously ignored.

Fingers crossed at least the "Jester" will be as impressive as our other "Jester" which is really one of my favorite plants in the garden, and a very impressive 8' tall and wide by now.

Brahea armata
Next up was a plant I will water as needed to get it solidly established. A Mexican Blue Palm, Brahea armata. This is a nice 15 gallon specimen I hope will do well in the brights bed... again, fingers crossed... one day it will hopefully be a very impressive palm tree.

I added about 8 one gallon pots of Blue Chalk Sticks (Senecio mandraliscae) in the middle back bed, around the red Yucca "Blue Boy" group as well - I think they will contrast nicely, and hope they'll suppress weeds a bit there too.

Lastly, I noticed some lovely flowers. A snowdrop (Galanthus) and a group of paperwhites (Narcissus), which smell amazing. Get out there in the garden and see if you can find them!

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Plant profile: Dyckia "Naked Lady"

Dyckia "Naked Lady"
Latin name: Dyckia "Naked Lady" (genus: "DYKE-ee-ah")
Common name: Dyckia
Originally from: Arid and high-altitude regions of Brazil and the central part of South America.
Blooms: Orange flowers are held above the foliage in spring.
Light: Full sun to part shade.
Water: This xeric plant needs no extra water in San Francisco.
Height x width: 24"x 24"
Zones: 9a-12
Where to find in P. Garden: We have two in the brights bed, near the steps.

Dykias are wonderfully tough plants. They look like some kind of starfish, with leaf edges that curl under, covered in backwards-facing spines. They need very little water and seem almost indestructible. They grow wonderfully in a pot, but in ground they like rocky, sunny areas and have a natural tendency to clump which leads to large groups of plants.  However, if weeds start to grow near the base and pop up between the leaves, watch out while weeding - those spines will hook your hands worse than any Agave and you might live to regret it.

Top: "Naked Lady" Bottom
left: a regular spiny Dyckia
They're in the bromeliad family - just like pineapples. But the genus is one of the most ancient in that family. Named after the Prussian botanist, botanical artist and horticulturist Prince and Earl Joseph Franz Maria Anton Hubert Ignatz F├╝rst und Altgraf zu Salm-Reifferscheidt-Dyck  (1773–1861). So if you're in any confusion about pronouncing the genus name, just think: it could have been so much worse...

According to San Marcos Growers "This plant was discovered by Vivienne Doney (1904 - 1988) at her Monrovia succulent nursery. The name Naked Lady was suggest to her by Aloe hybridizer John Bleck during a visit to her nursery with Robert Foster in the mid to late 1960s. It began showing up in catalogs with this name as early as 1978. There has been speculation that this plant is a hybrid between Dyckia encholirioides and D. brevifolia.  It has also been called "Nude Lady"."

No teeth here!
"Naked Lady" grows in clusters with individual plants reaching 1 foot tall and 1- 2 feet wide with bright green plastic-looking leaves that curve backwards quite gracefully end in a sharp tip. And unlike any other Dyckia this plant has absolutely no spines along the leaf edges. In spring plants grown with plenty of light produce tall wands of bright orange flowers. You can also plant in bright shade or morning sun - you'll get the best leaf color that way, but don't expect many flowers.

We got our "Naked Ladies" from Mat of Farallon Gardens in early 2020 - let's see how they grow!

Saturday, January 4, 2020

Surprise guest and a lot of plants

Hilary, Chris and Bill
I've been sick in bed for almost a week, so to be honest the thought of dragging myself from said deathbed and going and doing some energetic gardening was pretty unappealing. But duty calls, and what if loads of volunteers showed up and poor Josh had to show them what to do all on his own? I mean, come on...

Then I got a text from Josh saying that Mat McGrath and his wife Mali would be joining us. If you don't know who he is, Mat runs Farallon Gardens, is a highly knowledgeable xeric plant professional, recently donated a stunning Aloe thraskii, and is an all around great guy and plant enthusiast of the highest order.

Mat and Josh
Suddenly, I had a panic and knew that the double whammy of duty and visiting guests meant WE HAD TO GO. Screamy Munch face.

I hauled myself and Matt from our unkempt lair, loaded up the truck with perhaps 2/3 of the plants we'd originally planned to put in (due to lethargy) and slowly drove our sorry selves to the garden, swigging Robitussin and eating Ricola like the candy it basically is.

Dyckias and Aloe
Happy day, we had a wonderful crew and I was delighted to see them all: lovely Bill, sassy Chris, dear Hilary, John the Cone King, Mat, Mali and of course JOSH!!! And happy day, Mat and Mali brought us some plants - some really cool ones!

So, I basically wandered around aimlessly, coughing loudly, while everyone else did the following:

John, Josh, and Hilary planted 20 Agave parryi in the new bed along the path to the composter. Added a dozen Agave desmettiana variegata to the opposite bed, along with 6 Cotyledon orbiculata var oblonga.

Aloe "David Verity"
Josh put in 5 Agave celsii "Multicolor" with a lovely Aloe "David Verity" (A. arborescens x A. salm-dyckiana) that Mat donated near the bench.

Mat and Mali put in two big donated Dyckia "Naked Lady" (What!? Amazing plant!) and two other reddish Dyckias near the top of the steps, as well as a lovely Dasylirion wheeleri at the top of the garden. Mat then went berserk on an Echium behind the bench and really cleared the area so an A. arborescens underneath it all could get a chance.

Mat and Mali
Meanwhile Chris and Bill were stripping the uncool Pelargoniums and underperforming Calandrinias from behind the wrong way sign in preparation for better things, soon joined by Hilary - many bags were filled for 311 to take away.

Josh planted a nice offset of Agave difformis marginata aka Agave funkiana "Hakuro Shiro Fukurin" (Japanese for "frosty white edges") that I brought from home, and a spare Artemisia "Powis Castle" while John took out an uninspiring Phormium and replaced it with a Beschorneria albiflora which will look much better on the lower path.

After everyone left Matt and I went home and went straight to bed, where I have been ever since and may stay tomorrow too. But it was worth it!
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