Friday, May 22, 2020

The Chasmathe are DONE!

Matt and I spent a couple hours weeding at the garden today. We turned two compost bins and watered them (after removing a huge amount of trash from one bin) and while Matt watered other already parched looking plants, I tied back the Phlomis at the steps and then cut back a lot of Chasmanthe.

I love Chasmanthe in later winter - fresh green leaves, orange flowers - what a great sight at the coldest time of the year. But right about now they are done flowering and their leaves turn yellow and crash. So they get cut to the ground - all 20 clumps of them... I managed about 4 clumps today.

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Plant Profile: Cistus purpureus (Orchid Rockrose)

Latin name: Cistus purpureus ("SISS-tuss purr-purr-EEE-uss")
Common name: Orchid Rock Rose
Originally from: throughout the Mediterranean region, from Morocco and Portugal through to the Middle East, and also on the Canary Islands.
Blooms: Bright magenta flowers 3" across blanket the plant in spring and summer
Light: Full sun.
Water: Winter rain is enough.
Height x width: 4' x 6'
Zones: 8-11
Where to find in P. Garden: Three at the top of PG

A tidy, compact, sun and heat-loving evergreen shrub. In spring it's covered in outrageous 3" wide rose-purple blooms with maroon spots and a gold center. Tolerates drought, poor soil, and total neglect, and the leaves have an interesting resinous scent. Yep, you need a rockrose in your life!

This is the best rockrose for seaside conditions as it doesn't care about salt spray, wind and sandy soil. It is also one of the hardiest of rockroses, tolerating temperatures down to around 15 degrees F.

This plant is an old garden hybrid between Cistus ladanifer and C. creticus. Listed in 1819 in Syndenham Edward's Garden Register of exotic plants cultivated in British Gardens, the author wrote that it was universally known at the time as Cistus creticus "from which however it has been well distinguished by the industrious and sagacious Chevalier de Lamarck in his excellent Encyclopaedia Botanique."

I am sure the sagacious Chevalier would also tell you that you can cut it back as you like, and it forms a nice solid screening plant mixed with other Mediterranean climate plants. Stems often layer at ground level and root, and I would expect they're pretty easy to start from cuttings, though I haven't tried.

Monday, May 18, 2020

Sun and showers and tree felling

"April showers bring May flowers" as the saying goes. But May showers? They bring weeds, m'kay? Anyway, weeding is the Ultimate Pandemic Activity IMO: a) you're socially distanced b) outdoors c) wearing gloves anyway and c) talk about cathartic - ripping out weeds will really let out any anger you might have!

With that in mind, Matt and I went out to PG to weed a bit. And there we found Joe who was watering his little area by the bench. He and Jon refinished the bench, made the signs and solar lights and have been refilling the bird feeders to boot. I propose a Garden Volunteer Award 2020 for each of them!

I cleared the path from the top of the steps to the top of the garden - about 3 giant tubtrugs of weeds to the composter. Matt was doing something but I have no idea what.

And today, Chris emailed to show me that the final dead Monterey pine has been removed! Where were those logs falling? Into the garden? I have no idea.  But it's (almost, probably, mostly) gone! So I'm happy!

Monday, May 4, 2020

Still volunteering, but not together

We decided not to have the workday last weekend, as social distancing is still in effect, However, I went to he garden to weed on Sunday and was delighted to see Jon there with his doggo.

To my surprise and delight, Jon and his friend whose name escapes me (sorry!) have REFINISHED THE BENCH. And also printed up and laminated some great signs and added some solar lights at the garden and refilled the bird feeders and... I don't know what to say!

I was so thrilled by this. Jon you are a lovely man. Thank you.

I set about weeding happily at the steps, and in an hour they are really looking good. Yes, it's just about impossible to find a plant that wants to act a a weed-suppressing ground cover there - I have tried so many things. But for right now that look good. I do need to find a way to tie back the unruly Phlomis purpurea that's flowering away there and leaning into the path there. but I don't feel too mad at them.
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