Foliar Tapestries

These were actually featured in the Sunset – Western Garden Book back when they were new. This article is three years old.

Tony Tomeo

P80224Succulent foliage is remarkably variable, even without bloom. There are so many unusual colors, textures and patterns to choose from. Many are complimentary to others. Many contrast exquisitely. What better way to display some of the favorites than to assemble them into a succulent foliar tapestry!?

This is actually old technology that started to become a fad again only somewhat recently, after these foiar tapestries were installed on a retaining wall in North Hollywood a few years ago by GreenArt Landscape Design. Small cuttings of succulent plants were plugged into rigid mesh panels that hold growing medium vertically against another flat panel of the same size. The whole contraption was suspended against the concrete wall, with a bit of space in between to limit staining and bleeding onto the wall.

With the fountain, potted plants and other features, the limited space was insufficient for a hedge to obscure the retaining…

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RAIN!?

Although not a sequel to the old article that was recycled an hour ago, this old article seems to naturally follow it. (It mentions that it posted a day later, which it did when it originally posted, but it is just an hour later now. It also mentions one of the old recycled articles from the gardening column that posted earlier that morning, which was three years ago. Hey, it made sense at the time.)

Tony Tomeo

10914This is not sequel to ‘SNOW!?’ from yesterday.

Nor is it a sequel to any of the other brief article about rain in the past.

I just recycled the picture because I still find it to be amusing.

If you are a native of California like I am, and are wondering what ‘rain’ is; I have already explained it sufficiently in previous articles. Basically, it is those unfamiliar droplets of water that fall mysteriously from the sky and get everything wet. Look it up if you must.

The article that I posted earlier this morning was recycled from this time last year, long before I started posting articles here. Our rain has actually been very deficient. It has rained only a few times this season.

We tend to talk about rain often here because it is so important to us. So much of California gets such a limited supply. Although…

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SNOW!?

Perhaps this recycled article from 2017 will partly compensate for the lack of a picture of Rhody this morning; although this little terrier is Bill (Willow), not Rhody.

Tony Tomeo

P80110If you do not know what it is, ‘snow’ is like frozen rain.

If you do not know what rain is, I wrote about it earlier for those of us who are native to the drier parts of California. If you notice strange drops of water falling from the sky tonight, that would be rain. There is no need to be alarmed. It is expected to happen here tonight, and a few times for the next few days. Contrary to former experience, it is normal for this time of year.

Anyway, getting back to snow. Unlike rain, which sometimes happens here, snow does not happen here.

Well, perhaps that is not entirely true. It might have happened as recently as 11,700 years ago, as the Ice Age ended, and again in more recent history, in February of 1976, when an epically humongous snowstorm deposited as much as half an inch…

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Six on Saturday: More Late Bloomers

Redundancy was not apparent to me as I collected these pictures of flowers that are blooming somewhat later than typical. Not only is the topic the same as last week, but daffodil is featured again, and comprises half of these six! A major (but not redundant) difference this week, which will most certainly compromise the popularity of my blog, is the absence of a picture of Rhody.

Incidentally, my Six on Saturday for next week will be redundant to #1 below, and will again lack a picture of Rhody, but it is a popular topic that I never discuss.

1. Hellebore is something that I am none too keen on. Bloom just happens to be remarkable this year. This one blooms most profusely. There will be more redundancy with these next week.

2. Sweetbox is also blooming unusually well this year, even if they are still not much to look at. Fragrance is their priority. Their sneaky bloom is usually more obscured by the glossy foliage.

3. Camellia bloom is not as late as it seems to be. Others bloom sporadically even a bit later. I think that this one would be prettier if it were lower than the roof, and visible from the carport.

4. Daffodil is technically very different from those of last week. This and the two others are all feral in unlandscaped areas near our industrial shop buildings. This one looks like ‘King Alfred’.

5. Daffodil, whether truly feral or not, can be quite variable. I suspect that they came into the site with soil or debris that was removed from landscapes, and dumped here through the years.

6. Daffodil, in my opinion (which, in my opinion, is the most important opinion), should look like ‘King Alfred’! The next best option is like ‘King Alfred’, but white! Could this be ‘Mount Hood’?

This is the link for Six on Saturday, for anyone else who would like to participate:

https://thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com/2017/09/18/six-on-saturday-a-participant-guide/

‘San Jose’ Juniper

Do you know the way to San Jose?

Juniper seedlings are initially outfitted with needle-like juvenile foliage. As they mature, most develop scale-like adult foliage. ‘San Jose’ juniper is the juniper that does not want to grow up. Even very old specimens exhibit odd tufts of juvenile foliage. Variegated ‘San Jose’ juniper has random cream colored blotches. The angular but sprawling stems can spread more than six feet wide without getting two feet deep.

Junipers Should Get More Consideration

Old junipers still work like new.

Too much of a good thing eventually gets old. That is how so many of the good junipers that were so popular half a century ago became so unpopular. They became too common, and many were planted into situations that they were not appropriate for. As they matured, many became overgrown or disfigured. Only recently have a few newly introduced modern cultivars restored the appeal of both new and traditional junipers to a generation that is less familiar with their former stigma.

Even though all junipers are evergreen and somewhat similar in regard to foliar texture and their lack of interesting bloom, they demonstrate considerable diversity. Some are low and sprawling ground covers. Others are dense low shrubbery. A few develop as small trees. Branch structure may be densely compact, gracefully arching, rigidly upright, or sculpturally irregular.

Some junipers have yellowish new growth that eventually turns to a more typical deep green. Others are bluish gray throughout. A few rare types are variegated. Almost all junipers have scale-like leaves (like those of cypress). A few have needle-like leaves.

‘Blue Arrow’ and more traditional ‘Skyrocket’ junipers are like short and plump Italian cypress with bluish or gray foliage. ‘Wichita Blue’ juniper is even shorter and plumper, with more sculptural branch structure. However, it is not nearly as irregular and sculptural as the old fashioned ‘Hollywood’ juniper. Modern ‘Gold Star’ and the older ‘Old Gold’ junipers are shrubby types that exhibit arching stems with gold tips.

‘Icee Blue’ is like an improved version of the classic ‘Blue Rug’ juniper, that matures as a shallow bluish ground cover. ‘Blueberry Delight’ juniper is one of the few junipers known for conspicuous fruit, with pretty powdery blue berries against grayish needle-like foliage on trailing stems. ‘Limeglow’ juniper gets a bit deeper, and exhibits chartreuse new growth that turns rich green.

Just because junipers can be shorn certainly does not mean that they should be! Shearing deprives junipers of their naturally appealing texture and form. Instead, junipers should be selectively pruned only where necessary to eliminate growth that is beginning to become obtrusive. Stems should be cut back deeply into the main stems from which they originate, in order to avoid leaving stubs or disfigured stems. Tree junipers like ‘Hollywood’ juniper, as well as overgrown shrubby junipers, can be pruned to expose bare trunks and stems. The gnarly stems and shredding bark can be as appealing as the foliage that obscures them.

Otherwise, once established, junipers do not need much attention or water, and are remarkably resilient. They only rarely get infested with spider mites or scale insects, or get damaged by disease. They only want good sun exposure.

Tent City

This article is three years old, and the picture is even older, but this tent city remains.

Tony Tomeo

P80224KIn the autumn of 1989, small and temporary tent cities appeared in parks and other public spaces around the San Francisco Bay Area and the Monterey Bay Area, where many homes had been damaged or destroyed by the Loma Prieta Earthquake. They were necessary at the time, but were not intended to be permanent features of the landscapes. For a while, they were unpleasant reminders that some people could not go home until their homes were repaired or rebuilt.

In more recent history, ridiculously expensive real estate and rents have increased homelessness in the same regions. Even gainfully employed people are homeless because they can neither purchase nor rent a home, either because of expense or because of a lack of availability. Those who live in homes complain about the unsightliness and other problems associated with the homeless living in homeless encampments and small tent cities.

We get it. Tents…

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Snowflake

Snowflake might be mistaken for snowdrop.

Some of us here on the West Coast know it incorrectly as ‘snowdrop’. That is actually the common name of the many cultivars of Galanthus that are so very popular in other regions. ‘Snowflake’ is the correct common name for Leucojum aestivum. Of course, most of us accept either name. The real snowdrop is not so popular here anyway. It blooms better with more chill than it gets locally.

Snowflake does not seem to need much chill at all. It performs so reliably here that it can slowly spread. A few may even self sow in damp situations. Leucojum vernum is another snowflake, with single or paired flowers instead of three or more on each arching stem. Leucojum vernum blooms before Leucojum aestivum. Both are supposed to bloom later in spring, but are in bloom now.

The somewhat rubbery foliage of snowflake resembles that of daffodil, but is a bit darker green. Individual leaves are about a foot tall and an inch wide, and stand rather vertically. Floral stems do not get much higher, but lean slightly outward with the weight of bloom. Their individual flowers are quite small and pendulous, with single yellowish or green dots near the tips of each of six tepals.

Last Frost Dates Help Scheduling

Frost is unlikely until next autumn.

Frost is not as much of a concern here as it is in other climates. It is very rare in some of the coastal climates of Southern California. The potential for frost damage increases farther inland, farther north, and at higher elevations. Regardless, it is generally tolerable locally. Even if it is necessary to protect a few marginal plants prior to frost, the ‘average last frost date’ gets little consideration.

The average last frost date designates the end of the frost season for a particular region. Although a specific date, it is an average of dates of the last frost of previous years. It includes minor frost that caused no major damage. Damaging frost, although possible, is unlikely afterward. It becomes more unlikely as the season advances. The process reverses after the average first frost date.

Obviously, average last frost dates are as variable as climates. They are irrelevant for climates without frost. Climates with cooler winters generally have average last frost dates later than those of milder climates. For most of us on the West Coast of California, the average last frost date happens before we are aware of it. Nonetheless, it is helpful to know the date for our particular regions.

Warm season vegetable and bedding plants should be safe in the garden after the average last frost date. Directly sown seed should get all the warmth it needs to germinate. Young plants will not likely experience damaging frost. The weather will continue to get warmer. The days will continue to get longer. Cool season vegetable and bedding plants will relinquish their space as necessary.

Plants that sustained damage from earlier frost can now be pruned and groomed. Damaged foliage that remained in place to insulate inner stems is no longer necessary. Pruning and removal of ruined vegetation stimulates new growth while it will be safe from frost. Aggressively pruning and grooming damaged plants that are already regenerating fragile new growth may be complicated.

Most local climates are beyond their respective average last frost dates. Soon, the others will be too.

The Coast Is Clear

Goodness, I can not remember the last time I went to the beach. I might have gone more often when I lived a bit farther away. Now that I am a bit closer, it is easier to ignore.

Tony Tomeo

P80218Between here and Hawaii, there is a whole lot of water. Between Hawaii and Australia, there is a whole lot more. Everywhere to the west and southwest of California, there is a lot of water. Unfortunately, none of this huge volume of water is useful for gardening. It is saline. It would kill plants.

Of course this is not just any water. It is the Pacific Ocean. Although the water within it is useless directly, it is what feeds the weather that provides the precipitation that becomes the water that makes gardening and everything else possible. Rain fills local aquifers. Snow in the Sierra Nevada fills reservoirs as it melts.

The weather that the Pacific Ocean feeds gets shared over a very large area. Weather that does not make rain here might make rain or snow in Nevada, or Oklahoma, or really anywhere the weather wants to go to. In…

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