Thursday, April 21, 2016

The Big Calm

There have been so many extreme weather events lately - earthquakes, massive rainstorms, etc -- that our continuing drought seems mild by comparison. That doesn't mean we should let up on our water conservation efforts. Here  are some planting/mulching tips I wrote for our Ace Nursery customers last year. I'm sure most of you are following these principles but it's sometimes handy to have a checklist.

1. Mulch, mulch, mulch. Use a thicker layer of bark mulch than you might otherwise do.
2. Gradually scale back on the frequency but use a deep watering method. Make the roots search out moisture deeper in the soil where it does not evaporate.
3. Choose drought tolerant perennials OR deciduous shrubs that need little regular water. In both these cases, they should need little or no water between November and April.
4. Seek out drought tolerant plants for shade. Dry Shade plants include Plectranthus, Liriope, Heuchera maxima (a native), Western sword fern (also a native), Sarcococca (Sweet box), Camellias, Clivia, Hellebores and many others.
5. Use drip irrigation where possible.
6. Keep the number of plants in pots to a minimum. They naturally use more water than those planted in the ground.
7. Plants things with similar water needs together wherever possible. That is, plant drought tolerant plants together and those that need a little regular water together.
8. Expand out past natives to include the larger list of Bay Friendly plants. These are also drought tolerant, tough and non-invasive. Consult for a list of such plants.

And now this week's photos.

Here's my sweet Aquilegia chrysantha 'Flora Pleno' in fuller bloom. Now in its third year, it has proven to be a sturdy little guy.

This charming, variegated leaf Pelargonium is P. 'Frank Headley.' It has made do in a small pot but it's definitely time for an upgrade. I like the salmon-colored flowers too, a color you don't often see with pels.

I lucked out on this photo of my new Dudleya gnoma. The sun brings out a kind of white heat on the plant. It's a dwarf variety and yes it's not a coincidence that the species name looks a lot like Gnome. It is also known as Munchkin dudleya. Nope, not making that up. It tops out at 4" x 4." It's rare, found only on Santa Rosa Island (one of the Channel islands). This specimen is a cultivar called 'White Sprite.'

Speaking of uncommon plants, for some reason Ballota nigra isn't widely known. This is the variegated form called Archer's Variety. I love the foliage and if you take a good look you can see why it's part of the Lamiaceae family. It can reach a 3' x 3' size so has a full presence. In the front, starting to spill over, is my silvery Geranium harveyi.

Many gardeners will recognize this CA native. It's a 5 Finger fern and despite its name it's a very trustworthy plant (5 Finger being a term for a pickpocket). That's the lighter new growth above and the darker older growth lower down.

I'm thrilled that my Passiflora parritae x tarminiana 'Oaklandia' is starting to bloom. It produces very large, salmon-orange flowers and it has climbed up into my apple tree. 

Mixed succulent hanging basket. Though I kept adding succulents in a bit of helter-skelter manner, the end result has been quite pleasing.

There's something entirely appropriate about letting Mimulus do their thing, rather than manicuring them. Here's my M. 'Jeff's Tangerine' meandering through other plants, a bit woody, but very happy.

A golden Teucrium? Mais oui! This is T. 'Summer Sunshine,' a golden-leaved, low growing deciduous perennial. It does flower of course but I have it mostly for that glorious foliage.

The tree that ate Oakland! Well, not exactly but my Cotinus 'Royal Purple' has loved our winter rains and responded in kind. It's a 'street' tree and has managed to get a good foothold in lousy soil. 

There are many lovely Mallow members but one of my favorites is Sphaeralcea munroana. As you can see, it's a low growing, cascading species and once the weather warms up it blooms profusely, with little half inch rose-colored flowers. I also love the tiny scalloped leaves.

Looking almost good enough to eat (candy corns perhaps), this Passiflora citrina has proven to be one of the most durable plants in my garden. To me they look like little vegetative fountains.

No comments:

Post a Comment

01 09 10