Six on Saturday

Thanks to the Propagator for hosting:

The weather is finally beginning to cool, and the prospect of fall entices me back into the garden. There is still something cursory and dutiful in my interactions with this space, but my mind is beginning to rejoin my body in its ministrations. I am leafing through guides to perennials and groundcovers and composting, and I even purchased a few plants.

1. The evening primroses. They really have been a grand, charismatic, slightly bizarre presence, leaning forward awkwardly with their gangly, mobile limbs as though eager to embrace something, each branch gilded just at the tip with golden flowers that last a day, then transform into seedpods that promise to scatter their abundance to the four corners of the earth. They have given the garden a stature it otherwise lacked this season and they have thrived in the face of challenging conditions. Though I hope other specimens will eventually achieve heights that rival their 7 ft., there will always be a corner of my garden set aside for this plant and this plant alone.

2. Propagating groundcovers. Covering the ground appears particularly important to me in light of the persistent drought which makes moisture retention critical, the sandy, nutrient poor soil here, the erosion and nutrient leaching brought about by the wet winters, the proximity of the garden to a creek polluted by runoff. In most areas, the ground is covered by straw and/or leaves harvested last fall. In some, plants serve this function. A variety of sedums was introduced, with variable results, along with ajuga, New Zealand brass buttons, hens and chicks, golden creeping jenny, kinnikinnick, creeping mahonia coast strawberry. I have successfully propagated several of the sedums and hens and chicks. I am currently in the process of attempting to fill in a no man’s land where the dogs frequently urinate with ajuga, brass buttons, hens and chicks, and strawberries.

3. I suspect that my trumpet vine starts have been competing for nutrients with the Musa basjoo, which is looking rather jaundiced. They have already scaled the base of the chimney, having been gently deterred from seeking (or creating) footholds on the shingles. I fear that I am going to regret the decision to grow this aggressive climber here, but its very survival given our challenging summer growing conditions is a consideration greatly in its favor.

4. Analogies and contrasts. Much as I love contasts: the perfect foil that a stem of filigreed silver Artemisia provides for the wholesome green spoon of a Rudbeckia leaf, I have also been appreciating of late the shared color or flower structure of 2 wholly unrelated plants. Pictured below are Rudbeckia, compliments of a neighbor, and Gaillardia. I like how the shape of the flower is analogous, while the adjacent colors (yellow, orange) are drawn into closer kinship by the golden border of the blanketflower’s petals.

5. Returning to the dangerous centerpiece, composed of rusted metal, spiny cactus, thornbush, a spiky bromiliad. The cactus has put on another tier of paddles since last update, the thornbush has responded to cooler temperatures with the bright green of new growth. A new generation of sempervivums is beginning to root at their feet.

6. The trumpet honeysuckle, which got off to such an inauspicious start this spring with an aphid infestation, has, with the help of a crew of ladybugs presumably summoned by the plant’s distress signals, bounced back and had a lovely late summer bloom. Earlier this week, a hummingbird was sighted feeding on the flowers’ nectar. Since then, a second trumpet honeysuckle of a different variety has been acquired.

10 thoughts on “Six on Saturday

  1. The lack of water and humidity is really a problem for your region… You are right to cover the ground and ajugas repens, sempervivums, sedums,… are really very useful. Perhaps additional mulch is retaining moisture? I see you put straw in places: maybe hemp or flax?
    Beautiful pink lonicera and cactus !

    Liked by 1 person

  2. It’s good that the weather is cooling for you and that the garden has pulled through a difficult summer. The cactus was clearly very happy with it though, it’s looking great, and the trumpet vine can be relied on to do well whatever you throw at it. I actually miss not having the flowers this year (although they did attract wasps, the flowers themselves were beautiful).

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s reassuring to hear a note of regret about the trumpet vine. After your previous warning regarding its limitless colonization of anything unfortunate enough to be in its path, I have been watching its progress nervously.

      Liked by 1 person

    • That is my dog, Yojo. Yes, we suffer from an ever longer dry season that makes mulching a necessity. On the other hand, the relatively dry, mild climate allows me to grow a range of native, Mediterranean, desert, prairie plants, which I enjoy.

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