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Archive for May, 2009

Sedum Spathulifolium

Sedum spathulifolium

Sedum spathulifolium

Our Sedum spathulifolium (stonecrop) has started blooming. I like the flower buds better than the flowers, which are a bit too mustardy for my taste.

Sedum spathulifolium

Sedum spathulifolium

In our garden we have it in containers. I keep accidentally knocking off little pieces of it, which I then put in potting soil to root and make new plants. I now have six little sedums in thimble pots and stubbies, a couple of which are preparing to bloom. We planted spathulifolium in a couple of gardens last year, but we tend to reserve for extreme sites where it takes a while to establish and spread, so the plants aren’t really photo worthy yet.

Sedum spathulifolium

Sedum spathulifolium

The Fleming garden has the best planting of it that I’ve seen, cascading down the slope between the rocks. It can be hard to get plants to survive, let alone thrive, on a slope that steep, but the spathulifolium clearly likes the extreme exposure; easy to see why it’s one of the main California natives that appears on green roof plant lists, like the one for the Academy of Sciences Building. I have several more photos from the Fleming garden below. I wish I’d been there when the light had been more amenable to photos, but I don’t see a way to fix that, other than to wait for our own slope-planted plants to spread so I can photograph them at the optimum hours of the day. (more…)

Flagstone Crazy Quilt

mongrel flagstone

mongrel flagstone walkway

Here’s another hellstrip walkway, from our own hellstrip in front of our house. It has a piece of Champagne in it, but otherwise is not much like the other. I’ve been adding to it for a while, building it with leftover stones from various jobs. There are seven different types of stone, though two of them, the Cabernet and the Sonora Gold, are so small they mostly just pad the total; the box for the water main should almost count as number eight. The Connecticut Lilac in the lower right was the first. It’s 3″ thick and really heavy, so I didn’t want to have to load it up to haul to another site. The most recent stones are in the upper left, Three Rivers, from a recent path installation. The only stone type I rejected was Sedona Red, a brick colored stone that looked awful; otherwise, if it was flat and the client didn’t want the leftover pieces, I stuck a few in the hellstrip. One of our ideas in starting this blog was to accumulate examples of different kinds of stone and stonework, but I’m not sure what this is an example of, other than what can happen when a stoneworker decides to make a crazy quilt. The list of stone types:

Three Rivers
Connecticut Lilac
Arizona Peach
Arizona Red
Champagne
Cabernet
Sonora Gold

May Blooms – GBBD

arizona flagstone path and border

arizona flagstone path and border

This is the flagstone path and border you see when you come in through our gate. We try to keep it full of blooms year-round, and this month, May, is probably the easiest month to do that. In another month the fog season will start, the heat of the Central Valley will suck moisture from the ocean through the Golden Gate and over our garden like a swamp cooler, but for now all the plants are soaking up the sun.

Monardella macrantha

Monardella macrantha

Our Monardella macrantha just started up, flashing the victory sign.

California poppy and Blessed Calendula

California poppy and Calendula

The poppy is Mahogany Red, pretty variable in how much red the flowers show. I like the ones where I’m not quite sure if it’s a cultivar.

Penstemon heterophyllus and Triteleia Starlight

Penstemon heterophyllus and Triteleia Starlight

I think the penstemon is “Blue Bedder,” but it might be “Blue Springs.”

purple breadseed poppy

purple breadseed poppy

A breadseed poppy that was too tall to fit into the frame.

Salvia chamaedrys and Phormium ad nauseum

Salvia chamaedryoides and Phormium ad nauseum

The salvia actually has some blooms on it but it works better as a foliage combo with the phormium. Most of the other plants in that bed have token blooms, but nothing dramatic; maybe they’re waiting for the poppies and calendulas to quiet down. Thanks to Carol at MayDreamsGardens for hosting Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day. Click thru for links to lots of other gardens in bloom.

Some more bloomers from our outer garden are below. (more…)

Seed Grown Sidalcea Malviflora

Sidalcea malviflora, checkerbloom

Sidalcea malviflora, checkerbloom

Our Sidalcea malviflora (checkerbloom), grown from seed, surprised us when the different plants put out different shades of flowers. They’re just about done blooming for the year. We don’t water them, so they’ll go dormant and disappear at some point and then come back with the rains.

Poppies Will Put Them to Sleep

purple breadseed poppy

purple breadseed poppy

Our first breadseed poppies have opened, second generation descendants of “Lauren’s Grape.” Their size is always a little shocking when the first one goes, it’s not exactly a subtle flower. Personally, I will always think of papaver poppies as the weapon of choice for the most easily vanquished villain in movie history, the Wicked Witch of the West. The ones in the movie look like Flanders poppies, P. rhoeas, but the witch seems to be referring to the latin name of the breadseed poppies, P. somniferum when she talks about going to sleep. I guess it’s not as cinematic to romp through fields of five foot tall P. somniferum, so the art department substituted in the shorter Flanders ones.

Purple Breadseed Poppy

purple breadseed poppy

Youtube has a version of the original and one of the Pink Floyd/Wizard of Oz mash up, The Dark Side of the Rainbow. The poppy scene starts around 4:10 on the Dark Side version. I wish I could conjure up fields of blooming plants as easily as the witch does.

Composting Toilets

Composting toilet

Composting toilet

A friend of mine once said that the stupidest thing our culture does is put our waste into clean water. I think there are some other serious contenders for that title, but she had a point, the current system is a wasteful solution, though it’s hard to see it changing any time soon. Grist has a long article about the humanure/composting toilet movement, part 3 of a 5 part series on human waste. Personally, I would chime in that I’ve used a variety of composting toilets–they’re fairly common in some of the more off-the-grid parts of Australia and New Zealand and at the backcountry campsites here in the states, the Little Yosemite Valley campground has the best one I’ve ever used–and that the good ones are not at all unpleasant. But I shower on my front porch, so I’m not sure how much weight my opinion has on this issue.

ryan 5/7

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