Plants, Stone, California Landscapes


Archive for June, 2009

The Hugging Saint

mimulus aurantiacus, monkey flower

Mimulus aurantiacus, monkey flower

Amma, aka Mata Amritanandamayi, aka the Hugging Saint, is in town and I got hugged yesterday, my third time in two years, making me feel almost like a regular. Amma has a certain random significance for this gardenblog — my first post, aside from a one sentence “Hello world,” happened to be about Amma and her Blessed Calendula growing in our garden. That was due more to circumstance than any editorial intent — I happened to set up the blog a day or two after getting hugged, and the calendulas grown from seed blessed by Amma were just about the only thing blooming in our garden at the time — but her calendulas continue to be a mainstay in our garden, showing up in five or ten photos on the blog so far, and we do cut out from work to go get hugged every time she comes to town. So as a first blog post, it was random, but not inaccurate. (more…)

Brodiaea Agapanthaflora?



I’m a pretty loyal California native planter, but I had my confidence in one of the native bulbs, Brodiaea, shaken recently. We’ve been planting “Corrina” and “Queen Fabiola” for a couple of years, and they’re good small bulbs for our area — they have pretty blue flowers, they don’t take much space, and they don’t require any irrigation, you just fall-plant them and walk away. But then a friend of mine said they looked like agapanthus. Ouch.



That might not sound like a big deal to non-Californians, but around here agapanthus is the omnipresent strip-mall/sub-division/highway-median plant. Plenty of gardeners from other areas seem to like it — for instance, Garden Design magazine recently featured a French garden named Le Jardin Agapanthique, which to me is like naming it the Privet Garden — but it gets no love here. The flower is okay, I guess, but the foliage is too glossy for our landscape; it looks plastic and fake next to the more silver and gray foliage of other low water plants. I sort of respect the plant’s bomb-proof toughness — I once dug a bunch out of the ground and dumped it all in a pile in the sun in the middle of summer and three weeks later it was still blooming — but I’ve demoed a lot of it, and I find that it’s always heavy, it’s always full of snails, and it always leaves behind nasty wormlike white roots. My apologies to any agapanthus gardeners out there, but I don’t like it.

So it’s kind of disturbing to think that Brodiaea resembles agapanthus. Do other people see the similarity? There’s a photo of the Brodiaea foliage below, and, upon reflection, the leaves are actually kind of glossy, and the fact that they flop over and then turn brown doesn’t sound like much of an improvement over the agapanthus. But Brodiaeas are pretty. Maybe I like agapanthus more than I admit? I’ll still plant the Brodiaea — the Van Engelen catalogue just came, 100 bulbs for $10, such a deal — I just think I’ll have a faint touch of sheepishness when I see it in our gardens for a while. (more…)

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