31 May 2007

Media sickness

My garden photos are starting to get repetitive, a situation that will only get worse as the space available for new plants vanishes, and I cover all of last year's bases with the new camera.

I am not a very visual person, and I have a hard time focusing on details in real life. For instance, it was only when I was cropping the photo of the first Passiflora manicata flower that I noticed something was wrong. I'm banking on the powers of macro to help me ID the unknown Penstemon species when it blooms.

And the other day, I intentionally took yet another Monardella picture because I couldn't figure out where the stigma is. It reminds me of a superbowl probably 15 years ago when John Madden noticed that a receiver was watching himself on the jumbotron (as we used to call it) in order to elude tacklers and started screaming "media sickness!" Trust me, it was very entertaining.

However, for every innovative use of technology in gardening, there are at least as many plants I will never tire of photographing over and over, like Passiflora caerulea:


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23 May 2007

A cautionary tale

Orlaya grandiflora (the white one) is kind of like the bastard child of Queen Anne's Lace and a lacecap hydrangea (though obviously unrelated to the latter).

I didn't have a plan for it, so I just strewed (past tense?) the seeds somewhat randomly and kind of forgot about them since they never seemed to come up. Only after I got too lazy to weed did the coarse carrot-y things I'd been pulling all over the place (except of course where I remember strewing the Orlaya seeds) turn out to be the plants that I wanted in the first place.

It's not a spectacular plant, but it's a good filler, and the bugs love it of course.

Update: it was driving me crazy, so I had to look it up: strewed is right.

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11 May 2007


If we extend the period to one week, then almost every single plant that I can reasonably expect to flower this year that isn't done already has done so. Like this kangaroo paw, which I expect to BLOW THE MINDS of people who haven't seen them before. It's a pretty unique flower.

There's more at flickr. Turns out that Passiflora is a mutant, btw.

09 May 2007

Not raining, and pouring

It's kind of insane how practically everything blooms at the exact same time. New appearances this morning included the Passiflora manicata to the right, Monardella, Arum italicum, Calochortus superbus, Nigella and volunteer poppies. These plants are native to 4 different continents* (5 if you count the aforementioned Ixia -- now in focus! -- that opened 2 days ago), all from different families, and all raring to go at the same time.

I guess they're all from more or less mediterranean climates, and judging by the number of bugs flying around these days, now is a good time to get pollinated.

* Assuming that Asia Minor is part of Asia and not Europe.

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08 May 2007


Ironic that my Ixia viridiflora bloomed right after I went to take pictures of the Puya berteroniana: there are very few flowers in this color range.

Seen here clashing rather dramatically with Dichelostemma ida-maiae. Admittedly, I bought mine more as a novelty than anything else. But I was surprised that -- at least in isolation -- the color is quite beautiful, even soothing. But there's no way I can keep it away from the reds.

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04 May 2007


Like bizarre flowers? I took some pictures at the Botanic Garden the other day.

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01 May 2007

Some of my favorite things

The timeline was like this: I read Atul Gawande's article on geriatrics on Saturday, gardened all day Sunday, and woke up immobilized with neck pain on Monday (this may have been caused by sleeping in a bad position and not programmed cell death, but still: shaving the other day I could practically see the collagen disintegrating before my eyes, and especially around them). I should also be in a foul mood because my favorite plant sale was so crowded on Friday that I had to bail completely.

But it turns out that I have enough plants at the moment to keep me busy, and more importantly, entertained. The beschorneria flowers, of course, started to open as soon as I took my mom to the airport, but at least she got to enjoy the spike (or more likely, stare at it and wonder why anyone would plant such a thing next to a Euphorbia).

The kangaroo paw hasn't opened yet, but I'm sure it was still weird enough to freak her out. I took advantage of the visiting labor to get the new Agave planted in the exact spot where I killed the old one; it wasn't root bound, thank god, but (speaking of paws) it still managed to inflict a kind of Oedipal stigmata on me (not that, you freak, the foot wounds).

Although I still call this the Protea bed, that plant is now outnumbered by all the other stuff I've put in, including, on the day of neck armageddon, this "buckwheat" in the middle, which is intended to spread out between the more statuesque plants. It is, as far as I know, a real Eriogonum grande var. rubescens -- unless it's the E. latifolium I bought at the same time... now I'm confusing myself. The leaves are really cool looking right now, but I can see how they might cross the line without sufficient water. It will be interesting to see how these plants do in the absence of phosphorus, which is poisonous to the Proteas. I expect the Anigozanthos will be fine, but I'm a little concerned about the others.

Meanwhile, in the bulb bed, it's becoming clear that the California fuchsia [Epilobium/Zauschneria 'catalina'] I had wanted to serve a similar function to the buckwheat is not going to work. I wanted something to look at after the bulbs die down, but this plant finally decided that it is going to get big -- only after I moved it of course. I got a 'Select Mattole' from the penultimate plant sale, which might stay low enough to do the trick, although I'm not sure how it will like summers completely devoid of supplemental water.

One thing I've finally figured out is that Monardella macrantha does like a fair amount of water. I also put one of these on the edge of the bulb bed last fall, hoping it would play well with the bulbs. The jury is still out on that, but I don't care -- I'm going to put it everywhere, I love it so much.


Christ it takes a long time to write this crap and I just reminded myself I have to get out of jury duty. If I have time I'll have to tell you about the tomatoes and Asteraceae later.

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