I’m still here, yanking up bermuda grass in the newly planted garden. The garden isn’t much to look at, after languishing for months in the bone dry soil. Now that the rain is here (sort of, more please), the plants that made it are starting to perk up. The only photos worth sharing from the garden are close ups. Pictures of puny plants with plant carcasses interspersed doesn’t make for inspired viewing.
I’m most excited to be able to grow the soft leaf agaves in Oakland’s milder climate. I’m ready to protect them in the event of a cold snap however. Pictured above is the chartreuse foliaged Agave attenuata ‘Rhaea’s Gold’. Some would say it looks as though it could use a dose of nitrogen, but I personally like it. Variegated and otherwise mutated leaves can be polarizing in the horticulture universe, and I land squarely on the side of fanatic.
Here’s another shot, maybe a little gaudy for some. This picture was taken before the recent rains washed off the ash and other grime from the leaves.
Aechmea recurvata, a terrestrial bromeliad, comes by its orange coloration naturally, only in bright light though. I recently came across four inch starts of the variegated form, but at the price it was offered, I quickly put it down. Variegates of an already not too common plant can demand a high price.
When you’re an Echeveria agavoides ‘Ebony’, you always make sure to have a tube of the deepest crimson lipstick on hand. Dear, I think you have a little on your teeth. Don’t listen to those mean Euphorbias, Ebony, you’re looking fantastic, whatever you’re doing, keep it up.
Always ready for her close-up.
Also looking sharp is Agave potatorum ‘Kissho Kan’. The variegation on this form isn’t too strong, but I love the wavy little spines and good natured disposition on this one. Probably could use a potting up soon. Quarters are getting cramped for more than a few plants that have been kicking around for a while.
Agave celsii albicans is much happier in the ground. When I first acquired it, as a very thoughtful gift (thanks DC!), it had only a couple of sickly looking leaves and rotted roots. I wasn’t sure it would make it, but in true agave fashion, it pulled through, the tough little trouper. It was looking really good until this summer, when I let it bake in its pot, not realizing that it was underpotted and not absorbing water. It was looking good again after being planted in the ground until a rogue umbrella attack. The irony is that the umbrella was propped up in order to protect this and a few other new plants. The same winds that kicked up the fires north of here sent the umbrella flying across the yard, smashing plants on its way. Boy, I really live on the edge here in Oakland. Attack umbrellas and all.
Well, lot’s of little plants are taking hold in the garden here. Some large ones too… Aloe ‘Hercules’ holds the record for the most I have ever paid for a single plant, also the very first plant placed in the front garden. Prevailing logic was that I pay an equivalent amount for a bunch of smaller plants in a couple of nursery visits, so why not just get one big thing? I may have still gotten those smaller plants, so there is clearly a fault in my logic. Not a great photo, I really need to get some nice rock mulch for this area, in part to cover those horrid little white rocks that are mixed in with the soil in both the front and the back garden. Mixed in along with lots of other fun stuff like broken glass (a lot), beer bottle caps (also a lot), and other garbage (again, really a lot). Oakland has a serious garbage problem. Drifts of garbage blow up and down the streets here, collecting in snags and crevices, like snow. Those Texas-sized islands of garbage in the middle of the ocean are starting to get easier to imagine. Have I mentioned the garbage here yet? There’s a lot of it. Here, take some home with you. No really, I insist…
Some garbage is good. The East Bay is blessed with some well stocked salvage shops. Urban Ore, my favorite, is a great place to find interesting planters for good prices. Agave vilmoriniana ‘Stained Glass’ had crispy leaf tips when I got it unfortunately, but hopefully will grow out of the ugly phase soon.
Anyway, I recently tagged along with Beloved to an appointment in Walnut Creek, with the idea that I could pop over to The Ruth Bancroft Garden for a gander. Well I gandered until my time was up, then dragged Beloved back to the garden. The nursery there is great, and some of Curator Brian Kemble’s hybrids show up on the shelves, which is exciting because they’re really wonderful. I highly recommend this garden to anyone visiting. I won’t tell you about the history, because I would butcher it, but the garden is very interesting. I recently picked up The Bold Dry Garden, a book with stunning photographs by Marion Brenner, and it made me fall in love with the garden even more. I’ll end with a couple photos from my visit.
I think I need to snatch up the next Boophone disticha I see, regardless of price tag.