Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Huntington once again!

No apologies for posting about the Huntington Gardens once again. This is a wonderful plant collection and beautiful garden, and probably my favorite place to visit.  We chose last weekend, as it was the Spring Plant Sale and yes I did buy just a few new plants. We also wanted to catch the cacti in bloom in the desert garden. Two years ago at this time we found a spectacular plant of Echinopsis  'Apricot Glow' in full bloom - absolutely captivating and now I have a plant of my own. This year the original plant at the Huntington was just a rather dull untidy cactus - I think we missed its showtime spectacular this year but there was plenty else to see. The different types of Puya with their vivid colors caught our eye, many of them with flower spikes 6-8ft tall. First a few pictures of the desert garden. Please feel free to correct my naming if you see any errors or gaps!

Aeonium and aloe
Aloe cameronii

Erythrina acanthacarpa

Euphorbia milii CV?

Opuntia and Lampranthus

Puya berteroniana

Puya chilensis

Puya caerulea

Puya - species unknown - ideas?

After lunch we explored more generally and particularly loved the rose garden in full bloom. It always amazes me that just two hours away from Palm Springs, we find ourselves in a garden that has not only desert plants but the more temperate species that remind me of gardens back home in the UK. And rose gardens - so very English! We also loved the little orange and green humming bird on the Echiums

Alyogyne 'Moon Indigo' - love this plant but can't seem to grow in Palm Springs

White climber - possibly Beaumontia grandiflora


Digitalis mertonensis (thanks Chad for identification)

Look carefully - little orange humming bird!

Eschscholtzia and dune primrose

Grevillea -nope - my bad! Chad says its Calothamnus quadrifidus! Thanks!

Blue climber -Bignonia callistegioides - thanks Chad for ID.

Leucospermum - species? - L. cordifolium - thanks again Chad!
 And a couple of trees that caught my attention.  Wigandia urens is a wonderful exotic-looking tree with big leaves and blue flowers like borage. I recall reading that it was inclined to be irritant and cause skin rashes but this tree was right next to a path. Homalanthus populifolius is also known as the Queensland poplar or bleeding heart due to the red coloring produced in senescent leaves. Altogether a lovely day in warm spring weather!


Sunday, April 16, 2017

Cactus Convert

As a child, when I first fell in love with plants and gardens, I had little interest in cacti. I recall visiting one of my father's brothers and being given an opuntia with those 'lovely' little fuzzy spots! To keep it upright in the car, my father placed it inside one of my rubber boots for travel. I soon discovered that those little velvety patches were comprised of hundreds of tiny barbed spines - hence the common name prickly pear! Since then I have had a healthy respect for cacti!  Despite this long-term loathing, over recent years, I have reluctantly changed my mind. The vivid colored flowers, despite being so transient, lasting only a day or two at the most, have won me over! This year I seem to have noticed far more wonderful specimens than ever before. Here are a few that I've captured recently, the first pictures of Californian natives.

Cholla - Cylindropuntia fulgida - a common desert cactus which seems to have a variable flower color as you'll see from the next picture

Engelmann's hedgehog cactus photographed in Joshua Tree state park
Red hedgehog cactus - Echinocereus coccineus, a native but seen in a roadside garden.

Opuntia basilaris - beavertail cactus
And now some cultivated ones, mostly growing and flowering in my own yard. See - I'm a real cactus convert!

Echinocereus reichenbachii ssp - can't read rest of label!

This and the next three are all Echinopsis 'Torch Hybrids' bought from Lowes last year. There were three plants one one potful had two different colored plants, so I separated them and planted all four which are thriving.

Devil's Tongue Barrel Cactus - Ferocactus latispinus - a recent purchase I couldn't resist!

This and the next are I think more forms of the beavertail cactus, genus Opuntia but I'm sure sure of the exact name.

Opuntia basillaris 'Baby Rita'

Opuntia macrocentra - I think? Given to me by Jim whose plant died but mine is thriving!

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Desert Safari

Just paid a pilgrimage to Anza Borrego state park  which extends to over 600,000 acres. It is framed by rugged mountains and includes the quaint small town of Borrego Springs which seems to be the epicenter for those searching out wildflowers.  

Having driven through some quite bleak barren landscape for many miles, it seemed amazing to quite suddenly drive into an area lush with flowers. This year, the heavy winter rains followed by warm weather has resulted in the desert bursting into life with shrubs, annuals and cacti blooming everywhere. In the 10 years I have been coming here I have never seen spring flowers anything like this. Although I've seen a few of most species in the past I have never seen quite the sheets of color like this year. I have also never seen groves of flowering ocotilla as far as the eye can see. I have also have just seen desert lilies for the first time. This bulbous plant, although resembling a lily is more closely related to desert agaves. 
Desert marigold

Ocotillas and desert dandelion

desert chicory

Beaver-tail cactus


Dune evening primrose

Desert Lily

Red barrel cactus

Sand verbena

White lined sphinx moth caterpillar

All around the town there are also many amazing metal sculptures by the artist Ricardo Breceda. there are over 130 huge works of art, many of which are creatures that roamed the desert millions of years ago

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