Monday, April 13, 2015

Garden Tour 2015

Yesterday was the Palm Springs Garden tour organised by the Desert Horticultural Society and five local gardens were open to visit.  The society 'promotes the use of desert appropriate plants in an attractive, environmentally sustainable landscape'. In past years, I have always had to return to the UK by this time, so never been on this particular tour,  although I have previously done the Modernism garden tour. The gardens were all distinctly different and it was good to have the opportunity to chat with the owners and garden designers in some of them. Jim and I did the tour together as Philip was working. 

In one street we observed a curious 'plant' with a label explaining it was local to the Coachella Valley and for more information to ask the owners at number 276. Closer inspection revealed that the curious 'plant' was merely the head of a palm flower stuck in the soil - very common but rarely seen by those of us that don't climb to the dizzying tops of palm trees! I guess the owners of 276 may have been less than amused by the end of the afternoon!

The first garden in East Joyce Drive was informal and created by its owner, a lovely gentle landscape with a centrepiece of a pool and cascade, possibly not the most desert-friendly feature during a drought but still a great garden.

Chilopsis linearis - desert willow

The second garden in North Burton Way is a beautifully designed garden which although only planted some six months ago had a certain maturity. The landscape architect had retained some existing plants and repositioned others. I particularly like the way he had set groups of Agave in contrasting stone and gravel.  

Palo verde - lovely at this season - Parkinsonia florida probably

Anyone know this cactus?

Name anyone?

The garden in North Rose Avenue was not my favourite. Much of it was white concrete with white furniture and it glared in the mid afternoon sun. I can't imagine what it will be like in the heat of August! At the rear of the garden there is a large area tediously planted with evenly spaced aloes and dominated by a block structure which is actually an outdoor shower but less pleasant descriptions come to mind! I love the idea of an outdoor shower but if I had one I would want to be able to stand and see the mountains not a cylinder of concrete. The best bit is a little enclosed area planted with a mix of desert plants surrounded by traditional pierced concrete blocks.

The final garden visited is at the base of the mountains and created on a very rocky sloping site. For some reason, I took very few pictures.  I loved the white bougainvillea which had been left to grow naturally and flower properly. 

Oenothera speciosa I think

We visited one other garden - my favourite and the most interesting of all, which I  will write about next time!

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

On Safari

After our visit to the San Diego Botanic Garden last week, (or was it the week before - time flies?) we went to the San Diego Zoo Safari Park. We have been zoo members for a couple of years but although I have visited the zoo before, I had never seen the Safari Park.  For UK readers its a bit like Whipsnade is to London Zoo - out of town and spread out! Anyway - as Philip is the animal person and I'd had my treat with the gardens the previous day, I was prepared to be patient but possibly bored. 

How wrong I was! The animals were OK - yes we saw elephants, gorillas, tigers, flamingos and so on. The elephant herd we discovered had been flown in from somewhere in Africa where they had been damaging a farmer's crops. (How I wonder do you fly elephants?) They seemed quite happy in a large pseudo African plain.  The tigers just behind the steel fence were magnificent and it was great to see the baby gorillas riding on  a parent's back. We missed the lions as the enclosure was being cleaned - what a job!

But the big surprise for me was the quality of the landscape and planting everywhere. It was every bit as good as a Disney Park and yes Disney landscapes are good! It was filled with an amazing variety of unusual trees and shrubs, beautifully arranged and maintained. I had expected some native scrub, trees and a few grasses. Having said that the landscape did change appropriately and the enclosures were planted  to safely create the animals' habitat. And its vast!

As always I took lots of pictures of plants. My greatest disappointment compared to the botanic garden was that plants were not labeled, so I've got quite a few mystery plants if Chad is reading!

Addendum - many thanks to Chad for correcting some of these and identifying those I didn't know! I owe him big time!

Banksia - species? - correction Leucospermum cordifolium - thanks Chad

Correction -another cultivar of Leucospermum cordifolium - thanks Chad

Bauhinia but not sure which? there are over 500 species! Probably B. variegata - thanks Chad

Colocasia 'Mojito'

Ficus altissima Variegata - I think!

Kalanchoe fedtschenkoi - a guess - Chad suggests K. manginii 'Benichochin' - ah but the botanists have reclassified and renamed so now Bryophyllum manginii 'Benichochin' - have you got that?

No idea! Chad gets it - Greyia sutherlandii

A tree - is it Acanthopanax? No - its probably Brachychiton acerifolius - again thanks Chad
Fishtail palm of some sort - Caryota 'Himalaya' - Chad gets it again!
Climber - looks familar but can't get it - Chad update  Kennedia rubicunda

Strelitzia juncea - fairly certain of that!

Snail vine - Vigna caracella - .Nomenclature complex - probably now V. speciosa

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Just plants!

As promised, some of the plants we saw at the San Diego Botanic garden and there was a huge range. These are ones I could identify or that were nicely labelled.

Agave americana 'Variegata' - common but I loved these big specimens with their curly leaves

Dombeya burgessiae - tree from Tanzania

Dracaena draco - Canary Island dragon tree

Erythrina speciosa - I think - the whole tree in full bloom is spectacular but impossible to capture with a camera

Erythrina variegata 'Alba' - I think?

Salvia africana-lutea - lovely grey leaved shrub with these pretty cinnamon coloured flowers. I used to grow this as a tender perennial in small pots back in the UK

Solandra maxima 'Variegata' - bit of a plant monster as the flowers are huge!

Strelitzia 'Mandela's gold' - a little paler than the normal orange species and well spotted by Philip!

Thunbergia gregorii - I think - found in the children's garden amongst the A-Z of plants under O for Orange!
Banksia solandria - (the flower is huge 9-12in) discovered in Australia by Daniel Solander who traveled with Joseph Banks on the Endeavour captained by James Cook in 1768 to 1770.

And now a few that caught my eye but weren't labeled or I couldn't identify. Chad - anything to add?

Another Agave but which species?

Anigozanthos probably a cultivar

This and the next look like species cannas which are a nomenclature nightmare. Both in full bloom but amazingly short.

Another Erythrina

Furcraea probably foetida 'Mediopicta'

No idea - growing is a wet ravine above a stream - couldn't get close but it had the appearance of orchid foliage

Single plant in a woodland area - looks like the old pot plant Cineraria