Saturday, September 15, 2012

Californian cultivations

Well -  I thought I'd better tell you about that other great American garden - mine! Don't get over excited - its not that special but I guess you're all curious about what the Brit grows in the USA.  Being away for six months means that it is always a bit of a shock when I see what has grown or what has died. Fortunately both small yards are on an automatic irrigation system so it just ticks over from week to week. Philip feeds and prunes when essential and from time to time he 'walks me round the yard' with a webcam, linked to the UK so I can see progress, comment and advise - remote gardening!

The main yard on arrival - lush and leafy but not much colour!

For those of you that haven't read my earliest blogs, the yard here is mainly pressed concrete with narrow borders. Yes - inspiring!  And its rented so we can't make major changes. When we arrived four years ago, they were almost solely planted with Nandina domestica which Philip hates with a vengeance. We have slowly nibbled away at these and added extra interest. As the borders are filled with pipes, cables and palm roots, new planting is a slow and hazardous job achieved with a trowel and small hand-fork. We therefore also have a fair few pots. Despite its limitations, its my garden and my opportunity to garden in a warm climate so special to me!

The planting battlefield


We have two Queen palms, one of which has just flowered. in the current heat their shade is welcome. There is a red bougainvillea which fills a corner right up to the roof. The two Calliandras grow like crazy so we prune them in summer and then let them grow late autumn before their spring flowering. The Podrania has also grown well and will hopefully flower over winter. The humming birds love this.  Last spring I divided the Musa 'Goldfinger' and placed it in a shady corner to recuperate. It has loved this and looks lush  and green - maybe this year it will fruit for us.

Remains of the queen palm flower spike

Bougainvillea - 'Scarlet O'Hara' I think with lost of winter colour to come
Bougainvillea 'Purple Queen' - a delicate colour but I don't like the way it holds on to the fading bracts

Alpinia zerumbet 'Variegata' in a shady corner' (pic by Philip)


Musa 'Goldfinger'
The greatest disappointment is a group of four dwarf bougainvilleas bought two years ago. Despite vigorous growth, they have failed to give us much flower. Annoyingly they also attract looper caterpillars which decimate them. Had to resort to spraying! We have a huge pot of Strelitzia regina which usually has 20-30 blooms each winter. Its just starting this year. The white Strelitzia nicolae has finally got five leaves which have resisted the summers burning heat. When I arrived, a  potted plant of Agave americana 'Medio Picta' was totally waterlogged with a couple of inches of water sitting inside the rim. Amazingly it doesn't seem to have suffered and is now drying out looking fine.



One of the dwarf bougainvilleas and a couple of amazingly vigorous albino shoots. If they survive, it will be interesting to see flowers on these.



Strelitzia regina
Strelitzia nicolae

The 'swamp agave' drying out.


We seem to have lost our 'tame' humming bird, although there is little in flower at the moment to attract him. I've filled the feeder to try and tempt him back. Over past years we've often had tiny lizards in the yard but this year we seem to have acquired a large one. I've only seen it scampering away when disturbed but I'm sure that sooner or later we'll have a face-to-face and I guess I'll jump a mile as I'm not a great lover of things that hop, wiggle or scamper through my borders!

The 'regular' lizards and Podrania when it flowers
Our new monster lizard


With temperatures for next week forecast between 95-107F (35-42C), I am not rushing to do any new planting but I guess I'll soon feel the need for a trip to my favourite garden centre. Did I also mention it's next door to a French patisserie? Watch this space!

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for giving us a glimpse of your 'other' garden which is lovely! I like the idea of using webcam as a form of remote gardening too.

    Oh to have Queen palms as a means for having shade in the garden! And great to see blooms of Alpinia zerumber 'Variegata', which we have yet to see in bloom here despite having had it for years.

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