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

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

San Diego Botanic garden

Despite being retired, I seem to be busier than ever and I'm chasing to keep up with entries for this blog.  Anyway, last week Philip and I went for a brief trip to Escondido near San Diego. I wanted to see the Botanic Garden and Philip's target was the Wildlife Park - more later! The botanic garden extends to 37 acres with some 30 different themed gardens or zones; New Zealand, South African, Subtropical Fruit, Bamboos and so on, as well as Californian native and garden plants.

The garden developed from a farm, particularly by Ruth Baird Larabee, a keen plant collector who donated the land to the county of San Diego in 1957 as a park and wildlife sanctuary.  Over the years, its name and  financial standing  has changed  and in 2009 it became the San Diego Botanic Garden and operates as a 501 non-profit organisation. The garden is supported by volunteers as well as a Friends group. The garden has a lovely relaxed feel - adequately tended, enough to be attractive and look loved but not the over manicured look found in some major botanic gardens. In places the garden gently dissolves into the natural landscape.

A green roof planted with succulents

The garden has a very positive attitude towards children and many areas were geared to keep them busy and interested. It is obvious that the garden welcomes many schools parties. We particularly liked the Hamilton Children's garden with its wonderful tree house - lots of exciting places to climb and walk but very safe! And yes we did climb through its branches. 

Whilst walking through the fruit garden we met a young guy carrying a huge hand of fresh bananas which he offered to us. He then said 'Sweetheart' - not the usual comment from a stranger until he explained it was the cultivar name for this banana and very appropriate for the rich sweet fruit!

One area we loved is the the Undersea Succulent Garden which I had heard of some years ago and a picture of it was printed in my 'Exotic Gardening' book. It was great to see the real garden, although it was smaller than I expected!

Next time some more detail and pictures of the plants we saw and Chad if you are still reading, a few that need identifying!

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Another yard

Last year my friend Mike asked me to redesign his back yard as a desert garden and I duly completed a plan. Like myself, he is a winter resident, so went back to his other home in Gettysburg last summer where he grows dahlias. This winter he returned, and with his partner Neil and some local contractors, has finally completed the new landscape. What a transformation it is! Apologies for the poor photos - it was dusk when I arrived!

The inevitable 'before' photo with water thirsty grass!
The paving around the pool has been extended to incorporate an extra area that gets afternoon sunshine - so important for the winter. The whole paved area has been resurfaced, so it links perfectly with the old. The grass has gone and in its place are the geometric shapes I designed, filled with three colours of gravel. This has been divided into areas with the desert sub-tropicals such as a Bougainvillea, Tecoma, Callistemon and so on and areas with real low water plants, cacti and succulents with some lovely 'spikies'. The plants supplied by Mollers are great, although some annoyingly silly substitutions have been made like Callistemon 'Little John' which is a dwarf instead of the substantial shrubby version C. citrinus. I have told Mike that he can tell the nursery that the designer had a 'hissy fit' and rejected these plants!

Existing citrus trees retained

The Callistemon is so small you can't see it!

The boundary bougainvilleas were there and give some maturity

View from the bedroom
Mike and Neil have also installed lighting, so the yard sparkles at night too. They kindly invited me to share dinner, so that I could also see the yard after dark, as well as in daylight. It really is a transformation. A new window from their bedroom gives a view directly out into the yard, so it gives them pleasure from morning to night! Apart from my own yard, this is the first desert landscape I have designed, so it was great to see the end result.

As well as being a keen gardener, Mike is also an art lover and has many beautiful pieces of art in his house, including four of my paintings - he's got good taste! Thanks Mike.