07 December 2013
With 20 (32 km) miles long by 8 miles wide (13 km) at the maximums, the island is 90% owned and managed by the Catalina Island Conservancy. This nonprofit was set up by the Wrigley family heirs to conserve and preserve the island. Most all is in a natural state, and access outside the town of Avalon is restricted -- like a futuristic scenario, you need a pass to get beyond the fence at the city limits.
Avalon is pedestrian friendly and very walkable (except when a cruise ship dumped its crowd of passengers one day), with the number of cars limited on the island. Most vehicles are golf carts and bicycles.
The garden was started by Ada Wrigley in 1935 as a personal garden containing exotic cactus. It was transformed into a botanical garden by a foundation in 1970 with an emphasis on succulents and cactus, and on the rare endangered plants endemic to Catalina and the other Channel Islands off the coast of Southern California.
Landscaping bedding plants in town done with succulents, agave, and a date palm or two
Dessert Spoon Dasylirion wheeleri
The Wrigley Memorial served as Mr. Wrigley's tomb until he was moved to Forest Lawn Cemetery
Catalina Island Ironwood tree endemic to the island
Closeup of the bark on the Catalina Island Ironwood
The 'Casino' theater, art deco interior with scenes of plants, animals, and activities of the island
Four keyboards on its great theater organ
An excursion trip to the island's interior brought this view looking toward the mainland
23 November 2013
Opuntia streptacantha. I think I had one of these growing on my window sill in college, but not as a tree.
Aeonium arboreum. This could be the star of the latest Alien movie. Is this a plant?
Could this be a sunburned aloe?
Furcraea macdougalii. These poor souls from the agave family looked scared.
Dracaena draco. This is a dragon tree - no one can figure out why it's called that. :-)
Crassula falcata. One of the only flowering specimens in the garden.
Sunburn anyone? A 5-foot tall (1.5 m) aloe can help.
And one last cactus, only 6-feet tall (1.8 m) because I believe it fell over.
10 November 2013
This was one of those outdoor scenic places you live near but have never visited. With too many trails to manage in one day, the beaver dams and the waterfalls were decided as the goals. We drove to a parking area and set out, armed with directions from the ranger in the visitor center. Let us share observations.
Fallen leaves are great at hiding the trails. We missed trail turn-offs three times. This caused a backtrack once, and hiking another mile or so more than we planned after missing two more.
When it looks like someone littered the trail with a tissue, assume the best in humanity -- that you are actually looking at a fungus.
Behind the dam was a small wetland. Note the evergreen hollies around the perimeter of the water while deciduous trees grow further up the slope.
It took a good eye to find eyeballs growing on the forest floor. Ever seen this type of fungus staring back at you?
There were no waterfalls, but a few babbling brooks. Maybe 'city dwellers' consider waterfalls as any stream that makes noise.
28 October 2013
Containers of strawberries were being scarfed up at incredibly high prices. And the containers were labeled Driscoll's just like those in the local supermarkets. I asked if Driscoll's supplied the containers for free. "No, Driscoll's grew the strawberries in California." Strawberry harvest time in Virginia can vary widely, so to be sure there are strawberries available for the festival, they are flown in from California. We stopped at a farm on the way home to field pick our own from local growers.
Back at the plant vendor and looking for something cheap, I ended up at the small-potted herbs and succulents table. I picked up a pineapple sage (Salvia elegans), and was informed about its care and planting instructions. Only a few dollars buys chartreuse leaves with a pineapple fragrance. "Be sure to take cuttings in the fall, or repot it and bring it indoors to keep it going."
It went into the side yard garden where it comfortably grew during the summer. Then in the late fall, these incredible 12-inch (30 cm) red spires appeared above the leaves, just as the world turns mums and orange. Is it the contrast against the lime green leaves that cause the red to jump out?
Repot in the fall? Sure, right. All the dead things are being ripped out of the garden and football calls on the weekend. Spring bulbs are lucky to get planted the week before Christmas. Still, leaves were raked, chopped, and spread around the beds for the winter.
It grows up to 3-feet in height (1 m) as a bush in its native Mexico highlands where hummingbirds love it. In the salvia genus, it is used in traditional Mexican medicine, for anxiety and high blood pressure treatment. A preliminary study shows antidepressant and antianxiety properties in mice. The internet presents concoctions for teas made from the leaves, and P. Allen Smith has a recipe for Pineapple Sage Pound Cake.
This spring, the little cheap pineapple sage came back. And, it had two babies from seeds or rooted from fallen stems. Does it like me or what?
For The Record:
Clay soil with gypsum & organic amendments
Full sun on a sloping site
Small amount of fertilizer
No serious pests/disease
Overwintered with small amount of protection
21 October 2013
I tried growing them again this spring after laying off for a number of years. Year after year of growing stunted balls of carrots was demoralizing. I took to preparing the soil over the years and determined to succeed, I tried again. Looks like the effort paid off as the carrots were long and the soil was soft enough to pull them up. Some remain in the garden, and of course some were proudly offered to the neighbors.
The autumn vase is for the kitchen countertop while chopping the soup's vegetables. This is aroma therapy. The chartreuse leaves of red fall-blooming pineapple sage (Salvia elegans) spices up the kitchen, along with a few sprigs of lavender. The yellow Canary zinnias add autumn to the kitchen. A few of the tricolor ornamental peppers add some bite, and of course, some fern-like carrot tops. Visit more Flowers In The House at Jane's blog Small But Charming.
Blooming: mexican zinnia, zinnia, marigolds, pineapple sage, rain lilies
Harvested: 2 peppers, 2 tomato, 10 carrots
12 October 2013
This summer the third-year bed of rudbeckia (Rudbeckia hirta) sprouted a few mutant plants. I am not sure if these germinated from seed, or were one of the survivors mutating after their overwinter thing. Do these reseed themselves? Do buckets of pulled-up rudbeckia seedlings grace my compost every weekend in the spring?
The new blooms that appeared were dark bronze and mahogany, and a little yellow near the tips. These were growing in a sea of yellow rudbeckia.
When the blooms begin to fade, they dry at the tips and turn crispy, curling up. This happens on the yellow too, but the yellow color disguises it. The dark color emphasizes it. Right now, the rudbeckia is looking a little ragged at the end of the season.
I think I must go with the seed explanation. In reading the online information, I learn black-eyed susans are known as prolific seeders, and easily cross-breed. So, these must be the illegitimate offspring from someone in the neighborhood, maybe courtesy of the bumble bees?
|For The Record:|
Medium clay soil with organic amendments, on sloping yard
Mostly full sun
Small amount of fertilizer
Aphid pests in the spring
Blooming: Marigolds, mexican zinnia, canna, rudbeckia, zinnia, asters
Harvested: 2 peppers, 1 carrot
05 October 2013
Last year I wrote about the white buddleia that sprang from nothing [posted 2012.08.13]. Due to the inactivity surrounding this new plant, I questioned its nickname butterfly bush. It simply did not attract butterflies.
Buddleia are endemic to four continents, but not Europe. My Buddleai davidii probably has roots in China. The flower clusters are not as densely packed together as other varieties seen, leading me to believe those other varieties to be highly cultivated. My plant responds well to deadheading, and to pruning in the spring. I tried and was fairly successful shaping it into a nice bush this year. My hungry visitors appreciated the work, too.
06 September 2013
The cottage was the first building on the property, and was once an assylum for old and disabled veterans (the Mexican War), then became more of a retirement home with additional buildings and dormitories constructed, most now over 100 years old. The funding for this first veteran's home mostly came from veterans themselves - not the federal government.
The cottage was a Camp David of the time, and Lincoln and Mary Todd were the first president and first lady to use it. Both wrote they liked the mountaintop retreat to get away from politicians, lobbyists, and the Washington summer heat.
Although not a well-known attraction for visitors, I was impressed at the history of the building. Equally impressive were some of the plants around the grounds - especially the large specimen trees that probably date back close to the property's origins.
The Beauty Berry (Callicarpa americicana) can get up to 9-feet high (1 m). This one was probably 10-feet.
Instant hydrangeas were unnaturally packed into the circle near the entry walk in an area probably reserved for annuals. But someone forgot to take responsibility for watering them. Has anyone heard of hydrangeas being used for landscape mass plantings as bedding plants? What a shame.
For scale, a 6-foot high friend stands before a 50-foot high holly (15 m). I know not what type. American hollies do not grow that large to my knowledge. The white stone circular structure is an old water tower.
Dawn redwood (Metasequoia glyptostroboides) native to China, and a 'critically endangered' species. Although fossil records were known, it was not 'discovered' living until the 1940's. Turns out that it is deciduous!
About 50-feet in height (15m) this one did not look happy and healthy. One of the older buildings is being renovated, and this tree falls just inside the construction area as delineated by the fence. I am sure soil compaction by construction materials and damage to trunk and lower branches by construction is helping it grow better, right?
Hope you enjoyed a trip through a different type of 'cottage' garden.
30 August 2013
|Every year, we try out new recruits for our gardens. In 2013, catalog items that caught my eye and caught my wallet were listed in a February post [2013.02.16], and I am happy to report that we have a few rookies worth writing about.|
The three year old seeds for veteran Canary Bird Zinnias from Baker Creek were planted again. Being yellow, they were placed in the front garden near the pink cleome to keep away from the yellow rudbekia in the side yard. They responded well again where the soil is luscious and sun is plentiful. In fact, a few popped up in other areas of the yard from last year's plants seed deadheading.
Pinca zinnias were planted on the side yard with rudbeckia, with sloping terrain, where soil is still improving, and where sun is diminishing due to an ever expanding neighbor's tree. The beginning blooms are incredibly delicious, and one can get up close to them at side yard walkway. The pink color looks great next to my first year lavender Russian sage (not intentional, but I will take credit.)
To date, height is a short 24-inches (60 cm). Being in a mostly sunny area (as opposed to full sun) probably slowed their bloom time since the yellow Canary Birds in the front have been blooming for weeks. What stood out in the catalog photo was the ragged square-edged appearance of the petals. Happily, the 4-inch (10 cm) bloom matches the seed company's photo and description.
I have shied away from marigolds in recent years, just tiring of them. A photo of Tiger Eyes at Park Seed reminded me that they haven't been here for years. There were not many seeds in the packet that came, so only six plants were started with the remainder saved for next year. They are now at their peak, loving the slightly cool summer weather we have.
Blooming: mexican zinnia, zinnia, marigold, cosmos,
rudbeckia, echinacea, sage, goldenrod, buddleia,
Harvested: 2 pepper, 4 tomatoes, 2 zucchini
25 August 2013
Four tomato varieties were planted this year. The 'improved' Supersweet 100 cherry tomatoes were mostly unimproved. They attracted my usual 'blights and mites.' The only hope for these tomatoes is to plant early, grow quickly, and harvest as much as you can before the blights and mites set in. You gotta admit, the little buggers are sweet.
Fourth Of July tomato seeds were sent as a mistake by Burpee. They did not produce by the 4th, but at the end of July, along with the other tomato varieties. The smallish Black Velvet tomatoes were small and extremely rare as hardly any fruit set. The flavor was not too impressive. Finally, the Beefy Boy tomatoes could have used a few trips to the gym this year. Still, for the small sizes harvested, all tasted better than the supermarket varieties.
I haven't grown carrots in a long time due to the failed attempts forcing them into heavy clay soil. The soil is improved in the vegetable garden, so why not try again? And why not try Tendersnax? The best carrot ever pulled out of my garden had warts on it. Possible carrot problems include maggots, rust flies, nematodes, nothing causing warts. I see some discussion on heavy soil that might produce this condition and in extreme cases, additional legs. Some warts were cleaned off for the photo shoot.
First time growing zucchini for me this year produced these baseball bats. Sliced up, seasoned with oil, garlic, oregano, salt, and grilled. That took care of one fourth of one. Black Beauty is the name, and I find it is an heirloom variety. I see pickled zucchini in my future.
Mama don't let your cucumbers grow up … when you are on vacation. You get overstuffed pregnant blimps like this. Picklebush pickling cukes on bush plants were grown. The skins make them not so good for eating raw like regular cucumbers. And not being experienced with them and their coloring, I had a difficult time determining when they were ready for picking.