When your teenager invites you to go Black Friday shopping, you go. Even if you hate shopping. And if you do it right with cupcakes, hot chocolate and the company of said teenager who has just turned 16 and wow the time is really flying by these days, it’s really not that bad. And I finally got to visit the new Anthropologie & Co at the Stanford shopping center yesterday and It. Is. Gorgeous. The best part of course is the Terrain shop. The place was completely mobbed but I was able to get some quick photos with my phone outside of the store.
The outdoor tables at the Terrain cafe each had a single small log planter with succulents. These would be a fun DIY project and you don’t have to hollow out much of the wood since succulents don’t need much root space to thrive. If you remove the bark like they’ve done here, you can use paste wax to seal them which will make them last better, keep them from growing moss, and give a natural, not-shiny finish.
Agave is a stunning container specimen in any setting – especially here with the silver leaves and dark grey container in a stark white setting. And you pretty much can’t kill it. It can take shade, it barely needs any water, and it gets big, fast.
All of this awesomeness comes at a price. The spikes are brutal, so you need to set it where it’s not going to impale innocent passers by. It makes a LOT of babies so things will get crowded, FAST. You can twist the babies out when they are tiny, otherwise you need to cut or saw them out. The sap is caustic, so you need to be covered up if you are cutting out babies or sawing off leaves – yes, sawing. Finally, you need to be absolutely sure you want one because once it gets established, it’s not going anywhere.
Sunset magazine’s Celebration Weekend was this weekend and I was finally able to make it this year. Next to the El Porteno empanadas and the avocado cupcakes with key lime buttercream frosting, this might have been my favorite:
Salvia Amistad. Full, lush, drought tolerant, intense dark purple blue, hummingbird heaven. Sunset says this one grows to 3-4 feet tall and three feet wide, but this bad boy looked like it was 5 feet in both directions. Stunning. I must have one.
Try planting succulents in huge swaths of a single color. There are so many varieties that you can choose almost any color combination you want. Your garden will look like a jewel box.
This is Echeveria Agavoides ‘Purple Pearl’ and Agave attenuata ‘Nova’ (Blue Fox Tail Agave). When these echeveria fill in, the effect is going to be stunning.
This beautiful, lush garden fills an awkward spot between a fence and the street. Mediterranean Fan Palms (Chamaerops humilis) are underplanted with Agave attenuata and a swath of silver-blue Senecio mandraliscae. Once the plants are established, this needs virtually no maintenance, just infrequent cleanups and very occasional watering.
I love all things jasmine: plants, perfume, tea.. This pink jasmine vine (jasminum polyanthum) is growing in my neighbor’s front yard and I can smell it all the way down the street. Pure heaven.
Pink jasmine is a no brainer. You definitely need some. It thrives in heavy clay soil, it thrives in containers, it tolerates drought, it tolerates shade. I’ve never fed mine and it grows like crazy with no yellow leaves in sight. Technically jasmine blooms late winter to early summer, but it can bloom sporadically most of the year. If it’s planted in the ground, it can grow to 25 feet. It can look a bit messy once the flowers are spent, so you can either prune it lightly or leave it alone and let the new growth take care things for you. The vine itself is neat, green, and lush.
Cut a little and let it spill over the sides of a flower arrangement. Your house will smell amazing.
Saw this great combination today at a grocery store plaza of all places. New Zealand Flax (phormium) with Oriental Poppies (papaver). I love how the salmon poppies pick up the pink edges of the New Zealand Flax leaves. Both colors really pop against the flax and the orange poppies practically glow. New Zealand Flax is pretty indestructible and I love this idea of it in a container, surrounded by changing waves of annuals weaving up through its spiky form.
Annie’s Annuals has about every color of poppy you could want. They are annuals, but they will very happily reseed for you.
Orange and light blue are one of my favorite color combinations. This is my 4 year old Fuyu persimmon tree wearing its fall colors, in front of a cape plumbago (Plumbago auriculata).
The persimmon had several weeks of brilliant fall color which overlapped with the plumbago’s very long bloom time. The plumbago fills up a back corner of the yard where it doesn’t need pruning, or water, and it’s still in full bloom. Because it’s almost always in full bloom.
The persimmon has been in the ground about 4 years and is finally starting to take off. It even gave me a few persimmons this year. It seems not to mind the heavy clay soil or me neglecting it. Persimmons are truly the easiest fruit trees to grow.
More on plumbagos, easy fruit trees, and fall color
Filoli is kind of known for those formal English style gardens, but there are plenty of ideas for us lazy gardeners, too. Everything in this border is low maintenance and drought tolerant. No deadheading, pruning, or cutting things back. And the foliage mix here is so good that even after most things are done blooming, the garden is still totally stunning.
Repetition of purple-black shrubs as a transition between the trees and the low growing perennials at the front of the border.
Black and silver. Berggarten Sage (Salvia officinalis ‘Berggarten’) and purple smoke bush (Cotinus coggygria). In a smaller space you could use Loropetalum chinense ‘Purple Diamond’
Ceratostigma plumbaginoides. This was growing all over the place. It just flows in around everything and gives you a low dense mass of green with the most intense blue flowers.
More useful stuff:
- Salvia officinalis – Sage (herbaceousportfolio.wordpress.com)
- Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme…. (forestgardenblog.wordpress.com)
Pomegranates are one of the easiest, and prettiest, fruit trees to grow and work well in the ground or in containers. And it’s so cool to have a fruit tree that has been in cultivation since ancient times. This gorgeous specimen pictured above is one of several that were growing in perennial borders around the house at Filoli. I’ve got one in my yard and if I can’t kill it, neither can you.
If you are growing your pomegranate in a container, a dwarf variety will work better. In the ground, just figure out how much space you have and go from there. A pomegranate will tolerate a wide variety of soils, including clay. Plant in full sun.
It grows more like a bushy shrub than a tree. You can get it looking more tree like by pruning lower branches and suckers. You can also you can thin out areas that are crowded or cut out crossed branches. Any overall pruning should be done very lightly: flowers and fruit grow from the ends of the branches.
Pomegranates are drought tolerant but regular water will give you more flowers and fruit. In a container, let the soil dry out a bit before watering. Feed it in the spring and fall.
Finally, be patient. Mine was in the ground for several years before I got any pomegranates.