Plants you can’t kill: Pink Jasmine

pink jasmine

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.

Winter color

loropetalum chinense

Here are some of the plants that are giving me winter color in my garden.

But first: my garden is a mess. We had zero, literally zero, rain the first thee months of our rainy season. Then, for about the past week, it’s been a camellia-smashing, leaves-and-branches-everywhere downpour.

In the spirit of a cup half-full, above is a Chinese Fringe Flower (Loropetalum chinense ‘razzleberri’). In my yard these get part shade, twice weekly water during the dry season, and that’s about it. I’ve had them about ten years, and they haven’t needed a thing. You don’t even need to prune them. Unless you plant them in a too small space which I no longer do (new year’s gardening resolutions).

Below, aloe arborescens and aloe striata are starting to bloom which means hummingbirds! The aloe arborescens is in the back bed, where my dog loves to roll and dig. I plunked a very small plant in one of the holes she dug. It’s grown like crazy in the heavy clay soil and is completely dog-proof.

Aloe arborescens

The aloe striata came in a 2″ succulent pot and has grown to almost 1.5 feet across. The one below is a division from the original plant. This is not an easy aloe to divide, and the leaves are quite fragile.

aloe striata

A garden for lazy gardeners at Filoli

low maintenance garden

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.

low maintenance garden

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

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

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:

October planting: my nursery haul

galvezia speciosa island bush snapdragon

So I did end up with a few plants that were not on my list, but they are really good ones! The Annie’s Annuals section at Half Moon Bay nursery is a dangerous place for anyone with a plant addiction and apparently for anyone who wants to buy a salvia. While shopping, I had an encounter with a hummingbird who was getting a little territorial over ‘his’ salvias.

Galvezia speciosa ‘Island Bush Snapdragon’ (pictured above) I’ve never grown this one but it sounds perfect: hummingbirds love it, it can take dry conditions, shade, and clay soil. 3′ high by 5′ wide, blooms late spring through fall, and can work as a mounding groundcover, which is how I will be using it, or a vining shrub. It’s native to the Channel Islands. (photo by Annie’s Annuals)

salvia apiana white sage

Salvia apiana ‘White Sage’ I love, love, love silver plants. This one loves heat and drought and doesn’t want any summer water. Bees and hummingbirds love its white flowers that bloom in the spring on 3′ FLOWER SPIKES! Another California native, this one is endangered from illegal harvesting to make smudge sticks. We’ll see if it can take my heavy clay soil. (photo by Annie’s Annuals)

Abutilon megapotamicum 'Halo'

Abutilon megapotamicum ‘Halo’ These are so pretty and they attract butterflies and hummingbirds. I always admire them and I couldn’t resist the apricot flowers on this one. I’ll put this in part shade near my Japanese Maple. At 4′ it should fill the spot perfectly.

woolly thyme

Wolly thyme Look how cute it is! I couldn’t just leave it there. I’m going to put it in a crack along my raised bed and see if it makes enough to divide later on.

October planting list

coreopsis mango punch

Fall is the one time of year I can plant things in my garden and they won’t die of neglect. New plants get the entire winter rainy season to get established so they can withstand heat, drought. This time around I am going to tackle my garden in chunks and get one area looking good before tackling the next area. And I’ll be going to my favorite nursery with a plant list (I’m sure I’ll still come home with a bunch of randoms).

In the spirit of picking my battles, I’m ceding part of the back garden bed to my dog for her dirt baths (for now). I’m also going with low maintenance, proven, plants I can’t kill. Here’s my list – I’d love to hear what others are planting!

Brass band rose (pictured below in my garden) This one might have to wait until the bare root roses come in. This is a big healthy rose covered with long lasting orange-peach blooms. It’s past its peak now, but will keep blooming through November. I’ll replace a couple of sub par roses with one of these.

Proven plants that I can’t kill:

Pineapple Sage (Salvia elegans) I’ve got one now. It’s easy, it’s stunning, and it’s a fall bloomer. The leaves smell like pineapples and there’s always a hummingbird in there somewhere.

Bog Salvia (Salvia uliginosa) to weave into the Pineapple Sage. I love this combination so why not repeat it?

English Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) I have several varieties but this one smells the best and honeybees love it. I wish it reseeded like my Spanish Lavender but it doesn’t so I guess I’ll have to buy more.

New ones to try:

Corepsis ‘Mango Punch‘ (pictured above) I like these simple, graphic flowers and you can never have too much orange. I’m going to try this one under my roses. It’s supposed to be tough, so I’ll plunk a few in other parts of the yard and see how they do.

Geum chiloense Small hot colored flowers on tall spikes are striking and see-through to add some depth. I’ll try these in a couple of places as well.

Jerusalem Sage (Phlomis fruticosa) I’m planning this one as an alternative to Helichrysum petiolare which I love but is invasive so it’s off the list. I want a tough, silver-leafed, low water plant to fill in some difficult areas. According to the Marin Master Gardeners, it attracts beneficial insects, bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds.

brass band rose

Plants you can’t kill: Matilija Poppies

Matilija Poppies

Matilija poppy (Romneya coulteri) growing in my front yard.

I planted a one gallon pot of these a few years ago in the fall, and didn’t do a thing. Seriously. Not a thing. Now I have 6-8 foot tall stems covered with these giant fried egg flowers starting in the late spring and blooming all summer. They’ve filled in about 4-5 square feet of space and are still spreading. It smells good, butterflies like it, and the deer don’t. It doesn’t get any direct water, but some nearby plants get weekly water once a week during hot weather.

Plant them in full sun in the fall when the rainy season starts. That’s it.

Well hello there, Orange Stalked Bulbine, my new favorite plant

orange stalked bulbine

Saw this one growing at Gunn High School in Palo Alto of all places. I was not expecting to go to a soccer tournament and see great gardens. I’m telling you, when it comes to gardens, Palo Alto does not mess around.

Anyway, this is Orange Stalked Bulbine (Bulbine frutescens ‘Orange’).

According to Monrovia, this is my kind of plant:

Once established, needs only occasional watering. Long bloom season, showy flowers, attracts hummingbirds, deer resistant, easy care. And it’s a succulent.

I must have it.

Here’s another view:

orange stalked bulbine