"Do hot peppers 'burn' earthworms the way they burn people's lips? If so, should one avoid putting debris from chilies in compost piles?"



Non-garden miscellany

"A man in Switzerland created a fake Gucci ad, featuring himself, and phoned the Swiss weekly SonntagsZeitung, booked the $50,000 ad for Sunday's edition, and told staff at the paper to bill Gucci, which they did." Link.

"Batmobile Up for Auction today in the UK. A classic car from 1966." Link.

Octopus sex. Link.


Lots of cool pictures.


"My little Italian corner"

That's what I'm calling this spot I worked on today.


I finally found a way to use that Connecticut blue flagstone water-wash I bought for a project I aborted one week after starting--a fountain, stream, and waterfall if you can believe that. "Those landscape construction books make everything look so easy." My boyfriend got real tired of hearing that refrain.

And, it's always nice to use the dreaded clay soil... I mixed it 1:1 with a commercially available chicken manure-based soil amendment (hardly transforming the texture of the clay soil at all) and secured the mini-flagstones. When the ground warms up, I'll sow Thymus vulgaris to grow between the rocks. Until then, I sprinkled California poppy--indestructible, and always guaranteed. I tested to make sure chair legs could find easy purchase on level stone. That worked, so this should be a nice place to sit.



I'm pretty sure when you buy a bag of mixed bulbs, it's always a bagful of the most boring variety.


I know this shade bed looks hectic in pictures, but it's one of my favorite spots in the garden.


I have the Ribies sanguineum 'Inverness White' in the barrel with Heuchera, and Satureja douglasii. In the bed, Acer circinatum (young/small, and barely visible as a twig crossing through the top of that white statue (formerly my grandmother's), two bromeliads given to me by a gardener at the Bot Garden, Gaultheria shallon, Anemopsis californica, and cineraria. In the back, a potted Acer palmatum (some cultivar name I don't remember) and more of the Ampelopsis brevipedunculata I showed you last week.

I'm eager for the climbing hydrangea to get some altitude. I'll put a nice bench there where the Nolina is currently parked. No idea what I'm going to do with the Nolina. Maybe donate it to the Botanical Garden.


Checking in with the Fuchsia...looking good. I need more non-green in my garden. Especially in this bed.


Bartlettina sordida, blooming soon. Then I'll have to really cut it back. That plant grows fast after the flower.


It's supposed to be easy to propagate so I'm trying just for the hell of it.


(Yes, there's some vermiculite under the perlite. It's just topped-off with perlite because I wanted to finish the bag.)

This Salvia clevelandii is easy to propagate too.


Unlike the Bartlettina, I could probably squeeze another one of these in somewhere. This is the most fabulously fragrant sage ever. Native to southern California and northern Mexico. An obnoxiously brittle plant! I can't seem to walk by it without breaking it. Which is how I got material for these cuttings.

What's up in the garage? Among other things, one of six pumpkins, two of six butternuts, four of six Datura wrightii. Next year I'll start tomatoes a month earlier. (Assuming this year's harvest goes well.)


Another native shade bed. This one's all northern California natives, and that's a north-facing wall. (My neighbor's house, in fact.) Leafing out, Calycanthus occidentalis. You see the Carolina allspice more often in the nursery trade.


I pruned it a couple weeks ago. What do you think? It was congested, so I reduced it to three branched canes. I guess we'll just have to wait and see.

On the front porch, succulents and sweet peas...


And St. Catherine's Lace (Eriogonum giganteum), a buckwheat native to the islands off the coast of southern California.


It's a good plant for butterflies and bees.

I want some kind of vine that will cling to the house in this pot.


Did I really garden in my Adidas? Yes, I did. I spent the whole time thinking I shouldn't be doing that.


"Being a gardener is not the same as being a Trekkie. Gardening is not cultish or fetishistic at all. It is one of the essential human experiences."



When you're drinking cheap wine,

pour in some orange juice, serve it over ice and call it sangria.

What are some other easy ways to dress up cheap wine?


Tour of California bike race

Whorl of Confusion was there for opening day in San Francisco.

"Your order has been shipped."

Details of your Invoice# WB330502 (under Customer# CE192985):

Qty/Item#/Description/Unit Price:
3 FT526 Seedling Pinyon Pine 12-15" 3.99

Your total invoice totals $12.84, including tax and shipping. Backordered items show a quantity of 0. Items shipped from locations other than our warehouse will not appear in the above details.

Wow. I ordered three pinyon pine seedlings? Wow. One wasn't enough? I had to order three? I suppose some might say even one is too many for a 500 sq. ft. space in San Francisco. (But being a good San Franciscan, I don't hear negative voices so why bother.) At least I only paid $12.84. But perhaps this is evidence that I do have a plant problem.

I can't quite imagine what I'm going to do with three pinyon pines. I know I started out wanting some native conifer interest in my garden. I got hooked on having Pinus monophylla (Single leaf pinyon) after reading about it here. You can get P. monophylla seed here, but good luck finding a seedling. For reasons I don't recall, I decided I wanted a seedling, not a seed. And at some point I switched loyalties to Pinus edulis.

Sunset Western Garden (I'm in Zone 17):
Pinus edulis--Native to California's desert mountains; east to Arizona, New Mexico and Texas; north to Wyoming. Zones 1-11, 14-21. Slow to 10-20 ft. tall, 8-16 ft. wide. Horizontally branching tree is bushy and symmetrical in youth; in age, a spreading tree with a rounded or flat crown. Beautiful densely foliaged small pine for container, rock garden. Lends look of age to new gardens.

Ahh! That's why I switched. It also makes edible seeds (edible by humans), but that will take many years. And I would want the birds to enjoy the seeds anyway.
Pinus monophylla--Southeastern California south to Baja, east to Utah, Arizona. Zones 2-12, 14-21. Very slow to 10-25 ft. tall, 10-15 ft. wide. In youth, slender, symmetrical narrow crowned. Small and round headed in maturity with a crooked trunk; open and broad topped in old age. Good bonsai or rock garden plant--or shrub of great character in dry, rocky places.

Well, that crooked trunk sounds nice, but I think the horizontally branching bushiness of the P. edulis will work better for me. At least for awhile. Assuming it grows at all in part-shade for half the year.


President's Day 2007

How did I spend it? Gardening!

I'd love to tell you about it, but some kind of massive file corruption is currently underway at Flickr, and my photostream is full of other peoples pictures. Which means I guess someone else is enjoying my private porno stash. Or not.

Heh, heh.


Here are a few pictures of recent events. Sorry they're so BLUE--it was too late in the day for me to use that setting on my camera. Hopefully Flickr will be back on its feet soon and I can tell you the whole story.




UPDATE: Okay, yes, some growing of stone paths and raising of beds is going on. The site of future vegetable garden (i.e., next month) is now flanked by stone paths. Both paths lead to future places where I can sit my tired ass down.

What else... I bought a new lemon tree because I put the lemon tree I had too close to the stairs. I kinda knew that when I put it there, but at the time I didn't have any other place for it to go. The new lemon is primed for feature specimen-hood. I would have moved the old one (that would have been its second move) but I wasn't confident about my ability to remove it alive. So it's going to stay where it is until either the Eriogonum arborescens or Trichostema lanatum that I'm currently growing from seed is ready to take its place.

If sitting down in the overhead picture above at 7 o'clock, facing the vegetable garden and casting one's gaze leftward, one sees this...


Where Sambucus mexicana (Blue Elderberry) is beginning to force its way up.


This plant will test my ornamental pruning skillz. I'm a beginner, and elderberry...seems like an advanced topic. But I can't do real harm, because, you know, it's elderberry and if I screw up, I can just cut it to the ground and try again next year.

Hydrangea petiolaris, leafing out.


Funny that pictures of my garden make the fence seem like a bigger presence than it really is. In fact, the fence feels fine. However, this plant I want to grow up the fence I share with my neighbor--you know the one--and merge with his Tecomaria capensis and Jasminum polyanthum. If you can't beat 'em, join 'em.

Also leafing out: Ampelopsis brevipedunculata (Variegated porcelainberry). I'm so glad this plant isn't invasive in California.


It's going to climb the back fence, and perhaps invade my neighbor's Ligustrum lucidum as well (not shown). Planting companions include a containerized Rosa 'Climbing Joseph's Coat', the pink brugmansia, and a judiciously pruned Philadelphus lewisii, the state flower of Idaho and a California native plant by virtue of California being a really, really big state.


Climbing Joseph's Coat started leafing out a few weeks ago.


At this point, you should be saying, "Chuck is freakin' nuts! He can't plant all those plants, along with everything else, in a 500 sq. ft. garden!" You're probably right. But I will have my gardener's head handed to me on a plate before I concede over-planting.

I am willing to let some things go. This Euphorbia millii can go.


I loved you for awhile Millii, but now it's time for you to go.

In the barrels of future vegetable garden, Cerinthe major 'purpurascens' (actually not grown from seed by me--shocking). Are you thinking, "Cerinthe major--sooo 2005"? It's true!


Also: discarded tomato seedlings, those Fuchsia boliviana 'alba' I am forever rattling on about, and a Salvia spathacea. I find it's best to wait until it's decidedly warm to plant Salvia spathacea, otherwise it can't grow fast enough to withstand slugs no matter how much Sluggo I throw down.

Last year's beets. I totally need to harvest them.


Here's the one Fuchsia I've planted so far. It's already starting to take on shape.


And it's totally slug-resistant. As opposed to this one poor Huechera. Or Tellima. I'm really not sure.


Whatever it is, I think it'll be a nice contrast with the dark green Carpinteria.


Upstairs, you can see where that yucca found a home.



In the garage: Evil clay dirt destined for the dump. (Deal with it, people.)


And tomatoes for future vegetable garden. Early Cherry and Stupice.


The chocolate morning glory (Ipomoea nil) came up 48 hours after sowing! It's like I'm God or something.


Out front, my neighbor across the street is having a pruning day. About time. She's been at it all weekend. This picture is after I helped myself to three big bags of clippings for my compost (with her permission, of course).


After I finished chopping up the green bits, I shredded the paper bags and piled those on top, and watered the whole thing. Come and get it, worms!

See you in two weeks for aeration.


(By "you" I mean the compost pile. I'm sure I'll see you readers again sooner than that.)


Did you get your Annie's catalog today?

I got mine.


I see on page 3 Annie's selling the Fuchsia boliviana 'Alba' that I've been growing from seed. She's selling them in 4" pots for $9.95 each. Hmmm. Mine are in 4" pots right now. Let's see...I "donated" three of them to the Botanical Garden this morning, I already put one in the ground, and I've got four more ready to go. That's $80 of economic activity! I should go in to business for myself. I do still have hundreds of seeds in my refrigerator...anyone wanna order Fuchsia boliviana 'Alba' from Whoreticulture?

She's selling a bunch of native and native hybrid wildflowers. All beautiful. She's got Asclepias speciosa. I haven't seen much activity from my Asclepias yet. I put seeds in pots in November or December and left them outside, checking to keep moist. I know it's a late starter, but I'm inclined to order a couple from Annie just in case mine turn out to be duds. I'm really committed to having Asclepias this year.

I love Annie's product, but, boy, is her catalog super-girly. There needs to be an Andy's Annuals. That what I should do. Not Whoreticulture. Plus, I like the name Andy. Four of my greatest unrequited crushes were all on guys named Andy.

She's hawking Verbascums, and I could definitely use that vertical element in my garden. I bought that Ursinia anthemoides from her last year, and it was beautiful. Hard to deadhead tho', and there was always some deadness going on. Deadness is fine on some plants, not so much with others. Still, I might order this plant again.

The one plant in here I am for sure going to buy, and I'm going to buy two, is this Ageratum corymbosum. I need something tough for shade. I have two tough, shady spots. The flower looks look a lot like Bartlettina sordida which she's also selling and which I already have. I wonder if they're related.

SCRATCH THAT. A day later and I've changed my mind about Ageratum corymobosum. But I might try Rosa 'Lyda' for one of my shady spots.

That Passiflora membranacea's at the Botanical Garden. Lots of people like it, but I'm not that into it.

And she's selling my Dahlia imperialis 'Double White' too. That was a good plant, but it got ragged toward the end, and it was a hard drinker too. I can relate to that.

Anyhow, I could sell you D. imperialis 'Double White' too! I've got tons of it left over. (Anile, your landlord likes to water. Tell him you've got a tree dahlia dealer...)

Here's the picture I took of the tree dahlia before I chopped it down last month:


This was it at the half-way point in August:

Dahlia imperialis

And here it was when it went in in April:

Dahlia imperialis

Bye-bye, tree dahlia.


Garden Blogger's Bloom Day

I'm a couple days late, but it's a brilliant idea and this is the first I've heard about it. Clearly, I should read Carol every day.

What have I got?

Some of the usual suspects for this time of year.

IMG_7500 IMG_7499

Nearby...an ipheion (sp?) just flowered.


Not a day goes by without (at least) dozens of Abutilon flowers. Abuliton? I'm always screwing that up.


Same thing with the trailing lantana and cuphea.



Erica (heath) blooms for several months starting now.


The sedum flowers come and go all year.



Does something count if it's only in bud? Because I've got Cotyledon macrantha (Pig's Ear) and Hardenbergia violacea 'Happy Wanderer' coming on board.



Then there are a number of things that will be much more florific in another month or two: Tiarella, Cotula, sad-looking Crocosmia.




But most of my garden is very young. Come back in a few years for the major flowering. As it is, I'm lucky to a have a one or two flowers on most of my plants.

Ribes sanguineum 'Inverness White'


Arctostaphylos bakeri 'Louis Edmunds'


Arctostaphylos pajaroensis (Pajaro Manzinita)


Vaccinium ovatum (Evergreen Huckleberry, Box Blueberry)


Asarum caudatum. This flower is hidden under the foliage, close to the ground. It might not count for our purposes. Regardless, it's a cool-looking flower and I'm sorry this picture's blurry. I'll try to get a better one later.