This was the first bed I planted after I started using the cobblestone path to define the garden. I planted it with three abutilon and suffice it to say, I've done a lot of learning here.
I don't care what anyone says. Abutilon is difficult to prune well. In the April 1998 issue of Horticulture (which I just happened to be reading last night), Richard Hartlage writes,
"Among the most useful and colorful woody plants for containers are the flowering maples (Abutilon spp.), which are not true maples at all but rather members of the mallow family. In addition to their handsome, maplelike foliage and bell-shaped flowers, they respond well to pruning and thus can be coaxed into whatever shape and dimension the gardener desires."
Abutilon respond well to pruning insofar as the pruning cuts heal and the plant keeps going, but in my experience, ordinary pruning techniques have rarely produced the desired results. This is a plant that does what it wants.
Last fall, after a year and a half of pruning trial-and-error, I resorted to drastic pruning action. And I created a monster.
It's time for this plant to go.
Still, abutilon is a great plant--flowers all year, does well in sun or shade, not especially thirsty, no pests, frequented by hummers and bees--and, more importantly, I'm a better pruner now than I was two years ago. So I'm starting over with a new abutilon; this time, a white flowering variety.
White flowers because I feel a bigger commitment to this pink flowering native Ribes sanguineum var. glutinosum, and I don't want two pink flowering plants next to each other.
Seems like good foliage match, don't you think?
While I don't want two pink flowering plants next to each to other, I don't think the white flowering Mandevilla laxa growing behind (and on) both the ribes and the abutilon will be a problem.
It started leafing out a couple weeks ago.
Also tonight, sowing seeds.
This flat is far and away my favorite kind of seed sowing container. If you know where I can buy them online, tell me and you will be my favorite blog commenter of all time. I've looked, but I can't find them anywhere.
It's a nice, compact shape, good for germinating lots of seed, it retains moisture well (but not too well), and two can fit on a standard heating pad.
Monardella villosa (Coyote Mint)
Madia elegans (Tarweed)
Fremontodendron californicum 'California Glory'.
The first two I bought from Seedhunt, and the Fremontia seeds I collected myself last August from a vigorous stand of trees growing around a faculty parking lot at City College.
I'm starting these for the Botanical Garden, but I'll keep a couple Monardella and Madia for myself.
Madia elegans (Tarweed):
"Tarweed reacheds four to six feet in height. In winter and spring, the young plants from dense tufts of hairy leaves, but as the weather warms, a central stem emerges and elongates. At its summit, a widely branched inflorescence appears carrying dozens of golden yellow daisy-like flowers. These 1-inch-wide flowers are often stained a deep chestnut toward the base of the rays. Each flower head opens shortly after dusk and wilts before noon of the following day, though flowers may remain open during foggy or heavily overcast days." Ref.
I envision a couple of these growing in and around the artichoke bush and tomatoes. It's a weedy but elegant plant that flowers all summer long. I hope it will help blend the vegetable garden into the ornamental natives growing everywhere else. Plus, it's an aster, so bees, etc.
Do you sow in sterile mix? I always wonder if that's really necessary.
San Francisco gives out these containers to homeowners as part of garbage service. It's a green waste can for your kitchen, but if you put this on the street for collection, someone will steal it, as we learned our first week in the house. The city gave us a replacement and admonished us against ever putting it out again. Apparently, they're very popular items.
I use mine for storing mix.
The result of my work...
The other result of my work...a big mess.