Far Out Flora

Edgewood Natural Preserve Wildflowers

June 29, 2011 by Matti | 8 Comments

Chlorogalum pomeridianum - Wavy-leafed Soap Plant

Chlorogalum pomeridianum - Wavy-leafed Soap Plant

Wildflower season is getting pretty scarce here, and we tried to get in one more hike before everything dries up. 30 minutes south of SF there’s a cool place called Edgewood Natural Preserve just outside of Redwood City. (oh, btw…we did this hike about 4 wks ago). Kudos to Megan…she did all the leg work trying to identify the names on these guys with the help of their wildflower identifier tool. There’s always a chance that the ID is off, but hey…we try. Check out this Chlorogalum pomeridianum above. These California native perennials grow from bulbs and can be lathered into a soapy foam in your hands with a little water.

Calochortus luteus - Yellow Mariposa Lily

Calochortus luteus - Yellow Mariposa Lily

Calochortus luteus is another bulb grower that likes our western coast. I didn’t realize it until now, but Megan just saw these in Tiburon on her solo trip.

Bellardia trixago - Mediterranean Lineseed

Bellardia trixago - Mediterranean Linseed

Sounds like Bellardia trixago are a little obnoxious out in the Bay Area. Native to the Mediterranean, here it grows like a weed and likes to seek out neighboring roots. After latching on to them, it starts stealing nutrients from their wildflower buddies.

Lotus scoparius var. scoparius - Deerweed

Lotus scoparius var. scoparius - Deerweed

Butterflies dig the nectar from this Lotus scoparius var scoparius. Extra bonus, their larvae enjoy munching on this guy too. Seems like a great plant to have if you adore attracting some winged friends. Wildscaping does a great in-depth write up to check out.

Snake hiding in the Grass

Snake hiding in the Grass

So we were hiking along and…OMGosh we saw a big old snake. Actually, Megan saw it first. Sensing her slight panic…I just froze. Another two feet and my foot would have been stepping on it. Oh, did I say it was big? Okay, only 4-5 feet long…but still a little freaky.

Snake heading down the hole

Snake heading down the hole

Not certain why maybe a guy thing, but I felt the urge to get super close to it to see if it had a rattle. Well, it didn’t so I felt safer. What we saw next was awesome. It slithered along for a couple minutes then jetted straight down what looked like a gopher hole. Crazy.

Achyrachaena mollis - Blow Wives

Achyrachaena mollis - Blow Wives

Okay, Matti has a new favorite common name for a plant. Yes, Achyrachaena mollis is also known as Blow Wives. I must work that into conversation some time today.

Brodiaea - Cluster Lilies

Brodiaea - Cluster Lilies

Gnaphalium californicum - California Cudweed

Gnaphalium californicum - California Cudweed

Gnaphalium californicum grows readily up and down most of the West Coast. NOTE we don’t recommend this, but heard that people brew this guy into a make shift tea. Any harvesters out there do this regularly?

Mimulus aurantiacus - Sticky Monkey Flower

Mimulus aurantiacus - Sticky Monkey Flower

Maybe it’s because this is one of the few flowers that I can regularly identify, or the name just rolls off my tongue…but I love Mimulus. Seems to grow well in a variety of soils and sorta a work horse in the landscape. Hey, you know who has the heartbeat on CA wildflowers? Phyte Club. You must swing by their blog and give them a read.

– Far Out Flora

Sunset Celebration Weekend

June 25, 2011 by Matti | 7 Comments

Gaillardia

Gaillardia

Hard to believe that it’s been 3 weeks since Sunset Magazine’s Celebration Weekend.  Lots o great plants, projects and food.  One of the star plants we loved was this Gaillardia (pictured above) aka the Blanket Flower…drought tolerant perennial from the Sunflower Family.

Succulent Table in the Test Garden

Succulent Table in the Test Garden

Our DIY Succulent Pallet Table made a hit in the Test Garden.  It hit the SF Chronicle and a bird tells me maybe coming out soon in a magazine.  Made from two old shipping pallets and a couple of old table legs scavenged for cheap at a garage sale, it has a mega succulent planting down the middle.

Succulent Garden's wall of goodness

Succulent Garden's wall of goodness

Succulent Design Genius, Robin Stockwell and his crew from Succulent Gardens always put together a dazzling display…this year was no different with their vertically planted gazebo.

Johanna Silver...

Johanna Silver...

We were happy to catch Johanna Silver speaking on Self Watering Containers.  As the Test Garden Guru, Johanna regular tries out techniques to make your plants grow.  We love her quick, down and dirty approach turning any project into something assessable.

Lavender & Nasturtiums

Lavender & Nasturtiums

The Nasturtiums and Lavender were freaking out with that hot spring heat down in Menlo Park.

Gaillardia x grandiflora 'Oranges & Lemons'

Gaillardia x grandiflora 'Oranges & Lemons'

Dig gardens booth

Dig gardens booth

We had the chance to talk with Laura Schaub from Dig Gardens.  Many uses of plants including these giant balls of succulents.  Her display area was gorgeous…love all the reclaimed lumber and other rustic objects.

Dog house

Dog house

This is the one that blew me away.  I thought at first it was just a raise planting bed.  But after wiping the drool from my mouth, I realized there was more…check it out…they’re dog houses.   Sustainable Pet Design builds these babies.  Great work on rethinking beds both for plants and the pooch.

Can wait for next year’s Celebration Weekend…  Hey, you can keep the party rolling and see last year’s fun.

– Far Out Flora

Sweet SF Botanical Garden

June 23, 2011 by Megan Speckmann | 7 Comments

Verbascum 'Letitia' looking cute

I’m still a little lame about my total lack of plant names from Ruth Bancroft Garden, so I’m going to try and redeem myself with plants with botanical names from a couple visits to SF Botanical Garden over the last two weeks. In late April I graduated as an official docent, so once a month you’ll find me wearing a really cool apron next to a table (interpretive station) getting excited about plants. So far it’s been super fun.

Who the heck knew Verbascum came in a cute little shortie form? It’s going nuts in the cool rock garden circle at the main gate. While googling ‘Letitia’ I came across a cool little online nursery I’ve never been to before that specializes in rockery plants Wrightman Alpines. Check it out, lots of cool shorty plants, and interesting stuff.

Primula vialii

Bizarro, I just looked up Primula vialii and I think this is some sort of mutant flower. They’re supposed to be pointy on top instead of flat. It looks like the flower crested. Also called fasciation, here’s what wikipedia has to say about this freaky plant happening: “Fasciation (or cresting) is a condition of plant growth in which the apical meristem, normally concentrated around a single point, producing approximately cylindrical tissue, becomes elongated perpendicularly to the direction of growth, producing flattened, ribbon-like, crested, or elaborately contorted tissue. The phenomenon may occur in the stem, root, fruit, or flower head.” Our graptopetalums do it all the time.

California Native paradise

Phacelia, Layia platyglossa, Gilia tricolor and the poppies were going nuts last weekend in the native garden. It’s looking pretty awesome.

Wachendorfia thrysiflora

Gotta love the South African section. I’m strangely fascinated by Wachendorfia thrysiflora. It’s huge!

Kniphofias in yellow

There’s lots of Kniphofia action going on right now. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that our Kniphofia northiae will bloom this summer. It’s getting pretty big and popping out babies.

Salvia africana-lutea

This might sound crazy, but we haven’t jammed a Salvia in our backyard yet. I think this might be the one. It’s common name is “Beach Salvia”, and as it ages the flowers turn deeper orange and then brown. It doesn’t mind hanging out next to the foggy, wind infested coast (I’m a little bitter about the fog and it being 57 degrees at 5:30PM). Summer is not my favorite season in San Francisco. We live in the foggiest (cheapest) part of town.

Matti and the Mega Bartlettina sordida

Wholly gigantoid ageratum like monster!!!! Bartlettina sordida is native to cloud forests. As much as I bitch about the fog, I really should appreciate the amazing plants we’re able to grow that ONLY thrive in our cool summers and mild winters. More pics from Strybing are here if ya want to check them out.

 

 

Ruth Bancroft Garden Rocks

June 22, 2011 by Megan Speckmann | 16 Comments

Scopelogena verruculata I love you!

This past Sunday afternoon we decided to get some heat, and headed over to The Ruth Bancroft Garden. It was 92 degrees. A little shocking when an hour earlier it was 60 degrees and foggy at the house. I blame the heat on our laziness about taking pictures of ID tags. I got Scopelogena verruculata only because I really want it.  Apparently it has fragrant yellow flowers in Spring. We went nuts and took tons of pictures. They’re all here on flickr, but these are a few faves from the bunch.

Echinocactus grusonii "Barrel Cactus"

Echinocactus grusonii "Barrel Cactus"

Matti and the giant Agave

Aeonium fun

Popping in on the Neighbors

June 18, 2011 by Matti | 12 Comments

Neighbor's back yard.

Neighbor

Is the grass greener on the other side? Well, our neighbors have been clearing out a lot of the junky weeds and getting it prep to do something with it. Their challenge? What to plant, little time to spend, & and not sure where to start… Well, we decided to jump over the fence to our neighbor’s yard to plant some stuff and do a little maintenance.

Before.

Before.

Before we get going here, I want to mention one of our regrets. I wish we took more pictures of our garden back in the day, especially the crappy looking parts. There’s nothing better than seeing an old pic of your yard and being able to say…wow…it real does look a lot better…I can’t believe that it looked like that back then.

That said, here’s their before picture. You can see a couple of the succulent cuttings that we plugged in last winter and that’s about it. Not too exciting, but it was a start.

Last February, they did a major attack on the hip height weeds that were smothering their yard and you can see that the baby weeds are coming back. First thing we did was just do a quick razzing of the sandy soil to get reclaim the garden again.

After

After

A little cleanup and it already looks better. Plus we planted a bunch of rejects that both Megan and I can get from work. The rejects are not bad plants…just not looking their ‘retail’ best.

Before.

Before.

On the other side of the yard, we kept the Zantedeschia which seem to be thriving on this shadier side plus the neighbors love them.

After.

After.

To keep the momentum going, we popped in some of our iris that we divided from our garden.

Before.

Before.

Here’s the Fortnight Lily (Dietes vegeta) that plucked out of our garden ages ago. We dug it out of our garden and put it at the curb for someone to take. Little did we know that our next door neighbors thought it was cool and replanted it in their space. LOL, we could have saved them a couple steps and just passed it over the fence.

After.

After.

Today, the north side is looking pretty sweet, and those Blue Chalk Stick succulents (Senecio mandraliscae) are coming back. Considering how fast they grew in our yard, they should quickly fill a lot of this space. We are trying to teach them a good solution to the “Hey, we’re on a budget and can’t buy everything at once and need bang for our buck.”

Here’s what you do: Divide plants that grow fast to get some good fill. Keep an eye out for freebies from your friends and neighbors. Keep looking for deals on anchor plants at your local nurseries. Over a short time, your garden will impress your buddies.

Our garden back in the day.

Our garden back in the day.

Our two apartment backyards are nearly identical. Ours above, man…I can remember back to when we were amazed how awesome it looked after weeks of experimenting with plants back there. I estimate that this pic was about 3 years ago.

Our garden recent.

Our garden recent.

Today, it looks crazy. One thing I can safely say is that if you think it’s cool now…wait a couple months. It always get better.

– Far Out Flora