Far Out Flora

Succulent Circle

January 25, 2012 by Matti | 24 Comments

Succulent Circle (after)

Succulent Circle (after)

We’ve been eyeballing this project all last summer.  Just down the road from us along the Great Highway, there are some old garden plots marked by narrow one-foot concrete borders.  Most of them are abandoned and overgrow, but I remember that this garden circle was re-established about 2 years ago mostly with succulents.  You can see above what a 30 minute cleanup can accomplish…below is what this succulent circle was looking like before we popped in.

Before...end of summer.

Before...end of summer.

These garden circles have a lot of challenges to overcome.  First, it doesn’t rain here in San Francisco during the summer.  The only irrigation they see is the fog drip that rolls in around May and lingers until Fogust (August is the foggiest month).  Second, salty winds can be fierce here.  This garden is only a stones throw to the ocean and lots of salt spray can be found in the air.  Lastly, it all sandy soil in these parts.  Sometime so much sand blows in, that they close down the Great Highway until the sand plows can get it removed.

Car full of succulents.

Car full of succulents.

We loaded up the car with some of our succulent cuttings and that giant agave baby from out backyard (mostly crassula, sedum, aloe and aeoniums).  They all should do pretty well in the well draining sandy soil and summer drought.  I’m not certain about the salt in the air, but we see these types of plants growing nearby. I’d say these new succulents have high odds of surviving.

Almost done.

Almost done.

In about 30 minutes, we weeded out the crap, shifted some of the existing plants around, and planted most of our cuttings and that big fatty Agave americana.  There was so much sand piled up on this dune, that we really couldn’t get the concrete circle to expose…but that could be another project day.

Two months later.

Two months later.

After a slow start, it finally started raining this winter and this succulent circle should start looking lusher.  We can’t wait to check in over the next couple of months to see how it’s coming along.

– Far Out Flora

Foredune Beach Plants

January 21, 2012 by Matti | 2 Comments

Astragalus nuttallii - Ocean Bluff Milk Vetch

Astragalus nuttallii - Ocean Bluff Milk Vetch

We found these salt tolerant gems down at the Asilomar State Beach along the foredune.  I’m always amazed that plants can grow in such harsh conditions such as this Astragalus nuttallii (Ocean Bluff Milk Vetch).  I fell in love with the highly textured leaves, but its seed pods made me giggle.

Astragalus nuttallii - Nattall's Milkvetch

Astragalus nuttallii - Nattall's Milkvetch

Here’s another pic of Astagalus nuttallii gripping on between the sand and a rock.  You’ve seen foredune before if you lived near a salty beach and even some fresh water lakes.  There’s a moment when the sandy beach stops and vegetation starts.  Basically, that’s called the foredune.

Abronia latifolia - Yellow Sand Verbena

Abronia latifolia - Sand Verbena

Here’s another foredune trooper, Abronia latifolia (Sand Verbena).  It more succulent than herbaceous when you see it on the beach.  Seems Abronias come in yellow or lavender blooming forms…and probably others that I’m just not yet familiar with.

Asilomar State Beach

Asilomar State Beach

Oh BTW…all these pics were taken down in Asilomar Beach in Monterey Bay, but we see these beach plants along our beaches too here in SF.

Erigeron glaucus - Seaside Daisy

Erigeron glaucus - Seaside Daisy

A couple of Erigeron glaucus (Seaside Daisy) were poking their heads out of the beach scrub.  We found these blooming up closer to the road than along the crashing ocean waves.

Erigeron glaucus - Seaside Daisy

Erigeron glaucus - Seaside Daisy

We just received our first big rains of winter which means that wildflower season is just around the corner.  We can’t wait to see some mega patches of wildflowers.  I think this year we definitely want to hit the Edgewood Preserve a little earlier this year, as we missed all the action in 2011. Do any of you have sweet spots you wanna share?

– Far Out Flora

January Bloominess

January 14, 2012 by Megan Speckmann | 17 Comments

First Coreopsis gigantea bloom

Happy Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day! We don’t have a whole lot going on in the bloom department right now, but are crazy excited our Coreopsis gigantea  just started to bloom. We had a little gopher scare with it a couple weeks ago. I walked out one morning to find it completely droopy, with two gopher mounds about five feet away and panicked.  This freaky California native is one of my favorite plants we have out back. After a good long water it recovered and Matti took care of the gopher.

Lobelia aguana

My favorite new, super rare, orangey-red Lobelia aguana blooms just started to open up in the last few days. I’m in love! Mark D. (aka serialplantfetishist on flickr) picked up this cool Lobelia at a Strybing plant sale and shared the seed love with Annie’s. Check out the online sign for the cool story and more info.

Crassula multicava

I’m not a huge fan of this Crassula, but it seems to bloom continuously… dropping it’s tiny weeny babies all over the place. It’s not terrible or anything, but I have a feeling its days are numbered. Matti and I aren’t big fans of white flowering plants in our garden.

Eccremocarpus scaber 'Tresco Gold'

I can’t believe this dude is still kicking it.

Layia platyglossa

The first Tidy Tips bloom of the season!

Kalanchoe prolifera

This weirdo Kalanchoe known as “Blooming Boxes” is still doing its thing. I haven’t really seen an actual yellow flower peeking out from the box (technically bracts).

Black Petunia

A big shout out to Carol at May Dreams Gardens for hosting the monthly bloom share-a-thon!

Fiery Aloe Spikes

January 12, 2012 by Matti | 22 Comments

Aloe arborescens - Krantz Aloe

Aloe arborescens - Krantz Aloe

The Aloe arborescens are going crazy down in Pacific Grove, CA.  One of the best spots to see these blooming succulents is along Ocean View Blvd.  Take a stroll along the coastal path from the Pacific Grove Marine Gardens Park over to Hays Perkins Park…you won’t regret it.  (Update:  Sounds like the  parks are mislabeled and should both be considered Shoreline Park.  Thanks Katie.)

Aloe arborescens - Krantz Aloe

Aloe arborescens - Torch Aloe

Aloe arborescens goes by a lot of common names such as Torch Aloe, Candelabra Aloe, and Krantz Aloe to name a few. Common names are often descriptive such as Torch for its red flower spikes or Candelabra for their large leave rosettes. But the common name Krantz Aloe puzzled me. Turns out, it comes from the Afrikaner word, Kransaalwyn, which loosely translates to rocky cliff. In habitat, these succulent Aloes thrive in rocky ridges from sea level…all the way up to high mountain elevations. Seems the largest concentrations of them are found in southeastern continental Africa.

Aloe arborescens along Sunset Dr in Monterey Bay

Aloe arborescens along Sunset Dr in Monterey Bay

Having some fun with the iPhone, we stitched up a Hipstamatic of that same Aloe clump.  One thing we did notice was how stressed out the Aloes where still looking. The lack of rain this winter has kept the foliage looking redder than limey green.

Aeoniums in Bloom

Aeoniums in Bloom

The hiking trail meanders on for over a mile right next to the water.  Frolicking down the footpath, we found a number of Aeoniums blooming too.  Man, love those yellow conical clusters.

Matti and Max

Matti and Max

Max the Border Collie got to stretch his legs too; the place is pretty dog friendly as long as you keep them on leash.  Oh, check it out. Besides the Aloes…the Echium candicans (Pride of Madeira) were popping their purple spiky inflorescence. Aren’t those a fab combo?

Echium candicans & Aloe arborescens

Echium candicans & Aloe arborescens

Echium candicans - Pride of Madeira

Echium candicans - Pride of Madeira (syn. Echium fastuosum)

Echium candicans (syn. Echium fastuosum) produces oodles of little flowers on their bloom spikes.  Great plants for attracting pollinators.  If you’re ever down in the Monterey Bay area, we highly recommend taking a detour to this garden path.

– Far Out Flora

Ginormous Mystery Nepenthes

January 8, 2012 by Megan Speckmann | 10 Comments

Gigantoid Nepenthes

After checking out Playland at the Conservatory of Flowers we checked out the other plants. I almost shouted several swear words when I spotted these 18″ long mega-pitchers, but there were small children present. Anyone know what it is?

Matti for some scale

Here’s Matti for a little bit of scale. Here are some more plants looking pretty right now.

Dendrobium cobbianum

Variegated Neo crawling about

Nepenthes sp.

Nepenthes sp

Vireya sp.

Medinilla scortechinii