Far Out Flora

Summertime at Olbrich Gardens

September 18, 2012 by Megan Speckmann | 6 Comments

Brugmansia in a pot

So we’ve been blogging slackers since moving to Wisconsin. My pregnant hormones started out as sad and weepy, then transitioned to pissed off and angry. I would have been posting things like, “Nice use of way too much ugly red mulch, did you forget the plants?”, “It’s 107 degrees, I think we’ve moved to hell”, “Your lawn ornaments are terrible!” and other crabby things. It wasn’t a pretty time. We’re a fifteen minute walk from Olbrich Botanical Gardens here in Madison and it’s FABULOUS! I love that it’s continuously changing in ways that SF Botanical Garden just couldn’t pull off due to it’s ginormousness and year round need of upkeep. It was looking extra awesome this August. For all our summer Olbrich pics check out this link. If you didn’t hear already our baby is here and a week old today!


Dill and friends



Joe Pye Weed


Euphorbia myrsinites, Donkeytail Spurge

Crazy Container



Awesome New Alpines

December 8, 2011 by Megan Speckmann | 4 Comments

The New Alpiney Container

I’ve been wanting to give some Saxifrags & a few other shorty plants a shot for a couple months & this big honking container didn’t have anything going on, so I made my alpine garden dreams come true. The little dude front & center is Maihuenia poeppigii. It’s a funky little cacti from the mountains of Chile that actually likes moisture. The limey green guy to the left & in the back is Saxifraga x arendsii ‘Purple Carpet’. It’s hard to see unless you click in for the big pic, but it’s made up of itty bitty rosettes. It LOVES water, especially when in sunnier spots. Are you noticing a pattern? These plants are water likers which scares me a little. Teeny weeny Dianthus pyrenaicus native to the Pyrenees mountains is drought tolerant, but won’t mind average watering either. Instead of just throwing in a random mish-mash of semi-used mystery dirt I went with cactus mix, so there shouldn’t be any drainage issues. Matti’s always in search of new crested freaks, so I brought him home Iceland native, Saxifraga cotyledon getting its crest on (it’s sticking out of that weird wood chunk thing & likes it kind of moist, too). Hopefully things work out & my mini mountain plants will fill in.

Check out NARGS (North American Rock Garden Society) to learn more about wee little plants that like hanging with rocks. There are lots of cool drought tolerant options out there. Here are a few pics of my favorite circle of rock garden awesomeness at the SF Botanical Garden.

Dreamy Armeria maritima ‘Rubrifolia’

Verbascum 'Letitia'

A couple shots from the rock garden at Olbrich Gardens in Madison, WI.

Olbrich Gardens Rockery

Euphorbia myrsinites going crazy

So what’s the difference between a rock garden & an alpine garden? NARGS defines it best, “Gardens in which rocks and plants appropriate to them are the chief landscape elements are called rock gardens or sometimes, if the plants are entirely or mainly sorts to grow naturally at higher altitudes or under subarctic or arctic conditions, alpine gardens. Well planned and well executed rock gardens are aesthetically agreeable as well as horticulturally stimulating.” That means that all the plants in the new container are hardy from zone 6b on down to 3!

I Love You Olbrich Gardens

November 6, 2011 by Megan Speckmann | 7 Comments

Bolz Conservatory, Olbrich Botanical Gardens

I love Olbrich Botanical Gardens. It used to be a beautiful twenty minute bike ride from my old apartment, so I was there all the time. Especially during my old school photography class days. The outdoor gardens are totally free and the Bolz Conservatory only costs a buck. The Conservatory is always a great spot to visit for a little humidity and heat in the freezing, super dry months of January and February. Here’s a great little page from the website about their sustainability practices.

Yucca filamentosa 'Bright Edge'

If I was still living in Wisconsin, this would definitely be growing in my garden. Hardy to zone 4 and still looking super foxy in late October, you can’t really go wrong.

Euphorbia griffithii 'Fireglow'

Wholly hotness!!! Another sweet plant that would be growing in my zone 4 Wisconsin garden if I still lived there. I didn’t even know what a Euphorbia was until I moved to California.

Euphorbia myrsinites magic

Here’s a shot from the rock garden section that was full to the brim with Euphorbia myrsinites. I’ve heard that it could be “weedy”, but it looks like it could make a rockin’ ground cover. Betcha it’s bunny proof, too. I also ran in to a sweet little patch of Euphorbia cyparissias rubrifolia while walking back downtown.

Callicarpa dichotoma 'Early Amethyst'

Okay, so this is pretty much a post about plants I’d grow if I lived back in Wisconsin. Love the chartreuse leaves & bright purple berries on this cutie.

Succulent kaleidoscope

There was a big old bowl full of sedums with a giant kaleidoscope set up. The bowl spins for succulenty visions.

Sedum 'Angelica'

More Sedum.

Thai Pavilion

No visit to Olbrich is complete without checking out the Thai Pavillion which was gifted to the University of Wisconsin-Madison from the Thai Government and the Thai Chapter of the Wisconsin Alumni Association. Additional random fact from the website: “The pavilion is only one of four located outside of Thailand. The others are in Germany, Norway, and Hawaii.” Nice.

Colchicum autumnale

Naked Ladies of the midwest! Wikipedia claims that Colchicum autumnale is also approved by the USDA as a medication for gout. I’m going to shut up now and show you a bunch of cool meadow grass pictures that I love, but have no idea what they are.

Grassy Love

Happy Place

Gorgeous Grass

More grass

Want to see Olbrich in late May? Here are a bunch of posts from my trip back over a year ago (I went a little blog crazy):

Thai Pavillion in Madison

Succulents in Wisconsin

Shady Olbrich Gardens

Rosey Day Thursday

Peony Party

Sunken Meadow Garden






October In Bloom

October 14, 2011 by Megan | 25 Comments

Scabiosa & West Coast Lady

Scabiosa & West Coast Lady

Happy Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day! A big shout out to May Dreams Garden for hosting the worldwide flower sharing fest. Lots of repeats from recent months past, but we still have plenty o’flowery action happening out back. We’re not really sure which Scabiosa this is (it was a mystery freebie from Annie’s I planted in a pot last winter). The dang thing hasn’t stopped blooming since May and the butterflies love it. I love how the little periwinkle dots on the wings match the bloom.

Brugmansia sanguinea

Brugmansia sanguinea

Our Brugmansia sanguinea has busting out the blooms left and right. We’ve actually had a decent amount of rain for October, which nearly collapsed the entire thing (I feel like a pruning failure). It’s super floppy… which means as soon as the flower fest is done I’m going to hack it back. Anyone have any advice about pruning it in to a lovely small tree?

Echeveria sp.

Echeveria gibbiflora

Not really sure what this cultivar is, but it’s an Echeveria gibbiflora of some sort. I’m going to call it ‘Fancy Panties’ since I have no idea what cultivar it really and truly is.

Euphorbia myrsinites

Euphorbia myrsinites

Now I haven’t really looked at a donkey tail lately, but what’s up with the common name “Donkey Tail Spurge”? Nothing about this plant reminds me of an equine creature, but I do love it.

Calandrinia spectabilis

Calandrinia spectabilis

Look at that lovely flower! The actual plant itself is all spotty and weird. I’m thinking it’s getting too much water, not enough sun and is in a pot with probably sub-standard (crappy recycled so-so draining soil). We have a couple in the ground that have never been that happy either (they more sun and less water). I see them everywhere around town (even in the fog belt) looking huge and awesome. Perhaps we have the Calandrinia curse?

Petunia exerta

Petunia exserta

I’m still loving our Petunia exserta (almost extinct in its homeland of southeastern Brazil). When we look out over the garden from the living room, the flowers look like floating red stars. I dead head it religiously.

Black Petunia

Black Petunia

My fingers turn purple when I deadhead this one. I’m curious to see how things go for it this winter.

Grill looking pretty

Grill looking pretty

We flipped the grill around a week or two ago, since the Lotus maculatus was putting on a show for the fence. Echeveria pulvinata is back in action again, too. Anyone else out there orange flower fans? I think we need more orange flowering friends.

Fuchsia fulgens

Fuchsia fulgens

Still looking good despite my half-assed transplant.

Dahlia ‘Dark Side of the Sun’

Dahlia ‘Dark Side of the Sun’

Oh geez, I just looked at our previous Bloom Day posts and back in August I posted almost this exact same picture. I’ll be honest. We almost spaced Bloom Day, so some of these pictures are a week or two, maybe three old. Right this very second there are no Dahlia blooms in action.

Fuchsia 'Fanfare'

Fuchsia 'Fanfare'

Are you sick of ‘Fanfare’ yet? It just keeps blooming and blooming and blooming.

Cuphea 'Strybing Sunset'

Cuphea 'Strybing Sunset'

So does Cuphea ‘Strybing Sunset’.

Echeveria runyonii 'Topsy Turvy' flower

Echeveria runyonii 'Topsy Turvy'

Happy Bloom Day!


September 13, 2010
by Megan

Seriously Succulent

We really like to squish our plants in. On Sunday we “detailed” the succulents. We pulled out the stuff we have a tons of (aka…all the Sedum album) to make room for the better stuff.  I divided up some of … Continue reading