Thursday, 28 June 2012

summer nights

Summer nights, there's not really anything quite like it. I love that feeling that comes when you just kick back on summer nights.  I can't help but think of how the entire year builds to these moments.  The moments when the works day is done, the sun is setting and all you have left to do is enjoy.  Take a deep breath and savour the feeling of summer.  I really most sincerely wish everyday was summer. But alas, we must must celebrate the season as best we can while it is here.  I was out in the garden this evening, candles lit, tea in hand and snapped a couple of photos.

I found a home for my new agave parryi truncata just to the right of the yucca gloriosa recurvifolia 'bright star.'  Recently I decided I need more 'bright star' yuccas in my life.  Seeing them in the sunshine really changes everything.  It just glows - even at night in the candle light.

I feel like this speaks so much of the garden itself.  Yucca, agave, palm, and succulent loving is a huge "theme" if you will in the garden.  This picture pretty much sums it all up for me.  Shortly thereafter a group of raccoons decided to throw cherries down at me from the trees above and I felt anything but love.  But for a moment it was rather blissful.  So in the miss quoted words of Paula Dean, "I wish you love and great plantings from my garden to yerrrrs."

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Chamaerops Humilis lovin' in the PNW

It's no secret that I love palm trees.  But I don't share my love for chamaerops humilis (mediterranean fan palms) nearly enough!  To tell you the truth, I think they are highly underrated especially when small.  I kind of get it, 2008 rings in the memories of almost every gardener in the PNW. Snowmagedon, the ice age, whatever you wish to call it, that winter was rough.  Many of us lost our nerve - and I'll be the first to admit, we were feeling rather confident for a while. But I think people remember the chamaerops carnage!  So I feel like I need to speak for the chamaerops - "don't ignore me!"  Well that is, don't completely ignore me.  Yes, they are less hardy than trachycarpus fortunei in the PNW but oh so wonderful.  The real problem I believe is lack of heat for them to recover from any damage in the springtime and excessive moisture.  But given the right conditions, I think they deserve another chance - especially in zone 8b/9a areas of the PNW.

Here is a chamaerops I purchased years ago at our local big box wholesaler for real cheap.  It had just a small bit of trunk on it and really robust looking.

When I bought it, I had to idea that hardiness of this palm would be questionable here.  I knew it needed full hot sun to look its best and gave it the best spot in the garden.  Sun the entire day, shelter to the east and the garden shed to the north allowing for the spot to really heat up during the day.  Fast forward a couple of years and here it is after the winter of 2008.  What you can't see is that one of the suckers died that winter.  The palm was protected by throwing a string of old school christmas lights around it and a tarp.  Viola!  (It saw around -10C (14F) a few times without protection)

And here it is today... a monster at around 6ft tall!

It now takes up the entire planting space with a few crocosmia lucifer planter near the one corner.

Best of all, check out these epic spikes that arm the entire plant! careful, they do lots of damage to the hands.  I speak from much experience.

Here's one of the suckers growing out of the side of the main trunk.

And this green form has unique silvery undersides. LOVE!  And one day soon, this guy will have a new chamaerops friend.  A small chamaerops humilis cerifera - the blue form - is on its way!  They are actually reported to be even hardier than the green kind which is always a plus.

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

walk around the burb

So I was having quite the day last week.  Thinking that there was absolutely no hope for any gardeners in this here town, I thought I would go on somewhat of an impromtu plant safari.  I should preface this to say that I had just visited 4 nurseries around town without any plant lust! WHAT?! Either I went to all the wrong places, or nurseries are feeling the FUNK of this colder than cold Junuary weather.  I was so upset by my lack of plant lust that I exclaimed profanities about living in the "armpit of the world" (I don't mean any offence; I can tend to be quite dramatic).  I needed to find some inspiration!  And while being very, very nil, I did stumble upon a few gems.

This grouping of timber bamboo and yucca gloriosa superba (I believe) was a definite winner.  Albeit somewhat ratty, I was very happy to see such a bold planting.  I really should have snapped a few more pictures but there seemed to be some weird exchanges going on across the street and I hurried myself along.  The yuccas actually had nice trunks to them.  I'll have to go back and pay this garden a visit.

And of course how could I not include a palm!? I absolutely love this palm tree!  Behind all of the other plants is a house built in a quasi Spanish Mediterranean style.  So what better than a palm tree! They are definitely on the right track with this one.  Imagine the very front by the house number replaced with an opuntia patch!  Would it be bad to guerilla garden that in?  Just so happen to drop an opuntia pad?
So I did manage to find some hope. "Some." And all that is to say, no, it's not the armpit of the world, but with all this rain and cold I feel justified in my usage of arm pit.  Equally nasty, smelly (liquid manure on the farms), and just down right dank.  I leave you with a rendition of "Where are you Christmas" from the The Grinch:

"Where are you summer?
Why can't I find you?
Why have you gone away?
Where is the warmth that, 
you used to shine down?
When are you here to stay?
I cannot take this this.
My heart is breaking.
Won't you please visit me!?"

Monday, 25 June 2012

Agave alert!!!

I love agave alerts!  Agaves are "alertive" by their very nature with the pokes - which will surely let you know of their presence -  their striking architectural beauty, and even better when they have a bright orange SALE sign! Epic! At least I thought so. They even had my agave bracteosa calamar!  That coupled with clear skies, good food and beach visit made for a most splendid sunday afternoon.  I kind of scammed my way into this.  I was going out for lunch with my sister in West Vancouver and it really would be a waste not to just stop in to North Van on the way home since I "had" to go to Maple Leaf Garden Centre anyways.

Check out the glorious colour of these spikes!  With glowing red and orange goodness like that, I had to buy this beautiful little agave parryi truncata.

After seeing this one, I'm pretty much convinced that my unkown agave is some variety of parryi.  It would make sense with how it handled last winter.

And finally!  How long have I been talking about my want of an agave bracteosa? too long.  The wait is over!

This guy has some abuse to him.  I have noticed that right across the board with agave bracteosa that I have seen.  People are just not treating them with the love and care that these little beauties deserve.  It not only made me happy that I finally got one, but also that I was giving this one a hope of better life in the palm garden. #agave respect!

So all in all Sunday was an epically fantastical day.  Now I just have to clean up the mess from Saturday afternoon's storm.  Lets just say the yard looks like it was hit with a hurricane.

Friday, 22 June 2012

It's tropical rain, it's tropical rain, it's tropical rain.

It's tropical rain, it's tropical rain, it's tropical rain. BAH! it's so not tropical rain.  At least that's what I'm telling myself.  Actually this hurts my heart.  The day started out all full of promise and hope.  The sun was beaming through the windows, work was to be finished by 2:30 and all was well.  And then ... it started with wind.  Then clouds.  Then the skies turned black and opened up their fury upon us.  Inevitably almost everyone and their dog felt the need to remind me, "yes but that's why everything is so green."  I like green.  It's actually my favourite color, but as much as I love beautiful green foliage, I love blue skies.  And let's be honest, the only "green" thing they are really talking about are the lawns.  And even those have turned to moss and scraggly water logged weeds.  "It's tropical rain, It's tropical rain, it's tropical rain."  I just have to keep telling myself that.

On a much happier note I thought I would share with you one of my favourite songs.... 
"It's aloha Friday, no work till monday!" (lalala)

Thursday, 21 June 2012

Succulent wreath then and now

A few months ago I shared this "before" picture of my succulent wreath that I had just put together.  This was one of those things that I had seen in magazines, blog sites, and decided I needed to make.  That and I had come across some beautiful albeit VERY expensive ones at the nursery....

It took WAY longer for everything to get established than I initially thought it would.  Maybe the cold and rain had something to do with that.  Either way, I was out in the yard the other day and lifted it upright to see how snug everything was and much to my joy, nothing moved or fell out!!  Now the real question is what I'm actually going to do with it.

 I can say it looks far superior in the glow of the sunshine.  Everything does.  Today when I was out snapping this picture was the smell and the feel of a summer morning! SUMMER ACTUALLY CAME!

So I have to find a place to hang this.  It has been used as a wreath around candles out in the yard and I will say it looks quite nice that way... but I do indeed think I need to find a place to hang this.

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Happy Summer!!!

It's summertime officially!! I for one am so VERY excited.  I thought I would share some early summer photos from the yard with everyone now so that I can look back at the end of the season at how things have grown and or been changed - and each year it does in fact change.  Things are still looking a little bit neglected compared to where I am most years.  But hopefully if the sun decides to stick around that will all change! Today is a pressure washing, lawn cutting, nursery visiting day!

The summer Luau's are just around the corner!!! This sign always comes out for a party.  And summer itself is one massive party in the palm garden!!!

Agave parryi has pups!!! That means even more agaves!

See there are a few flowers in the garden.... a few.

My monster chamaerops humilis sure looks happy with some warm sun.  This is the absolute best spot in the garden! It's kind of the place of honor.

And not too much longer to wait till yuccas are blooming...

My new yucca rostrata loving the sunshine! hmm... I think it needs another rostrata friend dont you?

Glorious spikes!

This is about as flowery as I can handle.

I'll leave you with the palms on the first day of summer.  I can't wait to see how much everything grows over the next months.  These palms will happily put on 1.5 feet of trunk!  It's going to be a jungle in no time!!