Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Another Ode to Suzanne Porter on the Spring Equinox

I was just back in the garden checking out what has budded, as I noticed this little gem glowing in a sun-dappled corner. I had forgotten what it was called, but remembered distinctly why I had bought it, and upon who's recommendation I had made room for it in my tiny garden. It was, once again, Suzanne Porter, despite her being 'late'.

I had to look up the article in Horticulture Magazine, from which I had sourced this one, and am linking to it for future reference. I think I will go through it and write a list of plants from her garden too (see below). It's like a manual of perfect recommendations. It makes me want to double the size of my garden to fit more of these gems in. I do love my little space, and really it is just manageable for me, though, so for now I'll have to just cram a few more picks into these hidden nooks and crannies.

Here is the plant list:
Hypericum x inodorum 'Summer Gold' (seen here to the right)
Salvia officinalis 'Icterina'
Cotinus coggygria 'Purple Robe'
Canna 'Wyoming'
Heuchera 'Pewter Veil'
castor bean plant (Ricinus communis 'Dwarf Red Spire')
Miscanthus sinensis 'Nippon'
Haloragis erecta 'Wellington Bronze'
Rumex sanguineus var. sanguineus
Verbascum chaixii
Sambucus racemosa 'Plumosa Aurea'
Artemisia canescens
Festuca 'Elijah Blue'
Artemisia 'David's Choice'
Agastache 'Firebird'
Mimulus 'Big Tangerine Red'.
R. ‘Altissimo’
Hemerocallis ‘Water Witch’
Abutilon ‘Souvenir de Bonne’
Cestrum elegans ‘Smithii’
Sambucus nigra ‘Variegata’
variegated oregano (Origanum ‘White Anniversary’),
Hypericum xmoserianum ‘Tricolor’,
Cordyline australis
golden larch (Pseudolarix amabilis)
Acacia cognata
brick-colored Cytisus 'San Francisco'
Canna 'Durban'
Berberis thunbergii 'Crimson Pigmy'
blood grass (Imperata cylindrica 'Rubra')
blond, feathery Sesleria autumnalis
Hypericum androsaemum 'Albury Purple'
Corokia cotoneaster
Aspidistra elatior, and
Iris foetidissima
Styrax japonica

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Feral Cats in a Dogpatch Garden

I've just trapped/neutered/returned 3 more cats in the past week with the help of my husband. This makes a grand total of 16 cats in three years that we've trapped and brought to the SPCA for this amazingly free service.

Then I finally dropped a dime (which I was loathe to do, as I live and let live as a general rule) on the opposite neighbor to Animal Control as a cat-hoarder. Result: they found 15 feral cats living in her home, including 6 kittens. I like cats. I don't like digging into cat-shit, or cat the eau-de-piss left in my garden by an army of marking males.

The cats come with their fleas, and some with lice. Once fixed they are a peaceful and docile community to co-exist with, but I also can't stand watching them when they're not healthy. Interestingly, once I start trapping, they won't come into the garden to drink from the fountain. Even though I don't trap in my garden, but on the roof of the building next door. Cats just know. I use jack-mackerel and a tincture of Valerian, which is like kitty-crack, and acts like cat-nip once they sniff it. I pulled this picture off the SPCA site. They tip the ears of the feral cats that are fixed so you can see who in the community is in need of trapping and hopefully keep track of the size and general condition and stability of the population.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Euphoric for Euphorbia

Spring always arrives earlier than expected here in N. California, and being the Jersey girl that I am I can never quite get used to it, especially when it comes with 80 degree days. The Euphorbia are the first to truly explode in my garden, though this year having given the lonicera a hard pruning, it is coming back happier than ever.

The E. Myrsinites (?) in the front planter is amazing this year. However, in researching it, I just read some very disturbing reports of bad behavior by this plant in Colorado, where it is running wild in the arid hills, as well as making all sorts of people sick with it's toxic sap. I think I'll just keep it tucked in here where I can control it and enjoy it.

The other Euphorbias I have are sprinkled around the back garden and all are happy. I first planted a few in a sunny spot beneath a blood orange, both of which have died, for unknown reasons, perhaps too much water or too much sun. Otherwise I find the genus really hardy and amazingly diverse. It also grows at just the right rate, not too fast, like the abutilons, but slow enough to impress when they do finally put on some bulk and show off their blooms.