Thursday, May 3, 2018

A Non-Veggie Tour of Mostly Flowers

It has been a long long time since I've posted about some of the non-veggie things that grow around here. I have to admit that I'm pretty laissez-faire about my so called ornamental landscape. My priorities the last few years have been to weed, trim, water as little as necessary, and edit out the volunteers that are out of place. The landscape has become semi-wild and is not all that impressive taken as a whole. But after seeing all the pretty photos on Jane's blog Close To Home I got to looking around and noticed that there's actually quite a few pretties scattered around the area. (Note that I'm not calling it my garden, that to me denotes something that is more managed and under control than what surrounds my home.)

So let's take a tour.

In no particular order or organization, just a random walk around.

One of the most manageable volunteers here is Aeonium. It's super well behaved, not being the least weedy. It has a big visual impact whether it's in bloom or not, but especially when it's in bloom. The bees absolutely adore it. And it doesn't require much water to look decently good.


It's foliage color varies from basic green to green with red to full on red and one variety is variegated yellow and green with hints of pink. The produce seeds that will germinate around the garden but never in a weedy way. When I want new plants I can uproot a volunteer seedling or just break a branch off of a plant and throw it down on the ground where I would like it to grow.

Aeonium Sunburst

Aeonium Sunburst Blossoms

I can't remember what this is, but it started off long ago as a bedding plant and then started to volunteer around the garden. As you can see it is happy to volunteer in the gravel covered areas which is where I let it hang out.

Tri-color culinary sage is very pretty in bloom and it's good for cooking too. Win win!

My Pride of Madeira bush is not one of the most impressive specimens but still pretty and a huge bee magnet.
Pride of Madeira

Frogger is eyeing the spare I'itoi onions that I potted up to have near the kitchen.

I'itoi onions don't generally bloom, but that doesn't mean never. I hope I get some seeds to try to grow.

This pretty little geranium is a well behaved volunteer that loves to grow in the gravel but seemingly nowhere else. It get's to stay.

This pretty geranium only has little flowers, otherwise it's a big sprawling weed that would take over the planet if allowed. It get's edited out from most places.

Centranthus ruber is another invasive but pretty thing. The minute I see seeds forming the plants get the chop. Not to worry, they grow right back from their big fat juicy roots.

Centranthus Ruber

It's nice to have thyme volunteering around the garden. Definitely not a weed. It's feeding the bees and beneficial insects now but after I cut it back the plants that get some additional water will feed me.

I've been trying to get rid of Vinca major for 11 years. Thank goodness it doesn't want to invade new areas that don't get summer water. At least the flower is pretty.

Vinca Major

Found on the Vinca - a Tussock Moth caterpillar.

Dude, chow down! Invite your friends.

Gardeners who like these call them tough plants. I call them weeds. Fortnight lilies, Dietes vegata. I keep on digging them out and they keep on growing back. Again, at least the flower is pretty.

Meyer Lemon

My pomegranate usually sets a few fruits, but they aren't very juicy or sweet so I leave them for the birds.

Last Year's Pomegrante

Sweet Pea Shrubs started to volunteer in the "low maintenance" part of the landscape. Those get to stay.
Polygala Sweet Pea Shrub

Lavandula stoechas very much likes to volunteer in the "low maintenance" area and comes in a variety of colors and "wing" sizes. It definitely gets to stay. (The spiky thing in the background is Puya venusta, definitely not a volunteer, definitely a trier of patience).

Gomphocarpus physocarpus is a milkweed relative that the monarch caterpillars do love to munch. Ballon plant is the polite name but it is also know as Hairy Balls or Family Jewels because that's what the seed pods look like. It volunteers around but isn't weedy.

Ballon Plant
Another look at Puya venusta. Cool looking plant, but it's the flowers that will grab your attention should it ever get around to blooming. 

Did you happen to notice in the first photo, that yellow flowering aeonium, that there was a pole sticking up in the background? That's no pole, it's a Yucca shooting it's flower stalk skyward.

I haven't even tried to measure how tall it is, perhaps 10 or 12 feet and getting taller by the day. Oh wow, I can't wait until it starts to bloom. Did you know that yucca blossoms are edible? They can be irritating if eaten raw, but the petals are supposed to be delicious cooked and supposedly taste like a cross of green bean and artichoke.

A leftover from the days when previous owners actually put more time and money into landscaping. 

Whatever you are you get to stay because you are out of the way, keep coming back, don't need a lot of water, and you bloom.

Just coming on line, not even fully open yet.

I love nasturtiums and allow them to grow wherever they manage to pop up. These will be around just until the deer get hungry enough to mow them down.

Catmint volunteers in a non-weedy way also.


Verbena bonariensis has the potential to be quite invasive but around here the heavy soil and lack of summer water keeps it confined to areas that get irrigated. It slowly spreads in some really tough areas along with the Santa Barbara Daisy (Erigerion karvinskianus) that grows like a weed.

Another pretty thing whose name doesn't come to mind at the moment.

California poppies don't open up until the sun comes out. If you hadn't noticed I did the photo shoot on a very foggy morning which is usually good for taking photos of flowers.

This little Anna's Hummingbird (a juvenile?) was sitting watching as I took photos near the feeder. They are fearless! The ones that have been around a while will come to the feeder even when I'm standing literally next to it, sometimes they will alight even as I'm just hanging the newly filled feeder.

Anna's Hummingbird
I love succulents and keep lots of them in pots.

This pot started with just the big ruffled thing (name forgotten) and then the others just added themselves.

I couldn't have planned it better.

A Gladiolus of some sort, I think. It's in a pot that I want to get into the ground somewhere, but first I have to figure out if the gophers like them.

Another plant in the tough-as-nails category. Sweet Alyssum will grow just about anywhere.

Darned. I missed the first caper blossom.

Another wake me when the sun comes out flower, Calendula is perennial in my mild climate and happily volunteers around the garden without being a pest.

Have you noticed that the majority of the flowers in my garden are volunteers? I really haven't put much effort into ornamentals for the past few years. The prolonged drought and a balky irrigation system were my excuses. It's really amazing what hangs on or even thrives in in the spots that get some water. In this case it's lobelia hanging out in a pot with a Spanish caper bush.

I might have weeded out the lobelia but this caper bush shows how capers got their latin name of Capperis spinosa. It's a painful task to work around this variety because there is a very sharp claw like hooked thorn at the base of every leaf. The caper bushes that I harvest buds from are Capperis spinosa inermis, which means that they've lost their spines. The funny thing is that the lobelia dosn't volunteer much of anywhere else which leads me to suspect that there's something that eats it that can't get past the spines.

Down to the end of the tour where I'll finish off with Blue Dicks, a wild flower that is growing up next to the house.

This is probably the height of the flower season now. Spring has sprung and some late season rains prompted growth and blooms but summer is coming up fast. The rainy season is over which means that most of the more wild parts of the landscape are going to get pretty dry so only the toughest flowers will continue to bloom. I water some areas to keep things from becoming tinder but not enough to keep things looking lush.

I hope you enjoyed the tour. It was a bit of an eye opener for me because I hadn't realized just how many things were blooming around here. It's true that you stop seeing what you see all the time. Thanks Jane for prompting me to take a closer look at what's right under my nose.


  1. It is amazing how many plants spread themselves at will. You have a plentiful collection of flowers.

  2. Ooooo ... so many nice things. I love flowers that aren't fussy and take care of themselves. I sometimes have to hunt for them, but they keep me happy when the vegetables are just poking along.

    It's a nemesia. I found three almost identical pink ones online using "nemesia" so I can't tell you the variety.

    The sorta like gladiolus may be a watsonia. It grows wild here but must have sun.

    I love the succulent pots.

    You've got some of my favorites especially Centranthus ruber. Mine looks like it wants to die, all wilted, but watered, only the flower still perky.

    Alyssum won't grow here, maybe the species name 'maritima' is telling me something?

    Vinca, very nice shot, same problem. It was here 40 years ago and, no, I can't get rid of it.

    The geranium I call "wall geranium" Or "Geranium muritum" but I'm wrong. Can't find it under those names. It grows out of a dry stone wall, like yours it prefers rocky places, but not on the ground.

    Balloon plant is a new one to me. I like.

    1. Watsonia, that's the name! And Nemesia, that rings a bell. I think it's reverted to whatever types it was hybridized from, it's been many generations since it came out of a 6-pack. Centranthus ruber is not a weed in your garden? It seeds itself in every nook and cranny around here and if I don't pull it out it develops a big fat root that's almost impossible to pry out. Thanks for the ID's. It's been so long since I acquired many of these things that I've simply forgotten what they are and if there were any tags they've long since disappeared.

  3. You have so many lovely succulents. I seem incapable of keeping mine alive. And so many different flowers, they are beautiful.


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