Euphorbia "Portuguese Velvet"


Euphorbia characias “Portuguese Velvet

European hybrid
Evergreen spurge

Sun: Moderate
Water: Drought tolerant
Size: 12″ to 18″ tall w/24″ tall bloom stalks

Thick velvety grey green leaves on full stems. Large bloom sprays of green bracts and mixed brightly-colored blooms. Grow from seed and offsets. Deer-resistant.

Rare Hoyas Not in Bloom

People usually like to see Hoya photos that feature the wax flowers since the wax flowers are always so pretty. But I like to feature photos of the leaves.

That’s just the way I am.

Hoya macrophylla Variegata

Hoya macrophylla “Variegata”

Hoya nicholsoniae

Hoya nicholsoniae

Pelargonium ferulaceum


Pelargonium ferulaceum is a shrubby member of the Geranium family that will form a twisty caudex and get sweet little flowers. Easy to grow, hardy to around 30F, this plant is now on your list of favorites. You can thank me later.

Lithops Clumps


A very nice clump of Lithops in late winter splitting mode. You can really see the mimicry effect with the red rocks around them. Don’t water when they’re splitting like this. You want to make sure they absorb all the moisture out of the older leaves into the newer leaves, otherwise the new growth can be choked off.


Pink Rock Orchid


Dendrobium kingianum is hardy down to around freezing around here, and works well both inside or out. It blooms late winter, as you can see, through spring.

We grow them in orchid bark, or as we prefer coconut husk chunks. I think we will be watering weekly indoor, and every 2 weeks if they’re in a shady spot outdoor. Fertilize every month. Easy!


Chapparal Currant

Ribes Barrie Coate

Ribes “Barrie Coate” is coming into full bloom. I see that it has probably the most saturated color of the flowering currants, all native to California, that I am aware of.

I like it!

Ribes malvaceum “Barrie Coate”
Chaparral Currant

California Native
Deciduous shrub

Sun: Full Sun to Part Shade
Water: Occasional
Size: 6 ft.

Winter blooming hummingbird plant. Very dark pink flower clusters February-March. Woody branches have peeling red bark as they age. Hardy to 25F.

Common Wax Flowers


Hoya australis is a vining succulent in the Asclepiad (Milkweed) Family (Asclepiadaceae).

According to the Australia Native Plant Society:

Hoya australis

Family: Asclepiadaceae

Distribution: Rainforests and rainforest margins from north-eastern New South Wales to north-eastern Queensland.

Common Name: Common waxflower.

Derivation of Name: Hoya; after Thomas Hoy, English gardener. australis; southern, referring to the global distribution of the species.

Conservation Status: Not considered to be at risk in the wild

Blooming Spurges

A lot of our shrubby Euphorbias, i.e. the Spurges, are blooming right now or coming into bloom soon enough. While not strictly succulents, they are very drought tolerant and can easily mix in a succulent garden.

Euphorbia Bruces Dwarf

Euphorbia “Bruce’s Dwarf”

Euphorbia martinii

Euphorbia x martinii

Euphorbia Wulfenii

Euphorbia characias ssp. wulfenii

Euphorbia Ascot Rainbow

Euphorbia “Ascot Rainbow”

Euphorbia Blackbird

Euphorbia “Blackbird”

Euphorbia Tiny Tim

Euphorbia “Tiny Tim”

And just for fun, here’s one blooming succulent spurge – so many Euphorbias are succulent, and this one is succulent:

Euphorbia mauritanica

Euphorbia mauritanica

Ice Plant Politics

Some people think that our cute little blooming Delospermas are Ice Plants, just like along the highways and coastlines of California.

But they’re not! I mean, sure, they’re related and all, and the leaves are similar enough and the fruits are also edible enough so that maybe you could call them Ice Plants if you really wanted to, but the biggest difference is that these are not invasive. So I choose not to call them Ice Plants.

Here are some in bloom right now at the nursery. Look at all the pretty flower colors!

Magenta Delosperma

Would you call that Magenta? I would. Maybe some would say it veers toward fuschia. I would not.

Yellow Delosperma

Yellow is easy to ID. Plus it is particularly popular with the native bees. They like yellow! There must be lots of native yellow flowers, like the Mimuluses. I would like to name this color, Rapeseed Yellow.

Pink Delosperma

Pink is a varied color. Is there a shade of pink that would match this? It kind of matches MAC Eyeshadow’s “Swish” Swatch.

Red Delosperma

Red! Finally! Actually kind of a crimson red, so you know its good.

Orange Delosperma

…and Orange.

By the way, the most popular Delosperma flower color on my Instagram feed is…

Wait for it…



Flowering Currants


Ribes sanguineum

The California native currants are in full bloom now, with fresh new green leaves popping up everywhere too. We have 3 or 4 varieties right now, so you know they must be gorgeous too.

Succulent Flowers

3 Adeniums and 1 Pachypodium.

First up we have three hybridized Adenium obesum flowers with very different colors. How do they get so many colors?

Adenium obesum bloom1

1. A fairly standard, but very saturated, solid pink.

Adenium obesum bloom2

2. A crazy bi-color. Most 2-color Adenium flowers are center/edge colored, not striped like this.

Adenium obesum bloom3

3. This one is closest to the true species. And you can see the 2-colored with the petals being white towards the center and pink along the edges.

And then we have a very lovely solid yellow colored Pachypodium rosulatum flower.

Pachypodium rosulatum bloom

String of Buttons


Crassula perforata have the tiniest of blooms. They don’t really look like much. They crowd together at the tips of a growing stem which will then benefit when you cut the spent blooms off. It’s hard to tell without a magnifier when they’re spent or still in bloom. I would guess the tiny flowers are only 2mm across, but then I don’t know the metric system at all so I could be wrong. Here’s a life-size metric ruler, so they say, that shows what 2mm is.

The macro photo is not so clear. But it’s the best I’ve been able to get. It almost looks like a watercolor. Here is the same photo with a watercolor filter applied.



African Aloe

It must be winter-growing-aloe-bloom-season in the Bay Area!

aloe africana

Aloe africana is an African Aloe also known as African Aloe. It’s from South Africa, of course. The Eastern Cape. These are some very orange flowers. The plant itself is a single-stemmed, generally solitary tree aloe to 10ft. tall. The marginal spines are vigorous, though not so large or numerous as to be hazardous.

Silver Torch

cleistocactus straussii blooms

Cleistocactus straussii is the first cactus I have blogged around here in ages. It’s been so long I practically forgot what a cactus even looks like. It looks like this.

They are summer bloomers, but there’s often stragglers on and off throughout the year.

I wonder what they look like at the tip of the plant, against a sky blue backdrop?

cleistocactus straussii2

From the high altitude plains of the Himalayan mountains. I mean the Andes, sorry about that.

Hummingbirds love them. I do too. Am I a hummingbird? No, I am not. I am your faithful blogger, a person. And I have never been to South America.

Chaparral Currant

We’re getting into bloom season for a whole bunch of native currants.

ribes barrie coate

Ribes “Barrie Coate” is a favorite for the rich deep color of the blooms. The berries are edible of course, but it is grown primarily for the flowers. Because, I mean, look at them.

Ribes “Barrie Coate”

California Native
Deciduous shrub

Sun: Full Sun to Part Shade
Water: Occasional
Size: 6 ft.

Winter blooming hummingbird plant. Very dark pink flower clusters February-March. Woody branches have peeling red bark as they age. Hardy to 25F.

You can see from the photo that the blooms come before the leaves with this species. By spring it will be a gorgeous green shrub and will still have more blooms too!

Sarasota Airplants


A tiny Tillandsia attached to a tree amongst the lichens. In Sarasota! (that’s Florida)

Shagbark Manzanita

Arctostaphylos rudis Vandenberg

Arctostaphylos rudis “Vandenberg” is a very attractive manzanita from the wilds of California. Wild indeed. Found originally on Vandenberg Air Force Base, near San Diego, it is a satisfying 7 foot tall tree with shaggy red bark. Left in its wild state it will be much wider than tall, even over 10ft. wide, but it can be kept pruned for shape to as wide as tall, though I wouldn’t recommend trying to prune this into a vertical tree.

Arctostaphylos “Vandenberg”

California Native
Evergreen shrub

Sun: Full Sun
Water: Low, summer-drought
Size: 6t x 10w.

Dense foliage forms a deep green garden backdrop, or perfect as a hedge. Clusters of small pink flowers in spring. Hardy to 15F.

The pretty pink bell shaped flowers are great for attracting hummingbirds.

Oregon Sunshine Still Blooming

eriophyllum siskiyou bloom

Eriophyllum lanatum “Siskiyou” just never wants to give up with the blooming. This is a strange time of year to see even one of these cute yellow daisy flowers.


Eriophyllum lanatum “Siskiyou”

Native to California and Oregon
Evergreen Perennial Groundcover

Sun: Full to Partial Sun
Water: Low
Size: 12″h, spreads 3ft. wide

Pretty whitish to grey-green woolly leaves with stunning displays of yellow daisy flowers throughout the spring. Tidy and low-growing groundcover, blooms pop up to 12″h. Cut back after blooming. Hardy to 15F.

Red Yarrow

achillea red velvet

Achillea “Red Velvet” has some of the deepest purplish maroony reds around. In the flowers that is, the leaves are still green. You can be sure there will ber a lot more blooms than this measly spray by the time summer rolls around. It’s nice to even have these late blooms this time of year. I appreciate them. Do you too?

Achillea “Red Velvet”

North America; Cultivated variety
Herbaceous Perennial

Sun: Full Sun
Water: Low
Size: Low, blooms to 3 feet

Green gray foliage. Flowers summer thru fall. Often used for cut or dried flowers. Attracts butterflies and birds. Hardy to below 0F.


Arctostaphylos densiflora Howard McMinn

Arctostaphylos densiflora “Howard McMinn” is another California tree. This one is shorter than yesterday’s Catalina Ironwood, topping out at below 10ft., vs. the 40ft. tall Ironwood.

Arctostaphylos densiflora “Howard McMinn”

California Native
Evergreen shrub

Sun: Full Sun
Water: Low
Size: 7ft.h. x 10ft.w.

Large evergreen mounding shrub with clusters of small flowers, white to light pink, in winter through spring. Berries are favored by native birds. Dark red trunk.


A. “Howard McMinn” is a nectar source for the Monarch Butterfly and the California Dogface Butterfly

Blue Germander

Teucrium fruticans Azurea

Teucrium fruticans “Azurea”

Evergreen Shrub

Sun: Full Sun
Water: Low, Good drainage
Size: 4ft. tall x 5ft. wide

This Mediterranean evergreen shrub grows well in the Bay Area. Silvery gray foliage. Deep blue flowers cover the plant most of the year – spring thru fall. Hardy to 20F.

Jerusalem Sage

phlomis lanata

Phlomis lanata is a prolific yellow flowering fuzzy leafed shrub so you would think I could catch it with the yellow flowers in bloom, but not today. Today I wanted to capture the fuzzy leaves.

phlomis lanata2

That’s another shot, which I like better.

Phlomis lanata
Native to Eastern Mediterranean
Semi-deciduous Shrub

Sun: Full Sun
Water: Low to Moderate
Size: 2 to 3 feet

A bold grey shrub for a warm, sunny border. A great Mediterranean climate plant – beautiful pale-yellow flower whorls in summer. Cold tolerant to 20°.

Yellow Emu

eremophila maculata aurea

Eremophila maculata “Aurea” is a yellow flowering cultivar from Australia, hence the Emu name.

These are generally a very leafy shrub in the 4 to 6 ft. range, height and width. They’re hardy to the mid-20s. They get covered in the bell-shaped yellow flowers in the spring, but will bloom year-round.

Generally we like full sun close to the coast, but further inland it can handle a lot of shade.

So here’s the deal. It’s not the prettiest plant around – after all what do you expect from a plant call Emu? But it’s very hardy and drought-tolerant and heat-tolerant and flexible for sun conditions and it blooms year-round too. So it turns out its a pretty good plant after all.

Succulent Wall Panels


We plant these succulent wall panels 2 to 3 months in advance. We used succulent cuttings in a bed of moss within the wood frame. These were planted in September.

Then we set them flat for 2 months to make sure they’re fully rooted. Which they are! Then the plants start growing. Which they have! These plants are huge in these frames right now.

Then I photograph them in full color and full sun. Nice!

The final step is to use various and sundry photo filters to get just the right effect to increase your enjoyment to 11. Finally I apply the b/w filter, and… Huzzah! You take the last of the 3 final steps and place your daily succulent enjoyment in my capable hands.

Pretty Flowers


Pretty flowers are on the way, soon enough with this lovely tree Aloe.

Aloe speciosa is also known as the Tilt-head Aloe. It’s from the southern parts of South Africa. It’s generally found in groups, ie Aloe forests. The Red buds will turn pure white when they open. And of course like all aloes the hummingbirds go crazy girl them, checking back every day for more open blooms.

They are a tree Aloe, getting as tall as 20ft. and pretty quick too for a thick trunked succulent.

Aloes in Bud


Aloe africana


Aloe plicatilis


Aloe variegata


And in bloom, Aloe “Yellow Torch”


May 2020

US Constitution


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