Ceratopetalum gummiferum 'Fairley's Coral'

Gardener’s Log – August 2022

My apologies that I did not put out a Gardener’s Log for July. Summer was busy with work, plus a visit down to California that had me wandering around Golden Gate Park, including the Japanese garden, the arboretum and the conservatory of flowers, the UC Santa Cruz Botanical Garden, UC Davis, A brief stop at an arboretum in Redding, plant shopping in Half Moon Bay, and more. This month we also did a visit to the Wonder Garden in Manzanita to collect some cutting materials.

But perhaps the most amazing visit, was that someone came to visit me. The curator for UC Santa Cruz Arboretum came to see my garden. It was not an official visit, but she was interested in seeing what success I was having growing Protea in Oregon. As retirement loomed for her, her eventual location was to be influenced by where she could continue to grow her plant friends. She was very gracious, although I am sure she probably found a lot of things I was doing wrong. But that is part of the joy when you attempt to do something that so few have attempted before you – there are no books, no searching of the Internet, no authorities that have made their learnings available to a wide population. Perhaps some of it exists in Horticultural Journals, but they are not accessible to me.

Garden Progress

Not a lot of construction has happened through July and August, partly because of some health issues that are slowing me down, partly because there is more maintenance to do during summer, and partly because you have to spend some time enjoying what you have created. Some progress has happened in the Fairy garden, but still a lot more to do there. The water basin is now installed. Rather than using a lining for this, I sunk a 70 gallon storage box. It will then be covered with a wire mesh and small stones, such that raccoons and other critters cannot get into it. I am still not sure if I will try to grow any plants in there – time will tell. I did one rock run this month, but do not have enough to finish off the waterfalls. Hopefully I will get some more in the next couple of weeks and then I can start getting them foamed into place before we start getting into wet weather.

I have been happy with the garden this year – especially the new Mediterranean Garden and the Fuchsia wall – which has done better than I ever imagined. I probably do need to think about feeding them more than I have – that is something I am very bad about in general. While I do mix a slow release fertilizer into my potting mixes (except for the Protea), I always forget to fertilize in subsequent years or top up with liquid feed when they are in rapid growth.

The cutting bench is full, and I have yet to process the cutting I just took from the Wonder Garden and still need to get all the Fuchsia done, and other plants, that act as backups in case we get another really cold winter. I am also hoping that I can have a few more plants to sell next year to offset how much I spend on new plants.

Selling plants on ebay really is a bit of a pain. I am astounded by the attitude of so many people who are looking for every way they can to claim a refund, or blame me if they kill the plant because they did not follow directions. You would think plant people would be better than the general population, but it appears that they are no different.

What’s in Bloom

During summer, there are many big, blowsy, and dare I say almost vulgar things in bloom – and don’t we love them all! Lilies, Dahlias, Daylilies, Bougainvillea, and then the annuals putting on such a show, such as Fuchsia, Lantana, and Verbena. I love them all as much as anyone else, but I am always drawn to the less common, or sometimes more diminutive performers. Ceratopetalum gummiferum ‘Fairley’s Coral‘ is one such marvel. This plant is new to me and was acquired during my trip to California.

Ceratopetalum gummiferum 'Fairley's Coral'
Ceratopetalum gummiferum ‘Fairley’s Coral’

This is a large bush or small tree that in Australia is called Christmas Bush. Of course, that is the middle of summer for us and so it is more commonly called Festival Bush for us. The floral display starts with small white blossoms, but as they fade they turn red and then persist on the plant for months – often well into fall apparently. This plant is only 18″ tall at the moment, but can you imagine this when it is 15′ to 20′ tall and covered like this. We will have to be a little careful because it is only hardy to zone 9b, but this may well be worth pampering.

This is the time of year when the Grevillea start blooming, and perhaps one of the most colorful that we have managed to keep growing is King’s Rainbow. The bicolored flowers are quite amazing and the red of the anthers has a metallic sheen.

Grevillea 'Kings Rainbow'
Grevillea ‘Kings Rainbow’

Before you call fowl, I want to add a fern onto my blooming list. I know – ferns don’t bloom, but is we judge something by putting n a colorful display, nobody can complain about the emerging fiddleheads of Blechnum spicant. The combination of red stem and yellow center is quite amazing.

Blechnum spicant
Blechnum spicant

The last one I want to feature this month is a plant that continue to struggle for us a little (Polygala dalmaisiana), in that it has a very sparse structure, but it has the most remarkable flowers, unlike anything else I can think of, except perhaps an orchid. The combination of the deep purple and the almost coral-like white feathers emerging from the end are almost other-worldly. Then it has the little striped ears and horns. Just amazing.

Polygala dalmaisiana
Polygala dalmaisiana

Weather Summary

After all of the extreme weather we had had this year, August was relatively normal. It was slightly hotter and dryer than last year, but not by much. Last year, the high was 77.4F, the low 48.2 and the average 58.6. This year the high was 80, the low 50 and the average 60. Rainfall last year was 1.11″ and we only had half of that this year, coming in at 0.51″. The anemometer is still not really working. It does provide data at times, but now sure how reliable it is. If it is to be believed, we did record a gust of over 80 mph this month, with a wind speed of over 50mph. It certainly has been blustery at times.

Weather August 2022
Weather August 2022

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