A walk around the block

… on Saturday morning, slowly, using my walker, in my penguin mask and the company of Kim Darnell (who took some flower photos, to come below). My first such walk since February 2020, so it was a Very Big Thing.

Across the street and through the parking lot of the downtown library (much improved during my lockdown time by the replacement of some decayed fencing festooned with a collection of noxious weeds), to Bryant St., the next street east of Ramona (as we reckon directions locally); then south on Bryant to stop at 740, which has a fabulous garden right out on the street, for the pleasure of the community (picture time here); on to the corner of Homer Ave. (the corner condo planted with expanses of easy-care vegetation, including a big spread of light blue Ceanothus, California lilac); around the corner to go west on Homer Ave., passing two young Chinese elms that had been planted on the street since I last walked this route; across Ramona St., to stop at the condo at the northwest corner and admire its low-water plantings, all of which except one I had previously identified (another picture time here); and then back north on Ramona St. to home, at 722.

740 Bryant. From my 7/12/17 posting “Neighborhood gardens, heavy on purple”:


(#1) The street garden in July 2017 (on a very hot day)

Walking around the neighborhood these days, in between heat waves, alone and with friends, mostly enjoying gardens and street plantings and identifying what we see. Most delightfully, this elaborate container garden in front of a house on Bryant St., just a block from mine

Two composite plants of a familiar sort — African daisies (which of course are not actually daisies), but both of unfamiliar varieties — one in an unusual color:

(#2)

And one with extraordinarily thin “spooned” petals:

(#3)

The plant, from my 8/31/15 posting “African daisies”:

Osteospermum. This seems to be the genus that is most commonly referred to as the African daisy. An assortment of cultivars:

(#4)

(with further details about the genus)

Ramona and Homer. The Google Street View of the corner, from 10/20:


(#5) One block west (to the left), the local Whole Foods; a half-block north on Ramona, my place

From my 6/7/18 posting “White stars on a field of green”:

Notable feature of the grounds on the condo complex at the northwest corner of Ramona St. and Homer Ave. (half a block from my house), a carpet of Myoporum parvifolium, with its fleshy leaves and small 5-petaled flowers, as in this photo from the net:

(#6)

A few years ago, the original water-greedy plantings around the complex were ripped out and replaced by low-water alternatives [several native to Australia, among them this one], including this handsome ground cover, which has been spreading nicely to fill the area.

Just up on Ramona St. there’s a stand of a pretty mystery plant, low and shrubby with small silver-gray succulent-like leaves and complex pinkish-red and white flowers:

(#7)

Things advanced substantially when Kim Darnell tried a reverse image search on Google. This turned up Grevillea lavandulacea (lavender grevillea) ‘Penicola’ as a match, but it’s usually 1-4 feet high, with solid pinkish red flowers. However, the form of the flowers is just right, and so is the foliage, so a Grevillea cultivar looks like the answer.

But first I had a moment of perplexity, the source of which you will appreciate from my 6/5/15 posting “For the day”, with its section on grevilleas (genus Grevillea in the family Proteaceae): I grew a silk oak tree (Grevillea robusta) in a pot in Columbus; it’s a tall tree, growing up to 150 feet high in the wild, with large fern-like leaves. (Wikipedia page here.)

Ah, but it turns out that the genus embraces an extraordinary variety of plant forms, including many shrubby or even prostrate species, most of which have been cultivated and hybridized, yielding many dozens or perhaps hundreds of named low-growing cultivars. My mystery plant is probably not Grevillea lavandulacea ‘Penicola’, but it might be Grevillea lanigera (woolly grevillea) ‘Coastal Gem’ (a UCSC creation, so genuinely local), though my current top candidate is Grevillea lanigera ‘Mt Tamboritha’, in part because that cultivar is enormously popular. It has its own Wikipedia page, in fact:

(#7)

Grevillea lanigera ‘Mt Tamboritha’ is a cultivar of the genus Grevillea, planted widely in Australia and other countries for its ornamental foliage and flowers. It is the most popular form of Grevillea lanigera in cultivation. It is also known by the names ‘Mt Tamboritha form’, ‘Compacta’, ‘Prostrate’, ‘Prostrate Form’ or the misnomer ‘Mt Tambourine’.

The cultivar is a spreading, low shrub that grows to 0.4 metres in height and 1 to 2 metres wide. … Flowers are pinkish-red and cream and appear in clusters. The primary flowering period is from late winter to spring, though flowers may be seen throughout the year.

Obviously, my local plant is still blooming.

 

One Response to “A walk around the block”

  1. Stewart Kramer Says:

    I had a similar surprise with creeping myoporum being planted as a groundcover on the Stanford campus. My mother planted a small tree in the front yard, and CalTrans used them in highway medians in the 1990’s. I only knew the genus as a short-lived shrub or small tree that was fast growing and high maintenance (now considered a noxious weed and fire hazard).
    https://www.cal-ipc.org/plants/profile/myoporum-laetum-profile/

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