I googled skunk cabbage but it is on the invasive plant list here so looks like I better not use it. Shame cos it looks fabulous but if it escaped into the brook and spread I would be in big trouble.
Nice to hear you now have a camera. Brings a whole new dimension to gardening as you can keep such a great record. I got mine for Xmas and use it nearly everyday to help me with my garden and to keep fresh in my mind what I want to do in customers gardens.
Being a chef must be one of the most stressful and demanding jobs out there. Bet you are glad you packed it in and have a life again.
When you say it is going to get hot how hot does it get there? We don't really have zones in Britain as we are so small but I am equivalent to zone 8/9. We do get snow but not much but in recent years our winters have become quite stormy and very wet so we get lots of rain at the wrong time of the year and not enough when the plants really need it.
I too spend ages staring at one spot before I do anything. I have endless lists of plants and their pros and cons running through my head whilst staring until the ideal plant for wherever pops up. I think I have an almost photographic memory when it comes to plants. Once I know a name I rarely forget it. Wish I could do that with other things in my life!
Right now to the plants; Yes it is Californian lilac. This is a groundcover form. They come in different sizes from 6ft to 30ft and tend to grow as wide as they grow tall. Most are this powdery blue colour but there are some darker blue forms and one that is more a sky blue I think that is its name too and it is the prettiest one I think.
The one in the herbs is a Buddleia called "Peace" which has white flowers. I chop it to about a foot from the ground in the spring to keep it thick and bushy. Most I see planted don't get pruned this hard or at all and look very spindly with flowers where you cannot see them.
The palm tree was only a foot high when I bought it. It is now about 9/10ft and is providing a little bit of shade at last. If I sit in my deckchair in one position underneath a particular frond I can get out of the sun.
I would love a wisteria but I live in a bungalow and there is no room for it unless I don't want to look out my windows ever again so I envy you. Clematis are really easy from cuttings so when you see one you like ask if you can snip a bit off. That way you can drown for free in your vines
Look forward to seeing the pics on your new camera. Hurry up and learn how to use it!