Friday, March 23, 2018

Local Spring Flower-fest

It's that time of year.  New flowers seem to appear nearly every day in my garden.

Appearing this week: noID Iris germanica, blooming on the back slope underneath the leaf of an agave (left), and Iris douglasiana 'Santa Lucia' in the front garden (right)

I wandered further afield this week to see what else is making an appearance now that our long-awaited rain has arrived.  I started my search in my own neighborhood.

Alyogyne huegelii (aka blue hibiscus)

Azalea 'George Tabor'

Beschorneria yuccoides, the first I've ever seen in bloom (or almost in bloom)

What I believe may be wild borage of some kind, growing head-high in a vacant lot

The biggest Leucospermum I've ever seen, which blooms reliably every year in this neighbor's garden

A yellow-flowered Leucospermum, planted just a few houses further up the road

A large pink-flowered Pelargonium blooming along yellow Euryops, Limonium perezii, Persicaria capitata, Cordyline and Agapanthus on a relatively steep slope.  This slope was replanted last year.

Wednesday, as a new storm was moving in, I also made a quick tour of South Coast Botanic Garden, just 5 miles away.

More of the garden's cherry trees have burst into bloom.

These trees surround the garden's amphitheater

The Wisteria vines planted along the arbors are producing their first blooms.

It'll probably be another month before the flowers thoroughly blanket the arbors

Even the desert garden has flowers.

The rains triggered the growth of California poppies and blue lupine here (while I've yet to see any sign of California poppies in my own garden)

The redesigned Mediterranean garden is studded with flowers in shades of white, orange, yellow and blue.

Top row: noID Cistus, Eschscholzia californica, and Nectarine tree blossoms
Middle row: Penstemon heterophyllus, P. eatonii, and Phlomis fruticosa
Bottom row: Salvia clevelandii 'Winnifred Gilman', Trichostema lanatum, and Verbena lilacina

The new rose garden is getting ready for its grand opening in April.

The framework is in place and the roses are planted, but blooms are still relatively sparse

It'd started to rain as I photographed the roses so I didn't bother to look for name tags

And the Volunteer Garden has positively exploded in flowers.

I'm beginning to think orange California poppies go with everything

The centerpiece here is a noID Magnolia in full bloom

I don't usually like pink and red together but I liked this combination

This bed had me asking why I've never tried growing Cerastium tomentosum in my current garden

Note the Brugmansia in full bloom in the background.  The flowers on the Echium on the left were just beginning to open.  The bed on the right was full of various kinds of Pelargonium.

You may have noticed that I've paid more frequent visits to my local botanic garden of late.  Last month I started training to become a volunteer docent.  My last training session is next week.  My first 2 tours are already scheduled for April.  Ninety percent of the tours involve guiding schoolchildren, which isn't a group I've had much experience with in recent years.  One of my biggest problems has been coming up with the common names of plants and flowers as I've somehow managed to hard-wire my brain to produce the Latin names, at least for those plants I'm most familiar with.  So I've been working hard to pull common names back into my vocabulary.

Top row: Calendula (pot marigold), Crocosmia (montbretia), Dietes grandiflora (fortnight lily), and Eschscholzia (California poppy)
2nd row: noID Euphorbia (spurge), Euryops (African sunflower), Gazania (African daisy), and Gladiolus (sword lily)
3rd row: Helianthus (sunflower). Kalanchoe beharensis (felt plant), noID Narcissus (daffodil), and Nemesia  (no common name)
Last row: Oxalis (weed!), noID Pelargonium (geranium), hybrid Penstemon (beard tongue), and Papaver nudicuale (Iceland poppy)

Top row: Alstroemeria (Peruvian lily), Arctotis (African daisy #2), Borago (borage), and Cerastium (snow-in-summer)
2nd row: Cerinthe (honeywort), Hyacinthoides (Spanish bluebells) Limonium perezii (sea lavender), and Myosotis (forget-me-nots)
3rd row: Osteospermum (African daisy #3),  pink Iceland poppy, Persicaria capitata (knotweed), and Salvia 'Mystic Spires' (sage)
Last row: noID Salvia (sage), Scabiosa (pincushion flower), Scilla peruviana (another "Peruvian lily," actually of Spanish origin), and what used to be Solanum rantonetti (blue potato bush)

Wish me luck!

Actually, it is easier to remember this as an apricot trumpet flower tree than Handroanthus chrysostricha x impetiginosus, formerly classified as Tabebuia (and much simpler to pronounce)

Enjoy the first weekend of Spring!

All material © 2012-2018 by Kris Peterson for Late to the Garden Party

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Who'd have guessed? (Wednesday Vignette)

Last Thursday, our newspapers came up missing.  My husband usually picks them up from our driveway before he starts his morning walk.  He was much later than usual in getting started that morning but, thinking the paper delivery person may also have been late, he took off.  While he was out he noticed that several of our neighbors had papers in their driveways so, when he returned home, he did a thorough search of the bushes to see if he could find ours.  He didn't and, assuming that the delivery person had simply missed us or that someone had walked off with them, we called in for replacements, which were promptly delivered.  My husband asked if I could imagine that anyone in the neighborhood could have walked off with them and I shrugged and said it was just one of the two only plausible possibilities.  We'd had papers "walk away" on numerous occasions at our former house but our present neighborhood is both less densely populated and more off the beaten track, so theft seemed unlikely.  I sat down to my breakfast with the Los Angeles Times, while my husband took off with his Wall Street Journal, and I promptly dismissed the whole question.  But, my husband, being curious, decided to check our security cameras.  He quickly returned, urging me to come view the camera footage with the statement "you're never going to guess what happened."

The paper WAS delivered.  I've circled it sitting at the bottom of our driveway.

A mere minute or 2 later, a visitor strolls by and immediately checks out the paper, which was wrapped in a red plastic cover due to rain

Yes, that's Mr. Coyote carrying off the paper

It looked as though he was headed down the moss-covered dirt path just inside the hedge that borders the street

But he apparently clambered up the stepping stones that lead up to the main level of the front garden.  You can see him just to the left of the date stamp at the top of the screenshot.

And another camera picked him up here rounding the bend into the garden on the south side

At least he paid no attention to Pipig's screened porch on the right, although she was probably in the house yelling at me to dish out her breakfast at that point

He retained a good hold on that paper as he trotted along

This was the last good view we had of him

Although a fourth camera picked up his movements along another dirt path in the back garden (roughly above the "01" in 2018 above), I couldn't get any decent screenshots from this view.  However, I did find the missing papers another 20 feet or so beyond this point, where I suspect he abandoned them to dart through the hedge and down the slope into the canyon in search of other prey.

For the record, I did guess correctly in response to my husband's question but my response was in jest and I was incredulous when I saw the video, depicted here in selected screenshots from four separate cameras.  I still can't fathom why the coyote chose to pick up the paper, much less carry it through the garden for two or more minutes.  Maybe he was annoyed that I'd cleaned up the deposit he'd left in the driveway the morning before to mark our house as his territory.  Or maybe he was irritated that I'd discouraged bunny visits to my garden by caging the plants they've been grazing on.  Maybe he has an interest in what's happening in the stock market.  Who knows!!!

For more Wednesday Vignettes, visit Anna at Flutter & Hum.

All material © 2012-2018 by Kris Peterson for Late to the Garden Party

Monday, March 19, 2018

In a Vase on Monday: Spring has arrived!

Two weeks of periodic rainstorms may not have made up for the overall dryness of our winter rainy season or lifted us back out of drought but it's re-energized both the garden and the gardener, at least for now.  Suddenly, the problem in preparing arrangements for "In a Vase on Monday," the popular weekly exercise hosted by Cathy at Rambling in the Garden, isn't what to pick but how to cram everything I've picked into the vase I've selected.  The Ranunculus in the cutting garden got me started this week as they all seem to be blooming at once.

I wasn't sure what I was going to pair with the vivid red Ranunculus when I cut those first stems but in no time I'd gathered more than I needed.

The red Ranunculus were supposed to be purple but I must admit they proved useful as vase material this week

The orange-red Freesia were supposed to be blue and, although they're messing with the color composition of 2 of my borders, they also came in handy in preparing this arrangement

Grevilleas and a stem of early-blooming Alstromeria added extra pizzazz 

Clockwise from the upper left, the vase contains: Alstroemeria 'Indian Summer', red and yellow Freesia, Ranunculus californicus (aka California buttercup), red Ranunculus (open form), Xylosma congestum, another red Ranunculus (rose form), Lotus berthelotii 'Amazon Sunset', and, in the center, Grevillea 'Ned Kelly'

My second vase also started out with Ranunculus and Freesia.

I cut the first bloom of Digitalis 'Dalmatian White' in my cutting garden to give this arrangement more height

This is the back view but, when I reviewed my photos, I liked it better than the view I selected as the front of the arrangement

Clockwise from the upper left, the vase contains: Coleonema album; Cuphea hybrid 'Starfire Pink'; Coprosma repens 'Plum Hussey'; pink and white Freesia; white, pink and picotee Ranunculus; Leptospermum scoparium 'Pink Pearl'; and, in the center, Digitalis purpurea 'Dalmatian White'

For more vases from IaVoM contributors, visit Cathy at Rambling in the Garden.

Last week I discovered a new book on flower arranging that captures my own approach, Color Me Floral by Kiana Underwood.  It offers recipes for monochromatic arrangements, albeit based on a wider range of floral and foliage materials than most of us are able to forage from our gardens.  You can find more information about the book here if you're interested.*

Image from

*I found this book on my own and wasn't offered anything to include mention of it in my post.

All material © 2012-2018 by Kris Peterson for Late to the Garden Party

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Foliage Follow-up - Standouts and Hidden Treasures

Rain and other demands on my time delayed my Foliage Follow-up post this month.  As early spring brings new blooms every day, it's also easy to lose track of the foliage for the flowers.  But, despite my seeming obsession with floral color, my garden actually has its share of attractive foliage.  I'll share a few of the standouts today, along with some plants my camera's missed in the past.

I love this Echium webbii both in and out of bloom.  In bloom, it looks like a dwarf version of E. fastuosum 'Pride of Madeira'.  Even though it's less flashy than the variegated 'Star of Madeira', its graceful form always draws my eye.

On the smaller end of the plant spectrum, this Abelia x grandflora 'Confetti' also earned my admiration this month.  Unlike most of my other Abelia, which throw out tall gangly branches on a haphazard basis, this one continues to form a nice neat clump.

This graceful Agave desmetiana 'Variegata', nicely framed by the bronzy new foliage of the Xylosma congestum behind it, also drew my eye

It looks great when viewed from the street too

After taking the first photo of the Agave desmettana shown above, I panned my camera further along the same bed and captured one of my favorite Agaves half-hidden from view.

Viewed from the back side of the street-facing succulent bed, this Agave 'Blue Glow' is partially screened by stems of the restio planted behind it.  The restio was sold to me years ago as the dwarf Chondropetalum tectorum (aka small cape rush) but, as explained in this article, it's probably C. elephantinum.

Here's another view from the street.  There are actually 3 'Blue Glow' Agaves in front of the restio.

I've pondered the fate of that restio many times, but it took years to become established and I lost 3 other specimens in the time that took that one to reach this point so it's going to stay.  Perhaps the 'Blue Glow' Agaves beneath its skirt will grow large enough to stand out on their own but, eventually, they'll bloom and die and I can replace them with something more appropriate in that spot.

You may remember that I faced a similar issue with out-of-control 'Cousin Itt' Acacias in my back garden (addressed in my October Foliage Follow-up post).  As mentioned in November's Foliage Follow-up, I moved the succulents swamped by the Acacias and planted several Lotus bethelotii to fill in as a groundcover in front of the Acacias.  The Lotus has always been a fast grower, with aggressive tendencies of its own, so I was perplexed by the failure of these plants to spread.  It soon became obvious that something was eating the infant plants as one after another virtually disappeared.  Disappearances and evidence of persistent nibbling occurred elsewhere in my garden too.  Insects?  Squirrels?  Birds?  I considered all of them.  Earlier this week, the culprit finally revealed itself.

Many of you may have immediately identified a bunny as the culprit but, although I know there are plenty of rabbits in a park a mile away, I've never seen any here.  I assumed they either had a territorial arrangement with the raccoons and skunks or their range was constrained by the coyotes.

My husband pulled video of the rabbit bouncing around our back garden in the early evening before my paparazzi effort sent it hopping.   Three screen shots are shown above.  Maybe the rabbits have expanded their range as more and more of my neighbors bring their dogs in at night due to the intensifying concerns about coyote attacks on pets. 

I'd already caged some of my plants and now the Lotus are covered too.

The bunny apparently loves the fresh foliage of Orlaya grandiflora (aka Minoan Lace).  A few of the plants completely disappeared overnight.  Caged, this one is now recovering.

I'm using empty flats turned upside-down to protect the Lotus berthelotii 'Amazon Sunset'.  They're held down with landscaping pins to prevent the bunny from moving them.  Why the bunny ignores the rampant Lotus on the other side of the path is a mystery.

Meanwhile, I've discovered that 'Cousin Itt' is now enveloping plants on the back side of that bed too.

Maybe the Duranta repens 'Gold Mound' can survive 'Cousin Itt's' embrace but, if it can't, it's not a big loss.

Oh well.  Visit Pam at Digging for more Foliage Follow-up posts.  Have a great weekend!

All material © 2012-2018 by Kris Peterson for Late to the Garden Party