Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Wednesday Vignette: Pools of Light

I've had computer problems and wasn't sure I'd get a Wednesday Vignette up this week but, when I saw Anna's post at Flutter & Hum, I thought of a photo I took last week.  Our marine layer often hides the rays of the sun as it rises, starting the day off on a somber note.  However, on some occasions, sunlight breaks through the clouds scattering pools of silvery light over the Los Angeles harbor, providing a reminder that the day holds promise.

Visit Anna at Flutter & Hum to find more Wednesday Vignettes.

All material © 2012-2016 by Kris Peterson for Late to the Garden Party

Monday, August 29, 2016

In a Vase on Monday: Red Hot!

I'm surprised that we're almost through August and I haven't had to resort to succulents to fill a vase on Monday.  Maybe it's a sign that my garden is finally maturing.  My inspiration for this week's vase was the sight of Leucadendron 'Safari Sunset' backlit by the morning sun.

I cut 2 stems and was off and running with a red theme.  I didn't grow much of anything with red foliage or flowers in my old garden, feeling that the color would overwhelm the tiny space, but it fits my current larger, sunnier garden better and it's slowly crept in here and there.  I added touches of coral to the arrangement in an effort to prevent it from becoming too heavy.

In this view, the mid-section looks as though it could have used a little more lightening up

Back view

Top view

Clockwise from the upper left, the vase contains: Leucadendron 'Blush' and L. 'Safari Sunset'; Abelia 'Kaleidoscope'; Agonis flexuosa 'Nana'; Gaillardia 'Arizona Sun', Lantana camara 'Irene', and Agastache 'Kudos Mandarin'; Grevillea 'Superb'; and Pennisetum 'Fireworks'

At the other extreme of the color spectrum, I noticed that I had 2 new blooms on the green Eustoma grandiflorum so I cut those too.  Calling the flowers green is a bit of a stretch as only the base of the flower can really be considered green but I like them anyway.  Unlike the Leucadendron in the first arrangement the green Lisianthus called for companions in soft colors.

Front view highlighting the barely green Eustoma

Pink Eustoma dominated the back view

Top view

Clockwise from the left, the vase contains: green Eustoma grandiflorum, pink Eustoma, Achillea 'Moondust', Coleonema pulchellum 'Sunset Gold', and 'Electric Lime' Plectranthus scutellarioides  (commonly known as coleus and formerly classified as Solenostemon scutellarioides)

The first arrangement sits inside on the dining room table but I also took a photo of it on the outside patio table where the sun did a good job of setting the Leucadendron aglow.

Front and side views of the arrangement on the dining room table

Backlighting the arrangement gives it an entirely different personality

The more demure arrangement sits in the front entry.

Visit Cathy at Rambling in the Garden to see what she and other gardeners have used in their vases this week.

All material © 2012-2016 by Kris Peterson for Late to the Garden Party

Friday, August 26, 2016

August 2016 Favorites

It's the last Friday of the month, when Loree of danger garden calls for gardeners to celebrate the plants that earned their favor this month.  August is a month when the plants here hunker down and wait for better days so finding stand-outs isn't easy.  Even though our summer temperatures have been milder than they were in late June and extra irrigation has generally perked things up, the plants I'm drawn to at the moment are mostly those I've already featured within the last few months.  But a few plants are deserving of notice.

Ozothamnus diosmifolius, planted in November 2015, is finally living up to my expectations.

The Australian native isn't in flower at this time of year but I really didn't buy it for the flowers

I love its erect form which makes me think of a miniature pine tree

Also known as rice flower, it's often grown for its flowers, shown here in a photo taken back in April

Leucadendron salignum 'Chief', planted in January 2013, fulfilled its promise long ago while its companion, Leucadendron 'Ebony', planted some 8 months later, has been slower to develop.  The two are finally beginning to play off one another as I'd envisioned.

Leucadendron 'Ebony', a sport of L. 'Safari Sunset', has gained size at last this year, although its growth is uneven.  At maturity, 'Ebony' should grow 3-4 feet tall, or about half the height of 'Chief'.  I trim  'Chief' back each year but have yet to trim 'Ebony'.

L. 'Chief' makes great use of the late afternoon sunlight

In contrast, L. 'Ebony' is dark and moody

Lantana camara 'Irene', planted from 6-packs in May 2015, is at last providing the pops of color I'd imagined around the base of the Pennisetum in the back garden.  Although it's a drought tolerant plant, it needed the boost it got from additional irrigation to produce more than a flower here and there.

Lantana camara 'Irene' has pretty multi-colored flowers which play off both the reddish pink of the Pennisetum 'Fireworks' to the left and the orange Agastache behind.  Hibiscus trionum (to the right) recently made a surprise reappearance after dying off last year.  Considered a noxious weed in some areas of the country, it doesn't present an issue here.

The succulents can be depended upon to look good year round but two earned special recognition this month.

Crassula perfoliata falcata (aka airplane plant) produced its first bright red bloom

Although relatively small, Agave parryi patonii draws my attention every time I pass it.  I love those exaggerated leaf imprints.  It's produced a couple of pups but I don't think I can manage to get them out intact without digging up the entire plant.

Unfortunately, I also had a major loss this month.  My Leucadendron galpinii, a relatively recent purchase, dropped dead in record time.

It lasted less than 2 months in the backyard border, despite the extra water I provided to help it get established

I was excited to find this plant in a one-gallon container for the first time and, perhaps foolishly, decided to go ahead and plant it in the backyard border in July rather than waiting for more hospitable weather.  Even more foolishly, I planted it in the same location as the Adenanthos sericeus I'd lost earlier.  Tracing the history of plants in this area, I realized these aren't the first losses in the same area.  I previously lost both a Prostanthera ovalifolia and a Philotheca myporoides in the same general vicinity.  Based on my (somewhat patchy) records, all seem to have expired relatively quickly.  I'm going to test the soil to see if that provides clues to what's going on.

So as not to end on that sour note, here's a photo of the lovely Pennisetum 'Fireworks' in my back garden.  I think they look even better than they did in last month's favorites post.  Pop over to Loree's site for more August favorites.

All material © 2012-2016 by Kris Peterson for Late to the Garden Party

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Wednesday Vignette: Full Moon in the Morning

Early last Friday morning, I cracked open my eyes and glanced out the window beyond my husband's sleeping form.  I saw the bright light of the full moon on the west side of the house, framed by red bracts of Bougainvillea and Leucadendron 'Wilson's Wonder'.   It was huge and beautiful but I didn't expect my husband would appreciate me clambering over him with a camera before 6am and I figured the window screen would mar a photo anyway.  I turned over and closed my eyes but the moon had cast its spell so I got up, threw on a robe, and wandered outside with my camera.

The moon was preparing to set behind the hills and I couldn't recreate the colorful framing our bedroom window had provided but I did the best I could to capture a little of its magic.

It looked much bigger when viewed next to the Bougainvillea and Leucadendron!

Perspective is everything when it comes to photography as a photo of a recent visitor demonstrated.

I found this little fellow sitting in the sill of the dining room window looking outside.  He was less than 2 inches long from the tip of his nose to the end of his tail, as the leaves of the Plectranthus 'Zulu Warrior' growing outside help to show.  How he got in is anybody's guess.  My husband admitted he'd seen him the day before but he'd scrambled behind the buffet before he could be caught.  I managed to catch him and deposit him outside, where I hope he's enjoying life with the gazillion other lizards who occupy our garden.

Anna, the host of Wednesday Vignette, is a much better photographer than I am.  Visit her at Flutter & Hum to find the images she and other gardeners found intriguing this week.

All material © 2012-2016 by Kris Peterson for Late to the Garden Party

Monday, August 22, 2016

In a Vase on Monday: Front or back?

Lately, it seems that many of my vases look markedly different from front and back.  This week I had a particularly hard time saying which should be which.  Vase #1 features both blue and white Eustoma grandiflorum (Lisianthus), each of which present a very different face to the viewer.

Should this be the front?

Or should this?

Top view

Clockwise from the upper left, this arrangement includes: blue Eustoma grandiflorum, white Eustoma, asparagus fern in bloom, Erigeron glaucus 'Wayne Roderick', Nierembergia caerulea, and Salvia chamaedryoides 'Marine Blue' (Duranta erecta 'Sapphire Showers' is also included but not highlighted)

As hard as it was to select the front and back of vase #1, selecting any one side of vase #2 presented still more of a challenge.

This is the same vase, rotated a quarter of a turn for each view

Top view

Clockwise from the upper left, the vase contains: 'California Dreamin' rose, noID white rose, Abelia 'Confetti', Lantana camara 'Irene', Pentas 'Kaleidoscope Appleblossom', and a mix of Zinnias

The first vase sits in the dining room, where it can easily be viewed from 2 sides.

Although easy to view from both sides, it's not at all easy to photograph from both angles due to the glare from the backyard

And the second vase sits in the front entry.

I gave the 'California Dreamin' rose and the Zinnias the front position but I can spin it around if I get bored with that (or, more likely, as flowers die off)

Visit Cathy at Rambling in the Garden to see what she and other gardeners have found for their vases this week.

All material © 2012-2016 by Kris Peterson for Late to the Garden Party

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Wednesday Vignette: The Marine Layer

The marine layer is a key component of the climate here.  When it's present, it keeps temperatures within reasonable bounds and, when accompanied by fog, it adds moisture to the air.  However, until we moved to our current location, I didn't appreciate the mystery it adds to the view.  We sit over 700 feet above sea level, overlooking the Los Angeles harbor and, when the marine layer forms overnight, it pulls a veil over the harbor.  In May and June, the marine layer may persist until mid-to-late afternoon but, during the height of summer, if it forms at all, it usually clears much earlier.

The marine layer deserted us during last weekend's heatwave but I was delighted to find it back in place this morning, making it a good candidate for a Wednesday Vignette, the feature hosted by Anna at Flutter & Hum.

In this photo, taken just before 7am, the harbor is invisible and even the city below is hard to make out, although palms and trees stand out

This afternoon, facing in roughly the same direction, all is revealed.

That dirty gray smudge on the horizon has been with us for months, a sign of the worst smog Los Angeles has experienced in years 

The change shows up more sharply here:

7am view (left) compared to 4pm view (right)

The morning light had a magical quality at 7am and I snapped a couple of wide shots of the back garden.

View from the path in front of our backyard hedge looking west toward the street

View of the backyard borders looking north

Sadly, although the air was cool, it was anything but fresh.  There's another fire burning, this one in San Bernardino County, 2 to 3 hours to the east.  It started yesterday but it's moved fast, consuming 30,000 acres by this morning and prompting the evacuation of 82,000 people.  Current reports still show zero percent containment.   Fires are a fact of life here but they seem all too frequent - and large - this year.   Fire is hard enough to accept when it's touched off by natural causes like lightning but even harder to take when arson is involved, as appears to be the situation in the Clayton Fire, still burning in northern California.

Our house is also located in a high fire risk area so the fire news always makes us jumpy.  My husband's parents lost their home in Malibu to fire many years ago, which contributes to our reaction to these events.  We've had first-hand exposure to the trauma associated with losing a home to flames.  I still have vivid recollections of returning to my in-laws' home after the fire in the hope of finding some part of their lives there intact.  But there was nothing.  Yet they were among the lucky ones - they got out alive and had the luxury of 2 hours notice prior to their evacuation.  They loaded both cars and, that night, I came home from work to find both those cars in our driveway.

This morning, my husband announced that we should be better prepared than we are for that kind of eventuality.  He reminded me how his parents rued their failure to pack up this and that for years afterward.  So, he's put together a draft plan, based on different evacuation timetables: immediate, 10 minutes, and 2 hours.  It's a scary thing to consider.  Other than the cat, a few mementos, and the paperwork necessary to ease a transition in the worst case situation, there's not much in the house that I'd mourn losing.  I would grieve the loss of my garden but that can't be packed into the back of a truck or the trunk of a car.  My husband's list did provide a moment of comic relief, though.  He included "library books" on his 10-minute list, which gave me an attack of giggles (and I don't often have helpless attacks of giggles).  I had him move that item to the 2-hour list.

Visit Anna at Flutter & Hum to find more Wednesday Vignettes.

All material © 2012-2016 by Kris Peterson for Late to the Garden Party

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Foliage Follow-up: More Bromeliads!

My latest plant-related road trip took me to a bromeliad show and sale.  With bromeliads on my mind, I thought I'd focus on my small collection for today's foliage follow-up, the meme hosted by Pam at Digging.

Before I share my newest purchases, I'll share those I already had.  With two exceptions, all are in pots.

I no longer remember when I got this one but I think it's one of the oldest in my collection.  I moved it to this pot and this location last year.  I've no record of its name but on-line research suggests it may be Aechmea orlandia, possibly 'Rainbow'.  It's produced a couple of pups since I acquired it.

Dyckia 'Burgundy Ice' has spent its life in this pot, albeit with different companions.  I replanted the pot earlier this year.

I picked this Vriesea up last year.  It wasn't labeled but I'm guessing it may be V. ospinae var gruberi.  It shares this large cauldron-style planter with an asparagus fern and a Rhipsalis.

This is my only surviving Tillandsia, T. albida.  I tried keeping 2 others as house plants and lost them both.  This one is nestled among succulents in a pot hanging from from a branch of Arbutus 'Marina' in the front garden.

The two bromeliads I didn't have in pots are a lot less happy than those that are.

According to my records, this is Puya berteriana (aka turquiose puya for the dramatic flowers it produces at maturity).  I planted it here in 2014 and subsequently added the Agave desmettiana currently looming over it.  I've no idea what I was thinking when I placed them so close together.  The Puya should get much bigger in time.  Now I have to figure out how to extricate it without tearing up my hands in the process.

This sad specimen is Dyckia marnier-lapostolli.  While it receives a little shade under a guava tree (which is good), it also receives overhead watering (which is bad).  The shade hasn't been sufficient to keep its tips from burning and the overhead watering has marred the silvery scale like hairs that coated its leaves.  I'm not sure whether moving it to a pot at this point will restore its former beauty but I may try that.

I picked up 3 new bromeliads at the afore-mentioned sale the weekend before last.  One was purchased in a pot and the 2 others were less expensive pups.

This is Nidularium wittrockia leopardinum.  I can't explain why it appealed to me so much but, when I found myself repeatedly coming back to it, I gave in and walked it up to the register.  I knew nothing whatsoever about the genus, much less this particular cultivar.  I subsequently learned that it rarely blooms but I did find one photo of its flower, which you can see here.

This Aechmea 'Chantini Surprise' is one of the pups I brought home.  I thought this pot was perfect for it (even if I had to evict the former tenant, an Aeonium).

In my earlier post on the bromeliad sale, I mentioned falling in love with Aechmea blanchetiana 'Orange' at first sight.  Well, I found a pup and snapped it up.  (All 3 of my purchases together cost less than the large specimen I first fell for.)  Alison of Bonney Lassie mentioned that she's had trouble with this plant yellowing and developing burn spots.  After seeing her comment I moved this one to its current location, where I hope the shade of the tree will be sufficient to protect it.

In my climate, where the summer sun can be intense, most of my bromeliads seem to prefer at least partial shade.  Currently, almost half my collection sits in afternoon shade under the magnolia tree in my front garden.  They've already forced the relocation of some other succulents I had there and it's altogether possible that, someday, this bench will be populated entirely by bromeliads.

The Billbergia nutans (aka Queen's Tears) shown in the foreground here are a last minute addition.  I finally pulled apart the grossly overcrowded pot I had in an excessively sunny location and repotted just a few of the best pups.  Hopefully, these will enjoy their new location.

Visit Pam at Digging to see what foliage she and other gardeners are flaunting this month.

All material © 2012-2016 by Kris Peterson for Late to the Garden Party