Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Sunrise (Wednesday Vignette)

I was out and about early yesterday morning as I had a dentist appointment and wanted to take care of a few things in the garden before I made my 50-minute schlep to the dentist's office.  (I love my dentist but I need one with a closer office.)  I caught the sun as it was coming up over the Los Angeles Harbor.

7 minutes prior to sunrise

The official moment of sunrise (7am)

Six minutes after sunrise with the sun still partially obscured by clouds but mirrored in the waters of the harbor

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

All material © 2012-2017 by Kris Peterson for Late to the Garden Party

Monday, October 16, 2017

In a Vase on Monday: The last dahlia

While there are yet a few buds on the dahlias, most of these dry up in no time during the hot, dry weather we've been experiencing.  Dahlia 'Punkin' Spice' surprised me by producing one beautiful, albeit small, bloom, which I elected to cut now as a final hurrah to the summer season.  Honestly, after last week's fires throughout the state we're more than ready here to see the end of summer dry conditions.  Red flag warnings signifying a high fire risk were in effect for much of the weekend in Southern California.  With all the sad and terrible stories stemming from the fires in Northern California and last Monday's fire here in Southern California, I couldn't help watching the horizon with a degree of anxiety.  Shortly after 4pm on Sunday, I glanced out my home office window and noticed this:

My husband got out a telescope and placed the fire near the Harbor Freeway's end point in San Pedro, less than 5 miles away.  Although we never heard sirens, the fire was out within 20 minutes.  However, our hot and dry conditions aren't expected to break until Friday.  Our humidity level here has been running below 15%.

But on to happier topics!  I let the color of 'Punkin' Spice' dictate the palette of my first vase.

This vase turned out better than I'd anticipated when I collected the hodge-podge of materials from my garden Sunday morning

I still haven't pulled all my remaining Zinnias but I'm trying to use up the last blooms - the plants look terrible!

The top view reflects the narrow profile of the vase

Clockwise from the upper left, the vase contains: Dahlia 'Punkin' Spice', Agonis flexuosa 'Nana', berries of noID Cotoneaster (recycled from last week's vase), Gaillardia 'Arizona Sun', Leonotis leonurus, Oncidium 'Wildcat', Tagetes lemmonii 'Compact', and Zinnia elegans

Barleria obtusa (bush violet) produced its first flowers just before Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day and more flowers have opened continuously since.  I cut a few stems as the starting point for a second vase.

I can't recall how well the bush violets hold up in a vase or whether the buds will open once the stems are cut

I added pink Zinnias to the back of the vase as a last minute change.  This gave the 2 sides of the vase (or rather mug) distinctly different personalities.

Top view

Clockwise from the upper left, the mug contains: Barleria obtusa, Cuphea 'Starfire Pink', Salvia 'Mystic Spires', Leucanthemum x superbum, and Zinnia elegans

I'd picked up a few pumpkins at the market last week and used the small ones to dress up the 'Punkin' Spice' arrangement on the dining room table.

I was going to retire the mouse to the cupboard but he looked quite happy there atop the pumpkins so I let him stay

I left my largest pumpkin outside the front entry, nestled in a pot in an attempt to keep the squirrels from tunneling through it before Halloween.  Despite this precaution, I caught one in the act of chewing it Sunday morning and the cheeky creature had the audacity to cuss me out when I sent him packing.  I put my skeleton cat out next to the pumpkin in what is no doubt a futile effort to keep the squirrel away.  I'm still looking for my skeleton rats, which seem to have disappeared.

The violet vase sits in the front entry

Visit Cathy at Rambling in the Garden to find more "In a Vase on Monday" posts.

All material © 2012-2017 by Kris Peterson for Late to the Garden Party

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Bloom Day - October 2017

It's a subdued October Bloom Day.  Some of the flowers I count on to make the biggest splash at this time of year are running late relative to the last 2 years, which I find strange as we were plagued by drought conditions and serious water restrictions in 2015 and 2016.  However, Plectranthus ciliatus 'Zulu Wonder' bloomed right on schedule.

This year, Plectranthus 'Zulu Wonder' is keeping happy company with burgundy flowered Pelargonium peltatum (ivy geranium)

The late-comers, Barleria obtusa and Senna bicapsularis, have barely said hello but I expect they'll both be coloring up the garden within the next couple of weeks.

Barleria obtusa (bush violet) shows signs of wishing to take over various sections of my garden but, with healthy green foliage and masses of purple-blue flowers, I can forgive it almost anything

The first buds of Senna bicapsularis 'Worley's Butter Cream' opened just yesterday and, as the plant serves as host to sulphur butterflies, I expect to see them make an appearance soon too

Tagetes lemmonii is also late in making its regular fall appearance, probably due to tardy pruning, but the dwarf form is trying to make up for its absence with a carpet of bright yellow blooms.

The compact form is right at home at the base of Agave 'Jaws' and Leucadendron 'Wilson's Wonder'

While Eustoma grandiflorum has moved on prematurely, leaving only a few blooms behind, Pennisetum advena 'Rubrum' continues its long seasonal performance.

Two of the 5 purple fountain grass clumps in my garden

I discovered a few surprises on my rounds.

I inherited a few Anemone hupehensis japonica with the garden but they bloom only sporadically and in small numbers if at all

Salvia 'Mystic Spires' can be found in various areas of my back garden but this clump in a corner of my south side succulent bed, while short in stature, is the healthiest one in my garden despite the fact that I've almost entirely ignored its existence

This Tibouchina urvilleana (Princess Flower), also inherited with the garden, has produced more blooms this year than I can ever recall it doing in the 6+ years we've had the garden

The rest is bits and pieces of this and that.

Top row: noID Angelonia, noID Duranta (sold as 'Gold Mound'), Erigeron glaucus 'Wayne Roderick' and Iochroma 'Mr Plum'
Second row: Lotus jacobaeus, Osteospermum '4D Silver', lavender Pelargonium peltatum, and noID Plumbago
Third row: Lavandula multifida and noID Leucophyllum
Fourth row: Polygala myrtifolia 'Mariposa' and Trichostema 'Midnight Magic'

Top row: Achillea 'Moon Dust', Clematis paniculata, Eustoma grandiflorum, and Gazania 'White Flame'
Second row: self-seeded Gazania, Lantana 'Samantha', Leucanthemum x superbum, and Oncidium 'Wildcat'
Third row: Gaura lindheimeri, Hunnemannia fumariifolia, and Lantana 'Lucky White'

Top row: Aloe 'Johnson's Hybrid', Arbutus 'Marina', Cuphea 'Vermillionaire' and Gaillardia 'Arizona Sun'
Second row: Grevillea 'Ned Kelly', G. 'Peaches & Cream', G. Superb', and Lantana camara 'Irene'
Third row: Leonotis leonurus, Mandevilla 'Sun Parasol Apricot', and Salvia elegans

Top row: noID Argyranthemum, Bauhinia x blakeana, Gomphrena 'Itsy Bitsy', and dark pink Pelargonium peltatum
Second row: Pentas 'Graffiti Violet', noID rose, and Rosa 'Pink Meidiland'
Third row: Correa 'Wyn's Wonder', Cuphea 'Starfire Pink', and the last of the Zinnias

I'll close with blooms of 2 of the prettier weeds in my garden.

Top row: tiny cream-colored blooms of Artemisia ludoviciana
Second row: the buff-colored blooms of Helichrysum petiolare 'Silver Mist'

That's it for my October bloom summary.  Visit Carol at May Dreams Gardens for more posts celebrating Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day.

All material © 2012-2017 by Kris Peterson for Late to the Garden Party

Friday, October 13, 2017

Plants and Pumpkins

Last Saturday, a friend and I visited the "Fall Plant Boutique" at my local botanic garden.  This event replaced a more robust fall plant sale the garden used to sponsor annually.  Although I buy plants nearly year-round, fall is my peak planting season and I admit I usually go a little crazy.  As summer hasn't entirely released its grip on us here, I haven't gone hog-wild yet.  The botanic garden event seemed a way to ease in.  Plants offered by the botanic garden are reasonably priced to start with and, as a member, I get a discount on top of that.

The Barleria obtusa (bush violet) I'd hoped to find wasn't available but I still managed to find a few things to take home.

Clockwise from the upper left, my plant purchases included: Pelargonium peltatum 'Marble Sunset', Peperomia (labeled as P. rubella but it doesn't have the characteristic red stems and leaf undersides), Aeonium nobile, Centaurea gymnocarpa, Kalanchoe humilis, and Aeonium 'Lily Pad'

We decided to stay for the glass pumpkin exhibit and sale, which the exhibitors were in the process of setting up when we strolled into the main garden area.  We didn't have long to wait but I used the opportunity to take a peek around.

The botanic garden has been working on renovation of its rose garden since February.  It's supposed to be completed sometime this fall but it looked far from complete to me.

There were still some sunflowers in the Volunteers' Garden but what most interested my friend and me were the overturned plastic flats, which it appeared were being used to protect seedlings.  Like my own garden, the botanic garden has problems with raccoons but it was hard for me to believe that the empty flats would prevent those critters from rummaging.  But, it may be worth a try!

We entered the glass exhibit when it opened.  The designs all came from Walker & Bowes glass studios in San Jose, California and are part of their annual Pumpkin Patch exhibits.

I fell in love with that yellow pumpkin in the photo on the upper left but they were all pretty.  Prices varied from $88 to $528.

I didn't even bother to look for prices on the glass bowls

Sea shells are another Walker & Bowes specialty

The glass creations were pricey for me and I left without buying anything at the exhibit.  I did think about that yellow pumpkin after we left the garden but, luckily for my pocketbook, it was a one-day event.  More money left to spend on plants!

All material © 2012-2017 by Kris Peterson for Late to the Garden Party

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Wednesday Vignette: Looking for the bright spots

In a painful year, the last several weeks have been especially bad, as hurricane after hurricane  battered the US and the Caribbean Islands, a major earthquake hit Mexico, a madman attacked concertgoers in Las Vegas, the White House continues its chaotic bent, and fires now ravage large areas of California.  Making donations to help those affected by some of these events feels like applying a band-aid when a tourniquet is needed.  Honestly, if I had a hidey-hole somewhere, I'd have crawled into it weeks ago.  But I don't and life goes on, making its daily demands and, like most of us, I put one foot in front of another and try to move forward.  It's trite perhaps but the sight of natural beauty provides, if not perspective, at least temporary respite.

Here's the beautiful image that made my heart sing this week, if only for a moment:

This is a silk floss tree (Chorisa speciosa 'Laska Beauty') in the parking area of the South Coast Botanic Garden

I hope you found a beautiful moment or two as well.  For other Wednesday Vignettes, visit Anna at Flutter & Hum.

All material © 2012-2017 by Kris Peterson for Late to the Garden Party

Monday, October 9, 2017

In a Vase on Monday: There's always something

Stepping into the garden to cut flowers and foliage for "In a Vase on Monday," hosted each week by Cathy of Rambling in the Garden, I'd no big ideas about what to use.  First up, I checked the Helianthus 'Sunfinity Yellow' I'd picked up a few weeks ago to fill an empty pot, but last week's heatwave and some kind of critter left me nothing suitable for cutting.  The few dahlias left in the cutting garden also let me down (even 'Loverboy').  However, some of the Zinnia flowers still looked good, even if the plants themselves don't, so I focused on those.

I picked just about all of the coral, peach and yellow zinnias I had left in the cutting garden

Rear view: Not an exciting arrangement perhaps but cheerful

Top view

Clockwise from the upper right: Zinnia elegans (probably from the Cactus and California Giant seed mixes), the ripening berries of a noID Cotoneaster that planted itself at the base of one of my Arbutus trees, and Agonis flexuosa 'Nana'

Despite last week's blast of heat, Plectranthus ciliatus 'Zulu Wonder' continued to produce a steady stream of new blooms and as I still had a few Eustoma grandiflorum (Lisianthus) blooming in the garden, I cut more of both.  As most of last week's Eustoma were still looking good, I also repurposed those for this week's second vase.  It's not an exact match of last week's vase, though, as I altered the supporting cast.

Pretty Erigeron glaucus and Leucanthemum blooms added a fresh touch to this week's arrangement

Last week's "black" Eustoma blooms bring up the rear, accompanied by stems of  the weedy Artemisia that planted itself in my garden and the always available Gomphrena 'Itsy Bitsy'

The top view highlights the lavender blush form of Eustoma, looking just as fresh as it did in last week's vase

The vase contains, top row: Artemisia ludoviciana, Erigeron glaucus 'Wayne Roderick', and Pseuderanthemum 'Texas Tri-star'
Middle row: Various forms of Eustoma grandiflorum, including 'Rosanne Black Pearl' (left)
Bottom row: Gomphrena decumbens 'Itsy Bitsy', Leucanthemum x superbum, and Plectranthus ciliatus 'Zulu Wonder'

I hadn't planned to duplicate the color schemes I used last week but that's what happened.

Visit Cathy to discover what she and other gardeners used to fill their vases this week.

All material © 2012-2017 by Kris Peterson for Late to the Garden Party

Friday, October 6, 2017

Not much to look at

In addition to the one major project I've undertaken since our seasonal shift began last month, I've been chipping away at a host of smaller garden projects and tasks.  They're not much to look at, at least not at this stage but, for my own record as much as anything else, I'm going to inventory them here.

There's a relatively good-sized area sandwiched between the newly renovated succulent bed in front of our garage, the trees and shrubbery in the northwest corner of our property, and the neighbor's driveway that I've largely ignored for the 6+ years we've lived here.  When we hauled in topsoil to create berms for the succulent bed, I used some of it to do the same in the neglected area after first clearing it of weeds and the one poor shrub I planted when we moved in, which had stubbornly refused to grow.  As it's a semi-shady location, I decided to use it for part of my burgeoning bromeliad collection.  It's by no means done but I've made a start.

Left, the area after it'd been cleared and soil was added.  Right, after soil amendments, rocks and the first plants were added.

I'd originally planted this Aechmea lueddemanniana 'Mend' in a pot and placed it in what I thought was a sufficiently shaded location but it got singed.  In the 2 weeks since I moved it to is new location, it's pink variegation has become much more vibrant.

I surrounded 'Mend' with plants I felt would complement it.  Clockwise from the upper left, these include: a Neoregelia hybrid, the pup of another Neoregelia that appears to have similar parentage to the first, Peperomia caperata 'Rosso', a pup of Nidularium wittrokia leopardinum, and a pup of Vriesea ospinae var gruberi.  As accents, I've planted an asparagus fern and Pelargonium peltatum 'Pink Blizzard'.  Thus far, all seem to be doing well, although I'm still giving the Peperomia only a 50-50 chance of surviving there.

I see this area, not large enough to be called a secret garden, as a surprise pocket garden.  Before I do more planting, I want to add a flagstone path to minimize the risk that anyone, myself included, will trod on the plants.  I'm planning to use grasses and grass-like plants, probably Seslaria 'Greenlee's Hybrid' and Ophiopogon japonicus 'Nanus' (dwarf mondo grass) to soften the areas around the stepping stones and the bromeliads.  I'll probably add shade-tolerant succulents too, like the Manfreda maculosa I need to move to make way for my future lath/shade house.

Mini-project #2 was tackled on roughly the same schedule as the bromeliad bed.  I used some of that imported topsoil to raise the soil level and improve drainage in the garden on the northeast side of the house.  Digging out a mass of germander (Teucrium chamaedrys) and Geranium incanum in the area was the toughest part of the job.  After getting started on replanting, I wasn't able to get the Barleria obtusa I wanted to fill in the remaining empty spaces so it appears I'm going to have to propagate the plants I need myself.

The new plants here are Melinus nerviglumis (ruby crystal grass), Grevillea lanigera 'Jade Mound', and Vitex agnus-castus.  Behind the new plants are 3 Grevillea 'Scarlet Sprite' (2 of which I added last fall), Globularia x indubia (globe daisy), Salvia clevelandii and self-planted Dorycnium hirsutum (hairy Canary clover).

I've been replanting areas of another large bed in front of the garage too.  Many of the plants I put in during the first quarter of 2016 needed more shade than that location provided.  I've been gradually swapping them out with plants that enjoy more sun.

The most recent additions are 4 varieties of daylilies, all in pale yellow or purple shades.  I've also planted Hebe andersonii 'Variegata' and Polygala fruitcosa 'Petite Butterfly'.  The Arthropodium cirratum I planted more than a year ago from divisions is still there and I'm hoping it will beef up into sizable clumps with this year's winter rains. Oh, and I also added lots of bulbs here, including Freesia and Dutch Iris.

Next, I tackled a problem location in the back garden, an area that quickly killed off anything I planted there, even succulents.  The soil in this area is especially sandy and the soil amendments I added seemed to wash away from the area which sits on the upper edge of the back slope.  I added rocks to help hold the new topsoil and soil amendments I dug in here and filled in with bulbs and a few plants.  I'm trying to find more Lantana camara 'Irene' so I can tie the area just beyond it.

The bulbs, Sparaxis and several daffodils, are of course invisible at the moment.  The visible additions include Euphorbia 'Ascot Rainbow', Lantana 'Samantha', and Hunnemannia furmarifolia 'Sunlite'.  The asparagus fern has been there since we moved in and to this point is the only plant that's been happy there.

The moderate west-facing slope got a clean-up, a couple of new plants, and some bulbs.

I cleared out some Shasta daisies and Agapanthus that were never happy here, relocated a couple of bearded Iris and added more Lantana, a Yucca gloriosa 'Variegata, and a Phylica pubescens.  More daffodils and Sparaxis bulbs also went in here.

Although I didn't previously have any luck planting Phylica pubescens in the ground, I found this healthy specimen on sale for $10 and couldn't pass up trying it again.  All of a sudden, this plant is everywhere at fairly reasonable prices (by current standards), which is hilarious given that the first one I saw several years was priced at $400.

In addition to these projects, I made a few quick fixes this week.

I pulled the blueberry plants that previously occupied these pots for years several weeks ago.  I'd neglected the plants, which should have probably been pulled up and root pruned before replanting in fresh potting mix a year or 2 ago.  I replaced the plants this week with varieties geared to pot culture, 'Pink Icing' and 'Bountiful Blue'.

I finally replaced the Coleonema that died in my front border with 3 Lavandula stoechas 'Silver Anouk'.  At maturity, I'm hoping they'll look as good as the specimen shown on the right, shown blooming in April elsewhere in my front garden.

Finally, I replaced the desiccated succulents in the circle pot on my back patio table with fresh plants.  While I once again used cuttings of Aeonium arboreum and Aeonium haworthii 'Kiwi', the focal point is Graptosedum 'California Sunset'.  With a bit of stress and plenty of sun, it should eventually take on the delicious orange color shown in the photo on the right.

There's still a lot to do but another heatwave arrived today and, after a brief cool down early next week, we're expecting yet another blast so I'm holding off any any more planting or transplanting until the temperatures cool again.

Best wishes for a peaceful weekend after what's been a very troubling week.

All material © 2012-2017 by Kris Peterson for Late to the Garden Party