Friday, December 29, 2017

The lath house is done!

Today is the fifth anniversary of my blog.  In 5 years, I've published more than 850 posts, registered over 725,000 views, and have been honored to receive more than 9200 comments (not including my own).  Created to record the changes in my garden, connect with other gardeners, and share my love of plants and gardens with like-minded people, my blog has chronicled myriad projects, including several this year, such as my succulent bed renovation and the creation of my pocket succulent garden.  However, as the construction of my lath (shade) house was the project I was the most excited about, I'm pleased to share coverage of the project in my anniversary post.  Although I "consulted" on the project, the lath house is really my husband's handiwork.  He started it in mid-November and worked on it off and on through December 28th, when he installed the final touch in the form of two window boxes.

Here's the final product, viewed from different angles.

View looking down (and west) from the main level of the garden on the south side

View looking south from the dirt path that runs parallel to the street

Wider view looking the same direction from the street itself

Rear view of the structure from the street outside our neighbor's driveway (As previously reported, the oleander hedge that formerly blocked the area from view was removed in early November and we collaborated on installation of Pittosporum tenuifolium 'Silver Sheen' to fill the gap but coverage is still spare.)

Here's a recap of the project:

My husband set the footings for the lath house on November 16th and laid the floor of cement pavers on November 21st

The wall structure was under construction on December 1st and my husband had begun painstakingly staining each individual piece of lath to protect it from the weather

The walls, with lath in place, went up December 4th and 5th (with help from our neighbor across the street)

My husband said the pitched roof was going to be a challenge and it was.  He had to measure and cut each piece of lath to varied lengths.  Completion of the roof took almost 2 weeks.

The door was an easier job, completed December 20th.  He even bought me fancy doorknobs.  (You can see an inadvertent selfie of me in the brass fixture.)  My husband also installed a finial on the top of the roof.

The shelf supports went in on December 21st, at which point I "modified" the project specs to include a second level of shelves above head height to increase the space available for plants.  The shelves themselves were installed over the next 2 days.

My husband was worried that wooden window boxes would quickly rot.  I ordered plastic liners and he constructed 4-sided boxes supported by a metal brace to allow drainage without rotting a wood base.

He even made me a step stool so I can water pots on the upper level overhead without lifting them down.  It's heavy and takes up a lot of room but I'm not going to tell him that.

Now that you've seen the outside of the lath house, come on in!

There's not much on the shelves yet but I did move my orchids inside

Until I can decide what else to plant around the pavers, I put in more of my old standby, creeping thyme, which can take a bit of shade

My local garden center got in a whole shipment of different varieties of ferns from Monterey Bay Nursery this week so I couldn't pass up bringing some home for try-outs 

As you can see, there's a lot of empty shelf area at the moment but I want to be thoughtful about what I add as space is limited.  We'll see how long my circumspection lasts!  I'm planning an outing to one of my favorite nurseries soon.

Thanks to all of you who read my blog, whether or not you comment.  I do enjoy hearing from each and every one of you when you do, though!

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

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Wednesday Vignette: Christmas Flowers

Last Thursday, I turned a corner and was startled to see the first blooms on hybrid Camellia 'Taylor's Perfection'.  I thought it'd be weeks yet before the shrub bloomed but, when I checked my 2016 record, I found that the blooms are right on schedule.

I took this photo late in the day so the light wasn't great but the flower's shape was indeed perfection

I took my camera out on Christmas morning to see if any other blooms had made an appearance since my Bloom Day inventory.  I found just a few.

I had some difficulty getting a clear photo of the flower on Billbergia carioca as the camera wanted to focus on the plan'ts spotted foliage

Unlike the Camellia, the powder-puff bloom on Calliandra haematocephala is a couple of weeks early

However, the noID Narcissus is making a well-timed entrance

Erigeron glaucus 'Wayne Roderick' isn't actually a new bloom but it deserves another look because it's putting on an especially good display right now

The winds have died down at last here and the humidity level has risen dramatically.  We've still had no rain to speak of but two weather services are showing a good chance of some light rain on New Year's Day.  The Thomas Fire in Ventura County is finally under control, 88% contained after becoming the largest fire in California's recorded history in what was surely the worst year for wildfires we've ever seen.  Flowers in winter don't make up for that but they do provide a moment's diversion.

Visit Anna at Flutter & Hum for more Wednesday Vignettes.

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

Sunday, December 24, 2017

In a Vase on Sunday: Merry Christmas!

In my family, Christmas Eve has always been the focal point of our year-end holiday celebrations.  As my husband and I will host a few friends for our annual Smörgåsbord on Sunday afternoon, I prepared flowers for the table on Saturday, cutting stems of many of my favorite plants, including Grevilleas, Leucadendron and Nandina domestica.

Merry Christmas to all!

And best wishes for a wonderful new year!

As Christmas falls on Monday, Cathy of Rambling in the Garden is streamlining her usual "In a Vase on Monday" post but visit her there to see what she and others pull together over the holiday.

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

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Wednesday Vignette: In their natural elements

Yesterday morning, I interrupted my husband as he was ready to go out the back door when I noticed an unexpected visitor, just hanging out in the mimosa tree, staring at the harbor.  I went out through the front door, my camera in hand, and crept up on him very slowly.  He paid me no mind until I got a little too close, when he abruptly took off.

I can't be sure as I couldn't see all his plumage but this is probably a red-tailed hawk, the most common variety in our area

He gave me a good hard look before moving to another branch and subsequently took off

Meanwhile, my cat Pipig (the name is Swedish for "squeaky") is enjoying her own natural surroundings.

Pipig loves the Christmas tree and now spends the majority of her time sleeping under it or in the chair next to it

After two unusually warm, dry, and windy weeks, it's deliciously cool this morning with the return of the marine layer.  (I'd say it was cold but those of you in more wintry climates would laugh at what I consider cold.)  There's even a small chance of a trace of rain this afternoon.  I'm trying not to get my hopes up, especially as another Santa Ana wind event is expected to start this evening and the Thomas Fire is still burning in the Ventura and Santa Barbara Counties, now classified as the second largest fire in California's history and on its way to the #1 slot.

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

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

Monday, December 18, 2017

In a Vase on Monday: The succulents take charge

Last year, I featured succulents as the main ingredient in several arrangements.  I haven't done that as much this year but, after more than 2 weeks of extremely low humidity and high winds, I decided that working with succulents would be more gratifying this week than cutting flowers that wither in the dry air within 2 or 3 days.  I also had a huge clump of Aeonium arboreum threatening to block a path that had to be removed so it provided my centerpiece.

I used a polished stone vase that can't be trusted to hold water

Back view

The vase contains: Aeonium arborescens, Alternanthera 'Little Ruby', and the fuzzy blooms of Pennisetum advena 'Rubrum'.  As Alternanthera needs water, I inserted those stems in a floral water tube before inserted them in the vase.

With seasonal decorations taking over most of the space I usually assign to floral arrangements, I skipped on a vase for the front entry this week.

The succulent vase sits on the dining room table, while the front entry table holds a faux tree I've had for years, decked out with painted wood birds and garden-themed ornaments

Although dry conditions persist here (and the Thomas Fire in Ventura County is still largely uncontained), I broke down mid-week and picked up a Christmas tree, a garland for the arbor outside the front door, and a wreath.  All were drier than I'd have liked but local sellers didn't seem to be expecting any new shipments so I just selected the best specimens I could find.  Whether they'll hold up much beyond Christmas Day is questionable at best.  The wreath and the garland, both hanging outside, are drying out especially quickly even with occasional misting.  I'd planned to embellish both but made do on Sunday with tricking out the wreath.

Somehow I always forget to take proper "before" photos but, without the bow and the small gnome ornament, this shows the mixed evergreen wreath I started out with

This is the after shot of the wreath embellished with materials from my garden

The materials I added included: more Aeonium arboreum, Aeonium haworthii 'Kiwi', cones of Leucadendron 'Pisa', stems of Magnolia grandiflora, berries of Nandina domestica, and stems of Oscularia deltoides, another succulent

The front porch got a couple other seasonal accents too.

In addition to his holiday bow, the gargoyle on the left got some dried Magnolia seed cones (minus most of the bright red seeds removed by the squirrels).  The gnome on the right, who came out of his hide-out in the garage, holds another large Aeonium rosette. 

For more "In a Vase on Monday" posts, visit our host, Cathy of Rambling in the Garden.

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

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Foliage Follow-up - December 2017

I usually try to come up with a theme for my Foliage Follow-up posts but this month all I have is a handful of photos of foliage plants that just happened to catch my attention during the course of the past week.

I picked up this Aloe, labeled as a hybrid of A. vanbalenii  and A. ferox, at my local botanic garden's spring plant sale in 2016.  I recently moved it to prevent it from being overrun by Acacia cognata 'Cousin Itt'.  I was worried that it wouldn't appreciate the move but it seems to have taken the experience in stride.  I've no idea how big this plant may get as no dimensions were offered by the hybridizer and the 2 parent plants vary dramatically in size.

Leucadendron 'Safari Goldstrike' is developing some impressive cones

Leucadendron 'Wilson's Wonder' is also developing cones.  The photo shows the smaller of my 2 plants.  Unfortunately, the larger plant got hacked by the gardeners when they trimmed our hedges this week.  It was my fault for not paying attention and trimming back the plant myself as I usually do when it stretches into the driveway.

The 3 Pittosporum tenuifolium 'Silver Magic' we planted near the boundary line along the back slope after the giant Yucca elephantipes that formerly occupied the spot was removed in 2015 are finally beginning to form the screen we'd intended.  Meanwhile, the Yucca periodically reappears in a vain attempt to retake the area.

With the wind blowing, I caught a photo highlighting the pretty undersides of the leaves of Vitex trifolia 'Purpurea'.  The plant flowers but these are relatively insignificant in my view.  Its leaves are its primary attraction.  It's said to be fast-growing to 10-15 feet tall and wide but my plant has been in place more than 3 years and is currently less than 3 feet tall.

I'll end with a gratuitous photo of my lath (shade) house, still under construction.

This photo was taken from the street with the temporary structure my husband is using during installation of the roof partly obscuring the lath house.  The roof is almost done, with just a few more lath pieces needed in the area above the door.  Then the door will go in, followed by the interior shelving.  We're getting there!

Visit Pam at Digging, our Foliage Follow-up host, to see what foliage caught her attention and that of other garden bloggers this month.

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

Friday, December 15, 2017

Bloom Day - December 2017

I pushed off my holiday preparations this year and, as I'm now feeling the crunch, I didn't have as much time to commit to my usual Bloom Day recordkeeping this month.  The exceptionally dry, windy weather we've been experiencing didn't help matters either.  In the interest of expediency, I relied in large part on photos I've taken here and there during December and have thrown a lot of these into collages.

I'll start off as usual with the plants delivering the biggest or most unexpected punches of color.

While the Hong Kong orchid tree (Bauhinia x blakeana) has been producing flowers since September, I don't think I've ever seen it covered by as many flowers as it has this month.  I'd thought it preferred moist air but, given that this month has been anything but moist, I guess I was wrong.  I took the photo on the left on Sunday when a sunset set the clouds aglow.  The close-up photo on the right was taken under sunny skies 2 days ago.

Camellia sasanqua does NOT appreciate single-digit humidity levels.  While blooms shrivel in record time once they open, it's a testimonial to the protection provided by this area tucked against the north side of the house that they bloom at all.  I've no IDs for these cultivars, which came with the house.

I picked up this new-to-me shrub, Dermatobotrys saundersii, at the Huntington Gardens fall plant sale based solely on its leaves and the description on its plant tag.  Within weeks of planting it in this large pot, it began dropping all its leaves.  I was sure I'd killed it until the lovely coral flowers and new set of leaves shown here began to appear.

Lotus jacobaeus has grown dramatically since I planted it from a 4-inch pot in July.  I've been surprised at how well it stood up to the dry winds we've experienced over the past 2 weeks.

Metrosideros collina 'Springfire' surprised me by blooming in December, when I expected blooms in, well, spring!  Planted in February of this year, it's still small.  At maturity, it should reach 12 feet tall (or taller).

A few plants paid unexpected return visits this month too.

My Lisianthus (Eustoma grandiflora) pooped out earlier than usual this year but a few blue blooms and a single pink one offered unexpected encores in December

I've also had a smattering of rose blooms this month.  From left to right: 'Joseph's Coat', 'Medallion' and a noID white variety

Here are some collages, organized by color, of other plants that managed to produce blooms despite our unusually warm, windy and arid December weather.

Top row: Erigeron glauca 'Wayne Roderick', Gomphrena decumbens 'Itsy Bitsy', and Helleborus 'Blue Lady'
Middle row: Lobelia erinus 'Crystal Palace', Ocimum hybrid 'African Blue Basil', and Osteospermum '4D Silver'
Bottom row: Polygala myrtifolia 'Mariposa', Tibouchina urvilleana, and Viola 'Matrix Midnight Glow'

Top row: Arbutus 'Marina', Arctotis 'Pink Sugar', and Argyranthemum frutescens
Middle row: Correa pulchella 'Pink Eyre', Cuphea 'Starfire Pink' (with a monarch butterfly), and Leptospermum scoparium 'Pink Pearl'
Bottow row: Osteospermum 'Berry White', Pelargonium peltatum 'Pink Blizzard', and Pentas 'Kaleidoscope Appleblossom'

Top row: Argyranthemum frutescens 'Go Daisy Mega White', flowers of Asparagus fern, and Gaillardia 'Fanfare Citronella'
Middle row: Lantana 'Lucky White', Leucanthemum x superbum, and Mandevillea 'Sun Parasol Apricot'
Bottom row: noID Osteospermum, Tagetes lemmonii, and primrose yellow Viola

Top row: Alstroemeria 'Indian Summer', Bignonia capreolata, and Gaillardia 'Arizona Sun'
Middle row: Grevilleas 'Ned Kelly', 'Superb', and 'Peaches & Cream'
Bottom row: Grevillea alpina x rosmarinifolia, G. 'Scarlet Sprite', and Hemerocallis 'Spanish Harlem'

Various succulents are also throwing up blooms, including (clockwise from the upper left): Aloe deltoideodonta, Aloe 'Johnson's Hybrid', Bryophyllum fedtschenkoi, Echeveria 'Serrana' and Faucaria tigrina

I'll close with a shot of my largest Pennisetum, no longer at its prime but still showing off its inflorescences.

Pennisetum advena 'Rubrum', still catching the sunlight beautifully in the front garden

Visit Carol at May Dreams Gardens for more Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day posts.

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