Saturday, April 29, 2017

Fabulous April Favorites

I completely zoned out on the fact that yesterday was the last Friday of the month and time for the parade of favorite plants hosted by Loree at danger garden.  Even though the weather has turned decidedly warm (some might say hot) and the winds here have been relentless, the garden is still demonstrating buoyancy in the afterglow of the heavier-than-normal rains winter brought us so I hustled outdoors today to take photos of those clamoring for recognition.

Alstroemeria makes the most of spring's cooler temperatures.  As it heats up, most will retreat but I've enjoyed a plentiful selection of flowers this April.  From left to right, are 'Claire', 'Inca Husky' and a noID pink variety that came with the garden.  The first 2 have short stems but are semi-evergreen.  The pink variety has taller stems but goes completely dormant in summer.

Anigozanthos 'Yellow Gem' gets about 5 feet tall in my garden and creates a see-through screen.  Its yellow flowers have a green cast in contrast with another (unnamed) variety I have elsewhere.

Centranthus ruber is a weed here but I can't help appreciating its vigor in the driest areas of my garden.  This mass of blooms in 3 colors on my back slope grew from a few seedlings I transplanted our first year here.  I doubt I could get rid of them if I tried now.

The winds and spiking temperatures have taken a toll on the flower spikes of Echium candicans 'Star of Madeira' but the bees are making the most of the flowers while they last.  The plant on the left is in my front garden and the smaller one on the right is in the garden on the south side of the property, where it happily keeps company with succulents.

Gaura lindheimeri has sprung into bloom in various locations.  Some of these plants, like the ones in the middle photo, are self-seeded.  Gaura looks delicate but it likes a certain amount of heat, just like the Pelargoniums seated around each of the plants shown in this collage.

All my large-flowered Grevillea seem to bloom year-round once established but 'Ned Kelly', shown here, has a produced a particularly strong flush of blooms this month.  Its flowers are somewhat larger than those of 'Superb' and also more red than coral in color.

I made several attempts to get a good photo of Lobelia laxiflora but this was the best I could do.  It echoes the colors in Grevillea 'Ned Kelly' and Leucadendron 'Jester', both of which occupy the same bed.  When we moved in, I found this plant, which a neighbor described as a weed, in one of the shadier areas of my garden but it disappeared when we removed the Eucalyptus tree and dug up the garden on the south side of the house.   It appears to handle sun as well as shade and it makes do with moderate water.

The self-seeded grass here is Lagurus ovatus, aka bunny tail grass.  It doesn't seem to be invasive and I love the furry-textured flowers, which can easily be dried.

I featured Limonium perezii as one of my favorite plants back in February (left) but I couldn't resist showing you how floriferous it is now (right).  This is a tough heat and drought tolerant plant, easily grown from plugs here.

Here's another pretty weed, Oenothera speciosa, aka pink evening primrose.  Like Centranthus and Gaura, it self-seeds freely, especially in the drier, less cultivated areas of the garden, like the back slope.  It didn't produce many blooms at the height of the drought but it appears to have recovered its vigor this year.

Polygala myrtifolia 'Mariposa'  blooms sporadically during the year but it's covered in blooms this month.  I was surprised to discover that this plant also self-seeds when I discovered 4 good-sized seedlings in the front garden.  I pulled out 3 shrubs in the front garden 18+ months ago so I can only assume that it needed regular rain like that we received this past winter to germinate.

My last selection is Salvia lanceolata, a shrub native to South Africa, also known as Rocky Mountain Sage.  Like a couple of my other choices this month, it's difficult to photograph.  I originally purchased it for its silver foliage with no idea what the flowers looked like.  The flowers, similar in shape to those of Salvia africana-lutea, are unusual but very interesting.

For a look at more plant favorites, visit Loree at danger garden.

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

Friday, April 28, 2017

Our local spring garden show

Our local spring garden show, held in an upscale Orange County mall, was never much to brag about and in recent years the displays have become more about garden-style furnishings than gardens.  Although represented as "outdoor rooms" of the type Jaime Durie made famous, I'm not convinced that all of the furniture shown at the Southern California Spring Garden Show could actually stand up to the weather - even here.  You can make your own judgments.  Here's a quick look at the 10 displays, all collaborations between local garden designers and shopping mall vendors.

This one was entitled "Contemporary Cultivation."  I liked the raised planter and the arbor with hanging plants.

This is "Steel Magnolia."  I liked the fence with slats of variable lengths, something I tried and failed to talk my husband into building for me in our garden.  I also liked the chunky picnic table and benches. 

I liked "Timeless Modern's" use of a repetitive planting scheme (something I seem incapable of) and their lighted fountain.

This is "Vintage Revival."  I apologize for the especially poor lighting here - mall interiors aren't easy to photograph with a point-and-click camera.  (Hoover Boo of Piece of Eden posted better photos of the exhibits in her take on the show.)

This is "Innovating the Present with the Past."  The aviary in the corner contained a half dozen or so finches, who appeared to be terrified of their surroundings - they were huddled together at the top of the enclosure and utterly silent. 

Called "Of Dreams and Gardens," this one wins my prize for useless gaudiness.  As I recall, I had a similar reaction to the sponsor's creation last year.  The bar and the seats changed colors, which was amusing but would wear on me quickly.  I did like the screens at either end of the exhibit but they were lost as part of the overall display.

Dustin Gimbel's pots were my favorite part of the "City.Sky.Garden" display, although I admit I was also impressed by the very professional outdoor grill (even if I don't cook).

"Live, Work, Play California Style" was stream-lined and inoffensive.  I liked the black bar.

Entitled "Nod to Nature: Sensory Overload," this one was constructed as a child's play space, with the title giving its own nod to the corporate sponsor.  I liked the container planted with Acalypha hispida, Stachys byzantina, and a noID crested succulent (photo bottom, right)

I think the exhibitors threw their "Modern Moroccan" display together without much thought.  The only natural element was a border of asparagus ferns.  But I liked the multi-faced end table.

Even the center display, which in the past was created by some of the people responsible for the new year's rose parade floats, fell a bit flat.

The ladies were decorated in flowers and their furry companions were covered in grass.  For some reason I didn't attempt to ascertain, there were 2 psychedelic-colored plastic hippos on the other side of the display.

So, did I attend the show to see the exhibits?  No.  I attended to check out the vendors.  A couple of years ago, the show hosts drastically reduced the number of vendors but they invited more back last year and still more this year.  As my camera battery died mid-way through my rounds of the display gardens, forcing me to resort to my phone's camera, I didn't take a lot of photos of the vendor displays, especially as the shopping crowd steadily increased around lunch time, but I do have a few photos to share.

Bonsai, exhibited by Orange Empire Bonsai Society

Japanese maples, sold by Essence of the Tree

Decorative items offered by Molly Wood Designs

Muradian Pottery and a large number of succulent nurseries

Gorgeous flowers offered by Rainbow Valley Protea.  This area was jammed on the 2 occasions in which I walked by.  When I downloaded my photos, I saw a sign I'd missed advertising Protea bouquets for $10.  I wish I'd bought one!

I spent all of 90 minutes at this year's show.  My trips to and from it took over an hour each way.  So, will I go next year?  Probably, as long as the sponsors continue to invite a varied selection of vendors.  However, next time I'll probably start with the vendors and zip through the displays if I've sufficient time before the crowd gets too deep.  This time, between my camera problems and the crowd, my patience was exhausted early.  I came home with just 2 plants.

I picked up Leucospermum 'High Gold' (already in bloom!) and Geranium 'Anne Folkard'.  The latter is already taking a beating by our relentless Santa Ana winds.  I haven't found a proper spot for either yet.

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

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Things are looking up (Wednesday Vignette)

Last weekend, I took a trip down my back slope to do a little watering and decided that the area I've been wringing my hands over since we moved in 6 years ago wasn't looking too bad at all.  Of course, it's spring and spring tends to sugarcoat things.  Flowers can divert attention from an area's deficiencies.

Before we take in what's looking up, let's start by looking down.

This is the view from the upper section of the cement block stairway my husband built to provide easier access to the lemon tree at the bottom of the slope.  The area to the right of the stairway is still weedy and rife with bare spots created when last summer's horrific early heatwave burned everything up but it's filled in some.  The harbor, partly screened by fog, is just visible in the distance.

Here's a look back up in the opposite direction.

The color provided by flowers is more readily visible from this direction

Our winter rains gave everything a boost, from the Agave attenuata at the bottom of the stairs to the prostrate rosemary growing in the upper section to the fig tree and artichoke in between

There's a LOT of floral color and even fruit and vegetables, as the following collage shows.

Plants of interest include: Top row -  an artichoke complete with chokes, Bignonia capreolata, and Carpenteria californica
Middle row - Centranthus ruber, Eschscholzia californica 'White Linen', and Euphorbia 'Dean's Hybrid'
Bottom row - Lots of lemons! (still not quite ripe), Oenothera speciosa, and Pelargonium 'White Lady'

Even the area formerly occupied by a massive Yucca elephantipes is looking pretty good, although I think I may have over-planted there.

The 3 Pittosporum tenuifolium 'Silver Magic' we planted as a fence of sorts between our property and that of our neighbor to the south is finally filling in.  The California poppies are on the wane but I'm allowing them plenty of time to self-seed this year.  Most of the Calla lilies are done blooming and the plants are beginning the slow process of dying back but the Centranthus ruber that self-seeded last year are providing alternative floral interest.  The Ceanothus arboreus 'Cliff Schmidt' I planted 2 years ago from a 4-inch container is hidden by other foliage here but gaining girth and could eventually reach 15 feet tall.  (Last year I considered it a goner.)

But the thing I was most happy about and the focus of this week's Wednesday Vignette, is this:

Romneya coulteri aka Matilija poppy and California tree poppy, planted last spring, is blooming for the first time

The huge flowers are often likened to fried eggs, which I think denies their beauty.  The plants are said to be hard to establish but, once established, hard to control.  It's native to Southern California and said to be beloved by birds, bees, and butterflies.  I look forward to it spreading its stems and remain hopeful that I can keep it to a manageable size by cutting it back hard each winter.

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

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

Monday, April 24, 2017

In a Vase on Monday: An Exercise in Restraint

I had plants in mind when I stepped into the garden on Sunday to select flowers for "In a Vase on Monday," the meme hosted by Cathy of Rambling in the Garden.  For a change, I stuck pretty much to my original intent.

Vase #1 was arranged around the foxgloves that finally bloomed in my cutting garden.  I grew these plants from plugs, not from seed, but for a while I thought they weren't going to do much of anything.  On Friday, I also feared that weeks of high winds, followed by a spike in our daytime temperatures and a sharp drop in our humidity levels, was going to put a premature end to the sweet peas I'd earmarked to accent the foxgloves.  However, a 10 degree drop in our temperature and a substantial increase in humidity gave the sweet peas a reprieve on Sunday.

Front view: the mottled white vase, decorated with a ribbon-like painted overlay, was a gift my mother brought me many years ago after a trip to her parents' Finnish homeland 

Back view, showing off the maroon sweet pea stems and my weed-like Centranthus

Top view

From left to right, the vase contains: Centranthus ruber (pink and white forms were used), Digitalis purpurea, and Lathyrus odoratus

Vase #2 was constructed around my white Alstroemeria, which is looking especially pretty right now.  I allowed myself 2 last minute additions to the vase in this case.

Front view: the last minute additions were the rose and the Grevillea stems.  I got the rose, a David Austin selection, from my favorite mail order nursery last November and have been growing it in a pot - this is its first bloom.  The Grevillea blooms sporadically.

The back view is all about the Alstroemeria

The top view highlights the flowers of the humble dusty miller plant (Jacobaea maritima)

Clockwise from the left, the vase contains: Alstroemeria 'Claire', Abelia 'Kaleidoscope', Grevillea alpina x rosmarinifolia, Jabobaea maritima, and Rosa 'Golden Celebration'

On my final round through the garden, I latched eyes on another recent bloomer I want to use in a vase but I stopped myself at 2 this week.  Hopefully, the other plant will still be vase-worthy next week.  For more vases, visit Cathy at Rambling in the Garden.

My vases in their places

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

Friday, April 21, 2017

Nasturtiums & Leucospermum

What do common nasturtiums (Tropaeolum majus) and exotic Leucospermum have to do with one another?  Nothing really, other than that they're both plants.  However, today I took a short hike through my neighborhood and down the nearby trail I explored in a March post to check on the nasturtiums I'd seen tumbling down the slope along the trail behind my next door neighbor's house.  On the return trip, I took some photos of another neighbor's yellow pincushion plant and thought I'd share both in a single post.

First the nasturtiums.

I took this photo, included in my earlier post on the trail, on March 3rd before the plants bloomed

This is the same area, photographed from the other direction, taken earlier today.  I waited longer to get back to the area than I should have but, with temperatures reaching into the upper 80sF this afternoon, I didn't think I should put it off any longer.

Closer view of the mass of nasturtiums

I spent several minutes staring at this small tree, thinking that the flowers looked very familiar.  After checking photos on-line, I concluded that this is probably a lemon verbena (Aloysia citrodora).  If it looks this good on an untended trail, watered only by run-off from the neighbor's property, I think I may have to try growing it in my own garden.

In another March post, I shared a photo of the huge noID orange Leucospermum growing in one neighbor's front garden.  The yellow Leucospermum grown by another neighbor wasn't blooming at that time but it is now.  I can't help admiring it every time I drive by so I wanted to give you an opportunity to admire it too.

This plant has bloomed reliably in a brick planter at the top of the neighbor's driveway every year we've lived here

The neighborhood specimens, as well as the beauties featured by another SoCal blogger, Hoover Boo at Piece of Eden, led me to invest in 2 Leucospermum, despite the fact that I've previously killed two of these plants.  As the saying goes, the third time's the charm!  Both my plants are alive and both continue to produce new leaves but there's no sign of flowers yet.

The non-blooming Leucospermum x 'Brandi', planted in March 2016, can be seen in the foreground on the right.  Grevillea 'Ned Kelly' and noID Anigozanthos on the left seem to be taunting the Leucospermum to bloom already!

I planted Leucospermum 'Goldie', shown front and center in the photo above, in my front garden earlier this month.  Its tight leaf buds initially had me thinking it was about to bloom but, no, it too seems intent on taking its time.

Hopefully, they're just investing their energies establishing the deep root systems necessary to make it through our hot, dry summers.

Enjoy your weekend!  I'm off on yet another plant shopping expedition.

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