Monday, August 21, 2017

In a Vase on Monday: Breaking News

We're interrupting our regular "In a Vase on Monday" coverage for a special update.  Despite prior media reports suggesting that the split between Blue Eustoma and Dahlia 'Loverboy' was permanent, it appears the parties have ended their estrangement as abruptly as it began.  They were spotted on Sunday afternoon, cozying up together in a vase.   Surrounded by old friends, it seemed they had eyes only for one another.  Is the reconciliation permanent?  Who knows.  These celebrity pairings are notoriously volatile but we wish them well.

They stood, side by side, as equal partners

Gomphrena 'Itsy Bitsy', once rumored to have had a relationship with 'Loverboy', was hanging around nearby but keeping her distance

With a tight circle around them, they weren't giving any interviews

Clockwise from the left, the group included: blue Eustoma grandiflorum, Dahlia 'Loverboy', Abelia x grandiflora 'Edward Goucher, Aster x frikartii 'Monch', Gomphrena decumbens 'Itsy Bitsy', Ocimum hybrid 'African Blue Basil', and Prunus laurocerasus


In other news, there's another Dahlia in town.  'Punkin Spice' made a long-awaited appearance on stage last week.  We weren't sure he had any friends in town but he had no trouble assembling a posse.  In fact, the crush surrounding him bordered on becoming overwhelming.

He was mobbed by a variety of bright characters

Leonotis Leonurus, used to being in the spotlight, was unexpectedly shoved into the background, almost lost from view

An aerial view of the mob scene

Dahlia 'Punkin Spice' is in the center.  Surrounding him, clockwise from the upper left are: Agonis flexuosa 'Nana', Coprosma repens 'Evening Glow', Cuphea 'Vermillionaire', Leucadendron 'Wilson's Wonder', various unidentified Zinnias, and Gaillardia 'Arizona Sun'


Almost lost among this flurry of news, last week also saw the return of one of the coolest customers around, Celadon Green Eustoma, Blue's cousin.  Not seen since last summer, she crept into town for what looks to be a very short stay.  She took a tumble soon after her arrival and is keeping a low profile, hanging out with some equally cool friends who don't eclipse her.

The only unexpected member of the company was the intriguing Lotus jacobaeus

This group kept things light

But they sparkled

Clockwise from the left, the group included: pale green Eustoma grandiflorum, Abelia 'Hopley's Variegated', Catananche caerulea (seedpods), silvery Leucadendron 'Pisa', and exotic Lotus jacobaeus


Speaking of eclipses*, I hope everyone in the US enjoys today's solar eclipse.  Los Angeles will experience only a partial eclipse (0.69 magnitude), peaking at 10:21am.  Despite all the hype, we failed to pick up protective eyewear before the shelves were bare so my husband fashioned a pinhole viewer.  We're as ready as we can be but don't expect any photos.



For a view of more vases, visit our "In a Vase on Monday" Host, Cathy at Rambling in the Garden.



*Yes, that transition was a stretch.


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

Friday, August 18, 2017

US Botanic Garden - A national treasure

Last Friday, I picked up coverage of the Capital Region Garden Bloggers' Fling with photos of our visit to the Hillwood Estate.  After lunch at the estate, the bus took us to the National Mall.  I previously reported on my tour of the Mary Livingston Ripley Garden on the Mall.  Another highlight of the Mall tour was the US Botanic Garden.  By way of a disclaimer, I should disclose that the weather in Washington DC had taken its toll on me as the afternoon progressed.  As a life-long resident of Southern California, I'm used to heat but not heat accompanied by the kind of humidity that characterizes summer in the eastern part of the country, and June 23rd in DC was particularly hot and muggy.  By the time I reached the US Botanic Garden, I felt like I was melting.  I took fewer photos than the visit warranted but I offer the best of those I collected.

We entered the garden through the gates shown here, which were surrounded with attractive plantings on both sides

I immediately fixated on the 3 Cercis canadensis 'Rising Sun' shown here.  While I've occasionally seen them for sale in SoCal, those specimens never look as good in my climate as they did here.



A stream ran under this winding boardwalk

This is pickerel weed (Pontederia cordata), which I only know because there was a sign to tell me so


We skirted by a large lawn area bordered by flower beds but didn't linger long.  Daylilies were a highlight here.

This giant planter was positioned along the path leading into the Conservatory.  I don't know who the woman captured in my photo is but she kindly, if inadvertently, provides a sense of the planter's scale.


At this point we entered the Conservatory, starting in the area that housed tropical plants.  Of course, tropical conservatories tend to be warm and moist and we'd already had enough of that so this area got much less attention than it deserved.  Even I'm surprised by how few photos I took in this area.


This area of the Conservatory was 2 stories high.  (Note that you can see the tops of a couple of heads in the lower right-hand corner of my photo.)


I looked all over for a tag to identify the plant in the center foreground here.  I'm fairly certain that it's a Plectranthus as the leaf's veining and underside color is similar to that of one in my own garden but I've never seen one with this kind of metallic sheen.


My tour companions, Kathy (GardenBook) and Sue (Idyll Haven), and I took refuge for a time in an air conditioned educational exhibit at one end of  the conservatory.  The cool air restored us somewhat but the presence of a large number of small exuberant children eventually got us up and moving again.  I must have been feeling better at that point because I took a lot of photos in the World Deserts section of the Conservatory.



Time was running short, so we hustled across the street to Bartholdi Park.  Described as a "showcase of sustainable and accessible landscape design," this area was renovated just last year.

I captured this view of the exterior of the Conservatory from the entrance to Barthholdi Park.  The dome to the right is the US Capitol building.

I didn't process what I saw here until I reviewed my photos.  It looks to me as if the area in the foreground may have once been a fountain, although the park renovation reportedly included work on storm water capture so perhaps this is part of that mechanism.

Vegetable garden

From left to right: Cardoon, Echinacea, and Cotinus

2 of the many plant containers in the park 

The park's centerpiece, the Fountain of Light, created for the 1876 Philadelphia Exposition to celebrate the country's first 100 years


I really wish I'd had more time to see DC.  I've visited only once before and, as that visit was work-related, I didn't have adequate time to see the city that time either.  I hope to get back someday and tour it at a more leisurely pace, perhaps when the White House has a more suitable occupant.


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

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Foliage Follow-up - August 2017

Most of my posts probably scream "flower addict" but foliage is really the dominant feature of my garden.  That's clearest during the mid-to-late summer months when flowers retreat from view.

There are still a few flowers in the front garden but I think this photo shows the importance of foliage here.  The swaths of chartreuse color are provided by Coleonema pulchellum 'Sunset Gold' and Duranta repens.  The red tones of Leptospermum 'Copper Glow' are echoed in Pennisetum advena 'Rubrum' and Coprosma 'Fireburst'.  Phormium 'Maori Queen' marries the chartreuse and red colors, helping to tie everything together.

The large clumps of red fountain grass are more visible in this photo.  The magenta seedpods of Cercis occidentalis and the red color of selected succulents on the front-facing slope pick up the red color of the grasses.

The Coprosma 'Fireburst' shown in this photo in front of Phormium 'Maori Queen' and Euphorbia characias 'Black Pearl' was added recently to replace a Grevillea 'Pink Midget' which found this area a bit too dry.  There are 2 other 'Fireburst' shrubs in the same bed already.

Leucadendron 'Wilson's Wonder' provides more red/orange color in this section of the front garden closer to the south end of the house.  Abelia 'Kaleidoscope' contributes a softer version of the same warm tones elsewhere in the bed and there are more red echoes in the distance, provided by Cotinus coggygria 'Royal Purple' and Pennisetum 'Fireworks'.  The Leucadendron also echoes the chartreuse of the large Duranta behind it.


There were a few individual foliage stand-outs elsewhere I want to highlight this month as well.

After nearly 4 years in this bed in the backyard, 2 of my Agave lophantha 'Quadicolor' have finally produced pups

I planted this Westringia fruticosa 'Morning Light' in just the right spot near the front of the long border in the back garden.  I'm planning to move 2 others forward this fall so they can also shine.

Artemisia ludoviciana seedlings planted themselves in various areas of the garden.  Unsure as to what they were, I moved them to this area in the cutting garden.  They've become a bit tall for the space but their placement has been useful as I frequently include the foliage in floral arrangements as a filler.  I also like how the foliage captures the late afternoon sun.


Pam at Digging hosts Foliage Follow-up each month after Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day.  To see her August foliage picks and those of other gardeners, click here.


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


Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Bloom Day - August 2017

We've been enjoying unusually pleasant weather for the past week.  The marine layer is back in position each morning, which keeps the afternoon temperatures down.  However, it is mid-summer, normally the lowest point in the gardening year here.  Although there are flowers scattered here and there throughout the garden, the heaviest concentration of floral color right now can be found in the cutting garden.  I gave up vegetables for flower seeds and bulbs this year and I'm very happy with the result.

It's not a large space but it's supporting a bevy of bees and butterflies


Dahlias, sunflowers and zinnias dominate the 3 raised planters, although there are also some flowering herbs, most notably 'African Blue' Oncimum, a noID Origanum, and Salvia elegans.

Dahlia 'Hakuyou' is a dinner-plate type.  This its first bloom.

Dahlia 'Loverboy', a semi-cactus type, is in competition with 'Terracotta' as the most vigorous thus far

Actually, Dahlia 'Little Robert', a pom-pom type, is a strong performer too but its smaller flowers make less of a splash

Dahlia 'Terracotta', another semi-cactus variety, has been over-taking 'Loverboy' in flower-power in the past 2 weeks

Meanwhile, Dahlia 'Punkin Spice', classified an an informal decorative type, is only now producing its first bloom.  Just 2 other dahlias grown from tubers, 'Fairway Spur' and 'Otto's Thrill', both dinner-plate varieties, have yet to show themselves, although both have finally produced buds.

The sunflowers (Helianthus annuus) surprised me by seemingly blooming all at once.  This one grew from a 'Flash Blend' seed mix.

I think this one is Helianthus annuus 'Lemon Queen' but I can't say I kept my seeds straight

I also mixed up my Zinnia seed mixes so I'm not even going to try to name these


In the back garden, Callistemon 'Cane's Hybrid' produced its largest flush of bloom yet in late July.  The blooms were already fading in early August when I took this photo, but I couldn't resist sharing it.  If there's a pattern to this Callistemon's bloom cycles, I haven't discovered it.

The flowers were already turning a buff color here but they were profuse and attracted both bees and butterflies.  Growers describe the flower color as pink but it reads as more of a rosy peach to me.


Other plants providing healthy flushes of flowers include the following:

While the pink variety of Lisianthus (Eustoma grandiflorum) isn't as vigorous this year as last year, the blue variety seems to be hanging on longer into the season than it has in prior years

Gaillardia 'Arizona Sun' continues to out-perform every other Gaillardia in my garden

Since adding 6 Alternanthera 'Little Ruby' to the narrow partial shade bed beside the house, I've been watering the area more to help those foliage plants establish good roots and that extra water has given the dark burgundy ivy geranium (Pelargonium peltatum) a major boost 

Pelargonium peltatum and Pandorea jasminoides continue to merge congenially over the arbor separating the cutting garden from the dry garden

Pennisetum advena 'Rubrum' is off to a good start for the season that extends from late summer through winter

Rudbeckia 'Cherry Brandy' is finally putting on a good show


As usual, certain ever-blooming plants continue to pump out new flowers, even if the volume has dipped in response to summer's toasty temperatures and bone dry conditions.

Clockwise from the left: Grevillea 'Peaches & Cream', G. 'Superb', G. 'Ned Kelly', Cuphea ignea 'Starfire Pink', and Gomphrena decumbens 'Itsy Bitsy'


A couple of plants provided surprises on a small scale too.

A lone surprise lily (Amaryllis belladonna), also known as naked lady because it blooms well after its foliage has died back, appeared.  In 2015, Tammy Schmitt of Casa Mariposa sent me 2 dozen bulbs she rescued from an inhospitable spot in her garden.  Foliage emerged following our winter rains but thus far this is the only flower to make an appearance.  I have my fingers crossed that others will follow.

This is a recent purchase, Lotus jacobaeus.  It produced blooms much sooner than I'd expected.  They look like tiny black butterflies. 


I'll end this post with a few collages of flowers deserving honorable mentions.

From left to right: Anagallis monellii, blooming again after a severe haircut; Catananche caerulea, which has bloomed for 2 months now;Tibouchina urvilleana; and Trichostema 'Midnight Magic'

From the left: Bauhinia x blakeana, still with more flowers than leaves; Pentas 'Kaleidoscope Appleblossom, back from near death; and an unexpected bloom on my noID purplish-pink rose

Clockwise from the upper left: Mandevilla 'Sun Parasol Apricot' with Abelia 'Kaleidoscope' beneath; Coreopsis 'Big Bang Redshift' with the best flush of bloom in years; Lantana camara 'Irene' also returning after a trim; one of few remaining Leucanthemum x superbum; noID Phalaeonopsis, which keeps producing new bloom spikes; and self-seeded Tanacetum parthenium


For more Bloom Day reports, visit our host, Carol at May Dreams Gardens.


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