Monday, February 8, 2016

In a Vase on Monday: Coral Color!

We're in the middle of a winter heatwave.  Just over a week ago, our daytime temperatures were barely reaching 60F (15.5C) and now, courtesy of our Santa Ana winds, they're soaring well above 80F (27C).  Worse yet, there's no rain in sight and our humidity level is near zero.  Still, the flowering plants have responded to the added warmth and blooms are appearing everywhere.  My Grevillea 'Superb' is blooming as heavily as the 'Peaches & Cream' I featured in a vase in mid-January.

Grevillea 'Superb' photographed last week in the front garden

The Grevillea was a natural choice for this week's "In a Vase on Monday," the meme hosted by Cathy at Rambling in the Garden.

Front view

Back view

Top view

Here's a closer look at the individual elements:

Clockwise from upper left: Grevillea 'Superb'; Leucadendron 'Wilson's Wonder', now showing its full winter colors; 3 coral-toned Iceland poppies (Papaver nudicaule); Coleonema album, just beginning its annual bloom cycle; a few stems of Leptospermum 'Copper Glow'; and Pelargonium x hortorum 'Mrs. Pollock'

The wind has also been hard on the last of the two poinsettias I used to create holiday-themed pots to stand outside the front door in mid-December.

This vignette was my entry into the "Poinsettia Challenge" sponsored by Loree of danger garden last December

It was time to put away the gnome, the final remnant of my holiday decorations, and change out the contents of the pots by the front door.  However, as there were a few nice "blooms" still left on poinsettia, I decided to put them in a vase before retiring the remains of the plant.

This poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrima) didn't start to deteriorate significantly until about a week ago, although the variegated form I planted began to fall apart in mid-January

By pure coincidence, both vases this week offer lots of coral color.

The arrangement containing the Grevilleas ended up on the dining room table

The 3 poinsettia stems, after scalding in hot water, sit in the front entry

Visit Cathy at Rambling in the Garden to find what she and other gardeners have cobbled together from what they have on hand this week.

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

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Wide Shots and Wednesday Vignette - February 2016

I'm late getting my monthly wide shots together.  I could blame complications from the wind and rain earlier this week but the truth is I've just been pressed for time.  However, taking photos on Monday, the day after it rained and the winds scrubbed the skies of our omnipresent brown haze, reaped benefits in the form of clear views of the harbor and mountains.  As the haze has already returned, I'm including photos of Monday's long-distance views from my backyard as my "Wednesday Vignette," the weekly meme hosted by Anna of Flutter & Hum.

Crystal clear view of Angel's Gate, the entrance to the Los Angeles harbor

View of the Vincent Thomas Bridge, the harbor, and Long Beach beyond

View of the snow-capped mountain to the east

Now for my monthly wide shots of the garden, an exercise initiated by Heather of Xericstyle, I'll start in the backyard.

There's still lots of bare dirt here, the down side of starting with small plants

View of the backyard, looking north

View of the same area, looking south

Promising signs in the backyard include, from the left: Alstroemeria reemerging; foliage growth on the Amaryllis belladona, graciously provided by Tammy of Casa Mariposa, providing the promise of summer flowers; and Callistemon 'Cane's Hybrid', which has more than doubled in size in less than a year

The south side garden is up next.  I moved the Acanthus mollis and Arthropodium cirratum from this area, giving the plants a new home the shadier area along the garage.  I back-filled with more succulents and ornamental grass but the area will look sparse for awhile.  After fighting constant battles with the raccoons for possession of the area alongside the patio, I traded out the smaller succulents I had there for Hemerocallis moved from the back border in the hope that those plants will be harder for the furry monsters to toss about.

The area looks sparse now but, as I add more succulents and as the ones I've already planted grow larger, this will change

The same area, photographed looking east toward the harbor

One day, all my Agave 'Blue Glow' should look as good as the one on the left.  The middle photo shows a few of the smaller Agave 'Blue Glow', one of 3 Aloe dorotheae, and Echium 'Star of Madeira'.  Three pups of Agave americana mediopicta, received from Hoover Boo of Piece of Eden, have been planted here, currently surrounded by prickly Magnolia cones to provide a modicum of protection from the nasty raccoons. 

Not much has changed at the front of the house, except in the area alongside the garage, which was the subject of a progress report late last month.

Arctotis 'Pink Sugar', Gazania 'White Flame' and Grevillea 'Peaches & Cream' are providing most of the floral color at the front of the house

The wind and rain took a toll on the Bauhinia x blakeana (Hong Kong orchid tree) but it should come back with more blooms

My favorite view this month

Three views of the former lawn area next to the garage, which I covered in an earlier progress report.  Planting here is currently my primary focus.

The succulent bed along the street underwent a few changes but, for the most part, it's been allowed to cope on its own.  However, the area behind that bed, now exposed to view as the Auranticarpa shrubs that formerly served as a screen die off, has received some attention.  I'm still in search of solutions to screen this area from the street.  I don't want to pull out the succulents, which would be necessary if I was to plant more of the Xylosma that makes up the rest of the hedge material along the street, and I don't want to block the path behind the succulent bed,  so finding the right screen poses a real challenge.

The succulents love the rain they've received, little as it was!

Clockwise from the left: Agave impressa surrounded by noID Dudleya and Graptoveria 'Fred Ives'; more Agave 'Blue Glow', shown here with Chondropetalum tectorum, a rush; Agave desmettiana surrounded by Aeoniums and other succulents; the foliage of Hippeastrum I'm attempting to naturalize here; and one of 2 Agave 'Blue Flame'

These photos show something of the area behind the succulent bed.  Since 2 of the dying Ceanothus on the slope above the stacked stone wall were removed, I've planted a Garrya elliptica, 2 Salvia 'Celestial Blue', Festuca californica, and lots of Aeonium cuttings.

There's nothing much new in the vegetable or dry gardens.

Chicken wire has kept the raccoons out of the raised planter in the foreground but my flower seeds have been slow to sprout.  Plugs of Schizanthus pinnatus (aka poor man's orchid) have been planted in the second planter and a few more herbs have been added to the third.

The rains have refreshed the dry garden a bit, as exemplified by all the flowers produced by the rosemary (lower left) but the Grevillea lavandulacea 'Penola', which usually are in full bloom in January, are only now budding out

While I haven't done much with the back slope either, there are signs that the area is starting to come alive, even with the meager winter rain we've received thus far.

View of the slope from the top of the stairway on the left and from the bottom looking up on the right

The highlights of this area include, clockwise from upper left: 3 Agave attentuata, started from 4-inch pots last year; the bare mimosa tree (Albizia julibrissin) looming over the area from the backyard area above; Calla lilies emerging from dormancy; Centranthus, a virtual weed here, growing everywhere; more flowering rosemary, originally planted from plugs; and a mass of lemons on the ever-bearing tree

That's it for my wide views.  Hopefully, we'll get some more rain before El Niño fizzles out.  The 10-day forecast shows no chance of rain whatsoever but our temperatures are expected to soar into the low 80sF (27C) by the weekend so spring will be in the air while we still yearn for winter's rains.

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

Monday, February 1, 2016

In a Vase on Monday: Split Personalities

We woke up to rain on Sunday, which was an auspicious way to start the day, or so I thought.  I took advantage of a break in the weather mid-morning and cut flowers for "In a Vase on Monday," the weekly meme hosted by Cathy at Rambling in the Garden.  As the Leucadendron 'Chief' in my dry garden was in full "bloom" I went out with a plan to build a vase around its flower-like stems.

The cones and yellow bracts of Leucadendron salignum 'Chief' make a splash in my dry garden in winter

Instead, I end up with an arrangement with a split personality.

As this front view shows, the left and right sides of this vase look very different

The top view emphasizes this.  I tried mixing the stems together differently but it didn't help.

In theory, I thought the colors of the 3 plants would complement one another but they demonstrated dysfunctional behavior when combined.  Left to right, the plants are: Leucadendron salignum 'Chief', Leptospermum scoparium 'Pink Pearl', and Grevillea 'Scarlet Sprite'.

In retrospect, I think I probably should have left well enough alone and let the Leucadendron 'Chief' stand on its own.

The lighter pink tones in the Leucadendron weren't strong enough to balance the dominant pink color of the Leptospermum

I've gotten used to having more than one vase to add color to the house so I wandered beyond my dry garden and found materials for another vase.  Its dissociative identity disorder is less pronounced.

The white and blue daisies struggle a bit for dominance in the vase but neither really overwhelms the other

View from the top

Clockwise from the left, this vase contains: Pericallis x hybrida (aka florist's cineraria), Argyranthemum frutescens, Lavandula multifida, Lobularia maritima (alyssum), and rosemary

After another round of rain, the noID Narcissus by the back door was flattened so I ended up with a third vase.

I couldn't leave the Narcissus plastered to the pavement like this

Pipig expresses curiosity (or is it jealousy?) about the vase on my desk

Unfortunately, the rainstorm that started our day deposited far less rain than was forecast, at least in our location.  We received only 0.20 inches of rain but we got lots and lots of wind.  The wind pushed the rain right out of here but that's not all it pushed.  I walked into the living room mid-day to see this:

The wrought iron screen on the side patio collapsed, knocking over the pots at its base

It wasn't as bad as I initially thought.  Amazingly, none of the pots broke.  The pink Echeveria 'Afterglow' had just one broken leaf and an Aloe vera lost the tips of a few leaves.  However, the Hoya carnosa that grew up the heavy screen broke at the base.  We righted the screen and tied it to the patio post.  I took cuttings of the Hoya but I think I'll try replacing it with another vine in this location.  Although the Hoya bloomed reliably, its leaves were sun-bleached so I'll plant the cuttings in a more shaded setting.

After the clean-up, almost as good as new (except for the Hoya vine)

With that chore dispatched, I took shelter from the wind inside, spending the afternoon catching up on a household chores.  It's no way to spend a Sunday afternoon but at least I have a clean start to the week!  I also found appropriate spots for my vases to sit.

The mixed up Leucadendron/Leptospermum vase sits on the dining table

The blue and white arrangement sits in the front entry

Visit Cathy at Rambling in the Garden to see what she and other gardeners have brought inside to add cheer.  The signs of spring are out there!

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

Friday, January 29, 2016

My favorite plants this January

In contrast to other years, the stars of my winter garden have been relatively slow about showing their stuff this year.  That may be due to the colder temperatures we've experienced since December, the drought, or a combination of the two.  Whatever the case, the situation has changed over the course of the last couple of weeks.  As Loree of danger garden is back from her holiday hiatus with her monthly favorites post, it's a perfect time to show off some of the current stars of my garden.

The first is Helleborus x 'Anna's Red'.  I picked this plant up at the late, great Sperling Nursery last year principally for its pretty foliage.  As I remember, it was the last one they had, my friend having snatched up the only other one on the table.  Frankly, I didn't expect much from it as hellebores don't do particularly well here so, last week when I saw buds on the plant, I was very excited.

I enjoyed the attractive foliage all last year but the appearance of flowers put the plant over the top for me

I love the flowers even if they do insist on pointing their faces toward the ground

And look!  There are more flowers to come!

I've flaunted photos of my Grevillea 'Peaches & Cream' in other posts this month but I can't help myself from doing so again.  The plant in the front garden is covered in blooms and buds.  I stopped counting after two dozen.

The buds don't show up well in this sun-saturated photo but, believe me, there are lots of them

The flowers gradually turn peachier as they mature

But that's not the only Grevillea putting on a show at the moment.  Grevillea 'Superb' is also living up to its name.

This Grevillea 'Superb' is loaded with blooms

The mature flowers of 'Superb' are longer but narrower than those of 'Peaches & Cream'

Another plant that's living up to its name is Leucadendron 'Wilson's Wonder'.  Its winter color is showing with the development of its cones and yellow bracts.

This plant moved here with me from our former house, where it lived in a pot.  Once planted in the ground, it exploded in size.

It looks like a flower, doesn't it?

This is my second 'Wilson's Wonder'.  Planted in November 2014, it's still relatively small.

Before I end this post, I also want to give a shout out to Arctotis 'Pink Sugar'.  Its blooms may be late in arriving but it's quickly making up for lost time.

'Pink Sugar' does a good job of complementing Phormium 'Maori Queen' 

If the flowers didn't close in low light, I'd be using them regularly in vases

Despite our drought, I know I'm lucky to be able to enjoy plants like these in the middle of winter when so many other gardeners are shivering in their boots and digging cars out of snowdrifts.  Thank you Mother Nature!  Now, if you could just see your way to deliver up some rain this weekend...

Visit Loree and danger garden to see her favorite January plants and to find links to other gardeners' choices.

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