Friday, October 24, 2014

My favorite plant this week: Pennisetum 'Fireworks'

I've developed a keener interest in ornamental grasses since we moved into our current house almost 4 years ago.  My most recent acquisition is Pennisetum 'Fireworks,' a sport of P. setaceum and P. macrostachys.  While it would be premature for me to make any predictions concerning its long-term performance after just 2 months in my garden, I'm pleased with it thus far.  I bought it mainly for the vibrant red-pink foliage but also because it's said to stay smaller than the P. setaceum 'Rubrum' that came with the garden.

Estimates of its mature size vary from source to source ranging from as small as 1 foot (30 cm) tall and wide to 4 feet (1.2 m) tall and wide.  Mine are placed along the edge of one wall and at the front of another bed so, in this case, I'm hoping they stay at the smaller end of the range.

The variegation is said to be unstable, especially when the plant is grown in full sun.  All of mine get late afternoon shade so I hope they'll retain their current bright color.

The flowers are very similar to those on P. setaceum 'Rubrum,' although I've noted that a lot of 'Fireworks' plumes develop a crimp at the end.  The flowers are long-lasting when used in floral arrangements.

This grass is hardy to 25F (minus 3.9C) and, according to San Marcos Growers, it has proven to be root hardy to 20F.  Most sources claim it has low water needs once established.  Mine, still in the process of developing their root systems, currently get watered twice a week.

Pennisetum 'Fireworks' is my favorite plant this week.  Please visit Loree at danger garden, the host for this weekly review, to see her favorite and to find links to other gardeners' selections.

All material © 2012-2014 by Kris Peterson for Late to the Garden Party

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Nursery hopping in San Diego County

A friend and I made the rounds of 6 nurseries in San Diego County on Saturday.  As all were relatively small and freeway close, it wasn't as daunting a trip as it might seem.  There are some larger, inland nurseries we'd like to see but we left those for another day.

Our first stop was Shore Gardens in San Clemente, selected mainly to provide us an opportunity to stop and stretch our legs after more than an hour on the road.  It appeared to cater to the needs of the surrounding neighborhood, offering a general range of plants but, as proved characteristic of all our stops, there was a good selection of drought tolerant plants, as well as some of the tropical plants you expect to find along the coast.

I didn't buy anything, although I did give a moment's thought to purchasing this, thinking that maybe the neighborhood raccoons would respect the newcomer's territorial rights:

Our next stop was Barrels & Branches in Encinitas.  Another general garden center, it specializes in selling barrels (for planting and water storage), as well as plants.  A large area was dedicated to succulents and other drought tolerant plants.  I heard the owner tell another visitor that she was making the garden available for special events, like weddings, too.

This beautiful variegated agave wasn't identified

But this one was: Agave celsii

The garden mascot (picture taken by my friend)

I took home a few plants but nothing unusual.

My purchases included 3 Lomandra 'Breeze,' obtained at a good price and 1 Pentas lanceolata (not shown)

We hit another nursery, Cordova, on our way to lunch.  It specialized in succulents, pottery, garden furniture and indoor plants.  The small succulents were very well priced and we spent quite awhile reviewing the large range of varieties available.

Cordova also had a greeter, a 31 year old female parrot named "Paco" who called hello but otherwise refused to speak

I left there with a dozen small succulents, already planted in my street-side succulent border, and an Anigozanthos, sold for a very reasonable price.

After lunch, we visited Solana Succulents, which is owned and operated by Jeff Moore, an expert in the creation of undersea-style succulent gardens and the author of a new book entitled "Under the Spell of Succulents."  You can find an article on him, written by Debra Lee Baldwin, herself an author of a few books on succulents, here.  His nursery requires exploration, as plants are crammed in everywhere.  Many were unlabeled but he was happy to identify them when asked.

Solana also had a mascot, Lucy - my friend captured this photo of her front half

But I got my own photo of her back half

Of course, I bought a few things at Solana Succulents, including Moore's new book.  The following plants came home with me:

Moore wasn't positive of the ID on this agave but he thinks it's A. applanata

This one is Dyckia marnier-lapostellii

And this one, which I've already planted in my street-side border, is Senecio amaniensis

From Solana Succulents, we headed back north, stopping at Glorious Gardens in Encinitas.  This is a retail off-shoot of a landscaping business run by 2 women.  The retail store is very small but was packed with interesting plants and decorative items.

The truck at the front of the store has a driver in seasonally appropriate attire

The store includes a miniature art gallery

I believe these photographs were taken by one of the owners

An interesting take on a plant hanger

Constrained by my checkbook and the space in my friend's car, I took home just one plant from Glorious Gardens but it's one I've been looking for:

Furcraea foetida 'Mediopicta' - the agave look-alike was in a one-gallon pot for $18 so how could I pass it up? 

There was a wholesale succulent seller next door to Glorious so we popped in there before heading home.  If the seller's establishment had a name, I didn't see it.  Advertised as a veteran-owned business, the owner and his 2 dogs were very low-key.  He checked a reference list to identify the plants he sold me.

The plant on the right is Kalanchoe orgyalis (aka copper spoons) but the seller identified the plant on the left as Echeveria pulv-oliver but I don't think that's correct as it doesn't have fuzzy leaves - can anyone identify it for me?

That was it for our trip to San Diego.  My friend is already planning our next expedition, however, I'd like to get what I've already purchased planted and complete my preparation of the new planting areas at the front of the house first.  Still, there's a fall plant sale at the local South Coast Botanic Garden this weekend that I don't intend to miss...

All material © 2012-2014 by Kris Peterson for Late to the Garden Party

Monday, October 20, 2014

In a Vase on Monday: The Old & the New

This week I actually had a floral feature in mind in advance for the vase prepared in connection with the celebration sponsored each Monday by Cathy at Rambling in the Garden.  Mid-month, just after Bloom Day (of course), I noticed that my Senna bicapsularis 'Worley's Butter Cream' had begun blooming.  There are only blooms on a few branches but I was glad to see them.  I initially thought I'd accent them with Tagetes lemmonii but I didn't like the mix so round and round the garden I went, searching for appropriate plants to complement the pale yellow Senna.  Once again, I ended up with more than I'd expected.

Back view

While the Senna makes its first appearance this year, most of the other elements have shown up earlier in one vase or another.  In addition to the Senna, there is:
  • Abelia x grandiflora 'Kaleidoscope'
  • Asparagus densiflorus 'Spengeri' (at least that's what I think it is)
  • Gomphrena haageana
  • Grevillea 'Superb'
  • Nandina domestica (berries)
  • Rusellia equisetiformis

Senna bicapsularis is also know as Christmas Senna for its habit of blooming late in the year

The asparagus fern has suddenly produced zillions of tiny white flowers

The unidentified Gomphrena I picked up a few weeks ago was definitely worth the purchase - the flowers have a long vase life (I briefly considered reusing the blooms I picked for my vase 2 weeks ago but these are freshly cut)

Grevillea 'Superb' has more blooms than ever before - it appears to like our cooler temperatures

The Nandina berries pick up the oranges tones of the variegated Abelia 'Kaleidoscope'

The yellow form of Russelia equisetiformis was a last minute addition - the coral form also would have worked

I think it turned out rather well.  It took its place opposite the front door, where it provides a cheery welcome.

My post was delayed a bit this morning as my husband and I discovered that our cat, Pipig, was missing, throwing me, if not him, into a panic.  She's recently taken to streaking out of the house but she's never stealthy about it so she's quickly collected and tucked back inside but, last night, she apparently managed an undetected escape when I stepped outside around 9pm to water a plant just outside the door.  Much to her surprise - as well as mine - she ended up spending the night outside.  After a frantic search outside early this morning, I finally heard mewing and found her perched on the top of the grape arbor, looking nearly as upset as I was.  It took both my husband and I to get her down.  Luckily for both of us, she managed to avoid being eaten by one of the neighborhood coyotes or squirted by one of the skunks that wandered the garden last night.  After a hearty breakfast and a good wash, she's fast asleep in her own bed.

Pipig having a good rest after her great escape and eventual recapture

Please visit Cathy at Rambling in the Garden to see what she's got in her vase this week.  You'll also find links to other gardeners' creations.

All material © 2012-2014 by Kris Peterson for Late to the Garden Party

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Foliage Follow-up - Celebrating Succulents

Summer here in Southern California takes its toll.  At this time of year, most of my plants are looking a little worse for the wear.  That's especially true this year as we're in a severe drought and, like many people, I've reduced my supplemental irrigation in response to pleas to conserve water.  2013 was our driest year on record and 2014 isn't shaping up to be much better.   Under these conditions, it's the perfect time to celebrate succulents, which generally get by with very little water or attention.  So, for this month's foliage follow-up, an event posted by Pam at Digging, I'm focusing on a few of my ever-expanding succulent collections.

I had very few succulents at my former house - all I can recall is a scattered planting of Aeonium 'Kiwi' and Calandrinia grandiflora (aka Cistanthe grandiflora) along the driveway.  Now I have succulents in pots large and small, as well as borders.

I put this first planter together 2 years ago this month, using a container that formerly functioned as a friend's fountain, and it remains one of my favorites to this day:

This planter contains Aeonium haworthii 'Kiwi,' Aloe 'Delta Delight,' Crassula 'Ivory Pagoda,' Dyckia 'Burgundy Ice,' Echeveria 'Violet Queen,' Graptoveria 'Fred Ives,' and Senecio radicans glauca

This next pot, which sits on the same patio, was planted in March of this year:

It contains Aloe deltoidonta, Cotyledon orbiculata (aka Pig's Ear), Senecio vitalis and 2 other succulents for which I have no record

Another, assembled that same month, sits along a path on the other side of the house:

This pot, and its twin on the other side of the path, contains Euphorbia 'Dean's Hybrid' (not a succulent), Graptoveria 'Fred Ives,' Portulacaria afra, and Rhipsalis ewaldiana

My biggest succulent planting effort yet is a long street-side border.  It's still a work in progress - there's a lot of blank space yet to fill.  I'll provide an update soon but I thought I'd highlight one recent addition, an Agave desmettiana 'Variegata,' acquired at a very reasonable price of $20 complete with 11 usable pups!  In these parts, that's what we call a bargain.

The mother plant is surrounded on the left and right sides by 2 of her pups

My thanks to Pam for hosting this celebration of foliage plants.  Visit her blog page to see what foliage is grabbing her attention right now and to find links to other gardeners' foliage picks.

All material © 2012-2014 by Kris Peterson for Late to the Garden Party