Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Wordless Wednesday: The Joys April Brings

Agapanthus (no ID)

Cistus 'Sunset'

Unidentified Hippeastrum


'Bountiful Blue' blueberries

Carpenteria californica 'Elizabeth' (Bush Anemone)

Digiplexis 'Illumination Flame' with Anagallis 'Wildcat Mandarin'

Graptoveria 'Fred Ives' in bloom

Hemerocallis 'Elizabeth Salter'

Hemerocallis 'For Pete's Sake'

Hemerocallis 'Spanish Harlem'

Lathyrus odoratus 'Perfume Delight' in pink!

Osteospermum 'Serenity Peach Magic'

Pelargonium 'Georgia Peach'

Scabiosa hybrid 'Giant Blue'

Tagetes lemmonii 'Compacta' (dwarf Copper Canyon daisy)

Monday, April 21, 2014

In a Vase on Monday: Iris and Friends

I'm joining Cathy at Rambling in the Garden again this week for her meme featuring a bouquet constructed from materials on hand in the garden.  This week, an Iris, one of the first to bloom for me this season, is the central focus.  I have no record of its name but I recall now that I picked it up a few years ago at the South Coast Spring Garden Show.  Coincidentally, this year's show will be held this weekend, which may be what prompted my memory of the Iris' origin.

An Iris this beautiful doesn't want to be upstaged in a vase.

My unidentified Iris germanica in close-up

I selected her partners carefully.  In the photo above, you can see stems of Hebe 'Wiri Blush,' which mirrors the pinkish purple of the falls on the Iris.  Although it's not readily visible in the photo, the Hebe's stem, as well as the underside of its leaves, picks up the same purplish hue.

Hebe "Wiri Blush,' photographed in the garden is just coming into bloom but it's pretty even without flowers

The other ingredients in the bouquet take a backseat in the composition.  They include:

  • Argyranthemum frutescens 'Comet Pink'
  • Brizia media (aka quaking grass)
  • Cuphea x ignea 'Starfire Pink'
  • Schinus mollis (California pepper tree) branchlets, currently sporting their spring flowers

Close-up of Brizia media stems with the Cuphea and Argyranthemum in the background 

Close up of Schinus molle branchlets sporting spring flowers and buds

I have no "rejects" for a second vase this week.  I considered using a few stems of the purplish pink Alstroemeria, still plentiful in my garden but I didn't think the Iris would be pleased with the competition so I left them where they're growing.

Please visit Cathy at Rambling in the Garden to see her floral creation this week.  You'll also find links to other gardeners' compositions.  If you have a vase of flowers sitting beside you, why not join Cathy and share your creation?

Friday, April 18, 2014

Cactus & Succulent Show & Sale

Last weekend, South Coast Botanic Garden hosted a plant show and sale sponsored by the local chapter of the Cactus & Succulent Society.  I poked my nose in during the second day of the event.  I was surprised to find so many show exhibits, nicely arranged by members.  I took dozens of photos but I'll show just my favorites.

Pachypodium collection

An eclectic mix

A grouping of various Euphorbia

Another mixed assortment

Mamillaria and other ball-shaped cactus

Matucana curryandensis

Mostly Gasteria and related hybrids

An interesting mix

This one didn't look real - it's Arbomeitiella brevifolia

Pedilanthus macrocarpus

But my favorite display had a whimsical note, if not the most unusual specimens.  It was entitled "Succulent Dining" and featured a table set with a variety of menu selections.

Roasted Chicken

Peking Duck

Roast Pork


and, of course, a centerpiece

There were also some handsome individual specimens.

Dyckia 'Brittlestar'

Agave macroantha - I looked for this Agave on the sale tables but didn't find it

Gasteria-Aloe hybrid

I didn't take any pictures of the sales tables but, even on the second day of the event, there was a lot to choose from and prices were good.  Here's what I brought home:

Top row, from left: Agave stricta, Echeveria pulvinata 'Ruby,' and Sansevieria cylindrica
Second row: Dyckia 'Cherry Cola' and Huernia 'Red Ribbons'
Bottom: Euphorbia horrida

The Euphorbia was labeled E. horrida but I thought it looked a lot like this hybrid:

Euphorbia horrida x meloformis

I'll definitely attend the next show and sale.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Foliage Follow-up - A Little of This and a Little of That

In spring, it's easy to get overwhelmed by flowers.  They're everywhere.  While some flowers complement one another, others clash.  I looked around my garden while taking pictures for yesterday's Bloom Day post and thought, I need more foliage to pull this garden together.  Foliage Follow-up, sponsored by Pam at Digging, is a celebration of foliage and a regular reminder of its importance in the garden.

Some of my foliage is so brightly colored, it can almost be mistaken for floral material.  Yucca 'Bright Star' falls into that category.  I added 3 of these to my main backyard border in January.  The plants are still relatively small and the surrounding plants currently distract attention away from them to a degree, but I think that'll change as the Yucca grow taller.  If the neighboring Nicotiana alata 'Lime Green' encroach upon them, the Nicotiana may have to go.

One of 3 Yucca 'Bright Star' in the mid portion of the main backyard border

Another of the 3 plants photographed from above to show off the color variation

The Yucca are currently surrounded by Nicotiana alata, Euphorbia 'Dean's Hybrid,' a Prostanthera ovalifolia and Adenophora seedlings

Abelia grandiflora 'Kaleidoscope' could also be considered a flower-like foliage plant.  It's hard to ignore in any setting.  I've used it in groups in 3 different parts of the garden.

This one, introduced in the in the backyard border 2 years ago with 2 others, is putting on new growth

I'm continuing to add plants for foliage interest.  One of my most recent purchases is Melianthus major, purchased at s spring plant sale conducted by the local botanic garden.  Although it can grow up to 12 feet (3.7 meters) tall and wide, I've been told that it can easily be kept to a smaller size.  I've added mine to what I'm calling my "red bed," an area previously occupied by a seldom-used snorkel spa that was dismantled in January, freeing up more garden space.  (One has to establish priorities, even in the garden.)

Newly-planted Melianthus major

I've added a variety of foliage elements to the other new backyard bed, an extension of our fountain bed.  Among these are 6 Liriope spicata, clumped in 2 groups of 3 plants each.  I understand that this species of Liriope can spread with abandon so I hope I don't regret the choice.  At present, I like how it adds a spiky vertical element along the pathway.

Liriope spicata

On the other side of the path, along the house, Plectranthus ciliatus 'Zulu Warrior' is once again showing why it's one of my favorite plants.  It's attractive even when it isn't in bloom.  The foliage also has a nice spicy scent.  I cut it back hard this winter but it has once again put on a healthy flush of new growth.  I established this mass from cuttings brought from our old house and I recently planted cuttings from this stock in the new bed on the other side of the path (as well as other locations in the side and front yards).

Plectranthus ciliatus 'Zulu Warrior' gets just morning sun

On a recent trip, I picked up a new Aeonium, A. canariense (aka the Velvet Rose), which ended up in a large pot on the small south-side patio.  I'm hoping that it'll prove as easy to grow as the other Aeonium I have growing all around the property.  When we moved in, a friend gifted me with a few cuttings of what I believe is some variety of Aeonium arboreum.  Unsure where to put it, I planted a few pieces below the citrus trees in the vegetable garden.  The few quickly grew into many and now, whenever I have an empty area in dry soil I'm not sure what to do with, I stick an Aeonium cutting directly in the soil, walk away and see what happens.  So far, there's no place these plants haven't thrived.  (Frankly, it's almost scary.)

Aeonium canariense

The original clump of Aeonium arboreum planted below the Mandarin orange tree has grown dramatically in size despite regular harvesting of cuttings

Another clump, developed from cuttings stuck into the soil about a year ago

A few plants recently added in a very dry, largely untended area near the driveway where nothing much other than weeds (aka as Santa Barbara daisies) grow

I haven't added any of these Aeonium to the dry garden (yet).  I'm not sure why.  However, when I was walking about snapping pictures for this post, I noticed that Leucadendron 'Ebony' (acquired last September at far below the usual going rate, possibly due to mis-labeling as 'Safari Sunset'), is putting on new growth at last.

Leucadendron 'Ebony'

Finally, while searching for foliage high-notes, I looked down and realized how nicely my thyme groundcover is filling in among the stepping stones in the side yard.

The thyme shown here, labeled as Thymus serpyllum, hugs the soil

This thyme, also sold as Thymus serpyllum, is somewhat taller (grown here with Ajuga 'Mint Chips')

These are my foliage highlights for April 2014.  Please visit Pam, our foliage follow-up hostess, here to see her foliage highlights and to find links to other gardeners' contributions to this useful meme.