Monday, May 25, 2015

In a Vase on Monday: Abelia Sets the Tone

I thought I'd do something with Agapanthus this week as they're in plentiful supply, although I was also drawn to the orange tones in my garden and found myself considering what I could do with those.  As it turned out, I didn't follow either of these directions.  I cut some Abelia x grandiflora and that dictated the color scheme for this week's vase, prepared in connection with the meme hosted by Cathy at Rambling in the Garden.

Rear view

Here's what I included:

  • Abelia x grandiflora (possibly A. 'Edward Goucher')
  • Acacia cognata 'Cousin Itt'
  • Leucanthemum x superbum
  • Pelargonium peltatum (aka ivy geranium)
  • Rose 'Ebb Tide'
  • Trachelospermum jasminoides (aka Star Jasmine)

I inherited 2 large Abelia shrubs with the house, which I'm guessing may be A. 'Edward Goucher'

A year ago I would've considered it a sacrilege to cut stems from Acacia cognata 'Cousin Itt' but the first 3 of the shrubs I planted have grown beyond my expectations

This ruffled form of Leucanthemum x superbum was a gift from a friend 2 years ago

The no ID magenta Pelargonium peltatum moved with me from my former garden but the Star Jasmine came with the house 

This 'Ebb Tide' rose is one of only 3 roses I've planted since moving here.  It hasn't bloomed much since I planted it 2 years ago but it responded well to our recent rains.

The short stems I had left over went into a small vase with a lighter pink double-flowered Pelargonium peltatum that didn't fit in the main vase.

I put the small vase on the mantle in the master bedroom but the light under our "May gray" skies made it too difficult to photograph.  The larger vase landed on the dining room table, where I can enjoy its delicious fragrance.

The fragrance of the 'Ebb Tide' rose and the Star Jasmine manage to mask the less attractive odor of the Leucanthemum

Visit Cathy at Rambling in the Garden to find more vases constructed from what's collected from the garden.  Best wishes to those of you in the US recognizing Memorial Day!

All material © 2012-2015 by Kris Peterson for Late to the Garden Party

Friday, May 22, 2015

My favorite plant this week: Gazania 'Sunbathers Otomi'

Gazanias again?!  Where did my current fixation with Gazanias come from?  Prior to this year, I didn't give any member of this genus a second glance.  Part of the current attraction is the plants' heat and drought tolerance.  I'm completely obsessed with California's drought and its impact on the future of my garden at the moment so any plant that tolerates a degree of drought gets extra points straight out of the gate.  But there's more to it than that.  The new hybrids aren't my grandmother's Gazanias. (Not that either of my grandmothers were gardeners.)  They're floriferous eye-catchers.   I previously featured Gazania hybrids 'Kiss Frosty White Flame' and 'New Day Yellow' as favorite plant choices.  The only strike against them in my book was that the flowers close when the sunlight dims.  The new-to-me 'Sunbathers' Gazanias offer the advantage of remaining open even when the sun goes down.*

I discovered Gazania 'Sunbathers Otomi' at Terra Sol Garden Center in Santa Barbara a couple of weeks ago.  I was immediately smitten and brought home 3 plants.

'Sunbathers Otomi' in bloom at Terra Sol

A few Angelonia augustifolia, over-wintered from last year but no longer looking their best, were uprooted to make space for the new plants.  The flower color picks up the pink of the Cuphea ignea 'Starfire Pink' and the bronze of Phormium 'Dark Delight' behind them.

The new plants in place in the front of the backyard border

The new flowers look more red than pink to me when they first open but, as the photo at the top of this post shows, the petal color fades as the flower ages.

The same flower opening in stages over 3 days

Flowers on the same plant at different stages of bloom

The semi-double flowers have a crested center that becomes more bronze as the flower matures.  They're approximately 4 inches (10 cm) in diameter when fully open.  The plants have the attractive, strappy gray-green foliage of my other Gazanias.  They reportedly grow about 8 inches (20 cm) tall and wide.   Many growers classify them as half-hardy annuals but they should be short-lived perennials in my climate.  In addition to taking heat in stride, they're said to tolerate light frosts.

For other gardeners' favorite plants, check out Loree's monthly favorites wrap-up at danger garden next Friday.

*Update: Today was mostly cloudy and I noticed that, although the Gazania 'Sunbathers Otomi' flowers don't entirely close, the outer petals do curl around the flower's crested center.

All material © 2012-2015 by Kris Peterson for Late to the Garden Party

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

What are my chances?

I have a seedless 'Red Flame' grapevine growing over an arbor at the back of my dry garden, near the steps to my back slope.  Last year, I took these pictures of the ripening grapes on June 11th.

One week later, I took these pictures:

I knew I was pushing my luck last year but there were so many grapes I thought that surely the critters wouldn't eat them all before they were ripe.  But they pretty much did.

This year, my grapes are still very green but, once again, there's a plentiful supply on the vines.

I've been trying to come up with something that might keep the birds and raccoons from picking the stems clean without the cumbersome process of netting the entire arbor.  Today, while shopping for groceries, I found some inexpensive, reusable net bags.  They're intended for use in keeping vegetables in the refrigerator but I picked them up on spec to see if they might be helpful in protecting my grapes.

My husband thinks my chances of success are low.  And I'd need to buy many more bags just to protect the largest clumps of grapes.

What do you think?  Is it worth a try?  Have you found ways to protect your fruit as it ripens?

I haven't even begun to think about what to do about the persimmons.

All material © 2012-2015 by Kris Peterson for Late to the Garden Party

Monday, May 18, 2015

In a Vase on Monday: Split Personalities

For this week's "In a Vase on Monday," the meme hosted by Cathy at Rambling in the Garden, I have 2 vases with very different personalities, although they have one flower in common.  The first vase, featuring Gaillardia x grandiflora looks more autumnal than spring or summer-like.

Back view

It features:

  • Gaillardia x grandiflora 'Goblin' and/or 'Arizona Sun'
  • Leptospermum 'Copper Glow'
  • Pelargonium hortorum 'Mrs. Pollock'
  • Senecio cineraria (now known as Jacobaea maritima)

The only difference between Gaillardia 'Goblin' and 'Arizona Sun' that I can see is their height - I think there are probably some of each here

I've had a terrible time trying to photograph Leptospermum 'Copper Glow' in my garden but photographing it in a vase was easier - it looked almost good enough to have sufficed on its own

I meant for Pelargonium 'Mrs. Pollock' to have a larger role in this week's vase but the stem blocked some of the relatively short Gaillardia stems from view so it ended up in the back of the vase

I love the gray foliage of Senecio cineraria (now classified as Jacobaea maritima) but I find I also like its bright yellow flowers, which the bees seem to adore

The second vase, although taller, has a lighter, more summery feel.  It's similar to the bouquet I featured 2 weeks ago except that it includes a bolt of cheerful yellow.

It contains:

  • Argyranthemum frutescens 'Butterfly'
  • Arthropodium cirratum (aka Renga lily)
  • Eustoma grandiflorum 'Echo White'
  • Jacobaea maritima
  • Solanum xanti

Argryrantemum 'Butterfly' and Jacobaea maritima complement each other well

Arthropodium cirratum is hard to photograph, especially under the gloom of "May Gray" skies, which cause the flowers to close

This Eustoma stem is a holdover from last week's arrangement - I cut off the central flower, which was beginning to fade, and tucked the stem into the back of this week's vase as it still has a lot of flower-power left

I think this is the best close-up photo I've gotten of Solanum xanti - this is the first time I've noticed those little green dots around the flower's center

Here are the 2 vases in place:

In the front entryway

On the dining room table

Visit Cathy at Rambling in the Garden to see more vases constructed of materials selected from participants' own gardens.

All material © 2012-2015 by Kris Peterson for Late to the Garden Party

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Foliage Follow-up: Stipa tenuissima

May is one of those months in which time seems to pass in a flash.  In a hurry today, I faced my garden looking for foliage to feature for today's Foliage Follow-up feature, hosted by Pam at Digging.  There were a number of possibilities but the foliage that waved at me from the backyard (assisted by a breeze) won the vote.  Stipa tenuissima (syn. Nassella tenuissima) is a beautiful, if somewhat invasive, grass that both picks up the gold tones in my garden and adds movement.  Most of my clumps are currently in need of another haircut but, even in somewhat shaggy condition, they make a statement.

I have 3 groups of the grass in the bed that extends from the fountain in the backyard.

The Stipa provides a beautiful backdrop for Salvia 'Mystic Spires'

View of all 3 groups of grass in the fountain border

The largest group next to the backyard patio - 2 other groupings are visible in the distance in the back border

There are 3 more groups of the grass in the back border, 2 of which are shown here.

Two more groups border the entrance to the side yard patio.

These clumps get trimmed frequently to prevent them from enveloping the path to the side yard patio - the clumps in the fountain border are visible in the background on the upper right

Despite its tendency to self-seed, I love this grass.  Its invasive tendencies can be held in check by reduced watering (not a problem here!) and regular trims.  Most of mine were sheared of flowers in February but they're in need of another haircut.

For other foliage photos, visit Pam at Digging.  Have a great weekend!

All material © 2012-2015 by Kris Peterson for Late to the Garden Party

Friday, May 15, 2015

Bloom Day - May 2015

It's Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day and it's been a surprisingly wet month here in Southern California.  Our rainy season generally runs from November through March.  We don't expect rain in May and, given that we're in the fourth year of a serious drought, the 2 storms we've had this month have been more than welcome.  They did make picture-taking a little more difficult, however.

Heatwaves in March and early May took a toll on my garden.  Spring flowers are quickly giving way to those we traditionally associate with summer.  The following flowers are making the biggest splash (excuse the pun - the rain makes me giddy!):

Agapanthus are blooming throughout the garden

Arthropodium cirratum (aka Renga Lily) is giving the Agapanthus a run for its money in terms of the sheer volume of blooms

Gaura lindheimeri 'Snow Fountain' is putting on a show in the front borders

Hemerocallis are blooming here and there throughout the garden (clockwise from upper left: H. 'Blythe Belle', H. 'For Pete's Sake', H. 'Indian Giver' and H. 'Spanish Harlem'

The Pelargoniums are continuing to make a strong showing

Flowers can be found in a range of colors:

White flowers include (clockwise from the upper left): Globularia x indubia, Abelia x grandiflora, the last few flowers of Carpenteria californica, the first flowers of Eustoma grandiflorum 'Echo White', Leucanthemum superbum, and Osteospermum fruitcosum, encouraged to rebloom by the return of cooler temperatures

Yellow flowers include (clockwise from upper left): Argyranthemum 'Butterfly', Euphorbia 'Dean's Hybrid' (shown with Osteospermum 'Zion Copper Amethyst'), Gaillardia aristata 'Gallo Peach', Gazania 'White Flame' (which looks more yellow than white at the moment), G. 'Golden Flame', Leucadendron 'Pisa', Sedum 'Lemon Ball', and Senecio cineraria (aka Dusty Miller and now classified as Jacobaea maritima)

Orange flowers include (clockwise from upper left): Grevillea 'Peaches & Cream', Bignonia capreolata, Cuphea 'Stybring Sunset', Dahlia 'XXL Hidalgo', and Leonotis leonurus

Pink and red flowers include:
Top row - Arbutus 'Marina', Arctotis 'Pink Sugar', and Centranthus ruber
Middle row - Cistus 'Sunset', Cuphea ignea 'Starfire Pink' and Fuchsia 'Swingtime'
Bottom row - Gallardia x grandiflora 'Goblin', Grevillea 'Superb' and buds of a no ID Hoya

Blue and purple flowers include (clockwise from the upper left): Senecio stellata (probably actually Pericallis), Aquilegia 'Spring Magic', Aster frikartii 'Monch', Delosperma (no ID), Duranta repens (no ID), Polygala fruticosa 'Petite Butterfly', prostrate rosemary, and Salvia 'Amistad' with Solanum xanti

Even a couple of my houseplants are blooming:

Hoya multiflora and Miltassia shelob (Note: Those droplets on the Hoya's leaves are a sticky sap produced by the flowers, not water)

There are some wonderful combinations of flowers too:

The gate between the vegetable garden and the dry garden is covered by a white trumpet vine (probably Pandorea jasminoides 'Alba') and Trachelospermum jasminoides with dark pink Pelargonium peltatum climbing up the left side

In the dry garden, lavender Lantana mixes with pink Oenothera speciosa and purple Limonium perezii

This jumble in a corner of the front garden includes Grevillea 'Superb', Nandina domestica, Gaillardia 'Goblin', Salvia 'Mesa Azure' and Agapanthus

But the best sight to my eyes this Bloom Day is this one:

160-gallon tank filled by yesterday's first rain (The 50-gallon tank is also filled and the 265-gallon tank is about 2/3rds full but we're still getting light rain)

Have a wonderful Bloom Day and don't forget to check in with Carol, our Bloom Day hostess at May Dreams Gardens.

Rainbow over the Los Angeles harbor Thursday evening - if you look closely you can see a second rainbow to the left of the one in the center of the photo

All material © 2012-2015 by Kris Peterson for Late to the Garden Party