Sunday, May 1, 2016

Wide Shots - Odd Angles

I've made a habit of taking my monthly wide shots from the same vantage points in my garden to facilitate comparisons over time.  This month I decided to change things up a bit by posting photos taken from less obvious angles to provide a different perspective.

In some areas, getting a different angle is easy due to level changes.  While my backyard may appear flat in most views, it slopes down a foot or more in front of the hedge (before plummeting steeply behind the hedge).

The usual view from the back door looking toward the harbor

View from the dirt path that runs behind the backyard border in front of the hedge, looking north toward the mimosa tree (Albizia julibrissin)

Another view further along the path: you can see the earth sloping downward beyond the Mexican feather grass (Stipa tenuissima) on the right

View from the same path, below the mimosa here, looking back toward the south

View between the trunks of the mimosa looking north toward the dry garden

The path through the dry garden leads down onto the back slope.  When we moved in, there was no path, nor any stairs leading down to the bottom of the slope.  I didn't even know that section of the garden existed until I happened upon it during the pre-purchase home inspection.

The usual view, focused on the gravel path we installed through the dry garden in 2012

View from under the grape arbor looking back toward the house

View from the upper portion of the cement block stairway that runs down to the bottom of the back slope, looking back upward toward the grape arbor

After curving around the hedge, the stair my husband constructed leads almost straight down, pivoting just in front of the lemon tree.  The property slopes down again about 12 feet beyond the lemon tree but that second drop represents the property line.

There are level changes in the front garden too.  The driveway slopes downward to the street.

The driveway slopes downward on a gentler gradient than the back slope

This photo was taken from the dirt path that separates the Ceanothus hedge on the upper level from the Xylosma hedge that runs parallel to the street

This photo was taken from the far northwest corner of the property behind a large Abelia shrub, looking past the garage on the left toward the house

And this photo was taken from under the Magnolia tree on the south side of the front door looking toward another area where the ground slopes sharply downward

Peering downward, you can see the flat area below our stacked stone wall and a peek of the succulent bed that runs below it along the street

Just to the left of the red-trunked Arbutus 'Marina' shown in the last photo is the arbor that marks the entry into the south side garden on the level of the house.

The usual view looking at the side garden and the harbor beyond

This photo was taken from yet another dirt path leading up from the area shown in the second to the last photo above

And we come full circle here with this photo taken from the path behind the backyard border looking back toward the south side patio and arbor 

That's it for my May wide shots post.  While these monthly photo shoots are useful to me in assessing developments in my garden, I expect the often subtle month-to-month variations in my photos are less interesting to those who read my blog.  Rather than post monthly updates, I'm going to move to a quarterly schedule.  My next wide shots post is planned for July.

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

Friday, April 29, 2016

April Favorites

On the last Friday of the month, Loree of danger garden celebrates her current favorite plants and encourages other gardeners to follow suit.  April is usually a high point in my garden but the lack of rain this season (after unrealistically inflated hopes of ample rain associated with El Niño), early heatwaves, days of freakishly ferocious wind, and a neighbor's threat to contact the city about the height of my trees have had me viewing my garden through jaundiced eyes.  I had to force myself to blink to see the beauty in my garden.  Fortunately, the exercise of looking at plants individually helped me shake off my doldrums and see what's good about my garden right now.  I offer just a few examples.

Globularia x indubia (aka globe Daisy), which I personally refer to as my hairy blue eyeball plant, is in full bloom.  I added it to my dry garden in October 2012 and it is finally bulking up in size.  A second plant, added last July, survived last year's hot summer and this season's limited rain but it's still small.

I originally bought this plant for its foliage and wasn't sure what to make of the flowers when they first appeared but they've grown on me

In the front garden, two Leptospermum 'Copper Glow', planted a month apart in the fall of 2014, are reaching maturity.  I was afraid they might get too big for their spots but so far I think they're fitting in nicely.  The shrubs are supposed to produce white blooms but have yet to do so.

This specimen, planted in December 2014, is the larger of the two shrubs

This one, on the opposite side of the path leading to the front door, was planted in November 2014 after we'd cleared the area of lawn

The two shrubs can be seen in juxtaposition in this view

Close-up of the Leptospermum's foliage, which I often add to vases

In the backyard, it's impossible to ignore Achillea 'Moonshine'.  Despite cutting numerous stems for vases, the flowers continue to dominate the backyard border.  The first of these perennials were planted in 2012 but I added a few more in 2015 after removing the remainder of our lawn.

The foliage is grayer than it appears in this photo

Acacia cognata 'Cousin Itt' has a more low-key presence in the backyard border but it never ceases to amaze visitors.  Three of these shrubs, planted in part-day shade below a tall peppermint willow (Agonis flexuosa) in the fall of 2012, have created a sea of fluffy green foliage despite dry soil and competition from tree roots.

I've planted more of these shrubs elsewhere in the garden but none have done as well (to date) as these three

To conclude, I'd like to shine a spotlight on Leucadendron 'Pisa'.  This silver-foliaged beauty has surprised me this year.  Planted in 2014, it produced a mass of "blooms" in March.  Since then, it's developed lovely silver-tinged cones.

Photograph taken in March

The enlarged cones photographed this week

If you've got some plants deserving of special mention this month, jump onto Loree's bandwagon at danger garden.

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

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

So, I've been shopping...

Fall and winter is absolutely the best time to plant here in coastal Southern California.  It's cooler and we get rain - not a lot of rain the last few years but some.  Frost is virtually unheard of so that's not a danger to infant plants.  The only problem is that many of the plants on one's wish list are unavailable.  Nurseries and garden centers find it easier to sell plants when they're in bloom or about to bloom so their fall/winter stock is limited.  Many also clear the shelves to make room for Christmas trees and decorations.  Mail order nurseries, many of which operate out of colder climes, either close down entirely or carry limited inventory.  So, like it or not, plant shopping continues well into spring and often beyond.  Early spring usually isn't too bad a time to plant as cooler temperatures persist even as rainfall dries up but our traditional "cool season" has been distinctly less cool the last few years.  This year, February was downright hot and we didn't get a drop of rain in what is normally our wettest month.  March was better but April has been a mixed bag, offering just a touch of rain, significant heat, and frequent, plant desiccating winds.

Despite the downsides of planting under such conditions, I did quite a bit of plant shopping in late March and April.  After taking out the remainder of our lawn last year, I still had a lot of empty ground to cover come spring.

The first big plant shopping expedition in late March with a friend took me north into the counties of Ventura and Santa Barbara.  I left without my camera so I've no photos of the three nurseries we visited that day but I'm focused here on my purchases, not the nursery grounds.

First up was Seaside Gardens in Carpenteria.

This photo was taken in March 2015.  You can find other photos of prior visits here.

My most exciting purchase was Phylica pubescens.  I first saw this plant in 2013, offered in a large pot for $400.  This trip I found it in a 1-gallon pot at a reasonable price and snatched it up.

From left to right: my new Phylica pubescens tucked into a large patio pot; a close-up of its flower; and the $400 plant I first spied in 2013

Pacing myself, I bought just 3 other plants at Seaside.

My other purchases at Seaside were a Cistus 'Sunset' and 2 Leucadendron salignum 'Winter Red'

After lunch, our next stop was Terra Sol in Santa Barbara, where I picked up a few more things.

This photo of Terra Sol's front entrance was taken in May 2015.  You can find other photos taken during a prior visit here.

My haul from Terra Sol included, clockwise from the left: Leucadendron 'Jubilee Crown' with Leucospermum 'Brandi', Alstroemeria 'Princess Claire', Echium webii, and Plectranthus ecklonii.  The last two plants came to Terra Sol from Annie's Annuals & Perennials, my go-to mail order nursery.

On our return trip south, we stopped at the Australian Native Plants Nursery in Casitas Springs.

This photo was taken in March 2015.  You can find photos from that prior visit here.

I was hunting for a green-flowered Callistemon and I found one - maybe.  Callistemon pinifolius may bloom green, or red.  Although my plant was germinated from seed taken from a green-flowered parent, Jo, the nursery owner, explained that the flower color is a crap shoot.  I deliberated at length but, as I only get up that way twice a year at best, I brought the plant home.  For now, it remains in its nursery pot until it shows its true color.

Clockwise from top left: Callistemon pinifolius, the tag showing the hoped-for green flower, Eremophila hygrophana, and Kennedia prorepens

Just a few days after my northern nursery expedition I received a delivery of plants from Annie's Annuals & Perennials.

The delivery included: Felicia aethopica, Agave gypsophila, Agave stricta rubra, Deschampsia flexuosa and Euphorbia atropurpurea

Three days after that delivery, I received an order of 36 Eustoma grandiflora (Lisianthus) plugs I'd placed with Burpee back in December.  April was the earliest delivery date I could get.

With one exception, the plugs were in good shape when they arrived

The mix of blue, green and yellow-flowered varieties were planted in the area shown on the left and the mix of pink and white-flowered varieties were planted in the area shown on the right

Although April's heatwave and wicked winds took a toll on my plant plugs, I'm looking forward to seeing Eustoma blooms in my garden within the next month or two.  A number of last year's plants are poised to make a comeback.  It remains to be seen how the Burpee plugs will do as the heat ramps up but I remain hopeful.

Photos of Eustoma in a variety of colors taken last year

I barely got all these plants (minus the Callistemon) in the ground before I trotted off to the South Coast Botanic Garden's spring plant sale.

The Lego exhibit was still going on and I took another photo of the gardener (You can see more photos of this exhibit here)

My big find at the sale was a Salvia africana lutea.

My new plant is shown on the left.  Photos of the botanic garden's plants are shown in the next 2 photos.

But I also brought a few other things home.

Clockwise from the left: Aloe vanbalenii x ferox, Aeonium leucoblepharum, Agave 'Kissho Kan', Rhipsalis baccifera, and Veltheimia bracteata

I was back at the botanic garden the following week for the Cactus & Succulent Society's Show & Sale but I'll cover that event in a future post.  I'll end here with the plants I brought home from my most recent trip to Roger's Gardens 2 weeks ago.

Another view of my cart before I removed that expensive Leucadendron laxum

My big find here was a Hymenolepsis parviflora (left), a plant prominently used in The Getty's Central Garden (right)

In addition to the Gazanias and Gaillardias shown on my cart, my other purchases included (clockwise from top left): Artemisia californica, Buddleja 'Buzz Purple', Lunaria annua 'Rosemary Verey' and Maireana sediflora

Other than the Callistemon and the Maireana sediflora, which I keep moving about in its nursery pot, everything is planted.  I really should stop the plant buying now but I'm not foolish enough to make any promises.  What about you?  Have you been on any plant shopping binges this spring?

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

Monday, April 25, 2016

In a Vase on Monday: Too much yellow?

Last week, I reported on an effort to adjust an excess of yellow color in my back garden.  It certainly seems that everything is coming up yellow right now, vases included.

This week the front and back views are nearly identical

Top view, dominated by the flat florets of Achillea 'Moonshine'

My original plan was to use purple Solanum xanti as my focal point and yellow touches as accents but, while the Solanum is flowering well, it can't match the yellow flowers in abundance, as a look at my garden demonstrates.

This bed contains Solanum xanti and Cotula lineariloba, among other things.  I tucked a few cuttings of Cotula in the bed late last summer, without even rooting them beforehand, not really expecting them to survive.  The plants spread quickly, crawling through and over everything in their path.

The Solanum self-seeds freely, tucking itself between the patio and Senecio vitalis here, but it isn't nearly as aggressive as the Cotula

And Achillea 'Moonshine' is currently dominating the back border

Without enough purple color to temper the screaming yellow, I looked for bright green foliage in an effort to achieve balance.  The grapevine planted along the fence with my neighbor to the north is also scrambling over everything in sight at the moment, so I took the clippers to it.

The arbor that my husband built to support the grapevine isn't sufficient to contain it.  It's already reaching into the persimmon trees planted on either side of it.  Yes, cutting the vines will reduce the grapes the vine produces but the birds, squirrels and raccoons usually take the grapes before they're ripe anyway.

Here are close-ups of what went into the vase:

Clockwise from the left: Achillea 'Moonshine', Abelia x grandiflora 'Hopley's', Cotula lineariloba 'Big Yellow Moon', grapevine foliage, and Solanum xanti

The yellow color is still dominant but the curves of the grapevine give the vase a graceful quality, rather like a woman wearing a flashy designer evening gown.

The vase sits on the dining room table

For the bedroom mantle, I sought out softer colors, stealing a little Dorycnium hirsutum (aka Hairy Canary Clover) from the bees as my starting point.  The clover's foliage feels like cashmere to the touch.

From the left, the vase contains" noID pink Alstroemeria, white and pink forms of Centranthus, and Dorycnium hirsutum

The finished vase on the bedroom mantle

I had floral and foliage leftovers from one of last week's vases and plants cut during my sojourn through the garden so I popped these into a third vase.

More yellow!

Clockwise from the upper left, this vase contains 'Alstroemeria 'Princess Claire' (left over from last week's vase), Abelia x grandiflora 'Hopley's', noID Antirrhinum, a noID sunflower seedling, Phlomis fruitcosa, and Trachelospermum jasminoides

This vase is heavy so I hope it'll withstand any wind gusts that blow through the front door.  I tucked my over-used ceramic frog away this week in favor of a ceramic mouse riding a butterfly, mainly to add a color other than yellow to the arrangement.

Visit Cathy at Rambling in the Garden to see more flower and foliage arrangements.

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