Monday, December 9, 2019

In a Vase on Monday: Begging the Hummingbirds' Forgiveness

It's rained off and on for more than 2 weeks now (yay!) but that's left the limited flowers I have left looking rather disheveled.  My inspiration for this week's vase was the ribbon bush I've finally managed to establish in my garden.  Although its flowers were well past their peak, I still felt a twinge of guilt cutting the best looking stem because the hummingbirds have claimed the shrub as their own.

I added stems of Vitex trifolia because the undersides of its leaves are a lovely purple color.  The lavender Lisianthus, planted last May, was supposed to be a brownish red but it clearly isn't that.

Back view: I'm hoping the drooping Vitex leaves recover with a little more time in water.  I realize they look sad in this photograph.  They've perked up a bit since I took it.

Top view

Clockwise from the upper left: Argyranthemum frutescens 'Everest', mislabeled lavender Eustoma grandiflorum (Lisianthus), another mostly white Lisianthus, Gomphrena decumbens 'Itsy Bitsy' (recycled from one of last week's vases), Polygala fruticosa 'Petite Butterfly', Vitex trifolia, Hemizygia 'Candy Kisses' and, in the center, Hypoestes aristata (aka ribbon bush)

The brightly colored foliage of the 'Fuyu' persimmon grabs my attention every time I walk through my garden so I cut a couple of stems and paired it with berries for an impromptu second vase.

I paired the persimmon leaves (Diospyros kaki 'Fuyu') with berries of Auranticarpa rhombifolium

While the Grevillea flowers in last week's vase didn't hold up well against the power of our new heating system, the rest of the contents of the vase did so I cleaned it up and moved it to the dining table, which is finally clear of debris.

The flowers of the lovely Amaryllis (Hippeastrum 'Zombie') have lifted their pretty heads a bit since last week

Meanwhile, the new vase moved to the table in the front entry.

For more IAVOM creations, visit our host, Cathy at Rambling in the Garden.

All material © 2012-2019 by Kris Peterson for Late to the Garden Party

Thursday, December 5, 2019

Christmas tree takeover

Christmas trees fill Roger's Gardens' North Forty area

You may have noticed that I haven't been blogging as much.  That's partly due to the prolonged process of completing our renovation project (still not 100% complete!).  The work associated with putting the house back in order is another factor, as is the time spent tackling the collateral damage to the garden caused by our renovation in addition to normal end-of-year clean-up.  I haven't gotten out and about as often as I normally do at this time of year either, limiting my usual rounds of nurseries and garden centers until I felt I could install new plant material without risking it being crushed by someone or something.  That delay has found me searching for plants at a time of year when stock is particularly low as space is cleared for Christmas trees.

Deciding that there should be a break in freeway traffic related to the Thanksgiving holiday on Saturday, I hopped into my car and took off for Roger's Gardens in Orange County.  Now, I know that Roger's goes all-in during the holidays but it's a big garden center so I thought it was still a good bet.  Traffic was light but, when I arrived just before 11am, I was limited to valet parking, which didn't make me happy.  Unfortunately, the nursery plant stock wasn't all that exciting either.

I spent a few minutes considering whether I had a suitable spot for this variegated Ceanothus thyrsifolius 'Zanzibar' but, remembering my poor luck with variegated 'Diamond Heights', I passed on it

I loved the bromeliad kokedama but wasn't willing to pay the price

This orchid and succulent combination was also something it'd be more cost-effective to make for myself

The vertical garden was looking good even if the strong mid-day light doesn't show it off well

I spent a few minutes checking out holiday decorations.

Expensive light-filled bulb featuring a Tillandsia

A wreath that made me wish I hadn't already pruned my Leucadendron 'Chief'

This fellow was my favorite among Roger's Christmas/Winter decorations but, cute as he was, I couldn't justify laying out $60 to bring him home

I left with a few plug plants in 6 packs, mostly to justify the 2 hour round-trip.  It looks as though I'll have to wait for the garden centers to restock after the holidays to find prospects to fill those bare spots in my garden; however, I realize that I'm luckier than many gardeners who can't do much of anything in their gardens during the winter months.  We have a 2-day break in the rain right now so I best get back out there and make use of it.

All material © 2012-2019 by Kris Peterson for Late to the Garden Party

Monday, December 2, 2019

In a Vase on Monday: Understudies steal the show

I had a couple of blooms in mind as focal points for this week's vases but, in both cases, other flowers ended up stealing the spotlight.  In the first case, a tall-stemmed Lisianthus (Eustoma grandiflorum) was intended to be the centerpiece of a pink-themed arrangement but the shorter stems of a noID Camellia sasanqua I cut as an accent commanded more attention.

The Lisianthus, purchased in 4-inch pots a couple of months ago, were supposed to have deep red flowers.  In fact, I passed on them twice because the red color shown in the tag photo didn't appeal to me.  But, hoping that the blooms would resemble the 'Arena Red'  variety I planted in window boxes in 2018, I finally took them home.  So far, 2 of the 5 plants are blooming in this pretty - but not red - pale pink.

Back view: I was surprised to find a couple of Caladium leaves left in my shade house

Top view

Clockwise from the upper left: noID Camellia sasanqua that came with the garden, Caladium 'Candyland', mis-labeled pink Eustoma grandiflorum (Lisianthus), foliage of Lobelia laxiflora, and Tanacetum parthenium (feverfew)

For my second case, I'd focused on the blooms of Metrosideros 'Springfire', which just began flowering off-season.  Then I discovered that one of Amaryllis (Hippeastrum) bulbs I'd planted in late October had produced its first bloom stalk.  This significantly overshadowed the small Metrosideros stems, although it's arguable that Grevillea 'Peaches & Cream' outshines even the Amaryllis, at least at present.

I'm hoping the Amaryllis (Hippeastrum) will raise its heavy head once the blooms open further.  Concerned that the flower's hollow stem might cause its premature collapse as a cut flower, I followed the guidance offered by the Swedish Plantguys in this You Tube video.

Back view: I almost lost the Metrosideros during a severe heatwave in July 2018 at the height of our drought. The shrub slowly recovered but it didn't bloom in spring or summer this year as expected, only recently producing buds.  The shrub's name has a nice origin story.  Hawaiian legend has it that, if the flowers are cut, the lovers representing the tree/shrub and the flower will shed tears in the form of rain.  Given our history of drought, it seems I should be cutting the flowers on a regular basis!

Top view

Clockwise from the top: Hippeastrum 'Zombie' (Amaryllis), Grevillea 'Peaches & Cream', Leucadendron 'Wilson's Wonder', and Metrosideros collina 'Springfire'

I'd cut 3 foxglove stems for inclusion in the first vase but they didn't complement the Camellias as well as I'd hoped so they were popped into a third vase with a few other stems snatched from the garden at the last minute.

In addition to the Digitalis purpurea (foxglove), this vase contains Osteospermum 'Berry White' and Gomphrena decumbens 'Itsy Bitsy'

For more IAVOM creations, visit Cathy at Rambling in the Garden to find links to posts to other contributors.

All material © 2012-2019 by Kris Peterson for Late to the Garden Party

Friday, November 29, 2019

My renovated bromeliad bed

I finally got back to work on the bromeliad bed I've been slowly renovating over the past 2 months.  I can't say I'm completely done with it - is any garden bed ever done? - but it has a more finished look now with the changes I made earlier this week before our second rainstorm of the season moved in.  I used rock from the indoor barbecue we demolished during our home remodel in an effort to dissuade the raccoons that visit my garden all too often from digging up the entire area as they've done in the past.  I replanted the bromeliads I'd saved after their last rampage, adding a couple that had previously occupied pots elsewhere.  I also added succulents and filled in here and there with cuttings.

This is the best long shot I could manage of the renovated area.  The large shrubs on the right (Auranticarpa rhombifolium) mark the property line.  The driveway visible here belongs to my neighbor on the north side.  She's planted ornamental bananas and various succulents on the slope adjacent to her driveway. 

This is the view looking back in the opposite direction.  I filled the area between the flagstone I laid 2 years ago and the salvaged stone I installed in September with dwarf mondo grass (Ophiopogon japonicus 'Nanus'), supplementing the plugs I'd planted here previously.

As you can probably tell, the bed is narrow and it winds around a bit, making it difficult to photograph in its entirety.  It's easier to view it in sections.

The first segment contains a Mangave 'Pineapple Express', 3 Echeveria agavoides and a portion of the Dyckia 'Burgundy Ice' I divided recently, along with assorted cuttings

The middle section consists mostly of bromeliads with a few succulents used as accents

The largest bromeliads are these:

Aechmea 'Mend': it needs more sun than it's been getting to brighten its pink edging

Neoreglia 'Guinea' x 'Pepper': short in stature but among the most vigorous bromeliads I have

Vriesea ospinae var gruberi: perhaps my flashiest bromeliad

In addition to the bromeliads shown above, the bed includes Aechmea fasciata, Billbergia 'Carioca', and Quesnelia marmorata 'Tim Plowman'.  I've got other bromeliads in the adjacent succulent bed and in pots, some of which may eventually migrate to this bed once I see how it stands up to the elements, and the raccoons.

The last segment of the "bromeliad bed" is comprised exclusively of succulents.

This bed includes Euphorbia lactea cristata, assorted Aeoniums, Mangave 'Falling Waters', Mangave 'Mission to Mars' and Crassula orbicularis var rosularis, along with a mish-mash of fillers

I also moved the chiminea that formerly sat on the back patio to this area to provide a new focal point.  As our back patio shrank by 70 square feet when we extended our kitchen, I needed to reduce the paraphernalia there and this was the best alternative placement I could find for it.

The old focal point (left) was a collection of pots.  Three pots are still there but I gave the chiminea the prominent position, topping it with a large clump of noID Tillandsia.  I may add more Tillandsias in time.

While I was working in the area, I made an adjustment to the adjacent succulent bed as well.

I pulled the Leucadendron I'd had in a central spot in the succulent bed and replaced it with the Furcraea feotida 'Mediopicta' that's sat in a nursery pot since I picked it up back in July 

The Furcraea is still small enough to get somewhat lost in the bed when viewed from this angle but this photo gives you an idea of the relationship between the succulent and bromeliad beds.  The flagstone path visible to the right of the tree, an Arbutus 'Marina', partitions off the bromeliad bed.

Finally, on the other side of the driveway, I planted more succulent cuttings to fill the bare space left below the climbing rose when we had to replace a badly corroded gas line discovered in the course of our remodel.

I know the plants here look skimpy but I used cuttings of Euphorbia tirucalli 'Sticks on Fire', Aeonium arboreum, and Aeonium haworthii 'Kiwi' here previously and they quickly filled the space

There's a lot more clean-up left to do in the garden as our remodel nears its conclusion but at least the plants and cuttings I installed in these areas should be off to a good start.  With our second rainstorm of the season over the Thanksgiving holiday, we've accumulated 1.5 inches of rain thus far.

It rained off and on most of Thanksgiving Day but the clouds lifted briefly over the Port of Los Angeles in the late afternoon

A belated happy Thanksgiving to those of you in the US and I hope you enjoy the rest of the holiday weekend.

All material © 2012-2019 by Kris Peterson for Late to the Garden Party

Monday, November 25, 2019

In a Vase on Monday: A little of this and a little of that

While my climate is far gentler on plants during the fall/winter season than many other gardeners can claim, the pickings are definitely slimmer at this time of year, especially as I was late in getting my cool-season cutting garden started this year.  A stray bloom spike on the remaining Delphinium in the cutting garden provided the starting point for my first vase.

The white daisies are a recent addition to my garden

The bush violets (Barleria obtusa) are on the wane

Top view

Clockwise from the upper left: Argyranthemum frutescens 'Everest White', Delphinium elatum, Osteospermum '4D Silver', Barleria obtusa, and Westringia fruticosa 'Morning Light'

The Rudbeckia I featured in a vase in late October are are only plants in my cutting garden still in full bloom so I used them again this week, with just a few adjustments to the mix.

Rudbeckia 'Denver Daisy' has proven to be very resilient in my cutting beds, although its stems are regrettably on the short side

The complementary yellow daisies (Tagetes lemmonii) are in full bloom now that temperatures have cooled

Top view

Clockwise from the upper left: Rudbeckia hirta 'Denver Daisy', Coprosma repens 'Plum Hussey', unripe Guavas, berries of Heteromeles arbutifolia, Leptospermum 'Copper Glow' and Pennisetum advena 'Rubrum', and Tagetes lemmonii.  I added 2 little mice painting green leaves orange under the arrangement  as a reference to our lack of fall foliage.

Last Monday, I was hopeful that our 5+-month remodel project would be complete before the end of the week; however, unexpected problems emerged on Tuesday and Wednesday and at the moment I can't definitively say when we'll be done, other than I still hope it'll be before Christmas.  Tired of focusing on the house's interior, I've turned my attention back to the garden, diving into cleaning up the collateral damage it's sustained over the last several months.  But, as I've moaned and groaned over the the remodel on numerous occasions in my IAVOM posts, you're welcome to review the results of the project here in a post I published last Friday.

For more IAVOM posts, check in with our host, Cathy at Rambling in the Garden.

All material © 2012-2019 by Kris Peterson for Late to the Garden Party

Friday, November 22, 2019

Ready or not...

As mentioned in my last post, we'd hoped to be done with our home remodel this week.  As it turns out, we're not.  We received the wrong hearthstone and may have to wait another few weeks for delivery of the right one, delaying completion of our living room fireplace.  The kitchen's electrical panel also didn't pass muster with the city inspector so changes will have to be made there.  My husband is still cleaning up glue left on the surface of our new wood floors and we haven't hung all our pictures yet.  Nonetheless, with the arrival at last of cooler temperatures and our first rain of the season, it's time to shift my focus back to the garden.  However, as I've made many references to our home remodel over the past 5+ months, I'm not going to leave you hanging without photos of our new space.

First, let me take you back to the beginning.  My husband and I formally kicked off our project in July of 2018 when we approached the city for approval to push out our exterior kitchen wall by 5 feet.  The city required that we get a formal geological survey done first.

Our area is currently designated as an "open spaces hazard zone" (signifying a landslide risk) although the city publicly announced its intention to move that boundary line well beyond our property line in 2012.  As that still hasn't happened, we had to prove that shifting our kitchen wall wasn't going to jeopardize us or anyone else.

By Christmas last year, we finally had the city's approval to move forward.  We worked with an architect on the plan while we waited for our general contractor to clear his schedule to start our project.  In April of this year, my husband started building a temporary kitchen for our use during the remodel.

He tacked the temporary kitchen on to the north side of our house adjacent to our master bedroom

In mid-June, a paving contractor dug the required 5-foot deep foundation for the kitchen extension and, on July 1st, our existing kitchen was demolished.

Everything went!

I subsequently caved and agreed to my husband's desire to remove the funky indoor barbecue unit linked to the living room fireplace to create a more open view between the kitchen and the living room.  This photo shows it halfway through demolition.

The back of the house remained fully open from July through August, which was creepy
The new kitchen  with its taller new roof was finally framed in August

In September, things moved into higher gear as the new kitchen was finally fully enclosed and cabinetry went in.  Kitchen counters were installed in early October and we got an entirely new roof and a new HVAC system.  The house interior and exterior also got a new coat of paint.

The roof work was particularly hard on the garden

New wood flooring was installed in half the house in November (in 2 installments) and the fireplace was covered in a coat of plaster.  That brings us to where things stand today.  Here's a look at the renovated spaces.

The front door foyer hasn't changed much except for the flooring.  Unfortunately, the new HVAC vent there meant we had to find another place for our grandfather clock.  Pictures still need to be hung here, among other places.

Ta-dah, the new kitchen!  (Oops, I neglected to clear away the washed dishes before taking this photo.)

We previously had a peninsula and upper shelves dividing the kitchen from the dining area.  Now they're more clearly linked.

This is the new dining area, minus the stone barbecue unit attached to the fireplace.  My husband refers to the new rug here as my "Alice in Wonderland rug."

The living room was always a light space but the removal of the indoor barbecue structure made it feel even more so

The new wood flooring extends from the living room through the dining room and kitchen and down the hallway beyond.  The fireplace will be finished with a stone surround after the hearthstone is delivered and my husband plans to build a wood mantle for it.

As you can see, my husband mostly got the open concept he wanted.  I admit I do like how light and airy the whole space feels now.

So that's it.  Not exactly a final wrap but it'll have to do.  I need to get focused on cleaning up the collateral damage to the garden.  Best wishes for a pleasant weekend!

All material © 2012-2019 by Kris Peterson for Late to the Garden Party