Monday, April 19, 2021

In a Vase on Monday: Is it already summer?

Did you know that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the US government agency charged with following climate issues, has formulated new definitions of "normal" temperatures?   It makes sense to me given the frequency with which weather forecasters project temperatures significantly above "normal."  Yesterday afternoon, the temperature here peaked just above 87F (30.6C) and today's high temperature is expected to be comparable.  Santa Ana wind conditions are in effect, which means our humidity is also very low, sparking wildfire concerns.  Many spring blooms are beating a hasty retreat and, concerned that others may follow on their heels, I cut a lot of them to bring inside.

In addition to the newest foxglove to appear in my cutting garden, I cut stems of the flowering redbud and the first sweet peas to make an appearance.  I was perplexed by the sweet pea flowers as I didn't recall sowing seeds that bloom in that color but, as a subtle change was evident in some of the flowers, I believe this must be 'Blue Shift', which are said to transition from violet-purple to blue as they age.

Back view: The original snapdragons I planted from a pony-pack of plugs last fall are still producing pristine blooms, free of rust, unlike my more recent additions

Top view

Clockwise from the upper left: white Antirrhinum majus, Cercis occidentalis (aka western redbud), self-seeded Coriandrum sativum (aka cilantro/coriander), Helleborus 'Phoebe', Lathyrus odoratus 'Blue Shift' (probably), Pelargonium cucullatum 'Flore Pleno', P. 'Lemona', Scabiosa columbaria 'Flutter Rose Pink' and, in the center, Digitalis purpurea

I'd hoped to use the fluffy lavender blooms of Ageratum corymbosum in my second arrangement but they're already fading so I pivoted and instead cut several Ixia blooms that appeared just days ago.  They inspired a pink, white and yellow color scheme.  I wasn't entirely happy with it but, as it was already getting very warm, I decided against deliberating any further.

In retrospect, I think I should have skipped the pink snapdragons and Alstroemeria, although they do pick up on the color of the fingernails in the clasped hands vase

Back view

Top view

Clockwise from the upper left: Alstroemerias 'Claire', 'Inca Sundance' and noID pink; pink and white Antirrhinum majus; noID Ixia (aka wand flowers or African corn lilies); Osteospermum 'Double Moonglow'; and Pelargonium 'White Lady'

I'd cut a couple stems of yellow snapdragons to include in the second vase but the nearly fluorescent yellow of those flowers was jarring so I popped them into a tiny vase for my home office.

The color of the snapdragon is very like that of Dahlia 'Kelvin Floodlight', if you've ever seen that.  I added Centranthus ruber 'Albus' as an accent. 

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

All material © 2012-2021 by Kris Peterson for Late to the Garden Party

Friday, April 16, 2021


I've seen butterflies flitting through my garden now and then over the last several weeks but the butterflies featured in this post weren't photographed in my garden; they're residents of the new butterfly pavilion at South Coast Botanic Garden (SCBG) six miles away.  I visited it for the first time earlier this week after making a reservation a couple of weeks ago.

I neglected to take a photo of the pavilion structure from the outside but I photographed the exterior area, planted up to attract butterflies.  Those of you who've read prior posts on my visits to SCBG may be familiar with the raised beds, which were formerly planted with dahlias.

I almost managed to get these photos of the two sides of the garden area lined up!

The plants used throughout the raised beds included Achillea, Calendula, Dianthus, Gaillardia, and, regrettably, tropical milkweed (Asclepias curassavica).  You can read the Xerces Society's opinion on tropical milkweek here.  The SCBG volunteer I spoke with told me that it was used mainly because it was readily available in the period prior to the pavilion's opening.  They're discussing it with visitors as a "teachable moment."  Nevertheless, I hope they'll replace it with native milkweed when those plants become more available.

This display outside the pavilion shows the pupae of a variety of caterpillars on their way to transforming into butterflies

The interior of the pavilion is filled with plants to attract butterflies too.  Some of the plant choices surprised me but SCBG worked with Spineless Wonders, a company specializing in creating butterfly houses, which I assume advised them on which plants would serve the needs of the butterflies.

View from the entrance area looking toward the exit:  I was surprised to see Euphorbia tirucalli 'Sticks on Fire' included in the planting scheme but, according to online sources, the plant's insignificant flowers are attractive to butterflies

Two of the plants shown in this photograph, Calliandra haematocephala and Phlomis fruticosa, featured prominently in the planting scheme

Gaillardia (aka blanket flower) and Cyperus papyrus were also used extensively.  I couldn't find much of anything on the association between Papyrus and butterflies other than one statement that adult butterflies are attracted to it.

The orange succulent Kalanchoe also surprised me but I understand that butterflies like "high frequency" colors like yellow and orange and short flower tubes.  Butterfly bushes (Buddleia) and tree mallows (Lavatera) also featured in the planting scheme.

My reservation was early in the day and the weather was cool and damp so the butterflies weren't very active.  A new supply of tropical butterflies had just arrived to succeed the painted ladies (Vanessa cardui) that have occupied the pavilion since it opened on April 1st so the new butterflies were probably still settling in.  The volunteers that staff the pavilion were just becoming acquainted with the new arrivals.  I used the common names they provided to me, the names posted on the pupae exhibit, and online searches to identify those I photographed but I can't guarantee my accuracy.

Many of the butterflies were resting with their wings folded, hiding the more colorful side of their wings, presumably to conserve energy.  This is the giant owl butterfly (Caligo telemonius atreus).

I wouldn't have associated these two butterflies but, in trying to identify them online, I learned that the male and female forms of the blue-frosted banner butterfly (Catonephele numilia) are very different.  The male is on the left and the female on the right.

I first photographed this gray cracker butterfly (Hamadryas februa) on the leg of another visitor's pants (left).  A short time later, the butterfly took off and landed on my blue jeans (right).  It was much harder for me to photograph there.  I moved carefully to ensure I didn't injure him/her in any way.

This is one of a group of butterflies commonly known as the postman.  This particular variety is classified as Heliconius erato.  The volunteers are permitted to carry butterflies on "lollipops" (pieces of fruit on sticks) so that visitors can see them close up.  Visitors are asked not to touch them.  The one on the right settled on a fountain inside the enclosure.

This blue morpho butterfly (Morpho peleides) is known for its shimmering cobalt blue wings but those in the enclosure during my visit kept their wings tightly folded; however, in the photo on the right, you can make out a little of that bright blue color on the upper edge of the butterfly's back wing

This is the giant swallowtail (Papilio cresphontes), which is common in North America

This is one of the remaining painted lady butterflies (Vanessa cardui) released in the pavilion when it first opened.  They have a life span of just two weeks.  The one of the right has settled on one of the feeding stations provided for the butterflies within the enclosure.

I've no idea of the identity of this butterfly.  My best guess is that it's one of the Adelpha butterflies commonly known as sister butterflies.  My brother identified this butterfly as Siproeta epaphus.  Thanks Eric!

I got nowhere trying to identify this butterfly. This is also Siproeta epaphus aka a rusty-tipped page.  It's resting upside down with its wings folded here.

There were signs to provide information and guide visitors as they explored the pavilion and the connected area.  I photographed only a few.

The exhibit runs through the end of July.  New butterflies will be added in stages.

Best wishes for a wonderful weekend.

All material © 2012-2021 by Kris Peterson for Late to the Garden Party

Thursday, April 15, 2021

Bloom Day - April 2021

Despite our abysmally low rainfall, the garden is full of flowers this month.  And by that, I mean it's bordering on crazy, even by my standards.  As I knew I had a busy week coming up, I started taking my Bloom Day photos last week.  Every time I walked through the garden I saw something I'd missed and snapped more photos until I had to declare that enough was enough and call a halt to that.  As it was, I ended up dropping most of the photos I'd collected into collages just to manage their volume.  To make up for the photo overload, I've mostly limited commentary to plant identifications.

Here we go with this month's main floral contributors:

Echium webbii is currently in full flower, much to the delight of the bees.  Echium handiense in the background still has some blooms too.

The Dutch Iris peaked early this month and quickly began to wane when we had a stretch of very warm weather.  The varieties shown here are 'Sapphire Beauty' (top right) and 'Mystic Beauty' (bottom right).

Pacific Coast Iris douglasiana 'Santa Lucia'

The blooms of Ceanothus arboreus 'Cliff Schmidt' are declining but still beautiful

Limonium perezii is tough and relatively common here but it's a great performer

Ageratum corymbosum with its "ever-purple" foliage

Cercis occidentalis

Leptospermum scoparium 'Pink Pearl'

The next photos feature plant genera that are putting on a good show in spots throughout the garden.

Clockwise from the upper left: Alstroemeria 'Claire', 'Inca Vienna', 'Inca Sundance', 'Indian Summer', and two noID varieties inherited with the garden

Snapdragons: Antirrhinum majus 'Chantilly Bronze' and 'Chantilly Peach' are first and second from the upper left.  The half-barrel shown in the upper right contains a mix grown from a 6-pack of plugs and the pink ones in the lath house window box are a noID dwarf variety.

Arctotis 'Pink Sugar' and 'Large Marge' (yellow variety).  A third variety, 'Opera Pink', missed her photo opportunity.

Clockwise from the upper left: Cistus 'Second Honeymoon', 'Grayswood Pink', 'Sunset', and skanbergii

Coleonema pulchellum 'Sunset Gold' (left and top right) and Coleonema album (lower right).  Collectively, these plants are commonly known as Breath of Heaven.

Clockwise from the upper left: Euphorbia 'Ascot Rainbow', 'Black Pearl', 'Dean's Hybrid', and rigida

Top row: the large-flowered Grevilleas 'Ned Kelly', 'Peaches & Cream', and 'Superb'
Bottom: small-flowered Grevillea lavandulacea 'Penola', sericea, and 'Scarlet Sprite'

Hellebores, clockwise from the upper left: Helleborus 'Anna's Red', 'Phoebe', 'Pacific Frost', and 'Red Lady'.  'Blue Lady' didn't show up well in her photo.

Lavandula dentata, multifida, and stoechas

Because I love them so, the Leucospermums each got their own collages.  This is 'Brandi'.

Leucospermum 'Goldie'

Leucospermum 'Hybrid Spider'

Tow row: Osteospermum 'Berry White', 'Summertime Kardinal', and 'Purple Spoon'
Middle row:  Osteospermum 'Double Moonglow', 'Sunshine Beauty', and 'Zion Copper Amethyst'
Bottom row: noID self-seeded Osteospermum and O. 'Violet Ice'

Clockwise from the upper left: Pelargonium cucculatum 'Flore Pleno', 'Lemona', 'Lady Plymouth', 'Tweedle Dee', and 'White Lady'

Pelargonium peltatum aka ivy geraniums

My first roses of the year: 'Joseph's Coat', 'Pink Meidiland', and noID

Salvias originating from Africa: S. lanceolata and S. lutea

There's actually just one of these.  Not just one member of the Zantedeschia genus: just a single white calla lily (Z. aethiopica).  I usually have dozens of these at this time of year but the low rainfall combined with a stretch of excessive heat has crushed these plants at the bottom of my lightly irrigated back slope.  I miss them but I hope they (and the rain) will be back next year.

I'll close as usual with the best of the rest, organized by color.

Top row: Anemone coronaria 'Lord Lieutenant'Babiana rubrocyanea, and Campanula poscharskyana
Middle row: Felicia aethiopica, Geranium 'Tiny Monster', and noID dwarf bearded Iris
Bottom row: Plectranthus neochilus, Polygala fruticosa, and noID Scaevola

Top row: Anemone coronaria 'Rosa Chiaro', Argyranthemum 'Angelic Pink', and Centranthus ruber
Middle row: Cuphea 'Starfire Pink', Digitalis purpurea, and Hebe 'Wiri Blush'
Bottom row: noID Nemesia, noID Prunus (peach tree), and Scabiosa 'Flutter Rose Pink'

Tow row: Argyranthemum frutescens 'Everest', Centranthus ruber 'Albus', and Freesia
Middle row: Mimulus bifidus, Nandina domestica, and Narcissus 'Geranium'
Bottom row: orange blossoms, Pyrethropsis hosmariense, and Westringia 'Morning Light'

Top row: gift Berlandiera lyrata (thanks Kay!), Cotula lineariloba, and Euryops chrysanthemoides 'Sonnenschein'
Middle row: Gazania (one of many varieties), Lantana 'Lucky Yellow', and Primula polyanthus
Bottom row: Ranunculus californicus, Senna artemisioides, and Tulipa clusiana 'Cynthia'

Left to right: Anagallis 'Wildcat Mandarin', Arbutus 'Marina', and Digitalis 'Dalmatian Peach'

Top row: Anemone coronaria 'Bi-color' and noID red and Gomphrena decumbens 'Itsy Bitsy'
Middle row: Lobelia laxiflora, Lotus berthelotii 'Amazon Sunset', and Metrosideros collina 'Springfire'
Bottom row: Melianthus major and Calliandra haematocephala

If you made it this far, thanks for hanging in there!  You can find more of what's flowering elsewhere in the country and the larger world by checking in with Carol, our Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day host, at May Dreams Gardens.

All material © 2012-2021 by Kris Peterson for Late to the Garden Party