Wednesday, March 22, 2023

Hey, it's spring (Bloom Day followup)

It's the time of year when new blooms appear almost daily.  The steady series of atmospheric rivers has put a damper on new projects (pun intended) so subject matter for blog posts is limited.  However, as I snap photos from my garden on an ongoing basis, there are plenty of those to share.  This post is basically a series of pretty pictures.


The Anemone coronaria in general have made a poor showing so far this year, despite our ample rain.  The corms of the blooms shown here were purchased as 'Lord Lieutenant' but these flowers are missing the fluffy rows of petals characteristic of that variety.

Aristea inaequalis is difficult to photograph.  The plant's flowers are an especially vivid shade of blue than I wasn't able to accurately capture.

I've been complaining about the failure of my hellebores to bloom for 2 months now.  Finally, Helleborus 'Anna's Red' (left) and H. 'Phoebe' (right) have come through.  They may not provide much of a show but at least I can stop whining.

Iris douglasiana 'Santa Lucia' (aka Pacific Coast Iris) is just getting started

My Dutch Iris are off and running at last.  As usual, Iris hollandica 'Sapphire Beauty' is the first of these to bloom, albeit weeks later than it bloomed last year.

Leucospermum 'Goldie' was also late this year.  Its buds have been taunting me for more than 2 months.

The buds of Leucospermum 'Spider Hybrid' haven't fully opened but this phase is my favorite anyway

I planted bulbs of new-to-me Narcissus 'Beautiful Eyes' this fall.  This variety is reported to be well adapted to warmer climates like mine.

Scilla peruviana is a reliable bloomer.  I'd planned to divide the clump last year but never got around to it.  I think that's definitely on the to-do list this year.

Tulips aren't something you commonly find in gardens in my area.  This species tulip, Tulipa clusiana 'Lady Jane', has bloomed 4 years in a row now.

I inherited Zantedeschia aethiopica (calla lilies) with the garden.  Almost all of them grow on the back slope, disappearing with summer's soaring temperatures and reappearing with our rainy season.  I had just 2 calla lily blooms last year but it's looking as though this is going to be a much better year for them. 

Although our navel orange tree is covered with new blossoms, it's the fruit that currently commands attention.

The oranges are relatively few in number this year but huge in size.  This tree was also inherited with the garden.  The fruit ruined store-bought oranges for us.

The total rain for the season-to-date in my location is 19.97 inches and more rain is expected throughout the day and into Thursday morning.  I checked the running record we've kept since we installed a weather station on our roof in 2015.  This year's total already exceeds anything we've previously recorded.  Our previous highs were 18.56 inches in 2017 and 19.63 inches in 2019.  Our lowest totals were 3.81 inches in 2018 and 4.12 inches in 2021.  If our record is any indication, heavy rain in one year definitely doesn't signify a trend but I appreciate what we're getting now nonetheless.  Still, it's a cautionary tale when it comes to managing California's water resources.*

*For reference, all years noted here represent "water years," which are counted from October 1st in one calendar year through September 30th in the following calendar year.  Thus, the 2023 water year began October 1, 2022 and ends September 30, 2023.  As a practical matter, the bulk of our rain usually falls between November and early April.

All material © 2012-2023 by Kris Peterson for Late to the Garden Party

Monday, March 20, 2023

In a Vase on Monday: It's Spring!

Despite the fact that yet another atmospheric river is moving in after spitting at us on and off all day yesterday, spring has clearly taken over my garden.  Of course, I got carried away when it came to putting together this week's floral arrangements...

Vase #1

This arrangement was inspired by Scilla peruviana, which burst into bloom last week.  I added 2 stems of Leucadendron 'Goldie', which is only just starting to unfurl more than 3 weeks behind its schedule last year.

Back view:  I used more of the flowering Acacia 'Cousin Itt' this week as a foliage filler

Top view

Clockwise from the upper left: Acacia cognata 'Cousin Itt', purple and yellow Freesia, Leucospermum 'Goldie', and Scilla peruviana


Vase #2

I cut a stem of Hippeastrum 'Apple Blossom' as it was crowding another newly emerging stalk.  I should note that it looks very little like any of the 'Apple Blossom' photos I've seen online (one of which you can see here) so I suspect it was misidentified by the seller.

The back view looks like an entirely different arrangement

Top view

Clockwise from the upper left: white Freesia, Grevillea 'Superb', Hippeastrum 'Apple Blossom' imposter, and Xylosma congestum

Vase #3

This arrangement was inspired by the 'Lady Jane' species tulips, blooming for a 4th year in a row!

Back view: Unfortunately, I think Hippeastrum 'Neon' detracts from my intended focus on the tulips

Top view

Clockwise from the upper left: Alstroemeria 'Inca Vienna', Anemone coronaria 'Rarity', Coleonema album, Tulipa clusiana 'Lady Jane', and Hippeastrum 'Neon'


This week's rain is expected to be heaviest Tuesday and Wednesday. Thursday through Sunday should be sunny, although still on the cool side.  I hope so as a friend and I are planning a trip up to Santa Barbara to visit our favorite nurseries next weekend, a visit we've put off several times since February.


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

All material © 2012-2023 by Kris Peterson for Late to the Garden Party

Friday, March 17, 2023

Between storms

This rainy season has been an extraordinary surprise.  We were given a poor chance of rain again this year but storms nonetheless started piling up in January and kept on coming.  There was another strong "atmospheric river" late last week, which was followed by yet another one this week.

This is the view from my back garden last Sunday morning looking out at Angel's Gate, the entrance to the Los Angeles harbor.  The clouds were sitting atop the ocean and the harbor was invisible.

This photo was taken from the back garden looking northeast.  There was a little blue sky visible from this viewpoint but it quickly disappeared.  In the background on the left you can see the refineries spitting out their pollutants.

After years of severe drought, bemoaning the cold, damp conditions seems almost sacrilegious but I admit I rejoiced when we finally got a bit of sun and blue sky yesterday afternoon.  The soil is saturated, my rain collection tanks are full, and we've tallied more rain this season than we've had in several years.

I've recorded 18.65 inches of rain since our 2023 "water year" began October 1, 2022.  That's well above average for our rainy season in my location.  Other areas got considerably more.  Our rainy season generally comes to an end in early April.

With the last storm, my area is no longer considered in a drought status.

Before the last storm, we were still in the "abnormally dry" category but the western portion of Los Angeles County is now drought-free


Unlike me, the local critters had no trouble whatsoever with the damp conditions and cloudy sky.

I refilled the bird feeders and activity in the garden picked up dramatically

Three house finches monitoring the action at the feeder from the nearby Arbutus 'Marina'

Two finches, a mated pair perhaps, later moved to the feeder pole

The white crowned sparrows were also active at the feeder.  This one was surveying things from the Ceanothus below the feeder.

Of course, once the feeders were refilled a squirrel showed up.  I took this photo from inside my home office but I swear he knew I was looking at him.

He's quite the gymnast.  These feeders are set up to close the seed portals when anything heavier than a small bird attempts to eat from them.

He eventually gave up but managed to jump from the one feeder to the main pole, where he climbed atop the cage surrounding the central feeder

He clearly found something to eat but I couldn't make out what it was


I had an unexpected visitor come up our back slope by way of the canyon below as well.

This is Luna, a champion escape artist.  She and her family moved into a nearby home off a spur road months ago.  She periodically gets out their gate and into the canyon and from there seems to end up on my back slope and ultimately in my back garden.  I now have her family's number in my cell phone.

In addition, I've had near daily (or I should say nightly) visits by what I suspect is an entire family of possums.  They're less destructive than raccoons but nearly as annoying.  Although the invisible owls have reduced the local rabbit population, those voracious creatures are still paying periodic visits.

There's a ninety percent chance of yet an atmospheric river moving through from Monday into Wednesday. For the first time I can remember in the last ten years, I don't think I'm going to save the "extra" rainwater that flows down my rain chain.  I've nowhere else to store or dump it given how saturated my soil already is.  However, our current drought status shouldn't stop the state and local municipalities from furthering their efforts to capture and store rainwater.  The present abundance won't prevent future droughts - and one year of heavy rains isn't sufficient to restore our aquifers either.

Best wishes for a pleasant weekend.  I'm hoping for more sun!

All material © 2012-2023 by Kris Peterson for Late to the Garden Party

Wednesday, March 15, 2023

Bloom Day - March 2023

Despite the persistence of colder-than-usual temperatures, my garden is working hard to get a head start on spring.  Some plants, like the Leucospermums, are noticeably absent on this March Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day, but there's still a lot of color to be found.  This month I'm going to start off with the most photogenic subjects in my garden.

Grevillea 'Superb' literally blooms year-round and it routinely appears in my Bloom Day posts but I'm not sure it's ever received the head-line attention it deserves.  As even I gasped when I turned a the corner and saw it this month, I decided it was time.

Ceanothus arboreus 'Cliff Schmidt' was blooming last month but this shot, backed by the blue sky between rainstorms, is particularly striking

Abelia floribunda 'Chiapas', another plant like the Ceanothus that occupies my neglected back slope, is also still blooming this month, and I'm still working at trying to propagate it.  Its scent is stronger than that of my Freesias!

Salvia lutea (aka known as S. africana-lutea) is an attention-grabber.  I picked up the plant at my local botanic garden in 2016 at a spring garden sale (in the days the garden sold plants propagated onsite).  I've never seen it anywhere else.


There was one especially big surprise.

I have a LOT of Acacia cognata 'Cousin Itt' in my garden.  It's a splashy plant, even without flowers.  I've periodically seen tiny buds on it but it's never produced many flowers at one time.  I'm crediting the heavy rain we've had since January with making a difference this year.  The yellow puff-balls are small but profuse.


The bulk of my usual cool-season bloomers have arrived right on schedule.  I published a post on the Osteospermums earlier this week but here's a line-up of the rest.

Arctotis 'Pink Sugar' (top) and A. 'Large Marge' are flashing their colors.  A. 'Opera Pink' is playing shy but I expect it'll show up sometime this spring.

The Argyranthemum frutescens are in hyperdrive.  Clockwise from the upper left are: 'Aramis Bicolor', 'Comet Pink'. 'Grandaisy Red', 'Grandaisy Yellow', and 'White Butterfly'.

I inherited the Auranticarpa rhombifolium shown here.  One of our former neighbors told me that the shrubs were originally used all along the front of the the property as a hedge but she indicated that the majority of them were replaced by our current Xylosma congestum hedge when the Auranticarpa began to die off.  A half dozen remain in various corners of the garden.

Two of my Cistus have started blooming in earnest, C. 'Grayswood Pink' on the left and C. x skanbergii on the right

Coleonema album (left) and C. pulchellum 'Sunset Gold' (right) are quickly covering themselves with tiny flowers

I've discovered that Felicia aethiopica 'Tight & Tidy' will bloom year-round if sheared regularly to remove the spent blooms

Grevillea 'Superb' isn't the only member of the genus in bloom at the moment.  Clockwise from the upper left are: G. alpina x rosmarinifolia, G. 'Peaches & Cream', G. sericea, G. lavandulacea 'Penola', and G. 'Scarlet Sprite'.  Only 'Peaches & Cream' blooms year-round like 'Superb'.

Limonium perezii (aka sea lavender) is a dependable perennial that blooms for months.  Its flowers are great in dry arrangements.

Salvia 'Pozo Blue' is a relatively low-growing hybrid of S. clevelandii and S. leucophylla but it's spreading further than I expected - and it roots as the stems extend themselves, which means I may have chosen its placement poorly


With the exception of the Dutch Iris and Anemone coronaria, the spring-flowering bulbs are off and running too.

Freesias galore!  The flowers tend to flop if not well-supported and one rainstorm after another isn't helping keep them upright.

I've had spotty luck this year with Hippeastrums (commonly call Amaryllis but actually part of a separate genus).  Clockwise from the left are: H. 'Apple Blossom' (although it's a lot more coral than it should be), H. 'La Paz', and H. Saffron'.

Ipheion uniflorum (aka spring starflower) has spread throughout my garden

The paperwhites are mostly bloomed out but the larger-flowered Narcissi are rolling out, albeit rather slowly.  Clockwise from the left: a noID variety, N. 'Katie Heath', and N. 'Sunny Girlfriend'

The bulk of my Sparaxis tricolor (aka harlequin flower) are orange but a few other colors show up here and there


A number of succulents are blooming as well.

Succulents in bloom include, clockwise from the upper left: Aloe deltoideodonta, A. striata, Bryophyllum fedtschenkoi, Crassula multicava 'Red', Echeveria agavoides, E. 'Mira', E. 'Lola', and Crassula orbicularis var rosularis


I'll close as usual with the best of the rest, organized into color-related collages.

Clockwise from the upper left: Alstroemeria 'Inca Lucky', Calliandra haematocephala, Erysimum 'Winter Orchid', Leucadendron salignum 'Blush', Gomphrena decumbens 'Itsy Bitsy', Lobelia laxiflora, Primula vulgaris, and Ribes viburnifolium

Clockwise from the upper left: Aeonium arboreum, noID yellow and orange Calendula, Euphorbia rigida, Euryops chrysanthemoides 'Sonnenschein', Gaillardia 'Spintop Copper Sun', Laurus nobilis, and Senna artemisioides

Clockwise from the upper left: Daphne odora, Isopogon anemonifolius, Primula vulgaris, and Pyrethropsis hosmariense.  Many flowers of the latter are being consumed by rabbits even before the buds open.

Clockwise from the left: Boronia crenulata 'Shark Bay', Leptospermum scoparium 'Pink Pearl', and Persicaria capitata

Clockwise from the upper left: Aristea inaequalis, Echium handiense, Lavandula multifida, L. dentata, Polygala fruticosa, Scabiosa columbaria, Viola 'Penny Peach', and Pericallis 'Senetti Violet Bicolor'


For more GBBD posts, visit Carol at May Dreams Gardens.

All material © 2012-2023 by Kris Peterson for Late to the Garden Party