Monday, November 11, 2019

In a Vase on Monday: Going tiny

Today is the anniversary of the popular meme, In a Vase on Monday, launched by Cathy of Rambling in the Garden six years ago.  I joined up at the end of March 2014 and have participated regularly ever since.  To recognize IAVOM's anniversary, Cathy challenged contributors to go small this week, creating diminutive arrangements.  I didn't quite make the six-inch height and width limit she suggested but I came close.

The Bauhinia flower was difficult to cut as all the flowers on the Hong Kong orchid tree are now well above my head

Rear view, showing off the delicate flowers of Hemizygia 'Candy Kisses'

Top view

From left to right: Bauhinia x blakeana (aka Hong Kong orchid tree), Hemizygia 'Candy Kisses', and Pseuderanthemum 'Texas Tri-star'


As usual, I cut more than I could stuff into the three-inch green vase so the overflow - and a couple of extras - went into a second vase.

I was surprised to find a Lisianthus bloom. You may be surprised to see the foxglove bloom on the left - that came from one of the plants I put in last winter.  I pulled most of them but I still have 3 or 4 in my cutting garden and they're flowering again!

Back view: given Cathy's theme, I couldn't resist tucking in a few stems of Gomphrena 'Itsy Bitsy'

Top view

Clockwise from the upper left: Eustoma grandiflorum (aka Lisianthus), Alternanthera 'Little Ruby', Coleonema pulchellum 'Sunset Gold', Hypoestes aristata (aka ribbon bush), Digitalis purpurea, and Gomphrena decumbens 'Itsy Bitsy'


Happy anniversary Cathy!  Thank you for leading this meme without ever dropping the ball.  You've made Monday special for many of us!  Visit Cathy to find more IAVOM posts.




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

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Cleaning Up: First Steps

Our remodel is still hitting snags but nonetheless moving inexorably nearer to closure.  I've worn blinders for the past several months to avoid getting too worked up about the collateral damage to my garden.  It never looks its best at the tail end of our long dry season under any circumstances but some areas are looking truly terrible this year, especially in the back garden where work on our new kitchen spilled over into the beds surrounding the patio.  I've decided that a wholesale overall of several beds is in order but, until the construction workers are out of the picture, I'm holding off tackling anything anywhere near the high traffic areas.

Focusing on the little projects for the time being gives me some sense of accomplishment.

One of the first projects was pulling all the Lotus berthelotii I used as a groundcover on the south end of the back garden and replacing it with fresh plants.  Lotus is a short-lived perennial in my climate but after 2-3 years it was looking scruffy.  I planted daffodils (Narcissus 'Sunny Girlfriend') here too.  The upturned plastic flats are pinned into the ground to protect the new plants from raccoon rampages.

I've been doing some judicious pruning throughout the garden too.  Here, Agave 'Jaws' was in danger of being swallowed by Leucadendron 'Wilson's Wonder' until I trimmed the latter plant back.

As I plan to sow seeds and plant bulbs in my cutting garden for cool-season flowers, it was time to dig up my dahlia tubers.  The plants had already taken a severe beating after 3 rounds of Santa Ana winds.  Technically, the tubers could stay in the ground all year in my climate but I need the space in my raised planters, and I don't want to risk rotting the tubers with the water my new seedlings will require.  Since I took this photo, I've cleaned the dirt from the tubers and have stowed them in the garage.

I still haven't pulled out all my zinnias but I've already tucked several Lisianthus (Eustoma grandiflorum) into the bed in the foreground where Dahlia 'Enchantress' once stood

I did clean out most of one raised bed, leaving just a few summer stragglers.  I supplemented the soil with compost and planting mix and sowed sweet pea seeds last weekend.  This week I soaked anemone tubers to plump them up before planting those as well.  I expect to sow larkspur (Consolida ambigua) seed this coming weekend.

I gave one of my large succulent pots a major rehab.  I couldn't bring myself to throw the Dyckia out so I painstakingly pulled the plant apart and included 3 divisions in the rehabbed pot.  We'll see if they survive the experience.

Mangave 'Red Wing' now serves as the pot's centerpiece, surrounded by (clockwise from the upper right): the Dyckia divisions and Portulaca 'Cupcake Lavender', Rhipsalis (?) and Aeonium haworthii 'Kiwi' cuttings, Portulacaria afra (from the original pot), and 3 Echeveria agavoides.

Other pots in the same area could use a refresh too but they'll have to wait their turn

The window boxes attached to my lath (shade) house were also in need of a refresh and got one .  I usually plant both with the same mix of materials but, as their sun exposure is different, I took a different tact with each this time.  I left the existing Coprosma 'Inferno' in both but added Coleus (Plectranthus scuttellaroides) 'Redhead' and 'Wasabi' plus Calibrachoa 'Coral Kiss' to the first one and Ipomoea batatas and pansies to the second one.

Yesterday I dug out all but the thyme edging of this bed.  Asparagus fern (awful stuff!) has crept in from the bed across the way.  I think I got at least most of it out but I probably need to tackle removal of the masses of it on the other side of the path if I'm to have any chance of keeping it out.  I've no idea what to plant here as nothing I've tried thus far has done really well.  The soil is on the sandy side despite the supplements I've added and the area gets partial shade.  Any ideas?


Meanwhile, a neighbor seems to be working on a project too.  My husband and brother-in-law guessed it's a guest house but, as construction proceeds, it looks more and more like a gazebo to me.

What's your guess?


Planting is usually best done during the cool season here (October through April) but our temperatures are stuck on the warm side at present with no sign of rain in the forecast.  Like the remodel, I'm hoping for change on that front soon.


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

Monday, November 4, 2019

In a Vase on Monday: The zinnias keep going and going...

Are zinnias the Energizer Bunnies of the garden?  I think they might be.  I dug out the last of the dahlia tubers last week but I haven't had the heart to pull out the remaining zinnias even though I need their space in the cutting garden for my cool-season floral crop.  As flowers in my garden are getting harder to come by, the zinnias also came in handy when it came to making up arrangements for In a Vase on Monday, the popular meme hosted by Cathy of Rambling in the Garden.

The zinnias were joined by other flowers that just keeping on giving, two of the large-flowered Grevilleas that literally bloom year-round

I used berries of Auranticarpa rhombifolium to dress up the back of the vase.  These berries look like tiny pumpkins to me.

Top view

Clockwise from the upper left: Grevillea 'Peaches & Cream', Agonis flexuosa 'Nana', berries of Auranticarpa rhombifolium, Grevillea 'Superb', Coleonema pulchellum 'Sunset Gold', and Zinnia elegans (a combination of 'Queen Lime Orange' and 'Benary's Giant Salmon Rose')


The bush violets (Barleria obtusa) have burst into bloom right on schedule.  They always appear in late October/early November.  Their bright blue color looks out of step with traditional autumnal colors but the flowers are welcome nonetheless.

Beautiful as they are, the bush violets often look a little ungainly in a vase

The violets might look better by themselves but I usually can't leave well enough alone

Top view

Clockwise from the top: Barleria obtusa. Abelia grandiflora 'Hopley's Variegated', Lavandula multifida, and Plectranthus ciliatus 'Zulu Wonder'


As I cut too much to stuff into my first vase (again), I ended up with some leftovers so, despite my relative flower shortage, I have three vases this week.

I grabbed a few neon-pink zinnia blooms to embellish the leftover stems

The bright pink zinnias were late arrivals but their centers play well off the color of the Leucadendron bracts

From left to right: Agonis flexuosa 'Nana', Leucadendron salignum 'Summer Red', and Zinnia elegans (possibly part of the 'Benary's Giant Wine' mix)


We hit yet another roadblock with our remodel last week and had to order more wood to complete our new floor.

The living, dining and kitchen area floors are done but the front entry and hallway are not.  The shortage has to do with the fact that the flooring subcontractor didn't use all the small pieces throughout when he established the layout pattern.


Hopefully, the extra wood order will be in at the end of the week or, worst case, the following week and we'll still finish by Thanksgiving.  Fingers crossed.

Visit Cathy at Rambling in the Garden for more IAVOM creations.



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

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Fall Standouts

Los Angeles County authorities have posted an "extreme" red flag (fire) warning this morning and with the wind already blowing like a banshee and humidity levels dropping by the minute, work in the garden isn't a viable option.   Time to focus on some of the pretty pictures I've taken over the past two days!

With the dahlia season clearly over, my fall garden has few standouts when it comes to flowers.  There are a few notable exceptions.

This is Barleria obtusa (aka the bush violet).  I picked up a couple of plants at one of South Coast Botanic Garden's fall plant sales years ago and they've bulked up and freely self-seeded.  After showing just a few flowers last week, they've suddenly burst into bloom in my back garden.  I imagine that the clumps in my front garden will follow suit soon.

Senna bicapsularis (aka Winter Senna) also threw out a few tentative flowers before powering up a full-fledged bloom-fest

Plectranthus ciliatus 'Zulu Wonder' is still keeping things low-key but I appreciate every graceful flower spike it produces, as well as those fragrant quilted leaves

Persimmon 'Hachiya' obviously isn't a flower but I'm impressed that I actually have some fruit this year.  I watched a greedy squirrel scamper off carrying a whole persimmon in its mouth yesterday so I don't expect them to last long.


While making a quick round of South Coast Botanic Garden on Monday in preparation for a tour I was scheduled to conduct on Tuesday, I snapped a few photos of plants that stood out there too.

 The Silk Floss trees (Ceiba speciosa) are the most dominant features of the garden at the moment

There are still some single-petaled dahlias to be found.  I believe this one is called Dahlia 'Mystic Spirit'.

This is a very interesting vine I can't remember coming across before.  It goes by the common names of orchid vine (for the yellow orchid-like blooms shown in the photo on the left) and butterfly vine (for the lime-green butterfly-like seed pods, fading to tan as they mature, as shown more clearly on the right).  The plant's botanical name is Mascagnia macropterum (syn. Callaeum macropterum).  I recently received some seed pods from a thoughtful blogger friend and will have a go at growing it.

My guess was that this is Persicaria orientalis, which goes by the fanciful common name of Kiss Me Over the Garden Gate, but I'm no longer sure of that ID.  Can anyone confirm or correct this ID?  This is Antignon leptopus, aka coral vine, a native of Mexico.  Thanks for the ID, Susan!


While I was at the botanic garden I thought I'd try to grab photos of the sculptures on loan from the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) as I'd captured only one during a prior visit.  All six of the LACMA sculptures have been placed in the "back 40" (acres) of the garden to entice visitors to wander deeper into the grounds.  That proved to be a longer hike than I had time for but I managed to photograph three more.

This is Firestone by Peter Voulkos

This is Trace by Nancy Graves, which is perhaps my favorite of the sculptures the garden has on display

This is One on One by Richard Artschwager.  It seems to be the odds-on favorite of children as I've never seen it without children climbing all over it.


The sculptures do seem to be increasing traffic in the back area of the garden, which is great.  Restoring/reconstructing the lake would also give the garden a major boost but that's a longer-term project on the botanic garden's master plan.

What's grabbing your attention in the garden as October comes to a close?


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

Monday, October 28, 2019

In a Vase on Monday: Fall colors

Last week brought another round of hot, dry winds in both Northern and Southern California.  Sadly, they triggered more fires.  The Kincade Fire in Sonoma County (Northern California) is a monster.  Only 10% contained as of yesterday morning, it led to evacuation orders affecting 180,000 people.  The Tick Fire in Los Angeles County was 70% contained as of last night but, with the Santa Ana winds blowing again today and more expected later in the week, full containment may be a struggle.  Another fire, close to The Getty, a major museum/garden complex located next to one of our major freeways started at 1:30 this morning, is a new concern.  In our immediate area, the marine layer moved in on Sunday and hung around all day, dropping temperatures dramatically.  The cooler, damper air was welcome and reassuring as my husband and I prepared for this week's remodeling activities.  Unfortunately, the marine layer is much lighter this morning and already breaking up.

I dug up all but one of my dahlias last week.  I'd hoped to have a few flowers of Dahlia 'Punkin Spice' to use as a nod to Halloween this week but the blooms dried out under the steady blast of last week's winds so I drew on other plants for this week's vases.  I used the plastic-covered top of the island in our still unfinished kitchen to take photos once again.  The natural light was good even under cloudy skies.

The flower-like bracts of Leucadendron 'Devil's Blush' have been glowing in my garden for 2 months now and I thought it was time to give them some exposure before they fade further.  They make me think of rosebuds but other people have told me they remind them of tulips.  Red zinnias provide additional pizzazz.

Back view: I added the chartreuse foliage of Coleonema and Duranta to lift the color scheme a bit.  Only afterwards did I realize that the color picked up the tones in the leaves of the Amaranthus (shown in the prior photo's front view).

Top view

Clockwise from the upper left: Amaranthis caudatus, Coleonema pulchellum 'Sunset Gold', Duranta repens 'Gold Mound', Leucadendron salignum 'Chief', seed cones of Magnolia grandiflora (used as an accent next to the vase), Zinnia elegans in a pinkish-red and pure red and, in the center, Leucadendton salignum 'Devil's Blush'


Rudbeckia hirta 'Denver Daisy' has proven surprisingly resilient in my cutting garden but I haven't used it in vases often since I planted it from plugs as I've been hard-pressed to find new companions to set off its strong colors.

Once again, I ended up pairing the Rudbeckia with the feathery plumes of Pennisetum and the red-tinged foliage of the Leptospermum in my front garden.  The only "new" element is the Copper Canyon Daisy (Tagetes lemmonii), which had just produced its first blooms of the season.

The back view looks much like the front

Top view

Clockwise from the top: Rudbeckia hirta 'Denver Daisy', Leptospermum 'Copper Glow', Pennisetum advena 'Rubrum', and Tagetes lemmonii


For more Monday vases, visit Cathy at Rambling in the Garden, our In a Vase on Monday host.

Since the interior of our house is in the process of being painted, there are even fewer spots to place flowers.  The first vase is sitting in a corner of our new kitchen, where I hope it'll be out of the way of workers when the flooring is laid later this week.  As most of my indoor plants were consigned to my shade house during the painting process, the second vase landed in an open space in my office.  We're getting closer to completion of our project - it's just a few more weeks away (I hope!).


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