Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Wednesday Vignette: Hell's Kitchen

Our home remodel is no longer some generally imagined event set for an indefinite future date.  After nearly a year of myriad delays involving bureaucratic red tape, geological surveys, asbestos concerns, timing conflicts and other drama, it's become a reality.  Once my husband started construction of the temporary kitchen, the plan became all too real.  In the past week, the temporary kitchen, set up on the north end of the house, went from this:



To this:



Our master bathroom, which lies on the other side of that temporary kitchen, was once a light-filled space.  It's now dark as a cave.  The flash of pink you see inside the new space is a reflection of the Leptospermum I can no longer see reflected in the bathroom mirror.

Both shrubs are now in full bloom


I can still see a small portion of the garden, framed by the kitchen's walls, but that view will also disappear as soon as the door is installed.

I never really appreciated this planter backed by lavender until it was the only thing I can see from inside the house


The temporary kitchen will have a camp stove, a refrigerator and a small sink.  During construction the pantry will be in our bedroom.  Our dishes may end up in my husband's bureau.  My friends tell me that the whole experience will be worth it in the end but I have my doubts.  In addition to worrying about the stress on my cat, I'm wondering how much of my garden is going to get trampled.  I already know that I'm going to lose at least a few plants to new HVAC equipment.

Preparations are ramping up.  In addition to the current kitchen, which will be gutted, the living and dining rooms need to be packed up and cleared.  We have to move patio furniture to provide work space for the construction crew adjacent to the kitchen.  And there are purchases that still have to be made.  The compost tumbler near the garage has to be moved (I've forgotten why) and, as the unit has been steadily disintegrating since we moved in, we've decided to chuck it in the demolition bin, so I cleaned it out this week.

I sifted out the remaining contents of the tumbler so it's ready to go

The finished compost went into this raised planter, which I finally cleared of basil, oregano and chives to make room for some of the dahlias that sprouted since I planted the tubers in temporary pots


I piled the material that wasn't yet suitable for use as compost at the bottom of my back slope until I can set up new composting bins.  Who knows, I may spend a lot of time down at the bottom of the slope this summer, seeking peace from the construction process.  Maybe I'll finally get some of the ivy and honeysuckle cleared out down there.

It looks as though I'll have company.  I sighted a bunny hiding out there yesterday morning.


For more Wednesday Vignettes, visit Anna at Flutter & Hum.


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

Monday, April 22, 2019

In a Vase on Monday: Spinning through Spring

Spring has suddenly become very busy.  That's partly due to preparations for (gulp!) an upcoming home remodel; partly to a significant increase in the docent tours I'm conducting at my local botanic garden; and partly due to the demands of my own garden.  I keep hearing there's an uptick in our temperatures on the horizon so I've been trying to prepare my garden for summer; however, thus far, temperatures have remained below average.  Spring often turns into Summer without much warning here but maybe I need to slow down a bit and just enjoy the current season while I can.

Leucospermum 'Brandi' seems to be in a hurry as well.  The shrub's full of mature flowers now so I decided to cut three for use in a vase this week.  The flowers look like pinwheels so they fit the spinning theme.

The arrangement bears some similarities to one I created in late March but it includes an interesting new element in the form of Nigella orientalis 'Transformer'.  (I misidentified the plant as Bupleurum in last week's Bloom Day post but helpful readers of my blog and Instagram posts pointed me in the right direction.)

I planted both 'Transformer' and Bulpleurum from seed in the same raised planter.  The latter has yet to make an appearance but 'Transformer' has a nice display going.

The Ranunculus are just about finished, taken out prematurely after being buffeted by a few rounds of Santa Ana winds

Clockwise from the upper left: Leucospermum 'Brandi', Agonis flexuosa 'Nana', Lotus berthelotii 'Gold Flash', Ranunculus, and Nigella orientalis 'Transformer'


Last week I admired the Dutch Iris Christina of My Hesperides Garden featured in her IAVOM post, commenting that I'd like to have some in similar colors, only to be surprised by the appearance of two similar blooms in my front garden late last week.  I planted the bulbs in October 2017 and all I remembered about them was that they were pale blue in color but they're actually a mix of blue and white with a touch of yellow at the throat.

According to my records, the Iris is 'Silver Beauty'

I played off the yellow at the throats of the Iris with the addition of Phlomis fruticosa (aka Jeruselem sage)

I added more light blue to the mix with the stems of the same Salvia I used last week

Clockwise from the upper left: Centranthus ruber 'Albus', noID self-planted Cotoneaster, seed-grown Orlaya grandiflora, Salvia heldriechiana, Phlomis fruticosa, Limonium perezii, Westringia fruticosa 'Morning Light' and, in the center, Iris hollandica 'Silver Beauty'


For more Monday vases, visit Cathy at Rambling in the Garden.  Best wishes for a happy Earth Day!



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

Friday, April 19, 2019

My Favorite Spring Plant Combinations

I took photos of some of my favorite flower combinations in preparation for my Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day post but, as it turned out, I'd accumulated so many flower photos, I couldn't bring myself to include these in my already lengthy mid-month post.  So instead, I'm throwing them into a separate post!

Not all my flowering plants complement each other, a fact that was emphasized this month when, triggered by our heavier-than-usual winter rains, everything in my garden sprang into bloom seemingly at once rather than unfolding in a more restrained and orderly fashion.  However, for this post, I'm going to focus on the combinations I found most pleasing.

Here are some from the back garden:

Cotula lineariloba (aka brass buttons and big yellow moon) mingles comfortably with self-sown Gazanias and Erigeron kavinsianus (aka Santa Barbara daisy) on one side of our backyard fountain.  Cotula is a rampant grower.  I pull most of it late in the season when it gets ratty but it always comes back.

On the other side of the fountain, Felicia aethiopica echoes the color of the blue Dutch Iris (Iris x hollandica).  I thought the new Iris I planted this year would be identical to the established bulbs but the falls on the new flowers are a shade lighter.

A wider shot facing the opposite direction shows the same Iris and Felicia consorting with white flowers: Santa Barbara daisies, Alstroemeria 'Claire', and Argyranthemum frutescens 'Mega White'.  My new favorite Salvia, S. heldreichiana, is also visible in the background.

Another wide shot, taken from the opposite direction, shows Salvia heldriechiana in the foreground with the Felicia and Iris in the background.  Echium webbii (right), just coming into bloom, adds another blue note.  In the distance, you can see Ageratum corybosum sited next to the house.

The flowers of Arctotis 'Pink Sugar' have just enough orange color to mix well with the self-seeded Gazanias and Lotus bethelotii 'Gold Flash'.  I probably wouldn't have planted the Spanish lavender (Lavandula stoechas) so close to the Arctotis myself but it seeded itself there.  The white flowers of Ozythamnus diosmifolius (aka rice flower) temper the association in this bed and the Ageratum corymbosum in the background carries the eye beyond the lavender.


The area surrounding the lath house offers this nice yellow and blue vignette:

I couldn't resist planting blue Pericallis (aka cineraria) and Nemesia 'Sunshine' as accents at the base of Euryops chrysanthemoides 'Sonnenschein' 


On the south end of the front garden we find these combinations:

Grevillea 'Superb' blooms year-round here but Cuphea 'Vermillionaire' is currently providing a nice color complement

This mix on the other side of the flagstone path is more foliage than flowers but I appreciate how the soft green of Artemisia versicolor 'Seafoam' blends with the brighter green Acacia cognata 'Cousin Itt' (left), while contrasting civilly with the burgundy foliage of Cordyline 'Renegade', the red stems of Leucadendron 'Safari Sunset' , and the flowers of Helleborus 'Anna's Red' (right).  Less visible are the burgundy buds of Leucadendron 'Jubilee Crown', which I'm happy to report I've managed not to kill this time.

I have mixed feelings about this view.  It's pretty enough but, once again, I was sold mislabeled Freesias.  Last year, I got pinks instead of blue.  This year I got a LOT of yellow instead of blue.  Although the yellow Freesias echo the agave blooms in the distance, those will soon be gone and, unless I pull out the bulbs while I can still see their foliage, all those yellow Freesias are going to irritate me year after year.  Do Freesia growers have a blue bulb shortage or something? 


The area surrounding the front entry to the house is looking particularly frothy right now.

There are at least 5 Coleonema album planted in my front garden, all of which came with the house.  They bloom in tandem with the Santa Barbara daisies, giving the area a light, bubbly feel.

The foliage of Coleonema album (aka white breath of heaven) has a delightful scent.  Regrettably, I can't say the same for the flowers.

Coleonema pulchellum 'Sunset Gold' is still covered in pale pink flowers with Gomphrena decumbens 'Itsy Bitsy' blooming alongside it, now joined by a host of blue and purple blooms, including: Lavandula stoechas 'Double Anouk', L. multifida and, in the background, the first spires of Echium candicans 'Star of Madeira'

This vignette is tucked just to the left of the plants featured in the prior photo.  Here, another Lavandula stoechas mixes with Euphorbia characias 'Black Pearl' and more Santa Barbara daisies.


The north side of the house provided one of my very favorite plant combinations in early spring.

While I'm not sure about the touches of pink here, I love the mix of Grevillea 'Scarlet Sprite', the self-seeded white and blue Osteospermums and the blue Limonium perezii.  Since this photo was taken, I've cut back the Osteospermums in the hope of getting a second flush of blooms before it gets too hot and the plants assume a low profile for the summer.


If you've visited my blog with any regularity, you've probably heard me describe my back slope (i.e. the area that lies beyond the hedge visible in the last photo) as "hideous."   It usually deserves that epithet - except in Spring when a riot of pretty weeds helps to transform it.  It hasn't reached its peak yet but I can honestly say I don't mind spending time down there right now.

This flat area at the bottom of the slope between the lemon tree and the three Pittosporum 'Silver Magic' that mark the boundary of our property (left) has calla lilies (Zantedeschia aethiopica) and California poppies (Eschscholzia californica) in bloom at the moment.  With the end of our rainy season and a rise in our daytime temperatures, the calla lilies are already fading.

As the calla lilies fade, Centranthus ruber, effectively a weed here, is just coming into bloom.  Within a month, pink blooms will dominate the entire back slope.

For the moment, however, splashes of white, chartreuse, and purple dominate the slope's main bed.  The chartreuse color is provided by Euphorbia 'Dean's Hybrid'.  The white flowers are Pelargonium 'White Lady' and Carpenteria californica (aka bush anemone).  Bearded Iris and Lantana add touches of purple and lavender.


That's a wrap for this week.  I'm off to Santa Barbara County on a plant shopping expedition this weekend, not that I have any business buying more plants.  But I'm sure I will.  I hope you have a chance to do something you enjoy this weekend too.


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

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Wednesday Vignette: Watching and Waiting

I've been on leaf watch for a couple of months now, anxiously waiting for signs that what remains of our large mimosa tree (Albizia julibrissin) still has the will to live after being cut back by half in December.

Back in 2016, the tree looked like this by the end of April:

Fully leafed out


And in early May 2017, it looked like this:

A lighter leaf canopy but well-covered


Last year, the first leaves didn't appear until well into June and half the tree (the part that was cut away in December) never leafed out at all.  Right now, the tree looks like this:



With all the rain we had this winter, I'd hoped to see leaves appear early this Spring but then it's also been cooler than usual here, with only a few really warm days of 80F or higher.  This morning, I noted the first signs that maybe the tree will survive its battle with drought, shot-hole borers, and the loss of half its trunk and branches last December.

The first leaves: I could swear they weren't there yesterday

All are on the lower branches but, when I looked up and squinted, I saw a few more touches of green higher in the canopy


We'll have to see if the warmer temperatures expected in the coming days speed things up.  It'd be nice to hang on to the tree a few more years yet.  For more Wednesday Vignettes, visit Anna at Flutter & Hum.


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

Monday, April 15, 2019

Spring Bounty - IAVOM & Bloom Day, April 2019

With cooler than normal temperatures and heavier than usual rain through our winter months, I'd expected a bountiful Spring but I think even I was unprepared for the sheer volume of blooms in my garden this April.  As two of my favorite memes, "In a Vase on Monday" and "Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day," coincide again this month, I'm combining them in a single post.  I'll start with abbreviated coverage of the vases I prepared this week, followed by a lengthy Bloom Day segment.

I made up two vases again this week, taking advantage of some of the flowers most likely to die off quickly as our daytime temperatures continue to rise.  For more Monday vases, visit our IAVOM host, Cathy at Rambling in the Garden.

A simple blue and white scheme shown from the front, back and top.  I included noID Ceanothus, Coleonema album, Iris douglasiana 'Santa Lucia', Osteospermum '4D Silver', white Ranunculus, and Salvia heldreichiana.

This pink and white arrangement is shown from the same 3 angles.  It contains: noID pink Alstroemeria, Centranthus ruber (pink and white forms), Leptospermum scoparium 'Pink Pearl', Pelargonium 'White Lady', and Zantedeschia aethiopica.


I took a LOT of photos for Bloom Day this month.  Believe it or not, what follows was trimmed down considerably.  I'll keep my comments to a minimum so as not to try your patience too much.

Let's start with the splashiest blooms gracing my garden at present, listed in alphabetical order as it's nearly impossible for me to pick favorites.

Ageratum corymbosum, a perennial shrub with purple foliage

Arctotis 'Opera Pink' (aka one of many of the so-called African daisies)

Arctotis 'Pink Sugar'

Cercis occidentalis (aka Western Redbud)

Coleonema pulchellum 'Album' (aka White Breath of Heaven), underplanted with Erigeron karvinskianus (aka Santa Barbara Daisy)

Iris douglasiana 'Santa Lucia' (aka Pacific Iris)

Two noID Iris x hollandica (Dutch Iris) and a noID Iris germanica (bearded Iris)

Leptospermum scoparium 'Pink Pearl' (aka New Zealand Tree Tree)

Leucadendron 'Pisa', displaying its yellow flower-like bracts

I wasn't going to admit to a favorite but I'm honestly in love with this plant.  It's Leucospermum 'Brandi', blooming in earnest for the first time this year.  Leucospermum are also known as Pincushion Proteas.

Leucospermum 'Goldie' is lagging 'Brandi' in the bloom department but it looks as though she's also going to have a good year

These photos show the various stages of the bloom of Leucospermum 'Spider Hybrid'

Limonium perezii (aka Sea Lavender or Statice)

Phlomis fruticosa (aka Jerusalem Sage)

Rosa 'Joseph's Coat', always the first of the few roses in my garden to bloom


Several genera of plants are putting on an especially good show right now when looked at as a collection.

I've got IDs on only 2 of my Alstroemerias.  The white one on the upper left is 'Claire' and the red-orange one next to it is 'Indian Summer'.

Cistus (aka Rockrose): 'Second Honeymoon', x skanbergii, and 'Sunset'

Echium handiense (Pride of Fuerteventura) on the left has been blooming since February but E. candicans (Star of Madeira) in the middle photo and E. webbii on the right are only just now beginning their blooms cycles

Eschschlozia californica, California's state flower, bloomed on my back slope this year after hardly any blooms last year.  The variety in the middle, 'White Linen' was planted from seeds years ago but the others are mostly products of plugs I planted this past winter.

I've no problem growing Euphorbia.  Clockwise from the top are: E. characias 'Black Pearl', E. rigida, 'Dean's Hybrid', and 'Ascot Rainbow'.

Grevilleas, clockwise from the upper left:  G. 'Ned Kelly', 'Peaches & Cream', 'Scarlet Sprite', and 'Superb'

Lotus berthelotii 'Amazon Sunset' (left) and 'Gold Flash' (right)

The Narcissus are fading fast: N. 'Geranium' (left) and 'White Lion' (right)

The Osteospermums aren't liking our warmer temperatures either.  Clockwise from the upper left: O. '3D Purple', '4D Silver', '4D Violet Ice', 'Summertime Sweet Kardinal', 'Berry White' and 'Double Moonglow'.

In contrast, the Pelargoniums like warm conditions.  Clockwise from the upper left: Pelargonium peltatum 'Pink Blizzard', P. cucculatum 'Flore Pleno', P. 'Pink Fairy Cascade', P. 'Orange Fizz' (the name comes from the scent of the leaves rather than the color of the flowers), and P. 'White Lady'.

The simple white and yellow Pyrethropsis hosmariense (Moroccan daisies) have faded from the scene but 2 other varieties, 'Casablanca' (left) and 'Marrakech' (right) appeared this month

With the exception of the perennial Ranunculus californicus on the upper left, all these are R. asiaticus grown from tubers.  The latter haven't held up to our recent warm, dry winds.

Two very different Salvias: Salvia africana lutea (left) and S. heldreichiana (right)


Two other plants distinguished themselves for the oddity of their blooms rather than the size or sheer number of their flowers.

This quirky flower is Bupleurum rotundifolium 'Griffithii' Nigella orientalis 'Transformer', grown from seed.  (My thanks to the anonymous commentator for pointing me to the right ID here.  I sowed both Bupleurum and this unusual Nigella , both new to me, in the same location at the same time.)

This photo of Ferraria crispa (aka Starfish Iris) was taken early this month.  The flowers came on in a flurry this year but seem to be done now.


I'll close as usual with collages made up of the best of the rest of the blooms in my garden.

Top row: Ajuga 'Mint Chip', Alyogyne huegelii 'Swan River', and noID Ceanothus
Middle row: Cerinthe major, Geranium incanum (a weed!), and Helleborus 'Blue Lady'
Bottom row: self-seeded Lavandula stoechas, Polygala fruticosa 'Petite Butterfly', and Viola 'Blueberry'

Clockwise from the upper left: Aloe 'Rooikappie', Cuphea 'Vermillionaire', Hippeastrum 'Giant Amadeus' (producing a new bloom stalk months after the first one), Eremophila glabra, and Rosa chinense 'Mutabilis'

Clockwise from the upper left: Helleborus 'Phoebe', Babiana stricta, Centranthus ruber, Cuphea x 'Starfire Pink', Centaurea 'Silver Feathers', and Lampranthus 'Pink Kaboom'

Top row: Agryranthemum frutescens 'Mega White', Carpenteria californica, and Convolvulus cneorum
Middle row: Freesia, Fuchsia magellanica 'Hawkshead', and Gazania 'White Flame'
Bottom row: Ozythamnus diosmifolius, Westringia fruticosa, and Zantedeschia aethiopica

Clockwise from the upper left: Cotula lineariloba, Aeonium arboreum, Freesia, Kalanchoe orgyalis, and Nemesia 'Sunshine'


You made it to the end!  For more Bloom Day posts, visit our GBBD host, Carol at May Dreams Gardens.


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