Monday, July 16, 2018

In a Vase on Monday: Welcome blooms

After our awful July 6th heatwave, walking through my garden became much less joyful; however, the Leptospermum 'Copper Glow' I planted in 2014 gave me reason to smile.  To my recollection, the 2 shrubs produced their first spare sprays of flowers last summer.  This summer, despite the hot, dry conditions here, they're blooming more heavily.  They were the starting point for my first vase.

I wasn't sure the dahlia fit the arrangement but, as the bloom was perfect for cutting this week, in it went

The back view shows off the pretty sprays of white Leptospermum 'Copper Glow' flowers, arranged more loosely along their stems than flowers of the Leptospermum 'Pink Pearl' I've used more often

The top view shows the Leucadendron "flowers," actually bracts, which make me think of the buds of long-stem roses

Clockwise from the upper left, the vase contains: Dahlia 'Otto's Thrill', Leptospermum 'Copper Glow', noID Leucadendron salignum (possibly 'Devil's Blush'), and Leucanthemum x superbum


My Eustoma grandiflorum (Lisianthus) are off to a slow start but I found a smattering of blue and white blooms to make up a second small vase.

I used 4 colors of Lisianthus in this vase: white, pale lavender, blue, and purple 

Back view

Top view: I love the greenish color at the middle of the white Lisianthus

Clockwise from the upper left, the vase contains: Ageratum houstonianum 'Blue Horizon' with Catananche caerulea, Trichostema 'Midnight Magic' (a hybrid of California native Wooly Blue Curls), and Eustoma grandiflorum


For more Monday vases, check in with Cathy at Rambling in the Garden.




All material © 2012-2018 by Kris Peterson for Late to the Garden Party

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Bloom Day - July 2018

After obsessing about the damage done by the nuclear heatwave we experienced on July 6th, I nearly lost track of Bloom Day.  Like many of my summer Bloom Day posts, my meanderings through the garden felt a lot like a scavenger hunt.  Despite the 110F (43C) temperature that scorched the garden and killed some plants outright a week ago, there are still flowers.  There are just far fewer of them.  The Dahlias and Zinnias that stole the show in my July 2017 post are only just getting started this July 15th and many of the other plants I featured in last year's post are either no-shows or they've been incinerated by the heatwave.

The nicest bed is one which is partially shaded in the afternoon and is also protected from the wind by its proximity to the house and a tall shrub on the west side.

The photo on the upper left shows the bed in question.  Clockwise from the top right, the bed contains: Ageratum houstonianum 'Blue Horizon', Gaillardia 'Fanfare Citronella', variegated Lantana 'Samantha', a noID Anigozanthos, and Leucadendron 'Pisa'.  There are blue Eustoma grandiflorum (Lisianthus) in there too, mostly plants that over-wintered from last year, but none are blooming yet.


Some flowering plants laughed at the heatwave, figuratively speaking.

Abelia x grandiflora 'Edward Goucher' is blooming right on schedule, although it undoubtedly benefited from the shade of 2 large trees overhead

Achillea 'Moonshine's' first flush of blooms are fading but that has nothing to do with the heat.  With deadheading, they'll continue to produce new, albeit smaller, blooms for awhile yet.

Grevilleas 'Ned Kelly' (left) and 'Superb' (right) literally never stop blooming

Succulent Oscularia deltoides is in its glory at this time of year

I noticed flowers on Leonotis leonurus for the first time this season as the heat abated.  Could this have been prompted by the temperature spike?

Romneya coulteri (Matilija Poppy) didn't appear to even register summer's shift into high gear


Other plants were affected by the heat but still have blooms.

The appearance of the Agapanthus flowers certainly wasn't improved by the high temperatures and dry wind conditions but at least they didn't burn

All the Gaillardia 'Arizona Sun' blooms dropped their petals but, as soon as they were deadheaded, new blooms appeared.  However, the foliage has been scorched.


Still other plants are just getting into their summer stride.

I was late in getting all my Dahlia tubers planted this year.  'Otto's Thrill', purchased in a pot with buds, is the only plant I currently have in bloom but others are showing buds at last.

I thought my Eustoma grandiflorum (Lisianthus) were slow to get going this year but, looking back at last year's July post, it seems they're right on schedule; however, the recent heat did scorch some plants, which may affect future blooms

Leptospermum 'Copper Glow' appears to be blooming later but even better than it did last year


The daylilies fizzled out a little early but a few varieties produced flowers even during the heatwave.

Hemerocallis 'Sammy Russell' (top), a dormant variety that came with the garden, is showing off its last blooms.  The same is true of 'Apollodorus' (bottom left), which is new to my garden this year, and 'Persian Market' (lower right), one of my old favorites.


The rest of the flowers in the garden are scant but I'll share them in the form of color collages as I usually do.

Clockwise from the upper left: Catananche caerulea, Duranta erecta 'Sapphire Showers', noID Lavandula, Trichostema 'Midnight Magic', Osteospermum 'Violet Ice', Polygala fruticosa 'Petite Butterfly', and, in the center, Melaleuca thymifolia

Clockwise from the upper left: Gaura lindheimeri (shown with Myrtus communis 'Compacta'), Leucanthemum x superbum, Scaevola 'Surdiva White', noID Osteospermum, and Pandorea jasminoides 'Alba'

Clockwise from the upper left: Calendula 'Zeolights' grown from seed, Crassula pubescens ssp radicans, Euryops 'Sonnenschein', Hunnemannia fumariifolia (Mexican Tulip Poppy, a plant that keeps on giving), and Santolina virens 'Lemon Fizz'

Clockwise from the upper left: Cuphea 'Starfire Pink', Gomphrena decumbens 'Itsy Bitsy', Lobelia laxiflora, Lotus jacobaeus, Pelargonium peltatum, Pentas lanceolata 'Nova', Zinnia elegans 'Queen Red Lime', and, in the center, a noID rose.  The latter opened and promptly withered yesterday morning.


That's it for my Bloom Day round-up.  For more Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day posts, visit our host, Carol at May Dreams Gardens.


All material © 2012-2018 by Kris Peterson for Late to the Garden Party

Friday, July 13, 2018

Lath House Update

In December, my husband built me a lath house to allow me to grow plants that require more shade than my open garden spaces provide.  I moved some plants, like my small orchid collection, into it immediately but I've been slow about filling it up.  Its interior is small to begin with so I wanted to be selective.  I also wasn't sure which plants would survive the heat of summers here so my early choices have been experiments for the most part.  In late June and early July I took photos of the exterior and interior areas for an update on the lath house project; however, before I got around to putting it together, we were hit with the worst heatwave we've experienced in the seven and a half years we've been here.  The plants in the lath house weren't spared.  Like the rest of the garden, some came through the experience with flying colors but others were badly damaged.  There are lessons for me there but I'm not going to go into detail on the losses here.  The photos shown here were all taken prior to the heatwave.

I've spent as much or more time dressing up the exterior of the lath house as I've done cultivating the plants I housed inside of it.  Interestingly enough, without exception, the exterior plants were entirely unscathed by the last Friday's 110F temperature and dry winds, perhaps because, like the plants inside the lath house, they get watered more frequently than the rest of the garden.

The lath house sits in the southwest corner of our property, bounded by a neighbor's driveway (left) and the street (behind and right).  I've decorated the front exterior with matching window boxes, matching pots, and a host of plants, including Agapanthus, Argyranthemum, and grass-like Acorus gramineus 'Golden Lion'.  The yellow-flowered Euryops 'Sonnenschein' was in place before the lath house was built.

When our neighbors had the oleander that formerly lined their driveway removed, it left the bare legs of the English laurel hedge on our side exposed even after the neighbor planted several good-sized Pittosporum 'Silver Sheen'.  Although it's difficult to see in my photographs, I filled the space below the laurel with more plants, including Achillea 'Moonshine', Lomandra 'Finescape', Salvia 'Mystic Spires', and Convolvulus sabatius.  I threw in a few Iris germanica, Abelia 'Radiance', Lavandula stoechas and a 'Golden Celebration' rose for good measure.  I left the asparagus fern that was already there because it's impossible to get rid of anyway.

I used 3 stumps left behind when we cut down one of our peppermint willows to create an informal sitting area on the west side.  It's backed by my street-side succulent bed and 2 of the original Auranticarpa shrubs that formerly made up a hedge along the street.  These shrubs have been dying off since we moved in.  These 2 may go as well, in which case I'll plant more Xylosma congestum, extending the healthy hedge that starts next to our driveway.  Someday, we may have privacy from the street here...

I replanted the window boxes with summer-hardy plants: yellow Osteospermum, purple Calibrachoa, blue Scabiosa, and white Scaevola


Now, let me show you the interior.  Keep in mind that these photos were taken before the heatwave.  Some of the plants shown here no longer look nearly as good.

A cast iron cat I've had longer than I can remember guards the door (and keeps the wind from blowing it open)

I originally planted the dirt areas surrounding the concrete pavers with creeping thyme but it didn't do well there.  More recently, I replanted it with a mix of coleus, more Acorus 'Golden Lion, a couple of flowering Kalanchoe, Iresine moved from another area of the garden where it got too much sun, and some of the Heuchera that formerly filled the window boxes.

This is the view from the open doorway looking west

This shot was also taken from the doorway, scanning to the left

And this is the view looking roughly southeast

The plants inside the lath house include, clockwise from the upper left: Fatsia japonica 'Camouflage', Adiantum pervianum (aka silver dollar fern), a mix of Rex Begonias, my small orchid collection (half of which is shown here), a few fuchsias, and Iresine 'Brilliantissima' 


Even before the heatwave struck, I'd concluded that some of the plants in the interior need bigger pots.  The plants in small pots dried out too fast and some, like the fuchsias, clearly need more root space.  The strong, dry winds that accompanied the heatwave showed me that shade and ample water aren't sufficient to support every shade plant.  The begonias, especially those grown primarily for their foliage, suffered badly.  I may have to either give up on them or find them space with better wind protection.  The damage to my orchids surprised me.  I thought the laurel hedge behind the lath house would offer them extra protection but the orchids on the top shelf were burned and badly withered so that exposure definitely doesn't fit the bill.  The Fatsia lost half its lower leaves but whether that was a response to the wind or the heat alone I don't know.

Heat or not, I've enjoyed puttering in and around my lath house.  The views from inside are nice too.

View from the doorway looking up toward the house

View from the window on the north side looking toward the driveway

View from the other window looking east


As the heat fades a bit, I'll be back at work in the lath house, repotting orchids and fuchsias.  I expect my plant collection will continue to evolve as I discover what shade plants I can and can't grow there.

Enjoy your weekend!


All material © 2012-2018 by Kris Peterson for Late to the Garden Party

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Sad Summer Story

Most gardeners of my acquaintance here don't celebrate summer.  Summer is not our friend.  By the time summer arrives, it's usually been dry for 3 months and we still face 4 or more months without rain.  Summer's heat makes a difficult situation even worse.  Unlike the beach city I used to live in, our current location on the east side of the South Bay peninsula doesn't benefit from western breezes off the ocean.  It's always been hot in the summer here but last Friday set a record for the 7 and a half years we've lived in this location.  After a pleasantly comfortable May and June, temperatures soared to 110F (43C).  My husband and I took refuge in an air conditioned house but my garden didn't get any relief.

Even with applications of supplemental water before and during the heatwave, the results aren't pretty.  The garden has suffered the impact of scorching heat before but this event matches or exceeds the horrific heatwave of 2016.  This time, the temperature peaked higher; that heat was sustained over a longer period; and it was accompanied by strong dry winds.

As mentioned in my last post, the first sucker punch was the sight of my Acacia cognata 'Cousin Itt'.  Although temperatures moderated in the days following the 110F scorcher, the appearance of these plants has worsened.

Instead of emerald green foliage, 5 of the 6 plants in my garden are covered with bronze-brown leaves.  The plant with no afternoon sun exposure is the only one that's shown no sign of this damage.  The plant shown here has been in place since 2014 and my others were planted in 2012.  None have previously been scorched like this.


As I continued my survey yesterday, I saw this.  I was heartbroken.

The plant in the center of this photo is Metrosideros collinia 'Springfire'.  I'd coveted the tree-like shrub for years and finally planted one 18 months ago.  It'd gained size and flowered well this spring.  It looked fine when I took my wide shot photos earlier this month.  Can it recover?  I'm not sure but I'll give it a chance.


Some plants are just burnt.  Their foliage may look ugly for the rest of the season, but they should recover.

I pruned this Echium webbii of its dead flower spikes last month.   Its new growth fried.  Should I have pruned it sooner, or perhaps later? 

While a lot of Agapanthus flowers fizzled in the heat, most of the normally evergreen foliage held up reasonably well.  However, the clumps in full all-day sun with no wind protection didn't do as well.  It probably didn't help that this is one of the driest areas of the garden.

These large Agave attentuata came with the garden.  They benefit from a good deal of shade from the Arbutus 'Marina' above.  This is the first time I can recall that they've been sunburned.  Other succulents, especially the gold-toned Sedums, are also burnt.

Arthropodium cirratum (Renga Lily) is an evergreen bulb.  The flowers were dying back before the heatwave but the foliage dried out badly in its aftermath.

The Hong Kong orchid tree (Bauhinia x blakeana) usually drops leaves gradually at this time of year as the tree produces new green leaves.  I've never seen them turn gold in place like this.

This is Heuchera maxima, a California native.  I'll probably leave the foliage alone until the plant starts producing new growth, much as it pains me to look at it.


A lot of flowers fried.

The Shasta daisies (Leucanthemum x superbum) that looked so good this year shriveled in place but I'm hoping that deadheading them will give me more flowers later in the season.  I don't have the same kind of hope for the Lisianthus (Eustoma grandiflorum) and some of the other flowering plants.


In other cases, the plants themselves were beaten down hard but I still expect them to recover in time.

Sadly, my new lath (shade) house didn't provide my plants with as much protection as I'd like.  I suspect the dry winds were the biggest problem.  The Begonias in particular were hit hard.  This photo shows a noID rex begonia before and after the heatwave.  The plant subsequently lost all but one leaf.  We'll see how the rest of the summer goes but Begonias may be a failed experiment.  Orchids I've had for years were also badly damaged.

Other damaged plants include, clockwise from the upper left: Acanthus spinosus, Alstroemeria 'Indian Summer', Fatsia japonica (shown in the lath house), and Hemerocallis 'Sammy Russell'.  The daylily foliage that turned bright yellow in response to the heat is now turning brown but there are already signs of new green growth.


Unfortunately, there are a few plants that look to be dead, or close to it.

It took me a minute to even identify this plant.  It's ribbon bush (Hypoestes aristata), a plant that grew well in my former garden.  It struggled here even before this heatwave struck and I think I'm going to give it up now.

The loss of some Salvias surprised me.  This is Salvia discolor, which I've had for several years.  Salvia macrophylla, also a long-time resident, is toast as well.


I find it hard avoid becoming fixated on what's ugly but I know I should celebrate the plants that came through the heatwave with their looks intact.  Some look great when viewed from a distance, although a close examination shows signs of stress.

Cuphea hybrid 'Starfire Pink' looked fine from a distance but, viewed up close, I found that its interior foliage was glowing red


Others plants just look great.  It's possible that some of these may show the ill effects later but 4 days out from the heatwave's peak, here are some of the those that were seemingly unfazed by the event.

Agonis flexuosa 'Nana' doesn't even show signs of tip burn on its new foliage

Maybe I haven't previously looked at it closely enough but I'd swear the Corokia x virgata 'Sunsplash' shown here has put on several inches of new growth this week

Unlike Echium webbii, Echium candicans 'Star of Madeira' is unscathed.  It cut back its flower spikes less than 2 weeks ago and it hasn't produced any substantial new growth yet.  It also gets a bit of shade from the nearby Magnolia

Gaura lindheimeri laughs in the face of heat.  The Agapanthus in partial shade in the background fared far better than the plants in full sun.

Leptospermum 'Copper Glow' is continuing to pump out sprays of flowers

The plants outside the lath house, like those in the window boxes and Euryops 'Sonnenschein' in the foreground, fared better than some of the plants inside

Leonotis leonurus is finally blooming

Pennisetum advena 'Rubrum' is also producing its first flowers

The gray-leafed Santolinas look perfect

Senecio candicans 'Angel Wings' was drooping at the height of the heatwave on Friday but I gave it a bottle (that dripped water to its roots) and it looks great thus far.  However, my other plant, in a pot near the front door, doesn't look as good.

Trichostema 'Midnight Magic' is blooming happily.  The flowers on the green-leafed Santolina could use some deadheading but the plants themselves are fine.

The 'Bright Star' Yuccas and Leucadendrons are doing just fine.  The first flush of flowers on the Achillea 'Moonshine' are turning beige but that's normal.  All the Gaillardia flowers withered in response to the intense heat but, with some deadheading, new flowers are already appearing.


So, post-heatwave, the garden presents a mix of good with the bad.  I'm trying to look at the event as a learning exercise.  Our temperature today is hovering near 90F (32C) as I complete this post.  We're hoping for slightly cooler temperatures next week but, as summer conditions can extend well into October here, I'm sure the heat will be back.  I just hope that we don't hit 110F again this year - or get any wildfires.


All material © 2012-2018 by Kris Peterson for Late to the Garden Party