Friday, June 14, 2024

Bloom Day - June 2024 (Early Edition)

I got a new camera earlier this month and started taking photos to test it out.  Many of those photos ended up in this post for Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day, a monthly event hosted by Carol of May Dreams Gardens.  With our morning marine layer still firmly in place, heat hasn't had any effect on the flower power of my garden so there's still a lot of color even though some of my summer bloomers, like the lilies, seem stuck in suspended animation.  Reverting to my old format, I'm starting with the garden's stars this June.

Achillea 'Moonshine', leading the summer parade of flowers as usual

The blue Agapanthus that came with the garden started flowering weeks ago but the white ones are only just getting making an appearance

I finally managed a decent shot of the flowers of Arthropodium cirratum (aka Renga lilies)

This Bignonia capreolata (crossvine) on the back slope also came with the garden

Centaurea 'Silver Feather' has sprawled all over the place but the flowers are pretty

Dorycnium hirsutum (aka hairy Canary flower, syn Lotus hirsutus) is demure but prolific

Helichrysum thianschanicum 'Icicles' was looking terrible at the end of last summer.  I removed a dead section and it's looking pretty again, at least for now.

Hymenolepis crithmifolia (aka Coulter bush, syn H. parviflora)

The first flowers of our Magnolia grandiflora sit at the top of the tree but the new phone nevertheless captured these without a special lens

Tagetes lemmonii (aka Mexican marigold)


Of course, I can't ignore the genera that are the backbones of my garden.  (Note: All cultivars are listed clockwise from the upper left unless otherwise noted.)

Alstroemeria: 'Claire', 'Inca Husky', 'Inca Lucky', 'Inca Sundance', 'Inca Vienna', 'Indian Summer', and noID pink variety

Left to right: Arctotis 'Large Marge' and 'Pink Sugar'

Cuphea: 'Honeybells', 'Vermillionaire', and 'Starfire Pink' (latter in wide and close-up shots)

Gaillardia (aka blanket flowers): 'Arizona Sun', 'Mesa Bright Bicolor', and 'Spin Top Copper Sun'

Gazania rigens: 'Yellow Flame', noID orange, 'Otomi', noID red-orange, 'White Flame', and 'New Day Yellow'

The large-flowered Grevillea'Moonlight', 'Peaches & Cream', and 'Superb' (latter in close-up and wide shots)

The small-flowered GrevilleaG. alpina x rosmarinifolia, G. 'Poorinda Leane', G. sericea, and G. 'Scarlet Sprite'

Hemerocallis: 'For Pete's Sake', 'Persian Market', 'Space Coast Sea Shells', 'Strawberry Candy', and 'Spanish Harlem'

Leucospermum: 'Royal Hawaiian Brandi' (both top shots), 'High Gold', and 'Spider Hybrid'

Osteospermum: '4D Pink', 'Coral Magic', 'Double Moonglow', and 'Purple Spoon'

Pelargonium: Top - P. hortorum 'Dynamo Hot Pink', P. hybrid 'Orange Fizz', and P. hybrid 'White Lady'
Middle: P. peltatum 'Dark Pink' and 'Burgundy'
Bottom: P. peltatum 'Pink Blizzard' and P. peltatum hybrid 'Flamingo Pink'

Salvia: S. canariensis var candidissima, S. discolor, S. lanceolata, S. clevelandii 'Winnifred Gilman' (in wide and closeup shots), and S. 'Mystic Spires'



There were a few surprises.

Hippeastrum getting a late start: noID variety and 'Dancing Queen'

This is Phormium 'Apricot Queen', which has never bloomed before.  Only one other of my Phormiums has ever bloomed but I've noticed there are flower stalks on Phormiums all over the neighborhood, presumably the result of 2 years of good rain.

Sollya heterophylla (aka bluebell creeper) is finally developing a presence in my back garden

Other unexpected blooms included: Echium gentianoides 'Tajinaste' (I'd forgotten the plant entirely), a barrel full of Nemesia and Violas (which I'd thought would be gone by now), Thymus serpyllum 'Elfin' (blooming plentifully here but nowhere else as yet), and the first flowers of Feijoa sellowiana (aka pineapple guava)


I discovered an even bigger surprise late yesterday afternoon as I was finalizing this post.

Iris germanica 'Gypsy Lord' had produced a single bloom in late May but it faded quickly and had shown no signs of producing more




I've collapsed the best of the rest into color collages.

Blue flowers include: Anchusa capensis 'Blue Angel', Campanula portenschlagiana, Iris douglasiana 'Santa Lucia', Lavandula dentata, Limonium perezii, Polygala myrtifolia, noID Scaevola, and Wahlenbergia 'Blue Cloud'

White flowers include: Acanthus mollis, Fuchsia 'Windchimes White', Agonis flexuosa, Pandorea jasminoides, and Trachelospermum jasminoides

Pink flowers include: Argyranthemum frutescens 'Comet Pink', Centranthus ruber, Cistus 'Sunset', Digitalis purpurea, Hebe 'Wiri Blush', Lantana camara 'Irene', Oenothera speciosa, and Rosa 'Pink Meidiland'

Flowers in the yellow family: noID Calibrachoa, chartreuse Euphorbia 'Dean's Hybrid', Graptoveria 'Fred Ives', Lagurus ovatus (aka bunny tail grass), Lonicera japonica, and Santolina chamaecyparissus 'Nana'

Red flowers include: Daucus carota 'Dara', Fuchsia 'Voodoo', and Lobelia laxiflora



For more GBBD posts, check Carol's blog at May Dreams Gardens on the 15th of the month.



All material © 2012-2024 by Kris Peterson for Late to the Garden Party


Wednesday, June 12, 2024

June Gloom

The title of this post isn't a commentary on my current mood (although it's somewhat descriptive).  "June Gloom" is a common term for the marine layer that's characteristic of the weather along California's coast at this time of year.  It's not limited to the month of June either - it can occur as early as April ("Graypril") or May ("May Gray") and as late as September.  (There are names for July and August, "No Sky July" and "Fogust" too but, for some reason, I haven't found one for September.)  The marine layer usually emerges during the overnight hours and gradually lifts sometime in early to mid-afternoon, depending on its strength and how far one is from the coast.

I admit to a momentary sense of disappointment whenever I open the blinds in the morning to see overcast skies without a touch of blue but the marine layer offers benefits by keeping temperatures down, which is especially helpful during the summer months.  While much of California suffered through high temperatures last week due to the so-called "heat dome" hovering over our state, it remained cool and comfortable here.  In fact, it's often referred to alternately as nature's air conditioning or a heat shield.

In the garden, it creates a "Twilight Zone" like sense of being cut off from the world around us.

View from my back door yesterday morning looking east

View from the back patio looking northeast

Homes on the other side of the canyon were visible but just barely

View from the front garden looking northwest.  Taking photos during these conditions is often easier and some colors stand out particularly well.

View from the south-side of the garden looking south.  You can see the outline of a neighbor's house down the street if you look very closely.


The marine layer hides a lot.

These shots, taken hours apart from the north-side garden looking northwest, compares the view with the marine layer in full effect (left) versus when it's partially lifted (right).  If you hadn't seen the second shot, you might not have realized that there are hills dotted with homes beyond that palm tree.  Sounds also appear muffled, although that may just be an illusion.


The eeriest aspect of the phenomenon in my opinion is evident when the mist moves in - or out.  It's hard to catch in a photo.

This closeup of Callistemon 'Cane's Hybrid' provides a peek at the shifting mist.  It's like walking through a cloud.


The marine layer is reportedly more pronounced when the La Niña climate pattern is in place.  It's also relatively uncommon in other parts of the world.  Recent studies suggest that climate change may eventually put an end to it.  A 2018 study offered evidence that California's coastal stratus clouds have declined twenty to fifty percent since the 1970s.  A 2019 study undertaken by CalTech showed that increased carbon dioxide in the atmosphere may eventually wipe out those stratus clouds entirely.  (You can find references to both studies here.)  If that happens, it'll probably mean higher temperatures, contributing further to general global warming; plants struggling for moisture due to heightened levels of evaporation, which may not be available due to persistent drought conditions; and an increased number of wildfires.  None of those things is good.

Our current ten-day weather forecast shows continuation of the marine layer at full strength through this Friday, diminishing on Saturday, and disappearing on Sunday, before returning with less vigor during the balance of next week.  The marine layer may deliver mist and even a bit of drizzle but we don't often receive anything in the way of measurable rain from it, although our roof-top weather station shows we collected 0.01/inch of precipitation last week.  Every bit counts.


All material © 2012-2024 by Kris Peterson for Late to the Garden Party


Monday, June 10, 2024

In a Vase on Monday: An Homage

It's hard to believe that the loss of a seven-pound, seventeen-year-old cat can turn your life upside down but that's what happened last Friday.  On Thursday evening my cat, Pipig, suddenly starting walking sideways.  She quickly got worse and her distress spread to my husband and me.  When my veterinary care guide provided no answers, I called my vet's after-hours emergency line.  After discussion, I arranged an appointment early the next morning.  After examining Pipig and reviewing her history, the vet concluded that the problem was probably caused by a stroke or a cancerous lesion on her brain.  She outlined our options regarding further testing and prospective treatment.  Given Pipig's age, her medical history, her distress, and the likelihood of recovery, my husband and I agreed to euthanasia.  The pain of her absence is palpable.

I've buried myself in the garden for the last few days.  I wasn't sure how I felt about cutting flowers to fill a vase, much less blogging, but then I remembered a vase a friend of my brother's had given me several year's ago with Pipig in mind, hence this homage.

I have a lot of photos of her; however, this one, taken in January of this year following her recovery from other medical issues late last year, is among my favorites

The gift vase features a tortoiseshell-tabby cat like Pipig.  It even has Pipig's green eyes.

Back view

Top view

Flowers, clockwise from the upper left: Achillea 'Moonshine', Alstroemeria 'Third Harmonic', A. 'Indian Summer', Gaillardia 'Arizona Sun', Grevillea 'Superb', and Leptospermum 'Copper Glow'


This wouldn't be a proper tribute without some additional background on the subject.

I adopted Pipig from an animal rescue group in October 2008 at one year of age, after she'd weened 2 kittens rescued with her.  They'd named her "Mandy Manilow" which didn't suit either of us.  I kept her confined in a small space for a couple of days to allow my other cat, Ming, and she time to adjust to one another.  Her mewing sounded squeaky to me, hence her name.  "Pipig" is the Swedish word for squeaky.

Ming's brother, Max, had died suddenly of congestive heart failure a few months before I adopted Pipig.  He wasn't used to being by himself.  He and Pipig adjusted to one another very quickly.  This photo was taken by my husband in December 2009 when I was under the weather.

Ming and Pipig were regular companions.  This photo shows them in a cat tree (built by my husband) in our former home.

Like his brother, Ming had serious medical issues.  He outlived his sibling by more than 5 years but ultimately succumbed to what the vet believed was bladder cancer.  Pipig looked after him as often as I did.


We lost Ming in early 2014, at which point Pipig became the queen of all she surveyed, including the screened catio shown here

Her majesty hung out wherever she pleased, including the mantle in our bedroom.  She was attracted to flowers but never ate them.

I used to allow her to wander in the garden under close supervision (although she escaped surveillance 3 or 4 times, much to my dismay).  When she and I nearly walked into a coyote mid-morning one day in 2017, the outdoor rambling ended and she had to make do with her catio.

I included this photo taken in 2018 only because it's currently staring at me from a 2024 calendar a friend created.  She's made calendars for me annually for a few years, usually featuring photos from my IAVOM posts, but sometimes including one of Pipig.  This photo just happened to be the one in place for June 2024.

Pipig suffered through 5+ months of a home renovation with us in 2019, spending a lot of the time the workers were on-site nested away in our bedroom closet; however, she conducted inspections after work hours

In late 2019, she was diagnosed with breast cancer.  She had surgery in December 2019, followed by several months of chemotherapy ending in May 2020.  As chemotherapy was mostly conducted during the pandemic lockdown, I spent a lot of hours in the parking lot waiting for her during her treatment sessions.

After a serious medical issue in January 2023, Pipig had another medical problem in late November-early December 2023.  She was better by the middle of December 2023 when I took this photo of her checking into what I was up to in my office.  She had 2 rounds of antibiotics to deal with what appeared to be pneumonia but her lungs were declared clear in January 2024.



I can't claim she hadn't shown other signs of her age.  It was obvious from her gait that she was arthritic but she fought us over the medications we tried to give her to provide relief.  She'd recently been seeking out my husband and I, staying close to one or the other of us.  She started spending most of her time in our bedroom but would hunt me down if I was missing in action for a few hours.  She demanded to be combed every evening and, if I woke during the night, she'd jump on my pillow to be petted before curling up next to my head for awhile.  I didn't see this last event coming and hoped we'd have her for at least a couple more years but I can't entirely say I was surprised.


That's my trip down memory lane.  Thank you for joining me.  Pipig wasn't my first cat and she's unlikely to be my last but each one has its own special place in my heart.  I'll act once my bruised heart is ready for that.


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



All material © 2012-2024 by Kris Peterson for Late to the Garden Party