Friday, October 18, 2019


The title of this post pretty much sums up my current state.  As work on our ongoing home remodel speeds up, my work in the garden is subject to unexpected interruptions and complications.  Last week we discovered a badly corroded gas line on one side of the house.  As it turns out, replacing it isn't simple.  Plants have been trimmed back.  Others have been removed.  Still others, including the rose that climbed the face of our master bedroom chimney, are at risk.

North side of the house as photographed in late June 2018

I couldn't duplicate the prior shot as there's a storage pod, port-a-potty and dumpster in the way but here are some close-ups.

My husband and a member of the construction crew dug a trench around the house's northwest perimeter, ending just short of the Leucadendron 'Wilson's Wonder' (shown in the prior photo to the left of the chimney).  I'll be sad if the climbing rose and Phormium have to go but I'll be devastated if the Leucadendron I brought with me from my former garden has to be removed.

After a couple of delays, the plumber arrived on site this morning.  Upon first view, I overheard him say "this is a (profanity deleted) nightmare."  Twice!  However, he and his crew are still here so I guess they haven't thrown in the trowel yet.  In other news, the crew currently plastering our living room fireplace just spilled blue epoxy on the porous driveway...

Most of the exterior painting was completed yesterday and we've begun to move items that had been deposited in the garden back into place, freeing up some space.  There's still a lot of clean-up required but I made a small start last night.

My work bench hasn't looked this neat in years.  How long I'll keep it looking like this is an open question.

I'd like to get back to work on the bromeliad bed I started renovating a month ago using stone saved when our indoor barbecue was dismantled but there's a lot of junk I need to move back behind the garage so I can maneuver. 

Meanwhile, the area is a depository for plants I dug up when I pulled the bed apart, as well as new plants I've accumulated but have yet to find homes for

All that junk on the left in this photo needs to be tucked away or recycled to free up work space

In the meantime, I'm accumulating plants faster than I can get them in the ground.  I managed to get the last of those purchased during my trip to Ventura County 2 weeks ago planted this week but I picked up more last weekend at South Coast Botanic Garden's Fall Festival and those are still awaiting placement.  And then there are the recent deliveries...

My haul from the Fall Festival includes a Lasagna fern (Asplenium nidus), a noID Campanula, 2 Euphorbia lactea, and a xMangave 'Pineapple Express'

Gerhard Bock of Succulents & More picked up a few more xMangaves for me at University of California, Davis's fall plant sale

One of 2 recent bulb deliveries

There also may be a delivery slated to arrive today.  Time to stop blogging and start working!  Best wishes for a pleasant weekend.

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

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Bloom Day - October 2019

My summer flowers are slowly fading but my traditional autumn bloomers have been slow to make an appearance.

The newest arrivals are these:

The Anemone hupensis japonica came with the garden and aren't prolific bloomers in my climate but I love them just the same

Cuttings of this Plectranthus ciliatus 'Zulu Wonder' came with me from my former garden.  It's one of my favorite plants but needs a good bit of shade - and it doesn't much like being trod on by construction workers.

This is a Salvia leucantha 'Santa Barbara' I thought had died.  If you look carefully at the stem in the middle, you'll see a lurking crab spider.  They're suddenly everywhere in my garden.

Senna bicapsularis finally produced its first blooms this past weekend.  Despite a hard pruning earlier in the year, the stems are very tall, making the flowers hard to photograph.

The flowers of Vitex trifolia aren't especially impressive but the shrub itself, bearing leaves with purple undersides, is attractive

My cutting garden is still the source of the majority of my flowers.  If the following photos look familiar, that's probably because you saw very similar ones last month.

The dahlias are the flashiest denizens of the cutting garden
Top row: Dahlias 'Bluetiful', 'Enchantress' and 'Hollyhill Karen Lee'
Middle row: 'Citron du Cap', 'Labyrinth' and 'Terracotta'
Bottom row: 'Otto's Thrill' and 'Punkin Spice' (Only 'Diva' is a no-show right now)

I can't put names to most of the Zinnia elegans currently in bloom so I'll let them all go incognito

Other cutting garden blooms include: noID Cosmos bipinnatus (top), Amaranthis caudatus (bottom left) and Rudbeckia 'Denver Daisy' (bottom right)

Elsewhere in the garden, a few of the plants that bloomed earlier in the year are responding to our cooler nights with another flush of flowers.

From left to right: Bauhinia x blakeana, Leptospermum scoparium 'Pink Pearl' and Leonotis leonurus

Meanwhile a variety of stalwarts continue to put on a good show.

Abelia grandiflora 'Hopley's Variegated' is having a very good year

This bed, dominated to Pennisetum 'Rubrum', Lantana 'Lucky White' and Grevillea 'Peaches & Cream', has stood up really well against the construction mess associated with our ongoing remodeling project 

Although closer to the action, this bed containing Grevillea 'Superb' and Cuphea 'Vermillionaire' has also done remarkably well

Some of my Leucadendrons, 'Devil's Blush' (left) and 'Winter Red' (right), are continuing to put on good imitations of flowers

Pennisetum 'Rubrum' is such a star it deserves a second look

I'll wrap up as usual with the flowers keeping a lower profile this month.

Top row: Delphinium elatum, Eustoma grandiflorum, and noID Lantana
Middle row: Lavandula multifida, Plumbago auriculata 'Imperial Blue' and Polygala fruticosa
Bottom row: Salvia 'Mystic Spires', Trichostemma 'Midnight Magic' and Wahlenbergia 'Blue Cloud'

Top row: Aloe 'Rooikappie', Alstromeria 'Indian Summer' and Lantana camara 'Irene'
Middle row: Euryops chrysanthemum 'Sonnenschein', Correa 'Ivory Bells' and Clematis paniculata
Bottom row: Pandorea jasminoides, Phylica pubescens and Zephyranthes candida

Top row: Correa 'Wyn's Wonder', Grevillea 'Ned Kelly' and Pentas lanceolata 'Graffiti Pink'
Middle row: Hemerocallis 'Plum Perfect' (another bloom spike!) and Penstemon mexicali 'Mini-Bells Red'
Bottom row: Rosa 'Pink Meidiland' and Salvia canariensis

For more Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day posts, check in with Carol at May Dreams Gardens.

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

Monday, October 14, 2019

In a Vase on Monday: Windfalls

I'm afraid there are yet more dahlias in my vases this week.  I've been on the look out for new fall blooms but the usual suspects have been slow to appear.  Unfortunately, our Santa Ana winds have shown up right on schedule, bringing yet another round of wildfires.  The winds cause humidity levels to plummet and snap tall, top-heavy dahlia blooms.  Salvaging the blooms for use in a vase is preferable to throwing them in the trash.

This week I decided to photograph my vases in the new but still unfinished kitchen.  The cabinets have been painted and the countertops are installed but there's no electric lighting yet.

The tall stem in the center of the arrangement is showing off the first blooms of Senna bicapsularis

Top view

Clockwise from the upper left: Dahlias 'Citron du Cap', 'Labyrinth' and 'Otto's Thrill'; Coleonema pulchellum 'Sunset Gold'; Lantana 'Lucky White'; Leptospermum scoparium 'Pink Pearl'; and, in the center, Senna bicapsularis

I managed to create one vase using "new" material.

The graceful lavender racemes shown here are Plectranthus 'Zulu Wonder', one of my favorite fall bloomers.  One of my plants has been trashed during our remodeling process but the other is looking good.

I also added a few stems of Anemone hupensis japonica, not a prolific bloomer here but always welcome

Top view showing off some late-blooming lavender lisianthus (Eustoma grandiflorum).  According to the nursery tags, this variety was supposed to have had reddish-brown flowers.

Clockwise from the upper left: Anemone hupensis japonica, Euryops chrysanthemoides 'Sonnenschein', Eustoma grandiflorum, and Plectranthus ciliatus 'Zulu Wonder'

Dahlia 'Punkin Spice' has had lots of attention the past few weeks but she's too pretty to allow to wither in the wind either so I threw some of those blooms into a third vase.

The only embellishment I added to the dahlia blooms was 2 stems of Duranta repens 'Gold Mound'

'Punkin Spice' can vary dramatically in color as these 2 photos show

The wind was still blowing in my location last night but the fire situation in Southern California has improved overall.  The Sandalwood Fire, which covered 1000 acres, killed 2 people and burned 74 structures, is near full containment.  The Saddleridge Fire resulted in evacuation orders affecting 100,000 people, spread over 8000 acres, contributed to one death, and burned 31 structures.  It's also blown smoke and ash over a wide area of Los Angeles County, including my own area.  It's 41% contained as of the last report.

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

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

Friday, October 11, 2019

Fall Plant Shopping

Fall is prime planting season here and, with swaths of my garden trashed over the course of our ongoing home remodel and other areas showing the usual stress imposed by our long dry season, I'm anxious to get to work.  I probably should hang back awhile yet but as the Australian Native Plant Nursery (ANPN) in Casitas Springs scheduled a fall plant sale last weekend my friend and I decided to move up our usual fall plant shopping trip.  For me the drive each way is 3-4 hours, depending on traffic, and half that for my friend.

ANPN was our first stop.  Jo O'Connell, the owner/operator, isn't generally open on weekends anymore, which makes it difficult for us to visit.  A weekday trip would put me on the road during peak commuter hours on both legs, adding hours.

There's a plaque at the entrance in the shape of the continent of Australia, decorated with koalas.  We were met by Wallaby, the official greeter, who asks for a tummy rub as the price of admission.

I didn't have an opportunity to ask for an ID on this gorgeous tree-sized shrub but it reminded me of my own Leptospermum 'Copper Glow' - on steroids

Some of the sale offerings (left) and the cashier's shed (right).  That's Jo O'Connell in the orange shirt in the background.

O'Connell and her husband lost their home on the nursery's grounds to the Thomas Fire in December 2017.  They're currently living in what was a guest house at the back of the property but plans are in place to start construction on their new home.  As a resident, Wallaby was exempt from the no trespassing request.

Next, we stopped for a leisurely lunch in Carpinteria about a half hour further north.

Our usual lunch stop in Carpinteria is Garden Market.  We eat on the patio and enjoy the sunshine and plants, like this exuberant Leonotis leonurus.

We also checked out Porch, just a few storefronts down from Garden Market

Our next stop was nearby Seaside Gardens, a garden center we try to visit at least twice a year.  In addition to offering a broad selection of plants, it has a large area devoted to demonstration gardens.  (You can view photos from prior visits here.)

I've picked up numerous Leucadendrons and Grevilleas here but most grow into large plants and I'm running out of room for more

They have a great selection of Phormiums and Cordylines too

These 2 horses mark one entrance into the demonstration gardens

I was somewhere between the California Native Garden and the Central/South American Garden here

This and the next photo were shot in the Succulent Garden

This and the following photo were shot in the Grasslands area

Our last stop was Island View Nursery just one mile away.  This nursery is in the process of changing hands for at least the second time within the decade or so we've included it in our regular run.  While the nursery has a fairly broad supply of outdoor plants, our focus in shopping there has generally involved the succulents, bromeliads and indoor plants it offers.  It's our understanding that the nursery's offerings in that category are about to undergo a major expansion.

Two views of the indoor plants area, composed of 2 huge quonset hut-type structures

As these exterior photos show, the nursery is in the process of adding 3 more structures of similar size.  We were told that they would be used to house an expanded selection of airplants and other bromeliads

So, I had a list of plants I was looking for.  I found none of them on this trip, although I came close in one case at Seaside.  (Right species, wrong cultivar.)  Do you think I came home empty-handed?  Don't be silly.  Here's my haul:

On the left, are Grevillea 'Poorinda Leane', purchased at ANPN, and Cordyline 'Can Can', purchased at Seaside.  In the middle, all purchased at Seaside, are: Plectranthus cordifolium 'Caroline's Citrine', Daphne odora 'Leucanthe' (yes, I can be nuts sometimes!), and 2 Hemizygia 'Candy Kisses'.  On the right is Begonia 'Escargot', which came from Island View.

I'm glad we made the trip last weekend.  Our Santa Ana winds are blowing again and there's another major fire burning to the north of us, relatively close to my friend's home, as well as my brother's house.  We could smell the fire here this morning even though we're a good 50+ miles away.  Wildfires have been a fact of life here but they're definitely more frequent and more vicious than those in my childhood years.  The current fire is still only 13% contained with 7500 acres burned.  Twenty-five homes in the valley I grew up in have already been destroyed.

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