Monday, May 21, 2018

In a Vase on Monday: Wild & Loose

Neither of my vases this week are anything like what I contemplated when I walked into my garden Sunday morning to see what there was to cut.  My Renga Lilies (Arthropodium cirratum) and Agapanthus have produced their first blooms and I had vague plans of using each in an arrangement but I'd no idea what to pair them with.  Then I remembered the multi-flowered stem of Matilija Poppy (Romneya coulteri, aka California Tree Poppy) I'd seen Saturday while working on the back slope and I headed down there to see if the flowers were suitable for cutting.  The bees tend to scatter pollen all over the ruffled white petals but the cluster of flowers I'd identified was still pristine.

In keeping with the wild look of these Southern California natives, I kept the arrangement loose and simple

I tucked the Sideritis cypria I used in last week's vase into this one.  (Note: I mistakenly labeled this as S. syriaca, a different species, in last week's post.)

Top view

Clockwise from the upper left, the vase contains: Achillea 'Moonshine', Sideritis cypria, Coleonema pulchellum 'Sunset Gold', and Romneya coulteri

While down on the back slope, I noticed that another stalk of bearded Iris was blooming and, since I spend relatively little time down there, I cut it too.  I threw a lot of other long-stemmed flowers into the mix with it, creating a second vase with a wild look and loose composition.  However, like the first vase, it might have looked better had I simplified the flower palette.

It's a bit of a mish-mash

The stem of Melaleuca thymifolia at the base of the arrangement was a last minute addition.  It has an interesting flower, although the plant itself has a sloppy look in the border and I've contemplated pulling it out.

Clockwise from the upper left, the vase contains: Arthropodium cirratum, Coriandrum sativum, noID Delphinium, Digitalis purpurea 'Dalmatian White', Lathyrus odoratus, noID Iris germanica, and, in the middle, Melaleuca thymifolia

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

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

Friday, May 18, 2018

Rock Rose in the Rain (Garden Bloggers' Fling)

The 2018 Garden Bloggers' Fling in Austin, Texas kicked off on Friday, May 4th, under ominously cloudy skies.  At our first stop, the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, the skies opened up and it commenced to pour.  Now, I usually run around like a crazy person in the rain collecting rainwater in areas missed by my collection tanks but this rain gave me pause.  Accompanied by thunder and lightening, my phone registered a flash flood warning, and sodden clothes, if not common sense, caused me to take shelter.  I did take some photos at our first 3 stops that day and I'll feature them in a future post but I thought I'd kick off my Fling coverage with Jenny Stocker's garden, which we saw in the afternoon when the rain had abated a bit.

I took a LOT of photos of Jenny's garden, which she blogs about at Rock Rose.  The light was dull and her lovely wildflowers were largely flattened by the rain but I've pulled out the best of what I have to offer to share here.

The front garden is dominated by oak trees, agaves, and grasses.

Gravel holds the soil in place and rock helps to direct the rainwater during the periodic downpours characteristic of the climate in Central Texas
This is a view of the same general area from the other direction

I spotted a lounge chair in the front garden under the trees, a perfect place to rest a while on a sunnier day

The entrance to the main areas of Jenny's garden sits next to the garage.

You can just make out the garden entrance under the overhang of the trees

This is the view looking back the way we came in

This lovely courtyard welcomes you into the garden.  There's a message above the door but I failed to register it during our tour and my photo isn't clear enough to show it.

Although the courtyard was relatively small, it contained lots of interesting details, including a pond created using a small stock tank and potted plants

The doorway shown above leads one into a gravel garden featuring a wet weather creek.

View from the doorway looking across the space toward another set of stairs

View looking back in the direction from whence we entered

This is a closer look at the same area

These are some of the details I captured on camera.  The steps lead to another doorway.  The shelves containing a small collection of cactus and other succulents charmed me.

Walking up the steps past the bench and the pots takes one into what Jenny calls her secret garden.  I didn't get a good shot of the space as a whole but I do have photos of 2 wonderful wall plaques that gazed at us as we passed through the area.

They were perfectly framed by creeping fig

We entered Jenny's English garden next.

The space featured circular beds centered around a birdbath.  Birdhouses were scattered along the outer walls.

A circular patio occupied the area next to the house
These adjustable wooden window doors reminded me of the barn doors so popular with home decorators now.  They're also a clever way to protect the patio beyond during storms.  If you look back to the photos of the garden's entrance area, you'll see that Jenny repeated this element there.

Looking back across the English garden from another angle highlights another portal, which Jenny calls her sun and moon archway

Exiting the English garden through the sun and moon archway, brings us into Jenny's sunken garden, which is full of wildflowers and backed by a pool.

Note the message at the top of the archway

The walls on each side of the arch are mounted with terracotta sun, moon and weather-related plaques Jenny's collected

This is the covered patio on the other side of the archway

These aren't great photos but the first shows the view through a window in the covered patio looking back into the English garden.  The wood piece is mounted inside the patio and, according to David, he found it at a pub that sold a "Rock Rose"  ale and brought it home because it also refers to Jenny and her garden.

This is the view looking across the sunken garden from the steps of the patio
A view of the pool

A view of the pool from another angle

There's still more garden on the other side of the wall on the far side of the pool!  It's an herb and vegetable garden.

A small courtyard next to the house features a pedestal planter with an agave preparing to flower

The wildflowers have moved in here too, to rub elbows with the vegetables.  Verbena bonariensis seems happier in Austin than in my area of Southern California.

Another view of the same area with a better view of the stock tank pond.  There was a small greenhouse in this area too (not shown).

A gate in the vegetable garden takes the visitor beyond the walls into an area that's unprotected from the deer that plague many Texas gardens.

Opuntia and Mexican bush sage (Salvia leucantha)

Pipes and stock tanks to capture rainwater were also in evidence in a couple of locations

My photos aren't of the quality that her garden deserves but Jenny recently posted photos of it on a sunny day, which you can see here.  I was happy to see Jenny's garden in person after years of following her blog, even if it was on a rainy day.  Thanks for the opportunity, Jenny!

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

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Uh-oh... (May 2018 Foliage Follow-up)

If you've read prior posts referencing the mimosa tree (Albizia julibrissin) I inherited with my garden, you probably already know I have a love-hate relationship with it.  It has a prominent position in my back garden, sitting near the edge of the patio just inside the hedge that lines the border on the main level.  The property drops down at a precipitous angle on the other side of that hedge and the tree's roots presumably have a significant role in stabilizing that slope.  The tree's beautiful when it's fully leafed out and flowering.  On the other hand, it's exceptionally messy, dropping its flowers almost as soon as they appear in early summer, followed by both foliage and an endless supply of seedpods.  It's also bare for nearly half the year.  I'd have never planted this tree but I've also never seriously considered replacing it as that prospect poses significant challenges; however, this year, I've reason to be concerned that the tree may be taking matters into its own hands - or, rather, branches.

This is what the tree looks like at present:

May 8, 2018:  There's hardly a leaf on it.  In fact, the tree sported more leaves in January than it does now.  The leaves I saw in January surprised and alarmed me, especially when Evan, The Practical Plant Geek, raised the possibility that these adventitious growths might signify a tree in distress.

Closer view of the canopy

I was fairly certain the tree was late in leafing out so I finally faced that concern and waded through the photos I've taken over the last several years.  With the possible exception of 2014, it looks as though the tree has never been this bare this late in the season.

June 10, 2013

July 5, 2013, one of the few photos of the tree in flower, when it's in its glory

April 29, 2014: I don't have any photos of the tree taken in the May or at any other time in 2014 but it appears as bare in this late April 2014 photo as it is at present.

May 29, 2015

April 30, 2016

May 9, 2017

So, should I be worried?  I asked an arborist about the adventitious growth prior to pruning the tree in January.  While he admitted it could be a sign that the tree is in decline, he also said he'd seen trees behaving oddly throughout the area this year in response to our generally warmer winter temperatures and low rainfall.  I have my own evidence of anomalies too.  The buds on the small cherry tree we recently took out never opened.  The peach tree at the bottom of the slope produced only a smattering of flowers before belatedly leafing out.  My ornamental pear never lost its leaves during the winter months and also produced few flowers this spring.

Maybe the mimosa will leaf out within the next month.  If it fails to leaf out at all, I'll call the arborist back for a consultation later in the year.  If it proves to be diseased and I have to cut it down, I'm fairly certain I'll leave the stump in place as I don't think I can risk destabilizing the slope by grinding it out.  Maybe I can find a spot elsewhere in the border to plant another tree but it'll probably have to be a small one as my city's "view conservation" ordinance limits the height of any new additions that interfere with a neighbor's view.  Maybe we can build an arbor over the patio to provide an alternative source of shade.  Despite all my prior complaints about the tree, I really hope I don't have to make any of those decisions.

For other Foliage Follow-ups, visit Pam at Digging.  Pam's announced that this is the end of the monthly meme for her but, as she's done a magnificent job driving home the importance of foliage in the garden, I doubt it's the last foliage-centric post for me or other garden bloggers.  Thanks Pam!

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

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Bloom Day - May 2018

People who regularly read my Bloom Day posts are probably used to a glut of flowers.  Well, May usually represents the floral peak in my garden and, despite the return of drought conditions, this year is no exception.  So consider yourself warned.

I'm going to start with a photo of a relatively ordinary plant that I caught in extraordinary light, just because I'm thrilled with the photograph.

Cerinthe major purpurascens backlit by the sun

Next up are the Leucospermum blooms (aka pincushion flowers).  I've admired this genus of South African plants for many years and repeatedly failed in my attempts to grow them.  My luck finally seems to have turned.  I've got 4 plants and every one of them currently has blooms.

Planted in March 2016, Leucospermum 'Brandi' has finally produced her first blooms

I photographed Leucospermum 'Goldie' last month but she's still blooming and even has new foliage growth

The plant on the left, a relatively recent acquisition currently in a pot, is Leucospermum 'Spider Hybrid'.  The plant on the right, purchased last year, is L. 'Spider', which looks identical in all but its foliage color.

April was a floriferous month but a large number of shrubs, perennials, annuals and even some bulbs have joined the chorus of blooms in May.

Achillea 'Moonshine' is just beginning to get its bloom on.  It's a bit late this year.

I've never had much luck with Alliums but I planted 3 different species this year.  Two of these don't appear to be doing well at all but Allium rosenbachianum is a star.  I wish I'd planted more than 3!

This is Dorycnium hirsutum (aka Hairy Canary Clover).  It self-seeds freely and I've got a lot of it, which is fine as it's a good ground cover and attractive in and out of bloom.

Gaura lindheimeri 'Snow Fountain' also self-seeds freely but it's easy to pull out where you don't want it.  My only problem with it is that the aphids like it too.

Daylilies don't like drought but Hemerocallis 'Elizabeth Salter' (left) and 'For Pete's Sake' (right) have thrown up a handful of blooms.  'Spanish Harlem' is apparently holding out until after Bloom Day to show its stuff.

Hymenolepis parviflora (aka Golden Coulter Bush), planted in April 2016, is blooming for the first time

I didn't think my annual sweet peas (Lathyrus odoratus) were going to bloom this year as something kept nibbling them but they came through.  If the bunnies are here to stay, I'm going to need new barriers to protect my seedlings next year.

Leucadendron 'Pisa' is now sporting its luminous yellow flower-like bracts

Some people think I'm crazy to allow Oenothera speciosa (Mexican Evening Primrose) to take hold in my garden.  I admit it spreads freely but our dry conditions seem to keep it under control and the cheerful pink blooms are a welcome presence in the driest areas of my garden.

Ozothamnus diosmifolius (aka Rice Flower) looked terrible after it finished flowering last year and I was tempted to pull it out.  Instead I cut it back hard.  It's back to its shapely shrub self this spring.

I inherited several Phlomis fruticosa (Jerusalem sage) with the garden, all of which were a woody mess last year.  I took one or 2 out and cut the rest back hard.  It seems to have done them good.

I purchased this plant, simply labeled Plectranthus species, from my local botanic garden a year or 2 ago.  I suspect it's a variegated form of P. neochilus.  It's a tough plant and it's spread out nicely but it does have a somewhat unpleasant skunky odor.

This interesting plant with its alien-looking terracotta-colored blooms is Salvia africana-lutea (aka Beach Sage).  I picked up the plant in a sale at my local botanic garden, which features several large specimens of this plant.

Like Salvia africana, this Salvia lanceolata (aka Rocky Mountain Sage) also hails from South Africa.  It has velvety soft gray foliage.

This is a succulent, Senecio fulgens (aka Coral Senecio)

After a hard pruning following its winter bloom cycle, Tagetes lemmonii (aka Copper Canyon Daisy) is back in flower 

Meanwhile, some plants I featured last month are continuing to put on a good show.

Echium webbii still dominates the back garden.  Hummingbirds fight over the plant in the early morning before ceding control over to the bees in the afternoon.

After a light trim, Lantana 'Lucky White' is back in top form

Leptospermum scoparium 'Pink Pearl' has more room to spread now that we took out the guava tree that had been crowding it

Limonium perezii (Sea Lavender) is blooming in earnest now

I cut back Lotus berthelotii 'Amazon Sunset' by at least a third after April's Bloom Day but it's already back to flowering

Osteospermum '4D Silver' could use a trimming too but it continues to pump out flowers

I'll end this post as has been my practice with collages of other flowers currently in bloom in the garden.  I'd like to say this is a complete wrap-up but that wouldn't be entirely true - I've omitted some.  Even I get tired to taking photos of flowers after a while.

Clockwise from the upper left are: Sisyrinchium 'Devon Skies' (new), Campanula portenschlagiana, noID Ceanothus, Aquilegia 'Spring Magic', Consolida ajacis, Euphorbia characias 'Black Pearl', Felicia aethiopica, Geranium 'Tiny Monster', Lavandula stoechas 'Double Anouk', Gomphrena decumbens 'Itsy Bitsy', Osteospermum 'Violet Ice', Polygala fruticosa 'Petite Butterfly', Scabiosa 'Fama Blue', and, in the center, Convolvulus sabatius 'Moroccan Beauty'

Top row: Abutilon 'Talini's Pink', noID Alstroemeria, and Argyranthemum frutescens
Middle row: Cistus 'Grayswood Pink', Cistus 'Sunset', and Hebe 'Wiri Blush'
Bottom row: Pelargonium citroenellum, P. 'Oldbury Duet', and P. peltatum 'Pink Blizzard'

Clockwise from the upper left: Anagallis 'Wildcat Mandarin' (reseeding far from its original location), Cotula lineariloba, Fuchsia 'Gartenmeister Bonstedt', Gaillardia 'Arizona Sun', Graptoveria 'Fred Ives', Grevillea 'Scarlet Sprite', Grevillea 'Superb', Hunnemannia fumariifolia, Lantana camara 'Irene', Lobelia laxiflora, Pelargonium peltatum, Pelargonium 'Tweedle Dee', Ornithogalum dubium, and, in the center, Alstroemeria 'Indian Summer'

Top row: noID white Agapanthus (one of the first to flower this season), Alstroemeria 'Claire', and Argyranthemum frutescens
Middle row: Centranthus ruber 'Albus', Coriandrum sativum, and Digitalis purpurea (with African Blue Basil)
Bottom row: Lagurus ovatus, Myoporum parvifolium, and Orlaya grandiflora (the only bloom since the bunny invasion)

That's it for this month!  For more Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day posts, visit Carol at May Dreams Gardens.

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