Monday, February 20, 2017

In a Vase on Monday: Conjuring Spring

If I were Cathy at Rambling in the Garden, our host for "In a Vase on Monday," my post title would be properly illustrated with a wizard's wand and maybe a top hat.  Unfortunately, I don't have Cathy's wonderful collection of props and, feeling as I do these days, any conjuring I might do would probably involve a voodoo doll or two anyway, but I don't have those on hand either.  However, even if winter rains are expected to continue at least through this week, spring is definitely in the air.   Sunday brought a welcome break between rainstorms, as well as snatches of warm sunshine.  Birds were all over the garden, pecking at the earth in search of worms, splashing in the fountain, squabbling with one another at my feeders, and building new nests under the house eaves.

The feeders are dominated by sparrows and finches but the front yard had a flock of birds I was unable to identify hopping about

I've cleaned out the nesting material crammed behind this light by the back door time and time again.  In spring, it's a useless exercise as the birds just remake the nest all over again the moment my back is turned.

But on to the flowers.  When I prepared my Bloom Day post last week, I completely forgot about the calla lilies flowering on the back slope.  Spurred on by all the rain we've received this season (now officially triple the total amount we received during the entirety of the last season), the lilies look to be starting off a banner year.  I picked an armful of blooms.

Front view, showing the lilies accented with fragrant Freesia flowers, which exploded into bloom last week

A similar back view

Top view, showing how last Friday's heavy rain discolored some of the white blooms

From the left, the vase contains: Zantedeschia aethiopica, noID Freesia, Pyrethropsis (Rhodanthemum) hosmariense, and leaves of the Zantedeschia

The second vase is a simplified version of an arrangement I created 3 weeks ago.  My Alstroemeria have started to bloom and I'd originally planned to go pink this week but, noticing that I had stems of flowering Ceanothus dragging in the mud, I went with a blue and white color scheme instead.

It's hard to say which is the front and which is the back with this vase

View from the other side

The top view is my favorite

Clockwise from the left, this vase contains: Anemone coronaria, noID Ceanothus, scented Matthiola incana, Osteospermum '4D Silver', and white Ranunculus asiaticus

Can you conjure up something from your garden?  If so, join Cathy's cavalcade of vases at Rambling in the Garden!  Here are mine in their places:

All material © 2012-2017 by Kris Peterson for Late to the Garden Party

Friday, February 17, 2017

Foliage Follow-up - Highlights of my Garden Stroll

With what's reputed to be the most powerful storm of the season to hit Los Angeles in the offing, I took a spin through the garden to see if there were any tasks I should take care of before it arrived.  In the process, I took photos of whatever foliage caught my fancy for this month's Foliage Follow-up post, hosted by Pam at Digging.

I started on my neglected back slope, an area easily overlooked because it's largely invisible.  Accessible only by a narrow (and steep) stairway of  concrete blocks hidden behind a hedge, it's easy to ignore and, since the area was severely impacted by a horrific heatwave on the first day of summer last year, spending time down there has been more of a chore than a joy.  Cooler temperatures and the winter rains have done more than my poor ministrations to improve its appearance and there are now quite a few things to smile about.

The Agave attenuata I planted 2 or 3 years ago looked awful this past summer but they're looking great now.  One has even produced 2 pups (not visible in this photo).  The Euphorbia 'Dean's Hybrid' and Pelargonium 'White Lady' I planted have spread nicely.  The noID Iris germanica I moved from elsewhere in the garden look better than any of the Iris I have in the more carefully-tended areas of my garden.  Only the Carpenteria californica here (upper right) still looks terrible.  I pruned it in the hope of giving it a fuller, more pleasing shape.

The lemon tree was badly impacted by June's heatwave, dropping two-thirds of its fruit virtually overnight.  The rest rotted in place until I removed it.  It recovered well with extra watering through the remainder of the summer and the rains have also given it a boost.  It's loaded with immature fruit now.  Below it are some plants I inherited (Zantedeschia aethiopica, which die back each summer but return with our winter rains), others that moved in on their own (Centranthus ruber), and some I planted (Seslaria 'Greenlee's Hybrid' and Stachys byzantina).

Beyond the lemon tree, closer to the property line, there are more Calla lilies, some just beginning to flower; more self-planted Centranthus; a Romneya coulteri (aka Matilija poppy) I planted last year (upper left), which is fleshing out nicely after the haircut I gave it several weeks ago; and lots of California poppy (Eschscholzia californica) seedlings.  I bemoaned my inability to grow California poppies in a post a month or two ago but the rains have finally germinated some of the seeds I spread in this area so I may get a crop after all.  The raccoons like to dig here so  production is still lower than I'd like but it's a start.

Other foliage highlights on the slope include the almost florescent green moss I've shown before (which I guess isn't really foliage but I hope you'll humor me); an artichoke, which also dies down to the ground in summer but returns annually during our rainy season; and a close-up of some of my lovely poppy seedlings

Heading back up the stairs from the bottom of the slope brings me to my dry garden.  Just a couple of things grabbed my attention there.

Coprosma repens 'Plum Hussey', the first one I planted and still the largest and most robust, now about 5 feet tall

Two of my many succulent pots.  The one on the left with Agave titanota 'White Ice' as its centerpiece was recently spruced up with the addition of Graptoveria 'Fred Ives'.  The one on the right is newly planted with Sansevieria parva and noID succulents that appear to be some form of variegated Kalanchoe.

The front garden contains a lot of foliage plants but most of them have received plenty of attention in prior foliage posts.  However, two vignettes drew my attention on my pass through.

Phormium 'Maori Queen' enveloped by Euphorbia characias 'Black Pearl' 

The same Phormium viewed from the other side of the bed with Corokia x virgata 'Sunsplash' to the left

Moving down the dirt path that runs parallel to the street behind a Xylosma hedge to an area below the main section of the front garden, I spent a good half hour pulling seedlings of yet another of my hedges, which consists of Prunus laurocerasus (not shown).  While doing this I discovered a mystery vine, which has clearly sprouted and been encouraged to spread by all the rain we've received this season.

I wondered if it could be a passionflower vine but the way it's spreading (as shown on the right scrambling up the oleanders that run the length of my neighbor's driveway), I fear it could be a morning glory.  In my former garden, I learned the hard way how difficult it is to manage a morning glory growing in the ground.  Any guesses?  The leaves are smooth, not pleated.

Back up on the main level of the garden in the backyard, the Xylosma congestum hedge is still the most compelling foliage feature but I already gave that its due in last week's Wednesday Vignette (which you can see here).  However, there were a few more foliage plants that drew my eye.

Leucadendron 'Jester' with Melianthus major, which a cut back to the ground a few weeks ago

A noID succulent (perhaps a Crassula?) in a deep red color

Pseuderanthemum 'Texas Tri-star', which looks best growing up through another plant (like Ageratum corymbosum here), which hides its bare legs

That's it for my foliage highlights this month.  Visit Pam at Digging for more.

All material © 2012-2017 by Kris Peterson for Late to the Garden Party

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Bloom Day - February 2017

Here in the frost-free area of coastal Southern California the lines between winter and spring can be fuzzy.  Winter is our rainy season and, since December, we've had a lot of it - not as much as Northern California but much, much more than we'd come to expect after 5 years of drought.  Although temperatures ventured into the mid-70sF this week, more rain is expected beginning Thursday night and continuing through the weekend.  In fact, if we get the 4 to 5 inches that some forecasters are predicting from the coming storm, my tally for this location shows that our rain total for the season-to-date will be triple (!!!) what we accumulated during the entire October 2015-September 2016 season, and the long-range forecasts show the chance of still more rain at intervals into April.

So, if rain signifies winter, then it appears this is still winter but those of you in colder climates might not draw that conclusion from a look at what I've got blooming this month.  I'll start off with a look at the genera packing the biggest floral punch right now.

First, there are the African daisies, Arctotis and Osteospermum.

On the left is Arctotis 'Pink Sugar' and on the right is A. 'Opera Pink'

Clockwise from the left are Osteospermum '4DSilver', a noID Osteospermum that's planted itself in several areas of my garden, what may be a mutated form of O. 'Berry White', O. 'Violet Ice', and O. 'Summertime Sweet Kardinal'

Next up are the Grevilleas.  While some flower year-round, others have a more restricted bloom period.

Grevillea lavandulacea 'Penola' blooms mainly during the winter here.  While the shrub shown here is tied to the fence, another, larger specimen nearby has been listing badly since the January rains.  I'm not sure I have any chance of straightening it out.

Two somewhat smaller shrubs that bloom for just a portion of the year are: Grevillea rosmarinifolia x alpina (left) and G. 'Scarlet Sprite' (right)

The ever-blooming category includes the large-flowered Grevillea 'Peaches & Cream'

And Grevillea 'Superb', an even more profuse bloomer in my garden

Beyond the plants in these genera, there are a few others making bold statements right now.

Calliandra haematocephala (aka Pink Powder Puff)

Several of the Leucadendron have winter "blooms."  This one, L. 'Summer Red', is relatively new to my garden but still putting on a good late winter show.

All my rosemary are blooming but I'm a little in love with this one, Rosmarinus 'Gold Dust'

A variety of bulbs have also begun their bloom cycles.

Clockwise from the upper left: Freesia, Alstroemeria 'Inca Husky', Anemone coronaria, Ipheion uniflorum, the first daffodil bloom (noID), and Sparaxis tricolor

No, that's not it.  With Bloom Day coming on the heels of Valentine's Day, it was hard to miss all the pink and red flowers the garden has to offer.

Clockwise from upper left: Cuphea hybrid 'Starfire Pink', Aechmea fasciata, Argyranthemum frutescens, Camellia williamsii 'Taylor's Perfection', Coleonema pulchellum 'Sunset Gold', Crassula 'Springtime', Lathyrus odoratus (the first sweet pea blooms!), Leptospermum scoparium 'Pink Pearl', Rosa chinensis 'Mutabilis', and noID Viola

Red flowers include, clockwise from the left: Leucadendron salignum 'Chief', L. 'Wilson's Wonder', Gaillardia aristata 'Gallo Red', Mimulus 'Jelly Bean Red', and Ranunculus asiaticus

And, as I can't bring myself to overlook what's flowering in other colors, here are two more collages to capture the rest.

Blue and purple blooms include, from upper left: Tibouchina lepidota (new!), Felicia aethipica, Gomphrena decumbens 'Itsy Bitsy', Lavandula multifida, Limonium perezii, and Matthiola incana

And the rest, from the upper left: Pyrus calleryana, a perfectly mounded Argyranthemum frutescens, a self-seeded Gazania in clear yellow, noID Narcissus, Papaver nudicaule, Ranunculus asiaticus, Rhodanthemum hosmariense, and the first Nasturium (Tropaeolum majus)

I thought the current floral explosion might be attributable to all the rain we've had but, looking back at last year's February post, I found there's not really much difference.  It'll be interesting to see if the rain makes a difference in the floral output in subsequent months.  That's it for me.  Visit Carol at May Dreams Gardens to see what's blooming in her garden and other parts of the world.

All material © 2012-2017 by Kris Peterson for Late to the Garden Party

Monday, February 13, 2017

In a Vase on Monday: Valentine's Day Blooms

There's a healthy supply of red and pink flowers in my garden at the moment and, in celebration of Valentine's Day tomorrow, I took advantage of them to create today's arrangements for "In a Vase on Monday."  (Yes, there are two.)  I was particularly happy with the first arrangement.

It's hard to believe that I avoided red in my former tiny garden, feeling that it overwhelmed the space.  There are plenty of flowers and foliage in that color in my current garden.

Back view

Top view

Clockwise from the upper left, the vase contains: Grevillea lavandulacea 'Penola', Calliandra haematocephala (bloom), Calliandra (flower buds), Coprosma repens 'Fireburst', and red and white Ranunculus asiaticus.  The blooms of the Calliandra (aka Pink Powder Puff) don't last long either in a vase on on the plant but the tight flower buds are also attractive.

I used another new vase.  You may note that it looks similar to the one I used a couple of weeks ago.  The garden center at which I purchased the earlier vase had 3 versions with the same shape but complementary designs.  Well, as I had lunch planned with a friend and as he lives in Orange County, I offered to meet him down that way and, having a little free time prior to our appointment, I paid another visit to the garden center, leaving with the other 2 vases.  Serendipity!

This version of the urn-shaped vase has more ivory color in its surface design

My second vase is simpler.

The narrow throat of this vase limits how much I can stuff into it, which in my case is a good thing

Top view

Clockwise from the left, this vase contains: Pseuderanthemum 'Texas Tri-star', Argyranthemum frutescens, Coriandrum sativum, noID Dianthus, and the first Lathyrus odoratus (sweet peas), blooming in pink for the holiday

The house no longer feels right without a vase on the dining table and another in the front entry and that's where this week's vases landed.

After snapping my photo of the arrangement on the left, I noticed that the Anthurium on the credenza behind the arrangement is sporting heart-shaped leaves - how appropriate!

Visit Cathy at Rambling in the Garden for more vases.  Happy Valentine's Day to all my favorite amateur florists and IaVoM participants!

All material © 2012-2017 by Kris Peterson for Late to the Garden Party

Friday, February 10, 2017

Spring's Promise

It's raining again this afternoon and there's more rain predicted for late next week.  The long-range forecasts suggest that rain may continue at intervals through April, which, after 5 years of drought, is almost hard to get my head around.  As rain is synonymous with winter here, that suggests a delay in spring's arrival but there's already evidence that spring isn't going to let a little rain get in the way.  Right on schedule, our local harbinger of spring, the ornamental pear trees (Pyrus calleryana) dotting public and private spaces throughout the region, are bursting into bloom, a fact I couldn't miss when I took a peek at my back slope yesterday afternoon.

The ivy and Pittosporum tenuifolium 'Silver Magic' in the foreground mark the border between our property and that of our neighbor.  The ornamental pear trees festooned in white blooms are on the neighbor's property, providing a pretty screen.

These are messy trees but I can enjoy those on my neighbor's property without any problem.  However, I did inherit one of my own with the house and garden.  Its mess has been manageable in prior years but, despite a good pruning in early December, its litter habit has been a lot harder to deal with this year.

Our Pyrus calleryana failed to provide much in terms of foliage color this year and never dropped all its leaves but it's started its annual bloom cycle right on schedule, as indicated by my February 11, 2016 post

Perhaps all the rain we had beginning in December caused the tree to develop more or larger fruit.  Or perhaps the heavy January rains just brought more of the fruit down at one time.  You can see how it's stained the flagstones.  Keeping the fruit cleaned up (and preventing it from being tracked into the house) has become an almost daily exercise.

But the flowers on the ornamental pear aren't the only sign that spring is on the way.  Narcissi have been in bloom for a few weeks and other bulbs are now joining the chorus.

The noID Narcissi planted outside the dining and living room windows are almost bloomed out but they're still in bloom elsewhere in the garden

The first Alstroemeria flowers are just beginning to open

This and 2 other Anemone coronaria were purchased recently but the foliage of tubers planted in prior years have popped up too

Freesia foliage is everywhere but the buds on this yellow variety should be ready to release their wonderful fragrance within days

Other plants are also poised to bloom any minute.

From left to right: self-seeded borage (Borago officinalis), Echium handiense, and Veltheimia bracteata

In addition, Crassula 'Springtime' is in bloom.  Can there be any better proof that spring is in the air?

Well, how about the first sweet pea blooms?

Apparently, this pink sweet pea didn't want to miss out on Valentine's Day

All material © 2012-2017 by Kris Peterson for Late to the Garden Party