Friday, November 28, 2014

My favorite plant this week: Yucca 'Bright Star'

After admiring my Yucca 'Bright Star' this morning, as I do pretty much every time I walk through the backyard garden, it occurred to me that I've never featured this plant as one of my favorites.  A terrible omission on my part!  As Loree of danger garden is featuring her, now monthly, favorites feature today, it seemed a good time to rectify the situation.

I put in 3 plants in mid January of this year.  They've grown wider since but not appreciably taller.  At maturity, they're said to get 1-2 feet (30-60 cm) tall and 3-5 feet (1-5 meters) wide.

Yucca 'Bright Star' shortly after they were planted

My 3 'Bright Stars' today

They've always shown some pink - more than I generally see in the plants for sale in the local nurseries and garden centers.  However, the pink color is intensified now.  Could this be a response to the cooler nighttime temperatures?  Despite a few cool days, our daytime temperatures have been stuck in the upper 70s and low 80s (Fahrenheit).

Photo from May 2014

Photo from September 2014

Close-up taken this morning

The history of this plant is interesting.  It was discovered in the UK in 2000 by Albert Timothy Crowther on what was thought to be a Yucca gloriosa and was reproduced through tissue culture.  Although initially sold as a variant of Yucca gloriosa, it's now thought to be related to Yucca recurvifolia, a native of the Southeast United States.

Whatever it's origin, it's perfect for my garden with its low water needs and ability to withstand high summer temperatures.  The raccoons avoid it too, which is an added plus.  According to San Marcos Growers, it's hardy to 0-10F (minus 12 to minus 17C).

Yucca 'Bright Star' is my current favorite and my contribution to Loree's favorites round-up at danger garden.  Earlier favorites featured this month included 2 drought tolerant succulent selections: Echeveria cante (featured on November 20th) and Dyckia Marnier-Lapostellii (featured November 7th).  You can see Loree's favorites wrap-up here.

All material © 2012-2014 by Kris Peterson for Late to the Garden Party

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Am I a plant shopaholic?

The friend I joined on a 6-nursery trek through San Diego County in October and I took another trip last Saturday.  We'd planned to visit 3 or 4 nurseries but only made it to 2, which was entirely my fault.  I spent so long at the first nursery, Seaside Gardens in Carpinteria, we didn't have time to make the other stops we'd planned in Santa Barbara County without sacrificing our plan to swing by Sperling Nursery in Calabasas on the way home.  Still, I managed to fill the trunk and backseat of my friend's car.  In my defense, I do have a lot of area to fill now that our front yard is finally (mostly) ready for planting.  I'll provide an update on the progress my husband and I've made there in the near future but, for now, I thought I'd share the highlights of last Saturday's trip.

I've posted photos of Seaside Gardens before but there's always something new to see.  Half the 3-acre nursery is devoted to a demonstration garden, which is worth a visit all by itself.  I started in the Australian area and meandered through the adjoining South African and Mediterranean areas.

Unspecified variety of Banksia

I'm not a palm aficionado but I stopped in my tracks when I saw this one, which I think must be Bismarckia nobilis

There were several impressive Duranta repens grown as small trees.  This one had a mass of Tagetes lemmonii at its feet.

The garden has a large group of mature Leucadendron, underplanted with Osteospermum

I think most of these were Leucadendron 'Safari Sunset' - who knew they could get that big?

Lomandra longifolia, which I've used extensively in my own garden as a grass substitute

The most beautiful mass planting of Russelia equisetiformis I've ever seen anywhere

Next up was the succulent and desert plants area.

The sun was high in the sky so my photos are over-exposed but the view is still glorious

Aloes were in bloom everywhere - I think this one is A. arborescens

Aloe saponaria

Aloe wickensii

Ponytail palms (Beaucarnea recurvata)?

Cotyledon orbiculata (aka Pig's Ear)

Dasylirion longissimum

A mass planting of Kalanchoe (no ID)

I checked out the grasses too.

I loved this low-growing grass, Tripsacum floridana, but it wasn't available for sale

These tall grasses looked wonderful in the sun

There were also lots of interesting plants for sale, including:

Grevillea 'Little Honey'

Grevillea 'Long John,' which is said to be similar to the smaller G. 'Bonfire' I planted in my garden a few months ago

Grevillea 'Ned Kelly' - mine hasn't yet bloomed

Grevillea 'Robyn Gordon,' which is similar to the G. 'Superb' in my garden

I was very tempted by this Phylica pubescens until I saw the $400 price tag

I was on the look-out for Grevillea 'Peaches and Cream,' which Seaside didn't have; however, I managed to pick up a dozen small succulents and a half-dozen other plants before we left.  After lunch, we drove back south and stopped at another of my favorite nurseries, Sperling, in Calabasas.  I didn't take many photos there - I was too busy plant shopping.  In preparing this post, I discovered that the Sperling property is up for sale, a prospect that I've feared since I heard that the founder had passed away.  I'm very afraid that the 10+ acre property could be sold to a developer, which will be deeply disappointing as this is a truly great nursery.

I did make a quick round of the gift shop, a place I rarely get to when visiting Sperling

If I didn't have my husband hard at work laying paving stones in our front yard, I'd ask him to make me a replica of these wooden deer

And I took note of a new collection of small-sized Agave specimens, 2 of which came home with me

That's it for Saturday's jaunt, which lightened my pocketbook but produced a haul of 35 plants (not including 4 my friend sent home with me).  Since Saturday, I've spent all my free moments planting but still have a lot left to get in the ground ahead of the rain storm forecasters are predicting for early next week.  I'll share photos of some of the new additions soon.

All material © 2012-2014 by Kris Peterson for Late to the Garden Party

Monday, November 24, 2014

In a Vase on Monday: Rose goes along for the ride

As Thursday is Thanksgiving, I thought this week's vase should feature colors evocative of the holiday.  The berries of the Heteromeles arbutifolia are turning bright red so those seemed an obvious choice.  Late last week, I also noticed that the 'Joseph's Coat' climbing rose had a promising bud so I targeted that as well.  When the time came to cut materials for my vase, the rose, buffeted by winds, was already past its prime but I elected to use it anyway.  The berries are the real stars of this week's arrangement.

The vase contains:
  • Abelia x grandiflora 'Kaleidoscope'
  • Gomphrena haageana
  • Heteromeles arbutifolia (aka Toyon), berries
  • Leucadendron 'Wilson's Wonder'
  • Rose 'Joseph's Coat'
  • Tagetes lemmonii

The petals of the Gomphrena dry slowly starting from the base of the flower, taking on a texture like tissue paper

Toyon is the official native plant of the City of Los Angeles - why LA found it necessary to name an official plant I can't explain but at least it garners an oft-overlooked plant some attention

Close up of the bracts of Leucadendron 'Wilson's Wonder,' which redden in winter

My bedraggled 'Joseph's coat rose with one of the few remnants of Tagetes lemmonii

This cheerful vase landed in one of my standard spots across from the front door.

To see other floral and foliage concoctions, visit Cathy at Rambling in the Garden for this week's line up.

All material © 2012-2014 by Kris Peterson for Late to the Garden Party

Thursday, November 20, 2014

My favorite plant this week: Echeveria cante

To avoid walking through the bare soil in the front yard, I've been passing through the north side yard when moving between the front and back gardens.  This takes me by two new Echeveria cante I picked up at the local botanic garden's fall plant sale.  In a semi-shade location along the gravel path that bi-sects the dry garden, their silvery blue-green foliage gleams.

I bought the one on the right during my first pass through the sale.  It's somewhat larger than the one on the left, which I went back for on the second day of the sale.  They should eventually grow to 1 foot (30.5 cm) tall and 1-2 feet wide.  According to on-line sources, they usually remain solitary rosettes, seldom forming pups.  They're generally propagated by seed.

Close-up of the larger Echeveria, surrounded by stones dug out of the garden to protect the plant from the resident raccoons

The second Echeveria was purchased to provide symmetry at the entry to the dry garden.  When the rosemary in the background is in bloom, the succulent nicely mirrors its ice blue flowers. 

The volunteer propagator at the sale warned me (twice) against planting these succulents in the sun.  San Marcos Growers recommends growing them in "cool sun," by which I assume they mean morning sun, or bright shade.  Mine get a touch of sun in the morning and spend the rest of the day in the shade provided by the house's shadow.

The smaller of the 2 Echeverias gets its brief moment in the sun

The blue-green leaves have a whitish coating that gives the plant a celadon color with a blush of lavender.  The plants also have a a pinkish-red edge along the leaf margins.

Like most succulents, the Echeverias have low water needs.  San Marcos Growers claims that the plants, which originate from Mexico, are hardy to at least 25F (minus 3.9C).

The colors of the ocean and the afternoon sky, with its vague promise of rain, nicely mirrored the plants' colors late this afternoon.  

Clouds over the Los Angeles harbor

However, the sunset some 45 minutes later, was distinctly pinker.  Although it's dark now, things are looking brighter - it just started to rain.

View looking east at the harbor just a few minutes after our 4:47pm sunset

All material © 2012-2014 by Kris Peterson for Late to the Garden Party