Saturday, February 28, 2015

My favorite plant this week: Bryophyllum manginii

This week, perhaps due to our partially cloudy skies, my eyes were drawn to the most vivid colors in the garden.  In selecting a plant as my favorite of the week to link to Loree's monthly favorites wrap-up at danger garden, I debated a few possibilities, including Callistemon 'Hot Pink' and Calliandra haematocephala.

Callistemon 'Hot Pink" has only been in my garden about 6 weeks and this is its first flower so I decided it deserves more time to reach its potential

Calliandra haematocephala has already received a lot of attention in this blog so I decided to direct my attention elsewhere for this post

I settled on Bryophyllum manginii, one of the relatively few plants I picked up during a visit to Roger's Gardens with friends last week.

Bryophyllum manginii sitting on my backyard patio

I remember being tempted by this plant last year and, as it was on "special" when I visited Roger's, how could I pass it up?  I even stopped by my local garden center last week and purchased a Talavera-style pot to put it in.  Although priced well below Talavera norms, the pot still cost more than three times the amount of the plant but so be it.  It needed that pot.

The plant was labeled as Kalanchoe manganii 'Bette's Red Bells,' but it appears that it's now classified as Bryophyllum manginii, although Kalanchoe manginii is listed as a synonym on The Plant List.  One of its common names is chandelier plant, which is a fitting description of its arching flower stems.

The evergreen succulent foliage isn't particularly distinctive.

However, the salmon-red, bell-shaped flowers are very pretty, reminding me of those borne by Phygelius.

The plant is native to Madagascar and is very tender.  On-line sources indicate that its best kept at temperatures above 50 to 55F (10 to 12C), which means that I need to exercise care with it even here.  Although the plant was shown in full sun and the tag recommended full to partial sun, other sources reference partial shade.  As long as our temperatures remain cool, I'll leave it where it sits on the backyard patio in full sun but, if it becomes stressed or the temperatures jump back up into the mid-80sF, I'll move it to the side yard patio, which gets just morning sun.

This pretty, tender Bryophyllum manginii is my favorite plant this week.  You can see last week's favorite, Gaillardia aristata 'Gallo Peach,' in my Bloom Day Postscript.  It's still blooming its heart out in one of my backyard borders.

Gaillardia aristata 'Gallo Peach' line the front of this bed along the backyard patio

Visit Loree at danger garden to find her favorite plants wrap-up for February and links to other gardeners favorite plant picks.

All material © 2012-2015 by Kris Peterson for Late to the Garden Party

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Succulents & Daffodils

Two friends and I made a trip to Roger's Gardens last Saturday.  Two very different displays caught my attention near the entrance.

The first was the installation of a new succulent display garden.  It's another indication of Roger's commitment to a California-friendly plant palette.  The bed was too large to photograph in one wide shot (at least in the presence of customer traffic) so I took multiple shots walking around the circular space.

What's your reaction to the layout?  Although I generally prefer naturalistic plant arrangements, I liked the circular and paisley patterns in this bed.  I also liked the use of rocks of varying size, combined in places with smaller gravel.  Although the display is made up of good-sized specimens, I admit that it probably isn't sustainable in the long-term as some of those succulents will get larger still in time but my guess is that it's not meant to remain in place more than 6 months at most.

The other display was a daffodil exhibition.  I love daffodils, in part because most come in my favorite color, yellow, but also because they're an emblem of spring.  I don't have much of a collection myself and I'm not well-versed in their culture but it was fun to have a look at the range of variation among them.

Some of my favorites, clockwise from the left (assuming that I got the names right): 'Karigal', 'Pacific Rim', 'Falstaff', 'Early Dawn', 'Innovator', 'Butter n' Eggs', and Pima

Surprising myself as much as my friends, I didn't buy much on this trip.  Anticipating the pending upheaval associated with taking out a tree in the backyard and cutting back 9 other trees in response to a neighbor's complaint about my garden's obstruction of her view (as previously discussed here), I've felt frozen in place with respect to work in my garden.  Hopefully, after the work is complete on March 7th, I'll be able to refocus on my own plans for the garden.

All material © 2012-2015 by Kris Peterson for Late to the Garden Party

Monday, February 23, 2015

In a Vase on Monday: A Fight for Dominance

If you've read my last Bloom Day posts, you may realize that I've become obsessed with Grevilleas.  As Grevillea 'Superb' recently bloomed, it seemed a good choice as the centerpiece of this week's vase, prepared in connection with the meme hosted by Cathy at Rambling in the Garden.  (I still can't bring myself to cut the flowers of G. 'Peaches and Cream' but 'Superb' is tucked further out of sight so a vase is a good way to increase my viewing opportunities.)  'Superb's' blooms are very bright and I picked equally bright companions, setting up an unanticipated struggle for dominance as the vase's focal point.

Front view

Back view

Here's what's included:

  • Alstroemeria, pink (noID)
  • Freesia, yellow
  • Gaillardia aristata 'Gallo Peach'
  • Grevillea 'Superb' 
  • Pelargonium x hortorum 'Mrs. Pollock'
  • Xylosma congestum

The deep yellow Freesia are blooming like gangbusters and sweetly scent the room when included in a vase

The Gaillardia would probably outshine the competition if their stems were longer (and the Freesia hadn't partially hidden them)

Even if the Grevillea isn't quite as bright as some of the other blooms, the bloom has a more complex and interesting form

The Pelargonium's foliage is attractive on its own

But the Pelargonium also produces an almost florescent orange flower (I usually remove the flowers but I couldn't bring myself to do so this time)

New Xylosma foliage, cut from the hedge that surrounds our home, is the most demure element in today's vase

Which flower do you think steals the show in today's vase?  The vase landed in the front entry.  Last week's orchid vase still sits on the dining room table, looking little different than it did last week.

The Leptospermum and Coleonema in last week's vase have deteriorated somewhat but not the Cymbidiums!

Visit Cathy at Rambling in the Garden to see what she's put in a vase this week and to find links to the creations of other participating gardeners.

All material © 2012-2015 by Kris Peterson for Late to the Garden Party

Friday, February 20, 2015

Bloom Day Postscript OR Spring Refuses to Take its Time

It never fails that, as soon as I publish my Bloom Day post, I find flowers I somehow missed.  Or, just as frequently, flowers bloom a day or two after the middle of the month.  The number of "misses" is particularly high this month.  The flowers seem to be virtually knocking down the garden gate.  Perhaps this is a response to the spate of unseasonably warm weather we had in the days leading up to Bloom Day - our cool season flowers want their time in the limelight before hot weather gains a foothold here and they have to creep back under cover to prevent themselves from frying.

Here's a taste of what has popped up since I prepared my Bloom Day post:

Okay, maybe I just missed this Argyranthemum frutescens 'Madeira Red' in a pot at the bottom of the slope

But how could I have missed Camellia 'Taylor's Perfection'?  I've been waiting since late December for its blooms to open.

Just a couple of days ago, in a comment on another blog, I said I'd seen no sign of flowers or leaves on our Cercis occidentalis, then I walk thorough the garden the next morning and see this

Perhaps I can be excused for missing the small pale flowers opening on this Cistus x skanbergii

And these equally pale, small-sized noID daffodils, nearly hidden beside Stipa tenuissima

I didn't include Gaillardia aristata 'Gallo Peach' in my Bloom Day post because there were only one or 2 flowers showing then but now there are dozens of blooms and buds.  This Gaillardia, which has shown itself to be much more vibrant than G. 'Mesa Peach' is my favorite plant this week.

Yes, I featured Gazania 'New Day Yellow' in January's post but it deserves another showing.  This particular bloom is more than 4 inches in diameter - it's screaming for attention!

Even Graptopetalum paraguayense is blooming

I'd noticed buds on Grevillea 'Superb' when I was taking my Bloom Day photos but the first of these has now opened

Hebe 'Patty's Purple' isn't flashy and I guess I just missed the fact that it had started blooming again

The tiny flowers of Ipheion uniflorum are easily missed

Limonium perezii never gets the respect it deserves

But how did I miss the blooms on this Phalaeonopsis that sits on my own desk?

To be honest, I took several pictures of this Philotheca myoporoides 'Profusion', a relatively new acquisition, for the Bloom Day post - the plant wasn't nearly as photogenic in full sun as it is under the cover of a marine layer

Phlomis fruticosa has just produced its first tentative blooms

There are a LOT of buds as well.  Two more Grevillea, 'Ned Kelly' and 'Bonfire', are developing buds, as is my new 'Hot Pink' Callistemon.  There are even buds on my sweet peas.  However, my guess is that the next plant to burst into bloom will be the Ageratum corymbosum - it's close, I think.

The buds on this Ageratum began forming in early January

I think spring is here.

(My apologies - and sympathy - to those experiencing dreadful weather elsewhere.  I hope you understand that spring needs to be celebrated when it makes its appearance.  That happens on a different schedule for all of us.  Your time will come!)

All material © 2012-2015 by Kris Peterson for Late to the Garden Party