Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Bloom Day - September 2015

It's been hot here - very, very hot.  Monsoonal rain to the east of us raised our humidity levels, adding to the heat's misery.  My mother took me to a sauna once when I was a child as an introduction to my Finnish ancestry and for days I've been reminded of walking into that sauna every time I stepped outside.  I have not enjoyed it.

What I found in bloom when I scurried through the garden this weekend looks much the same as last month's inventory, only there's less of it.  The plants making the biggest impact are pretty much the same.

Pennisetum advena 'Rubrum' is still the star of my late summer garden

The Eustoma grandiflorum (aka Lisianthus) continues to impress.  The white form is taking a time-out but the yellow and blue forms have returned on a small-scale.  However, the 'Echo Pink' cultivar, planted from 6-packs in early May, is putting on a great show.

Gaillardia 'Arizona Sun' and Agastache 'Sunset' are looking less vigorous but still provide a good deal of color in the front garden


During a lull between heatwaves, I jumped the gun on fall planting and installed a few new plants.  I donated much of what I had left in my rain collection tanks to sustaining them during the latest heatwave.

Clockwise from top left the new plants include: Angelonia 'Archangel Raspberry', Celosia argentea 'Intenz', Euphorbia 'Breathless White' and Grevillea 'Pink Midget'


Not a flower but a remnant of a flower, the immature seedpods on the Magnolia grandiflora are as eye-catching as any bloom I've currently got:

While I've collected the dried seedpods in years past, I haven't noticed how brightly colored the pods are before they dry, exposing the bright red seeds


Two of the indoor plants in my home office surprised me with another bloom cycle.

Left to right: Hoya multiflora (aka Shooting Stars Hoya) and Miltassia shelob 'Tolkien'


As to the rest of the garden, here's what the garden still has to offer if you look hard enough:

Blue & purple flowers, clockwise from upper left: Tulbaghia violacea, Campanula primulifolia, Duranta erecta 'Sapphire Showers', Plectranthus zuluensis, Salvia 'Mesa Azure' and Salvia 'Mystic Spires'

White flowers, clockwise from upper left: Abelia 'Radiance', Crassula (no ID), Gaura lindheimeri and Gazania 'White Flame'

Yellow & orange flowers, top row: Aloe 'Rooikappie', Bulbine frutescens 'Hallmark', and Dahlia 'XXL Hidalgo'
Middle row: Gaillardia aristata 'Gallo Peach', Gazania 'Yellow Flame' and Grevillea 'Superb'
Bottom row: Leonotis leonurus, Portulaca umbraticola and 'Buttercream' rose

Pink & red flowers, top row: Bauhinia x blakeana, Bougainvillea (no ID) and Gomphrena decumbens 'Itsy Bitsy'
Middle row: Gaillardia 'Arizona Sun', Helianthus annuus and Pelargonium peltatum 'Burgundy'
Bottom row: Pelargonium peltatum 'Pink Blizzard', Pentas 'Nova' and Salvia lanceolata


I've been blaming the heat and dry conditions for the speed at which the flowers in my garden have been disappearing but I discovered another explanation this past weekend.

I caught sight of a squirrel hanging out in the flower bed alongside the backyard fountain.  He was eating something but what?  Upon investigation, I discovered that he's developed a taste for Gazanias.  There's evidence that he and his brethren are chowing down on Gazanias throughout the garden.

Daytime temperatures dropped below 90F (32C) at last on Sunday and Monday was the first day in a week we didn't turn on the air conditioner.  I woke up early this morning to rain - 0.35 inches (9mm) of rain so far.  Things are looking up.

Visit Carol at May Dreams Gardens, the host of Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day, to see what other gardeners have going on.


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

31 comments:

  1. Given your weather your garden looks good. That Magnolia pod is a stunner. As a Wisconsinite I had a good laugh at your Finnish sauna story.

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    1. My father's family (Swedes) came from Wisconsin but my mother came from Finnish stock settled in NY. I'm trying to remember where the sauna experience occurred - I think it was actually in northern California, believe it or not, at the home of Finns who were surrogate family. I still remember those heated rocks and the suffocating steam. I was probably 7 or 8.

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  2. Every year I say I'm going to plant Celosia...next year, I'm going to...and I think I'll plant that one!

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    1. I planted that same Celosia in 2013, Scott, and it hung on into the next year but I didn't plant it last year. I did test fate in planting it in September this year, especially as there's still a danger of heatwaves (although, in SoCal, that danger now seems to be perpetual) but regular infusions of rainwater from the supply on hand got us through - and, today, it rained!

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  3. Oh No! The squirrels have discovered how tasty the Gazania flowers are! I tried growing them in Massachusetts, but woodchucks and bunnies would just mow them down. You seem to still have plenty of flowers. It seems like I must have lots when I photograph them, but in truth, when I'm out there in my own garden, it's underwhelming.

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    1. I knew something was up when I noticed that those big Gazania flowers from the 'Sunbather' series were disappearing but I blamed the raccoons because, well, I always blame the raccoons. The squirrels usually focus on raiding the birdfeeders and the fruit trees so I was surprised to see one hanging out in the flowers beds.

      I know what you feel about stepping into the garden and finding it underwhelming. I have a lot of pictures of flowers but, in truth, there are few flowers of any one variety at the moment to make a splash - with the exception of those pink Eustoma. I think we're both probably unrealistic in setting our expectations by spring conditions.

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  4. Glad to see so many Grevillea blooms mixed in there!

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    1. I haven't even tried to count the Grevillea in my garden now, Loree - I think they've surpassed Leucadendrons as my favorite Australian genus. When I saw your post, I went and checked on the 'Peaches & Cream' in my front garden and found that one bud is just now unfurling - it missed the September Bloom Day hit parade though.

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  5. I am always in awe of the variety of blooms you have. Al the colors of the rainbow. Happy Bloom day.

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    1. Given that my garden doesn't feel that floriferous right now, Jenny, even I'm surprised by the number of flowers I find when I really make an effort. The difference between early spring and late summer is more in the quantity of blooms than the variety I guess.

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  6. The squirrel photo is excellent (the damage, and its new found taste, less so). You can always tell that its dry when animals start to eat unusual things. I love the agastache/gaillardia combo. It appears I've lost a few agastaches (as well as salvias) this last winter, so they are probably better for drought than cold!

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    1. I admit that I felt a bit bad when I realized that the squirrels are eating the Gazanias, Matt, not only because I was losing out on the enjoyment of the flowers but also because I felt that I'd failed my "contract" with the squirrels. They usually treat the birdfeeders as their cafe of choice but I hadn't filled my feeders for quite awhile, partly because the squirrels consume as much or more of the seed than the birds. I'm my own worst enemy when it comes to the backyard critters.

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  7. I can't blame you for being tired of the heat (and now humidity). Hopefully you're getting some rain. The sky here in Davis is dark and ominous-looking on Tuesday evening. It would be great to get rain to wash all that dirt away.

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    1. We did get some rain, Gerhard - 0.78 inches to be exact! My rain collection tanks aren't full but I estimate that I now have 200 gallons of rainwater I didn't have yesterday. I hope some of the rain that appears to have drifted out of here reaches up your way - I expect it would help clean up the air as well as the dirt.

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  8. Your Eustoma grandiflorum are spectacular! I must look for them next spring. Magnolia seed heads are really cool. So the sauna thing - perhaps you should garden naked. It would give your tree hating neighbor a reason to think you were a bit insane and perhaps she'd stop bugging you about her view being blocked. Darned squirrels. Maybe you should feed them something nice like peanut butter laced with cyanide. Come to think of it, your raccoons would probably also appreciate a snack.

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    1. I have a 68 year old neighbor that gardens in an itsy-bitsy bikini and, although she's got a remarkably good body for her age, it's still a little jarring so I think I'll pass on the garden naked suggestion (although upsetting you-know-who up the street might just about make it worthwhile). As it was, I was wandering around the garden in a bathrobe at 5am this morning filling buckets with rainwater - if anyone saw me, I suspect they already think I'm crazy.

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  9. Well, I'm still giggling from reading Peter's comment... Your sauna story brought back childhood memories. I could only handle sitting on the lower bench for a few minutes, whereas the grownups handled the higher levels for extended periods. I always ran out of there, half-choking, before anyone else was ready to. I'm so glad you got some rain, and that you planted yourself one of those Celosias. I hope it brightens you days for months to come! :)

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    1. At least my sauna experience didn't involve jumping into a snowbank or an ice-cold lake immediately afterwards. Why do Scandinavians do these things to small children?! I've clearly been scarred for life.

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  10. I need to remember to dig out the Eustoma seeds from the fridge to sow them in time for next spring. Hopefully they've still got a decent germination rate. You always have such a wonderful variety of flowers, but as someone with a very young, very empty garden, I understand that the view in real-life may not seem as impressive to you. I tend to focus in on details anyway, so it usually doesn't bother me that much in my own garden. My Hoya multiflora threw a small fit when I moved it from the greenhouse back to the house and dropped the tiny buds that were developing. But it already has the next flush forming. I love that plant.

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    1. I inherited a relatively mature garden, Evan, but many of the areas shown in my photos have been created within the last 3 years - we've owned the house/garden less than 5 years. Although only 15 miles from my old garden, a tiny plot, the prevailing temperatures and other weather conditions are very different here so I still consider myself low on the learning curve.

      I love that Hoya! I killed my first one by trying to grow it outside. It's much happier in the house. I hope yours settles into its new position and flowers well.

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    2. That just makes your garden even more impressive. It already looks so full. You've really been hard at work these last few years. I spent most of the last seven years away from home and my parents didn't really do much to develop the garden while I was away. Various issues got in the way during the last three years that they had to deal with instead of more pleasant pursuits, so I'm really trying to get the initial hard work done now that I'm close to home.

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  11. Your garden has so many more flowers than mine, Kris, despite your weather being even hotter! We've had rain at the weekend and again now this morning the clouds just opened. It is always difficult for me to pick favourites from your blooms but the Eustomas are gorgeous.

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    1. I'm addicted to those Eustomas, Christina. They may not be as drought tolerant as succulents but they handle the conditions here better than many plants plastered with that label.

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  12. This is one advantage of blogging... I was having a similar reaction to yours, seeing so few blooms and those I did see looking tired, at that. Then I went back and checked what the same spots looked like this time last year, and again what they looked like a month from now. All it takes is a little rain and some slightly cooler temperatures and a lot of what has hung in there will rise AND shine. There's hope, by golly!

    I have one measly Agastache plant - I'd coveted it after seeing it elsewhere but it isn't getting enough sun and is leeeeaning out towards the light with maybe 2-3 tiny flowers. After all the hand watering and fussing over it I feel completely underwhelmed with it and a bit foolish to have lavished attention on it with so little payoff. I have plans to transplant it out into more sun but if it dies as a result (which I anticipate, frankly) I won't shed a tear. I'm concentrating my efforts on plants that will work with me! I keep thinking about that phrase from the long-cancelled show and hearing in my head "Agastache - you ARE the weakest link!".

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    1. All Agastache aren't created equal (with respect to heat and drought tolerance), Deb. I've lost others and, even in the case of 'Sunset', 1 of the 3 plants is struggling. Cutting them back by half soon after planting improved their vigor. I also think they need room to breathe - the one that's struggling most in my front garden was being crowded by other plants (until it cut some of these back this week). Do you remember how I crowed about A. 'Summer Glow'? One of the 2 plants I bought died in no time once the second or third heatwave came around (in an area hard on a lot of plants) but I discovered that the second is alive and well and preparing for another bloom cycle. So, I say, if one species or cultivar didn't work, try another or try planting in another spot!

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  13. You have a beautiful garden!

    Thanks for sharing this post and giving me the idea to also participate!

    I just started a new blog last week about gardening and crafting. You are always welcome visit if you want.

    Greetings, Sofie
    http://sofies-succulent-beads.blogspot.be/2015/09/garden-bloggers-bloom-day-september-2015.html

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  14. You still have lots of flowers despite the weather--that's something anyway. Sauna, indeed.

    Blankety-blank squirrels.

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    1. I've always had a tolerant view of the squirrels here - until now.

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  15. Your houseplant collection is truly exotic! And obviously healthy too.
    But then so is the garden, it's looking amazing given the conditions.
    Loved Peter's suggestion of the peanut butter with added extras. Mice like peanut butter too :)

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    1. Somehow, Jessica, as annoyed as I am with the squirrels (not to speak of the raccoons!), I don't think I can bring myself to do them in. My goal is to dissuade or redirect them. I know - I'm weak.

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