Fall and winter is absolutely the best time to plant here in coastal Southern California. It's cooler and we get rain - not a lot of rain the last few years but some. Frost is virtually unheard of so that's not a danger to infant plants. The only problem is that many of the plants on one's wish list are unavailable. Nurseries and garden centers find it easier to sell plants when they're in bloom or about to bloom so their fall/winter stock is limited. Many also clear the shelves to make room for Christmas trees and decorations. Mail order nurseries, many of which operate out of colder climes, either close down entirely or carry limited inventory. So, like it or not, plant shopping continues well into spring and often beyond. Early spring usually isn't too bad a time to plant as cooler temperatures persist even as rainfall dries up but our traditional "cool season" has been distinctly less cool the last few years. This year, February was downright hot and we didn't get a drop of rain in what is normally our wettest month. March was better but April has been a mixed bag, offering just a touch of rain, significant heat, and frequent, plant desiccating winds.
Despite the downsides of planting under such conditions, I did quite a bit of plant shopping in late March and April. After taking out the remainder of our lawn last year, I still had a lot of empty ground to cover come spring.
The first big plant shopping expedition in late March with a friend took me north into the counties of Ventura and Santa Barbara. I left without my camera so I've no photos of the three nurseries we visited that day but I'm focused here on my purchases, not the nursery grounds.
First up was Seaside Gardens in Carpenteria.
|This photo was taken in March 2015. You can find other photos of prior visits here.|
My most exciting purchase was Phylica pubescens
. I first saw this plant in 2013, offered in a large pot for $400. This trip I found it in a 1-gallon pot at a reasonable price and snatched it up.
|From left to right: my new Phylica pubescens tucked into a large patio pot; a close-up of its flower; and the $400 plant I first spied in 2013|
Pacing myself, I bought just 3 other plants at Seaside.
|My other purchases at Seaside were a Cistus 'Sunset' and 2 Leucadendron salignum 'Winter Red'|
After lunch, our next stop was Terra Sol in Santa Barbara, where I picked up a few more things.
|This photo of Terra Sol's front entrance was taken in May 2015. You can find other photos taken during a prior visit here.|
|My haul from Terra Sol included, clockwise from the left: Leucadendron 'Jubilee Crown' with Leucospermum 'Brandi', Alstroemeria 'Princess Claire', Echium webii, and Plectranthus ecklonii. The last two plants came to Terra Sol from Annie's Annuals & Perennials, my go-to mail order nursery.|
On our return trip south, we stopped at the Australian Native Plants Nursery in Casitas Springs.
|This photo was taken in March 2015. You can find photos from that prior visit here.|
I was hunting for a green-flowered Callistemon
and I found one - maybe. Callistemon pinifolius
may bloom green, or red. Although my plant was germinated from seed taken from a green-flowered parent, Jo, the nursery owner, explained that the flower color is a crap shoot. I deliberated at length but, as I only get up that way twice a year at best, I brought the plant home. For now, it remains in its nursery pot until it shows its true color.
|Clockwise from top left: Callistemon pinifolius, the tag showing the hoped-for green flower, Eremophila hygrophana, and Kennedia prorepens|
Just a few days after my northern nursery expedition I received a delivery of plants from Annie's Annuals & Perennials.
|The delivery included: Felicia aethopica, Agave gypsophila, Agave stricta rubra, Deschampsia flexuosa and Euphorbia atropurpurea|
Three days after that delivery, I received an order of 36 Eustoma grandiflora
(Lisianthus) plugs I'd placed with Burpee back in December. April was the earliest delivery date I could get.
|With one exception, the plugs were in good shape when they arrived|
|The mix of blue, green and yellow-flowered varieties were planted in the area shown on the left and the mix of pink and white-flowered varieties were planted in the area shown on the right|
Although April's heatwave and wicked winds took a toll on my plant plugs, I'm looking forward to seeing Eustoma
blooms in my garden within the next month or two. A number of last year's plants are poised to make a comeback. It remains to be seen how the Burpee plugs will do as the heat ramps up but I remain hopeful.
|Photos of Eustoma in a variety of colors taken last year|
I barely got all these plants (minus the Callistemon) in the ground before I trotted off to the South Coast Botanic Garden's spring plant sale.
|The Lego exhibit was still going on and I took another photo of the gardener (You can see more photos of this exhibit here)|
My big find at the sale was a Salvia africana lutea
|My new plant is shown on the left. Photos of the botanic garden's plants are shown in the next 2 photos.|
But I also brought a few other things home.
|Clockwise from the left: Aloe vanbalenii x ferox, Aeonium leucoblepharum, Agave 'Kissho Kan', Rhipsalis baccifera, and Veltheimia bracteata|
I was back at the botanic garden the following week for the Cactus & Succulent Society's Show & Sale but I'll cover that event in a future post. I'll end here with the plants I brought home from my most recent trip to Roger's Gardens 2 weeks ago.
|Another view of my cart before I removed that expensive Leucadendron laxum|
|My big find here was a Hymenolepsis parviflora (left), a plant prominently used in The Getty's Central Garden (right)|
|In addition to the Gazanias and Gaillardias shown on my cart, my other purchases included (clockwise from top left): Artemisia californica, Buddleja 'Buzz Purple', Lunaria annua 'Rosemary Verey' and Maireana sediflora|
Other than the Callistemon
and the Maireana sediflora
, which I keep moving about in its nursery pot, everything is planted. I really should stop the plant buying now but I'm not foolish enough to make any promises. What about you? Have you been on any plant shopping binges this spring?
All material © 2012-2016 by Kris Peterson for Late to the Garden Party