Wednesday, April 27, 2016

So, I've been shopping...

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

22 comments:

  1. Wow! That's a lotta plants. And now we both have L. annua "Rosemary Verey". Do you expect your plant to bloom this year? I think it's a biannual, right? I thought mine was big enough to be a second year plant and, thus, ready to bloom, but I'm not so sure. It's been just sitting there...And...SO MANY Eustoma. No complaining, this year, when you have a super-abundance of their flowers for your vases :-)

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    1. I think I would have bought the Lunaria for its foliage along, Emily. Any flowers will be a bonus but, yes, it's my understanding it's a biannual. Hopefully, it'll do well and self-seed.

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  2. That looks like a fun trip up north! I've been relatively restrained so far this year, but I did buy a tree at the Huntington plant sale...

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    1. I wish I'd have made it to the Huntington sale. I hope you'll post a photo of your new tree.

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  3. How frustrating for you that the time to plant means there are so few offerings. I was out at Cistus yesterday and almost bought a Phylica pubescens, it's such a cool plant but of course not hardy for us here. I had no idea there is a confused Callistemon...fingers crossed you get green!!! Oh and yes, of course I've been buying plants, I'm an addict!

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    1. I know I can could on you to be at least as crazy with the plant buying as I am, Loree!

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  4. $400, almost six thousand rand, for one Phylica?

    Faints in shock ...

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    1. That price may have included the large decorative pot the Phylica was in but it was unreasonably expensive! Maybe they really didn't want to sell it but got tired of fielding questions about it's price. In any case, a few years later, I picked up my one-gallon pot for $12 and, all of a sudden, I'm seeing the plant for sale everywhere.

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  5. No shopping trips yet for me. I always enjoy your "haul" posts.

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    1. I really should stop buying plants as the temperatures are warming up and there's probably no more rain coming until fall but it's hard to stop when I still have "vacancies."

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  6. I have bought some plants but mostly during the late winter. Now everything is so full of greenery, I've no idea where all of the pots will be planted. You've made some great purchases and I'm impressed by how quickly you get things in the ground.

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    1. I'm not always good about getting things planted quickly but, this far into our cool season, with heat on the horizon, getting things in the ground asap is a necessity. Now, if I could only get my planting record up-to-date...

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  7. Where are you seeing Phylica for sale?!? I remember that $400 plant. I think as you said they were just tired of people asking to buy it.

    You've made many excellent buys this year. I remember how wonderful the Eustomas were for you last year--I hope you get a repeat performance x 36.

    Full full full sun for that Maireana, okay?

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    1. My local Armstrong had several 1-gallon containers of the Phylica on the last 2 occasions I was there - it didn't seem to be moving but then they didn't have a large plant to show it in all its glory. In addition to Seaside, I vaguely think I saw it at Terra Sol. I also noticed that Annie's has it on their plant list (although it's not currently available).

      Thanks for the heads-up about the Maireana. The tag said full to part sun so I'd been leaning toward the latter but I'll take my search for the perfect placement elsewhere based on your guidance.

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  8. just scored a maireana too after seeing Hoov's lovely specimen. I'm so glad you found a coulter bush since you've got the room to really let it grow. I cut mine back quite a bit and it's struggling. Very intrigued by that Agave stricta rubra -- great plant shopping, Kris!

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    1. You might be less excited by the Agave stricta rubra if you saw it in the garden, Denise. It's really tiny. I have another A. stricta (not the red form) in a large pot and it seems to be a relatively slow grower so I'm wondering how long it'll be before this one has any presence in the garden at all. I probably should pop it into a pot for its own protection during its infancy.

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  9. That's a lot of plants! And again, I would have made the same choices, without exception.

    Phylica pubescens keeps following me wherever I go. It's at the top of my wish list but I have yet to fit a 1-gallon plant. I'm willing to start small!

    I recently bought an Echium webbii at Annie's myself. I have high hopes. And I got my first Eremophila from the Ruth Bancroft Garden. We can compare notes next year!

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    1. The Phylica is in Annie's on-line catalog, Gerhard. It's not shown as available for mail order at the moment but you may want to ask someone about it the next time you're at that nursery. My local Armstrong has been carrying them in a 1-gallon size but I don't know if that chain operates in your area.

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  10. You remind me of my 'plantaholic' years when my gardens were expanding and I had energy to tend them. I've had to seriously cut back the past few years, so I've trained myself not to even stop at nurseries. I do indulge in annuals each year and it was only this weekend that my favorite grower opened. My spouse asked me if I wanted to go, but it is still too early (our frost free date is still weeks away). Maybe next week for Mothers Day I'll go. It'll still be an exercise in restraint! ;-)

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    1. I'm afraid I'm not even close to calling myself a recovering "plantaholic," Eliza. Maybe once my beds fill in, I'll temper off...

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  11. I always love reading about your shopping expeditions Kris; I'm also always envious of the quality of the nurseries around you. As always I love your plant selections and look forward to them thriving in your garden.

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    1. And here I'm always envying the folks in the Pacific Northwest for all the nurseries they have but, you're right Christina, there are a lot of garden centers here too.

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