Monday, June 27, 2016

In a Vase on Monday: Heat Hardy Survivors

Last week's heatwave proved to be much worse than anticipated in our area.  Our temperature reached 105F (40C) on Monday afternoon.  I can't recall a temperature that high since we moved here and, coming on the heels of unusually cool conditions in May and early June, many plants just couldn't adapt.  I don't think I've ever lost so many plants virtually overnight.  The heatwave was a reminder that drought tolerant doesn't mean heat tolerant.  Some plants died immediately, others were scarred and, as I've heard can be true of winter freezes, the damage took days to show in other cases.  It was a scary start to what forecasters have predicted may be a particularly difficult summer, especially with the simultaneous arrival of aggressive wildfires in California and throughout the Southwest.  Luckily for us along the coast, the marine layer returned last Tuesday, bringing our temperatures back down; however, they're already on the rise again.  So, paraphrasing Bette Davis: fasten your seatbelts, it's going to be a bumpy summer!

Many flowers retreated when the heat struck but I have some heat tolerant survivors.  My Grevillea in particular took the beating in stride with just a bit of burnt foliage.

Front view

This back view is somewhat nondescript but does highlight the graceful foliage of Agonis flexuosa 'Nana'

Top view


As you can see, I was able to find some heat tolerant companions for the Grevillea.

Clockwise from the far left, the vase contains: Grevillea 'Superb', Achillea millefolium 'Apple Blossom', Agonis flexuosa 'Nana', Bulbine frutescens 'Hallmark', Gaillardia aristata 'Gallo Peach', Gaillardia grandiflora 'Arizona Sun', and Jacobaea maritima


Most of the Eustoma in bud or bloom also survived the heat, although some of the foliage got toasted.  I noticed that the plants installed last year have far thicker and more succulent leaves and stems than any of the plants installed as plugs this spring, which presumably gave them greater resilience.

Front view

Back view

Top view

From the left, the vase contains: Eustoma grandiflorum (aka Lisianthus) , Heteromeles arbutifolia (a California native commonly known as Toyon, this is the official native plant of Los Angeles County), Coleonema pulchellum 'Sunset Gold' (shown here with Gomphrena 'Itsy Bitsy') and Leucadendron salignum 'Chief'


I've still got Agapanthus in bloom but couldn't find inspiration for any new pairings there.  The dead sweet peas plants went into my green bins but I planted Zinnia plugs in their place.  Zinnias are heat tolerant, if not especially drought tolerant, so I hope they'll provide new options in future weeks.  In the meantime, visit Cathy at Rambling in the Garden, our illustrious "In a Vase on Monday" hostess, to find other floral and foliage creations.


All material © 2012-2016 by Kris Peterson for Late to the Garden Party

39 comments:

  1. That's so sad to think of plants being killed overnight by the heat - not even the roots surviving to have another go when it is cooler ? :( It's really interesting to hear that blooms like zinnia and eustoma are more heat tolerant - hope your zinnia plugs will perform well for you in due course. This vase manages to look cool and comfortable with its pale pink blooms and greenish red foliage. Thanks for sharing

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    1. It'll be interesting to see if some of the dead return, Cathy. I can't say I'm counting on it and, impatient as I can be, I'll be digging some of the crispy critters up long before they have a chance to return. I'm not used to seeing so many plants drop within such a brief span.

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  2. I just saw, All About Eve, last night so I had to chuckle at your Bette Davis adaption. I am sorry to hear about the garden and plants that died Kris....yes here the winter freezes can do in some plants and our incessant spring freezes took a toll on some shrubs, trees, vines and flowers. So I feel your pain.


    Both vases are spectacular and I marvel at your drought and heat tolerant plants you have flowering....I especially love the mix of colors and plant material in the first vase!

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    1. I have a greater appreciation of what gardeners in colder climates experience now, Donna. I sympathized before but now I can empathize! And I clearly need to pay more attention to heat tolerance if this kind of heat is to become our new normal.

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  3. You've been through a heart-breaking summer alright, but managed to create beautiful arrangements. These are true survivors. The Lisianthus doesn't look like it would be so tough, seems very delicate. Maybe I should give it a try here. You used a nice range of colors in that first vase. My apple blossom yarrow is mostly brown now. Yours is nice with the Grevillea.

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    1. The Eustoma flowers are delicate and silky in texture but even I was surprised at just how succulent the stems and leaves of the second year plants are, Susie.

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  4. So sorry you lost so many plants in your beautiful garden, Kris. The temps all over the SW have been crazy awful and then the wildfires add insult to injury. Does the smoke reach you from the San Gabriel fires?
    You've managed to still come up with some lovely arrangements. I didn't realize how tough Eustoma is. It looks so delicate. Both it and the Grevillea have saved the day! I esp. love the top shots - so pretty!

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    1. There's been a haze over the harbor since the Sherpa fire in the Santa Barbara area started. I was surprised to smell smoke the day after that fire started as it's a 100 miles away but I haven't noticed that sickly smell in connection with the San Gabriel fires. That must have something to do with the direction in which the wind blows. Our air quality remains on the poorer end of the spectrum, however.

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  5. Sorry to hear about your unfortunate charbroil experience. I have had the same issues here. Believe it or not heat takes Bronzeleaf Begonias! The Grevilla is a star and I am not sure Achillea can be conquered, both vases are lovely. Stay cool and plant some Aloes!

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    1. We pulled down the blinds, shut the windows and turned on the AC this morning, which helps keep the house cooler. The marine layer is still returning overnight, although it doesn't last as long in the morning as it did earlier in the month. The thought that summer has just begun is a little daunting but fall will arrive - eventually.

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  6. Beautiful arrangements, and each one a homage to heat tolerance!

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    1. That's a great way of thinking about them! Thanks!

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  7. It alarms me that you get to 40C despite the 'moderating influence of the sea'. I expect us to share similar temperatures. 40C is what I expect inland, where we lived in Porterville among wheatfields, or the vineyards in the Winelands.

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    1. 105F/40C is unusual for us, Diana, especially this early in the summer. We live on a peninsula but, as my husband periodically reminds me, we're on the "hot" eastern side of the peninsula, which doesn't benefit as much from the cooling winds off the Pacific. The western side of the peninsula can be as much as 10 degrees (Fahrenheit) cooler than the eastern side.

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    2. if you lived on the lake in Zurich, you'd be on the Gold Coast/Shore.
      That is also the temperature difference we have between the first garden in Camps Bay roasting in sun all afternoon, and this one with cool breezes and no roast.

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  8. Lovely flowers as ever Kris - I am glad to see something is surviving in the heat! My son is flying out to the Woodward BMX camp close to LA in a few days - it sounds like he is going to have a very hot summer! In contrast my garden is under water - plants are literally drowning - what is happening to the weather?

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    1. In Tehachapi? I expect it's really hot out there, Julie. I hope the Erskine fire is out before he arrives.

      Although one of our presidential candidates chooses to assert that climate change - and even California's drought - is a hoax, I think all too many of us are dealing with "new normal" conditions.

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  9. In spite of the heat you created some lovely sumptuous vases again, Kris. The Grevillea is so lovely with all the little curlicues, I was sorely tempted at plant sales to chance growing some, but settled for Manzanita which doesn't have as spectacular flowers. The draping foliage really romanticizes it and the view from above is so artistic. I also have plant lust for the Eustoma, how great that it made it through the heat, so pretty, and lovely with the frothy white flowers, and burgundy Leucadendron foliaage. I hope the rest of the summer will be more pleasant.

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    1. I'd like to believe that last week's heatwave was an anomaly, Hannah, but I don't believe that's likely given the forecasts. We can hope, though!

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  10. Hiya kris
    You are very brave to face up to your garden losses so calmly. I am usually in tears for days when a plant cops it and feel guilty as if it were my fault.
    Still, such a lot left to show us today. Many of these plants I have never seen.
    Could one have a greenhouse with air conditioning? Costly, but then so are our heated greenhouses.
    I am on th road and on IPad which I can barely use, so excuse the typoes please.i

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    1. It's funny you mention the air-conditioned greenhouse, Joanna. I've always wanted a greenhouse, although there's clearly no need for one to provide winter protection here. When a blogger from the Pacific Northwest was showing off his greenhouse during the winter months, I suggested that an air conditioned one might be just the ticket here. If I'd had any idea just how miserable this summer might be, maybe I'd have explored the prospect more seriously. Come to think of it, my husband's workshop is air conditioned - maybe I could just add a few skylights and take it over...

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  11. Your comparison of the damage from frost to that of your baked plants seems about right. Heartbreaking either way. Although I must say the overhead shot of your first arrangement looks so striking you'd think you had all the material in the world to chose from.

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    1. Even though I've heard you and others describ how freeze damage can show up days after the fact, I was surprised to discover that searing heat can have a similar impact. Plants I initially thought breezed through the worst of it showed damage days later. I've hesitated to cut back some of the burned foliage too, out of fear of eliminating the residual protection it may provide against future heat events.

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  12. After the images you showed last week I was surprised and pleased that you could find do much to pick. Both vases are expressions of summer as it should be (not as it was last week for you). It is encouraging to see the Eustoma doing so well; if I can get my plants to a reasonable size to overwinter I'm really looking forward to seeing them flower.

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    1. Eustoma is sold as an annual here but, according to my western garden guide, it's really a short-lived perennial. I hope the plant comes through for you next year. The foliage can take on a sickly pale hue late in the season but I've found that, if you just cut back any brown foliage, the plant makes a comeback in late spring.

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  13. So sorry about your garden!Your vases are still so beautiful, as usual.

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  14. Both your vases are lovely Kris, but I particularly liked the one with the eustoma and those gorgeous leucodendron leaves. So sad about the plants being killed - and difficult to watch helplessly, I'm sure. But interesting to have a bit of an analysis on what survives the scorching conditions - re your comments on the eustoma from this year and last in particular. It seems as if it's the narrower leaved things that survive?

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    1. I've read that plants with fine-leaved and/or silver/gray foliage generally handle heat better than others but I can't say that my experience with this heat event universally confirms that, Cathy. I lost some Stachys byzantina, for example. Of course, my observations haven't controlled for shade or soil moisture, both of which I think contributed to individual outcomes. The maturity of the root system is probably another contributing factor. Another blogger in this area lost her Leucadendron 'Pisa', a plant with narrow silver leaves while my own plant seems to be fine; however, her plant is (was) less mature than mine and mine receives some late afternoon shade, which may account for the difference..

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  15. Hi Kris, I can well imagine the stress you and your plants suffered so here's hoping for cooler temperatures! Your vases look delightful too, so let's cheer the survivors as well :) Indeed Clematis paniculata is a joy. C. x durandii is one of the best for drier soils. Don't know how they cope without having a winter though. Best wishes, Annette

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    1. Thanks for the tip about Clematis x durandii, Annette. I'll look into its cultural requirements. You're correct that anything that needs a bit of winter cold is pretty much out of luck here.

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  16. Ouch!!! I'm beginning to realize that some of my plant losses last summer were perhaps due to our long and gentle spring weather; I thought it was just first-year, inexperienced desert gardener. But this summer heated up more gradually, and I can certainly see the difference despite actually having higher temperatures this year. I don't know how one plants for it?! But your grevillea is certainly one more case of Australian plants just sailing through it all - amazing! I hadn't realized Eustoma could be quite that sturdy either, and you've probably just ensured the addition of Achillea to my garden... Both your arrangements are lovely in spite of the weather! Hope you get some relief from it soon. Here we're starting to get monsoon season humidity, unfortunately without rain yet - sticky hot, ugh! but the plants are probably happier :/

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    1. While we enjoyed that long, cool spring here, I never envisioned that it could have this kind of consequence but my gut is that the rapid change in temperature was a major factor in what happened to my garden. The current heatwave isn't nearly as bad as the one last week but, coming on the heels of the other, I don't suppose it supports recovery either.

      I hope you get a nice gentle rain, free of any nasty lightning or flash floods.

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  17. Oh Kris, I'm so sorry about that darn heat. I sure hope things level off.
    Despite it all your creations are incredibly gorgeous. ... To answer your question, I think if you are a member of any Hardy Plant Society Chapter, you can attend the Study Weekend if you register in time. Apparently there were over a hundred on the waiting list. Next year's event will be in Victoria, Canada. I'm sure it will be fabulous. Here is the link to the Oregon Chapter. http://www.hardyplantsociety.org/ Stay cool, my friend.

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    1. Thanks Grace! It may be worth the membership fee just to attend that study weekend. Sadly, there's nothing equivalent in SoCal as far as I can determine.

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  18. I am so sorry you lost lots of plants Kris. Yes, drought and heat tolerant are two different things and when we had both heat and drought last summer I was convinced many plants would die. In the end the losses were minimal as I started watering like mad to save them! Nevertheless you have produced beautiful vases again. The Eustoma is a godsend! I hope you and your garden cope better with the next surge of hot weather. ;-)

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    1. If it weren't for the watering restrictions here, you could bet that I'd be outside every day watering my plants. Unfortunately, that's not really an option but I am drawing on my water savings to a greater extent than at any time since the mandatory restrictions were implemented last year.

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  19. Yikes, that's hot! Sorry for your plant losses. I bet your succulents are taking the heat in stride. Come on up and visit the PNW. Days in the loweer 80's and nights in the high fifties.

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    1. Sadly, there was even damage to some of the succulents, Peter! I think the rapid change in temperature and humidity that accompanied that heatwave cause "agave edema." Several of my 'Blue Glow' agaves are scarred.

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