Saturday, July 9, 2016

Risky Business

Even in coastal Southern California, planting during the summer months is a risky business.  Every year I promise myself that I'll stop planting at the end of May.  And almost every year I break my promise.  Sometimes I manage to confine my purchases to annuals and succulents.  Sometimes I focus on pots, which can at least be protected if the heat soars to an extreme.  The terrible heatwave that struck here at summer's start should have underscored the need for caution but, after a bout of depression over the destruction it left behind, I found myself touring garden centers during the cooler weather we've enjoyed the last two weeks.  Before I knew it, I was racking up a bill at the cash register.

So here's a look at what's come home with me since the heatwave struck.

I planted Zinnias from 6-packs after tearing out the dead sweet peas.  That was planned even before the heatwave struck so I felt little guilt over it.

However, after staring at the crispy Cordyline 'Renegade' that formerly occupied this area for awhile, I pulled them out when I came across Yucca desmetiana 'Blue Boy' in 4-inch pots.  I filled in around the small Yuccas with 2 Coprosma kirkii and Graptosedum 'Darley Sunshine' and Sedum lineare 'Variegatum' planted from 6-packs.  (There's still a half-dead variegated Coprosma in there that will come out if it doesn't recover.)

I bought numerous Sedum and other succulents in relatively inexpensive 6-packs.  Shown here from left to right are: Sedum adolphii, S. lineare 'Variegatum' (mixed in with an Aloe and Aeonium cuttings that were planted earlier), and S. reflexum 'Angelina'.

The plants in the southwest-facing area of the front garden were pulverized by the June heatwave.  I had it in mind to replace what had been there with a Leucadendron and some Phormium  so when I found what I wanted at Roger's Gardens last week, I snapped them up.  The photos at the bottom of the collage above are close-ups of, left to right: Artemisia vulgaris 'Seafoam', Leucadendron 'Safari Sunset' and Phormium 'Tom Thumb'.

At another nursery, I found a Leucadendron 'Safari Goldstrike' in a 1-gallon pot.  It might go into the front garden or possibly in the back border but I want to see how it handles the heat in a full sun exposure before I put it in the ground.  I've put it in a large pot on the back patio for now.

I found Leucadendron galpinii (left) in a 1-gallon pot for the first time at the same nursery so I brought it home too.  I'm probably going to bite the bullet and use it to replace my sad-looking Adenanthos (right) in the back border.

A few other strays ended up on my nursery cart  as well (clockwise from the upper left): Catananche caerulea (the bumble bee approves the purchase), Duranta repens 'Lime' (aka 'Gold Mound', hopefully it won't exceed the size estimated by the growers as another of my specimens has), burgundy Pelargonium peltatum, and Salvia greggii 'Mesa Azure' (which has done very well in another location of my garden)


Am I done?  I'm not committing myself to assurances I may not be able to keep.


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

30 comments:

  1. Last summer my Catananche caerulea proved drought tolerant AND self-sowed profusely. I have high hopes that it will do well for you. I hope you don't mind plenty of babies. Of course, in your different climate with much less winter rain, it may behave differently. I'm also a very lazy deadheader. That 'Seafoam' Artemisia is very popular up here as well, at least in Portland. Good luck with all your new plants!

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    1. I wouldn't mind seedlings at all! I've 2 other Catananche, one of which is blooming, but I think they're last year's plants rather than seedlings. The lack of rain here does seem to discourage volunteers - except for the mimosa, which is once again popping up everywhere.

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  2. Still planting ... me, too ... do we ever learn? Or are gardeners the eternal optimists? Or is it because the plants are in the nursery blooming prettily NOW and not when it is supposed to be optimal planting time? Or is it the comfy weather? Or is it "covering all the bases" approach so we don't miss out?

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    1. I think it's all of the above, Jane!

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  3. You're planting with an educated selection - me thinks you're going to be fine.

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    1. I've never formally tallied the success of the plants I've put in during the summer months, mainly because I think the stats would justify my fears. I do try to give them the best chance of survival by deep watering the holes they're planted in before putting the plant in and watering them more deeply by hand after planting rather than relying on the irrigation system.

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  4. Obviously you have to fill in those empty spaces!
    Catananche caerulea I planted last year but they did not come up this year.
    I think they are so nice.
    Have a nice day
    Mariana

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    1. It is filling the empty spaces during the hot, dry summer season that presents a challenge, Mariana. Unfortunately, small plants without deep root systems often die under those conditions.

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  5. My husband is not of the same opinion as I am when it comes to trade plants, but he likes when it looks fine.
    Mariana

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    1. I am lucky that my husband seldom complains about me buying plants - he just shakes his head and smiles.

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  6. Garden center therapy works wonders. Looks like you've made thoughtful selections Kris. Hope they perform well for you.

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  7. pbmgarden is right, retail therapy is very important for one's mental health so really, you're doing something healthy, like exercising, or daily flossing. Good for you! Nice plant picks as usual!

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    1. I'll add that to my (already long) list of excuses for my behavior, Peter!

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  8. How could you rest until those empty spots were filled? Live for today, what the heck!

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    1. They're not all filled yet by any means, Eliza! (Hence my reluctance to say I'm done with the plant shopping until September.)

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  9. Some nice new additions! The great thing about being a gardener is that if the urge to plant is there, it's rarely easy to resist it even if the conditions are less than ideal :)

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  10. No sitting in shade for Leucodendrons--it can kill them. Ask me how I learned that.

    You did good. Good choices, should all do well. I got a few 6-pax myself--made me feel better after the destruction of The Big Bake.

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    1. "The Big Bake" - a good name for it! I've been calling it the horrific heatwave but that's already getting old.

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  11. In a way you are lucky, though you may not see it that way:
    I am swamped with growth and can't find room to plant anything without first hacking my way through two weeks' worth of my absence romping away growth.
    So much has tripled in size. Not all of it welcome but certainly lush.
    And yes - I too can't stop picking up must-haves by the dozen.
    Tomorrow is machete time -- so that I can at least find a spot to dig a hole.
    That is something that you don't have to worry about :-)

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    1. The lack of rain does limit plant growth, Joanna! I'd rather have your problem, though.

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  12. I found myself planting seven new azaleas last week, with temps in the high nineties. so you are definitely not the only crazy one. Actually, your choices look wise and wonderful to me!

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    1. No, as Loree of danger garden said in response to an earlier post, members of the garden blogging community tend to excuse - if not enable - this kind of "risky behavior." I hope all your Azaleas take, Deb! These days, with sudden weather extremes becoming more common, who's really to say what's the best time to plant?

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  13. Ooo, I feel for you – and as a fellow plantaholic may I just say; you are not alone! Not sure if that’s any consolation to you or your bank account, but when the temptations gets too bad I do a bit of window shopping. I do all my plant shopping online, and on many of the nursery websites you can create your own wish-list with them. So that’s what I do – I ‘buy’ all the plants I would like, and then I place them for ‘cooling-off’ on a wish-list so I can come back to it later on. OK, so I am not always that sensible, sometimes I just buy things because I like it – worry about where it goes later :-)
    I hope your very nice selection of tough plants will survive your summer, I wish I could send off some of our rain because we have had more than enough of it a long time ago.

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    1. I make lists for on-line orders too but as even those plants can disappear if I wait too long to make a decision, I usually go ahead with it within a week. Patience is most definitely not one of my virtues. Perhaps, if I could find more of the plants I want in the fall during our prime planting season I could exercise greater restraint but, unfortunately for plant fanatics like me, the nurseries and garden centers here like to sell plants when they're at their peak, not when they're uninspiring seedlings.

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  14. The biggest problem I've had with planting dry garden plants during summer is the fast-draining mixes the growers use for these plants sensitive to overwatering while in their care in pots. Even when watered in well in our gardens, the rootballs dry out incredibly fast because of that light soil mix, so you can have a dry rootball and a wilting plant in a moist site. It can be tricky until the roots make purchase in our soils. I don't have this problem with planting tropicals in summer, just the dry garden stuff. I love L. galpinii -- mine is in a large container for the forseeable future. I saw how the Huntington was growing lots of proteaceae in containers last spring and thought why the heck not?

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    1. I remember reading about the difficulty plants have in spreading their roots from one soil medium to another. I try to knock away as much of the old (pot) soil as possible before I plant as one expert (Linda Chalker-Smith?) recommended but that's not always easy to do without risking damage to the root system. I guess it's just another thing that makes gardening a challenging exercise...

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  15. Yep, I'm still planting, too. It's been cool the last couple weeks here, too, and we've even had some rain the last few days. So I've put in a few more plants. Mostly, though, I've got a lot of seedlings that I want to push to larger sizes before I plant them in the ground. Your post reminded me that I should be hunting the discount offerings at Fred Meyers and such to see if there's anything worth salvaging for that huge area I'm clearing.

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    1. Best wishes with your planting, Evan. I hope the cooler weather continues for awhile - for both of us!

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