Friday, September 30, 2016

September Plant Favorites

I have to thank Loree of danger garden for hosting a review of the plants that win favorite status each month.  At the end of summer in Southern California, it's hard to avoid looking at the garden with a jaundiced eye.  Entering the garden for the purpose of identifying what's looking good shifts the paradigm.  Yes, there's another dead Leucadendron and many plants are stressed by our current heatwave, but there are still a lot of plants delivering on the promise they held when I planted them.

Planted last May and only a fraction of the 6 foot tall specimen it may eventually become, this Plectranthus ecklonii was happy enough to bloom.  My first 2 attempts to grow this plant failed, probably due to excessive sun exposure.  The grower recommends half day sun, which is roughly what it gets sitting behind a dense hedge with northwest exposure but it was still touch and go for a while this summer.  Extra water helped.

The Osteospermums seem to perk up when nighttime temperatures grow cooler.  They responded to that condition earlier this month by blooming in earnest.  Osteospermum '4D Silver', marketed as an improved version of '3D Silver' and offering blooms that remain open in low light, has been blooming non-step all month.  They're short-lived perennials in our climate.

Two of my current favorites are shown here: Phormium 'Tom Thumb' and Artemisia versicolor 'Seafoam'.  I planted 3 of each in July and all are doing well, which is remarkable as planting in July here is foolish at best.  'Tom Thumb' has an interesting form and bronze edges along its green leaves and it handles the afternoon shade in this location.  I've been so pleased by the 'Seafoam' that I recently ordered 6 more by mail when I couldn't find them locally.

With apologies for the sun-soaked photo on the left, I nonetheless wanted to share Hebe 'Purple Shamrock' in bloom.  I planted 3 of these small Hebes last November purely for their foliage, which makes me think of stained glass when it's backlit (as shown in a photo from last December on the right) but the dainty lavender blue flowers they produced this month are a bonus.

My photos of Trichostema 'Midnight Magic' aren't any better than that of the Hebe despite repeated attempts but I also couldn't let it go without notice this month.  I've killed at least 2 T. lanatum (aka woolly curls), a notoriously touchy California native, but this hybrid of T. lanatum and T. purpusii is far more forgiving.  After producing a few blooms now and again, it's rewarded me with lots of blue blooms this month.

The succulents generally pull their weight regardless of the weather so I don't always give them the scrutiny the shrubs and perennials get but a few did warrant attention this month.

Agave 'Jaws' Junior, seen in the photo on the left in front of 'Jaws' Senior, is growing at a remarkable rate.  I haven't decided whether to let him remain in the fraternal embrace or relocate him but I'm impressed by his size - just back in July, he was so small I almost stepped on him.  His growth led me to check the status of my other infant agaves.  I planted 7 A. desmettiana pups (see photo top right) along the front slope last year and all are also growing quickly.  Agave mitis 'Multicolor' (middle right), a gift from Denise of A Growing Obsession last year, started life as a bulbil of her plant (see Denise's post on this here) and is now 4 inches tall.  In contrast, Agave montana (lower right), possibly the tiniest agave I've ever received by mail order, is growing but slowly.

I don't like the flowers produced by most succulents but I do appreciate those produced by this still small Faucaria tigrina variegata.

A couple of very ordinary plants also caught my notice for very different reasons.

The flowers of Catananche caerulea (Cupid's Dart) are gone but I like the silvery bracts left behind even more

Helichrysum petiolare 'Licorice Splash', planted last year, has thrived under a tree in dry shade without attempting world domination as the common species is prone to do in my garden

Visit Loree to see what earned her notice and that of other meme participants this month.

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

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

The heat is on

After a couple of weeks with cool, fall-like weather, the heat turned up again last weekend.  Actually, by comparison to Monday and Tuesday, the weekend was tolerable - it was at least possible to work outside in the early morning and late afternoon.  But, on Monday, the temperature here reached 102F (39C) and, even with humidity in the single digits, it was miserable.

Despite my best intentions to hold off on any fall planting for awhile yet, I'd fallen prey to a pretty new aster, Symphyotrichum chilensis 'Purple Haze'.  I planted it only days before the heat struck.  On Sunday, even before the heat reached fever pitch, I noticed that the plant appeared to be melting under the sun's intensity.  I gave it an H
 infusion and used a broken umbrella to give it temporary shade.  It helped - I think the plant will survive.

I stuck a broken umbrella spoke into the ground on one side and staked the handle down on the other

On Monday, I didn't even venture outside until late afternoon when a fire truck appeared just down the street.  I saw the firemen speaking to a neighbor before their truck roared off, its sirens blaring.  I went outside and immediately noticed the tell-tale smell of smoke.  We live in a high fire-risk area so any sign of fire is a frightening event.

You can see the smoke in this photo taken from our front garden

As it turned out, a downed power line started the fire, 3 doors down from us behind a neighbor's home.  After some initial difficulties accessing the area, the fire was rapidly extinguished without damage to structures or life.  We joked cynically about whether our power (and air-conditioning) would be cut off next (outages are remarkably common here) and, sure enough, less than an hour later, our power shut off.  The outage was shorter than most of those we've experienced since moving here - less than an hour - and we ran our air-conditioner late into the evening.

Temperatures remained in the mid-to-upper 70s overnight and the power went out again.  I was up extra early Tuesday morning and ventured out to check the garden before the heat climbed back to stratospheric levels.  With no marine layer and a scattering of clouds, I caught the nicest sunrise I've seen in a few months, perhaps the only upside to the current heatwave.

Paraphrasing Homer, Dawn extended her rosy fingers and the color was mirrored in the water below, lighting it up.  I'm offering this as my Wednesday Vignette.  Visit Anna at Flutter & Hum for the images that grabbed the attention of other meme participants this week.

As soon as the sun was up, the temperature jumped again.  I spent yesterday darting from air- conditioned house to air-conditioned car to air-conditioned buildings and back again.  Still, Tuesday was nominally cooler than Monday and today is expected to be cooler yet.   Temperatures are forecast to be near "normal" again by the coming weekend.  I'm hoping the forecast is correct.

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

Monday, September 26, 2016

In a Vase on Monday: Eustoma grandiflorum keeps on giving

For a couple of weeks it seemed as though fall had arrived, ahead of schedule no less.  But a high pressure system moved in over the weekend, bringing the notorious Santa Ana winds in tow, and our temperatures zoomed back up to summertime levels.  Even though summer is intent to go out kicking and screaming, there are still signs that fall has arrived.  Nighttime temperatures are significantly cooler and the cruise ships are back in the harbor.

While cruise ships operate year-round out of Long Beach (visible in the distance), the ships visit nearby San Pedro only during the fall and winter months

However, as the high temperatures are expected to extend through the early part of the week, cutting flowers for "In a Vase on Monday," the meme hosted by Cathy of Rambling in the Garden, became something of a rescue operation.  This week I'm more likely to regret what I didn't cut to fill a vase than anything I did cut.  The flowers of Eustoma grandiflorum (Lisianthus), which has been mounting a come-back, were among the first to get snipped.

I picked this as the front view but either side of this vase could serve as the focal point

The back view has its own personality

Top view

There are a few stems of the blue-flowered Eustoma in bloom but I thought they would overpower this vase so I left them in the garden and will hope for the best.  I stuck with softer colors:

Clockwise from the left, this vase contains: pale yellow Eustoma grandiflorum, Achillea 'Moon Dust', Erigeron glaucus 'Wayne Roderick', Hebe 'Purple Shamrock', Pittosporum tenuifolium 'Silver Magic', Verbena bonariensis, and white Zinnia 'Profusion'

The last Eustoma I planted in June are finally coming on.  Sold as Lisianthus 'Cherry Sorbet', they're a dark, moody pink.

I think the flowers of Eustoma grandiflorum 'Cherry Sorbet' look more like roses than any other variety of Lisianthus

Back view

Top view

Clockwise from the left, this vase contains: Eustoma grandiflorum 'Cherry Sorbet', Abelia x grandiflora, Gomphrena globosa 'Fireworks', Hebe 'Wiri Blush', flowers of a noID ivy (which the bees LOVE), Pennisetum 'Fireworks', and Pentas 'Kaleidoscope Appleblossom'

A few stems of the pale pink Eustoma also made a comeback but, after clipping them, I decided they didn't do anything for my second arrangement so I put them in a small vase on the bedroom mantle.

Pale pink Eustoma grandiflorum 'Mariachi Pink' with dark pink Zinnias

The first vase landed on the dining room table.

And the dark pink arrangement sits on the table in the front entry.

For more Monday vases, pay Cathy a visit.

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

Friday, September 23, 2016

Orchid Show

Last weekend I took a quick trip to my local botanic garden to take a look at the orchid show and sale they'd advertised.  I spent less than an hour there so I can't claim I made a thorough study of the specimens on view but I do have some photos to share.  Here are some of my favorites (all from the local orchid society's show area):

I loved the spots on this Cattleya (labeled as C. caudabel, although I couldn't find a species listing under that name on-line)

The spots and unusual color combination were what attracted me to this Rhyncholaeliocattleya 'Penny's Spot' (Orchid genera names can be a mouthful!)

I liked the unusual flowers of this Dendrochilum magnum

The camera's focus wasn't perfect here but the flowers colors did have a watercolor quality to them.  This is a Laeliocatonia grex Renate 'S&W'.  

Miltassia Aztec 'Nalo', a bigeneric hybrid with Miltonia and Brassia parents, has a nose-like protuberance that gives it the appearance of a face

Miltonia moreliana gives you an indication which parent gave the Miltassia its nose

I loved the color of this Oncidium 'Pacific Sun Spot'

Professional growers had a few display tables:

My profile photo of one grower's Dendrobium 'Andre Nishii' didn't come out but this photo shows the flower's curling form

And here are some of the winning entries among the amateur growers' submissions:

I think the top 2 photos are Dendrobiums.  The plant on the lower left is Vandachostylis 'Deep Blue Sea' and the one on the right is a noID Phalaenopsis.

Of course, there were deals to be had in the sale area and I had to bring a couple of orchids home.

A noID Phalaenopsis with pale yellow, almost green, flowers which almost match the color of the Hoya multiflora 'Shooting Star' I already had in my home office

A noID Oncidium with elaborate yellow, white and red blooms

I'm not very attentive to my orchids but they're surprisingly forgiving plants.  My collection seems to be expanding.

I recently cleaned up and repotted all my orchids, dividing some, and moved most of the collection to a shady corner on the southwest side of the garden.  The shelves my husband made me many years ago, already falling apart, may need to be replaced with a larger version.

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

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Wednesday Vignette: A steely stare

Today's Wednesday Vignette was a lucky catch.  I was sitting at my desk late yesterday afternoon and looked up to see a hawk gliding gracefully over the harbor.  He surprised me by landing at the top of the neighbor's tall pine tree.  I grabbed my camera and headed for the backyard, even though I expected that he'd fly off before I could get out the door.  He hung around for just one shot, although I did manage a second as he flew off into the distance.

Something, presumably another bird (or a squirrel committing suicide), showed up as a blurry image in the corner of my shot on the lower right but, at the time, all my attention was focused on the hawk

The hawk moved quickly and my second shot was only a blur but this one shows him headed out toward Angel's Gate, the entrance to the Los Angeles Harbor.  You can see a cargo ship and a small sailboat just beyond the breakwater.

While on the bird theme, I'll also share a few photos of finches enjoying a pool party in the fountain.  The still photos are a poor substitute for a live view but you can get some sense of the birds' enjoyment of their bath.  Birds splashing in the fountain always puts a smile on my face and a song in my heart.

For other Wednesday Vignettes visit Anna at Flutter & Hum.

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

Monday, September 19, 2016

In a Vase on Monday: Berry good

I headed into the garden with one idea as to what I wanted for "In a Vase on Monday," the popular meme hosted by Cathy at Rambling in the Garden, but I came back with something entirely different.  Unlike Cathy, I don't usually do much with props but today's vase did bring one thing to mind: breakfast!

Yogurt and berries are my regular breakfast

Unfortunately, I was hungry so I ate my prop before arranging my vase but here it is, prop-less:

Front view: The blue Eustoma grandiflorum were a last minute addition - they're perfect floral stand-ins for blueberries (and they were flopping in the garden on weak stems)

Back view: Abelia x grandiflora has been blooming for months now

Top view: The pink Eustoma (the color of my strawberry yogurt), almost hidden here, is not nearly as heavily petaled as those that bloomed earlier

I hadn't planned on using Eustoma grandiflorum (Lisianthus) this week, at least not the blue or pink forms, but the flowers I initially cut needed something to punch up the arrangement so in they crept.

Clockwise from the left, the vase contains: blue Eustoma grandiflorum, shown with cinnamon basil stems peeking out below; Abelia x grandiflora; Angelonia angustifolia (possibly 'Archangel Raspberry') with a noID pink-flowering Hebe; pale pink Eustoma; and burgundy and dark pink forms of Pelargonium peltatum (aka ivy geranium)

While the vase shown above featured berry colors, it didn't include any actual berries.  I remedied that with a second vase.  Simpler than the first, it has only 3 ingredients.

Front view: The orange berries are making a solid effort to eclipse the Grevillea and Leucadendron here

The back view is all about the Leucadendron

The top view looks more balanced

From the left, the vase contains: berries of Auranticarpa rhombifolia, Grevillea 'Superb' and Leucadendron 'Wilson's Wonder'

As other participants in this meme have commented, this meme can become addictive.  Every time I consider skipping a week, I ask myself if I really want to go without flowers and/or foliage of some kind on my dining room table and, once I walk into the garden, the process takes hold and I find myself clipping a little of this and a little of that.  So here we are, two vases to brighten the week:

One in the front entry

One on the dining room table

Visit Cathy to find what she and other participants have gathered from their gardens this week.

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