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

26 comments:

  1. Far out favorites, Kris! Your agaves are so happy looking and Plectranthus ecklonii had me searching to find its hardiness. Annie's Annuals says it's hardy in zones 8 - 10 but I don't rememer seeing this plant growing outside in these parts.

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    1. Wouldn't a 6 foot tall fall-blooming Plectranthus be wonderful, Peter? My plant has turned the corner I think but it remains to be seen whether I can take it to those heights, notwithstanding Annie's statement that it's an "easy" plant.

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  2. Isn't Seafoam great? Mine is a little leggy at the moment, but winter's freezing will remedy that. Love your Agave genryi 'Jaws'. That form is definitely a killer. Your helichrysum really lights up the dark. I can only grow it as an annual, but I am trying to swear off many hairy-leaved plants because we have wool-carder bees that relentlessly strip the fuzz off all season long. I can't stand the stripped-look. Helichrysum and dusty millers are particularly susceptible, as are the bloom stalks of fuzzy verbascum. :( Great plants for your wrap up.

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    1. Yikes! I'd never heard of wool carder bees. I looked them up and understand they've been seen in Northern California (where some people have apparently referred to them as bee "terrorists") but I couldn't find a reference to them down this way, thankfully. I'm sorry to hear they're restricting your plant palette.

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  3. Your September blooms are all stars. By coincidence I came across that Plectranthus in a pot in someone' s garden for the first time this afternoon, I thought it was a salvia, it is very pretty. I love Artemesia ' Seafoam' I shall look out for that. Agave ' Jaws' is a great name, what a fabulous Agave. I seem to have amassed an astonishing number of succulents this year, goodness knows what I shall do with them all this winter.

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    1. I know my spiky plant growing friends in the Pacific Northwest (including IaVoM participants Loree of danger garden and Peter of The Outlaw Gardener) also struggle with the great succulent migration each winter. Good luck, Chloris!

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  4. once your Plectranthus is established, take cuttings in autumn - and spread it around. The one I found in our new garden, I cut back hard, and now it stands shoulder to shoulder with me.

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    1. I hope my plant reaches those heights some day, Diana! I successfully propagated my Plectranthus ciliatus until thinning out my trees (to accommodate my tree-hating neighbor) left me with a shortage of sufficiently shady spots for growing them but maybe I can find a spot for another P. ecklonii if this one prospers.

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  5. Looks good! That Faucaria is a beauty, as is its pottery home.

    I will have to look for 'Seafoam'.

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    1. I got my first 3 'Seafoam' at Roger's but they had just a couple of scruffy specimens remaining the last time I was there. High Country Gardens has the plant in stock for shipment to California in mid-October.

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  6. Hi Kris, very interesting to see your selection of favorite plants for this month! I have to start with the last: I just love the Helichrysum petiolare 'Licorice Splash'. What a wonderful light green/silver color. I can see that one growing in my garden, too ;-).
    Plectranthus ecklonii is new to me and I like this plant very much as well. I am always in the market for blue flowering plants and this one certainly fits the bill. I will research this plant a bit more...
    Thanks for showing us your favorites this month, I always enjoy seeing what does well for you in your garden!
    Warm regards,
    Christina

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    1. I don't know if it's the placement (competing with tree roots) or a characteristic of the cultivar but 'Licorice Splash' is SO much more manageable than the gray forms of H. petiolare too. I hope it works as well for you, Christina.

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  7. I looked up the seafoam. Not easy to obtain over here so it probably wouldn't do well even if I succeeded. Enjoy yours!

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    1. 'Seafoam' may be relatively new in the market, Jessica. It popped up here for the first time this year and in only one of the garden centers I frequent. I recall hearing about it first last year from bloggers in the Pacific Northwest.

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  8. Oh that Plectranthus ecklonii! It's just perfect as is, although 6-ft sounds pretty nice too.

    Your Artemisia versicolor 'Seafoam' look so much better than mine! And I've loved (and lost) that 'Tom Thumb'...it's a good one!

    And finally, 'Jaws'...wow!

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    1. I'd be thrilled if that Plectranthus reached 3 feet, much less 6, especially as fall can be relatively short on floral color here. I picked up 2 more of the 'Tom Thumb' on the way home yesterday so I hope it continues to do well. I'm trying to do more mass planting...

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  9. Really looking great Kris. I like that Artemisia 'Seafoam'--what an interesting form--and the Plectranthus is lovely.

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    1. Oh, if only the entire garden looked as good as these plants, Susie!

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  10. Hi Kris--your garden is looking good! I'd no idea that a Plectranthus could be a shrub and grow to 6 feet. That's pretty amazing. The sturdy trunk on yours is quite attractive.

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    1. It remains to be seen whether this Plectranthus will reach 6 feet but I'm hopeful, Emily.

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  11. Hi Kris, I really like your Phormium 'Tom Thumb' and Artemisia versicolor 'Seafoam', as well as your agaves. And that marvelous pot with the Faucaria tigrina variegata! I hope that your temps will be moderating soon. I just caught up on your last post and shivered at the thought of fire so close to your home. Best wishes, Deb

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    1. It's cooler, at least for a time but there's no rain on the horizon, unfortunately. We were lucky that people were around to see that fire and call for help so quickly.

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  12. Yours is the first of those bulbils in the ground. Mine are still in pots. And here comes your cool(ish) fall planting weather!

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    1. You gave me 3, Denise. All three are in the ground but only one has gained size to be readily noticeable thus far. I think you and I discussed using them on my back slope but, as that area suffered mightily under the combination of water restrictions and June's horrific heatwave, I'm glad I put them in the backyard where they get more water and attention. Thanks again!

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  13. Plectranthus has beautiful, graceful flowers and I love the seed heads of the Catananche caerule, they were great in your silver/blue arrangement.

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    1. I'll be covered for IaVoM next fall if that Plectranthus reaches 6 feet!

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