Monday, October 31, 2016

In a Vase on Monday: Seasonal Succulents

Happy Halloween!

In keeping with the holiday, I thought I'd decorate a pumpkin this week and, as I haven't used succulents in an "In a Vase on Monday" post this year, it was high time to do so.  My inspiration stemmed from the photos of succulent-topped pumpkins I've seen on-line and, more recently, on a visit to one of my favorite garden centers.

One of the succulent-topped pumpkins that provided inspiration for this week's "vase"

After viewing a couple of how-to videos on pumpkin decorating, I decided to give it a try.  I picked up a fancy pumpkin at the supermarket and, as I wasn't about to venture into a craft store so close to Halloween (too scary!), I made do with the craft supplies the supermarket offered, a tacky spray and a glue pen.  I already had sphagnum moss on hand.

With a chance of rain on Sunday (Halloween is about tricks as well as treats), I went to work on this project on Saturday so I could keep my mess outside.  I started by collecting succulent cuttings from my garden.

The succulents were dusty and dirty so I positioned them on a pair of plastic chairs and hosed them off before I began working with them.

As with the vases I create using flowers, I cut much more than I needed

Then the pumpkin came out.

I'm sure this pumpkin has a name but the supermarket label just said "fancy pumpkin"

The moss followed.

DIY instructions recommend applying tacky spray to the top of the pumpkin followed by a one-quarter to half-inch layer of moss, creating a toupée of sorts

I then trimmed the moss to make a less sloppy toupée

I meant to take in process photos as I positioned the succulents but I got absorbed by the project, as well as getting my fingers sticky with glue, so there aren't any further in process photos.  The construction wasn't difficult, although some of the heavier succulents drooped at times and had to be re-positioned.  The experts use a hot glue gun, which apparently does a better job keeping the succulent pieces in place, but I didn't have one of those.

After cleaning up, I took photos of the completed pumpkin from 4 angles outside.

I don't have a complete inventory of the succulents I used but they include: Aeonium haworthii 'Kiwi', Crassula pubescens ssp radicans, Graptopetalum 'Darley Sunshine', Graptosedum 'California Sunset', Graptosedum 'Vera Higgins', Graptoveria 'Fred Ives', Portulacaria afra 'Variegata', and a noID Rhipsalis.  I also tucked in berries of Nandina domestica and Auranticarpa rhombifolia.

I'd forgotten to take a top-view photo of the arrangement when I was working outside so I did that after coming inside.

In about a week, after the glue has been allowed to thoroughly dry, I can mist the succulents to keep the arrangement fresh.  When the pumpkin itself begins to decay, the succulent cuttings can be removed and reused in the garden.  I've already popped the cuttings I didn't use back into the garden.

The completed pumpkin currently sits on the dining room table.

The displaced vase from last week was moved to the front entry, sans the Grevillea and poppies, which were past their prime.

The exterior entry has been dressed up for the holiday too.

You get bonus points if you can identify the flower the skeleton lounging on the bench has in his teeth

I hope you enjoy the holiday!  Visit Cathy at Rambling in the Garden to see what she and other meme participants have cooked up this week.

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

Friday, October 28, 2016

October Plant Favorites

I'm joining Loree of danger garden in focusing on the plants that are putting on a good show this month.  A few are the usual suspects, the plants that reliably bloom at this time each year.

Barleria obtusa (aka bush violet) is making the biggest splash in my garden right now.  The plant shown in this photo is about a foot tall and 3 feet wide.  One in a nearby bed that has only just started blooming has stretched 4 feet or more and would be larger still if I hadn't hacked it back last month when it started climbing on its neighbors.  However, with blooms this pretty in autumn, I can forgive it a lot.

Senna bicapsularis (aka Christmas Senna) is as floriferous as the Barleria but much taller.  I foolishly placed it against a fence, which interferes with its natural tree-like shape, but at least it screens our neighbor's house.  It has bare legs, as you can see in the middle photo but, in another setting, it could be trimmed to a shorter, bushier height.  It serves as a host for the cloudless sulphur butterfly (Phoebis sennae) but my camera was unable to capture one of those flighty creatures.

Asters seem to be growing everywhere I look in blogdom but I haven't been so lucky with them in my garden.  Symphyotrichum chilensis seems to be faring better than the other species I've tried.  As it's commonly known as Pacific aster and California aster perhaps that's to be expected.  I wish I'd bought more.

The next one took me by surprise.  It's reported to bloom in winter and spring but it seems to march to its own internal drumbeat.

This is Correa pulchella 'Pink Eyre'.  It's been in my dry garden for years and occasionally throws out a bloom here or there but this month it's positively dripping in flowers.

There are also some foliage standouts.

I usually make a fuss over Ageratum corymbosum when it blooms in early spring but I'm quite happy with its healthy foliage alone right now.  In spring the leaves generally turn purple but at the moment they're bright green edged in purple, which I think is very attractive.  As you can see clearly in the photo on the right, it's also produced one multi-variegated leaf.  This is probably a one-off phenomenon but I like it.

I bought a fancy but rather fussy pot at a succulent show back in June but then couldn't decide what to put in it that would complement it without making it fussier still.  I finally planted it with a few plugs of Graptosedum 'Vera Higgins', which is very happy there (and seemingly safe from the raccoons who are prone to breaking Graptosedums apart with a swat of a paw).

Ordinary Santolina chamaecyparissus has done very well in a dry area of my back garden.  It asks for little and provides a nice contrast to all the green around it.

I started this post with a photo of Barleria obtusa.  When I was looking into methods of propagating Barleria obtusa, I unexpectedly turned up a connection to another favorite plant in my October garden.

I originally purchased this plant as Pseuderanthemum 'Texas Tristar' but I've also found it labeled as Strobilanthes.  In researching Barleria obtusa, I found this same plant labeled as variegated B. obtusa 'Purple Gem' and 'Purple Haze'.  Last night, I also found it listed as Pseuderanthemum 'Purple Dazzler'.   As the foliage has little to nothing in common with the B. obtusa I grow, I'm going to refer to it as Pseuderanthemum species and be done with it.

Sometimes plant identification drives me crazy.  Don't even let me get started on succulents.

Visit Loree at danger garden to see what she and other gardeners have on their favorites lists this month.

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

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Wednesday Vignette: An end to a sad saga?

Last week I took a few wide shots of my front garden looking northwest toward the street.  Pretty as I think the view was with the trees lit up by the setting sun, my garden wasn't the real focus.

My focus was the white house of a neighbor three doors up.

The house circled in the middle of this photo

That neighbor, who has at regular intervals over the past five years registered complaints about how my trees interfere with her view, has put her house up for sale.  She hasn't planted a "for sale" sign at the end of her drive but another neighbor steered me to the listing on-line.  All I can say at this point is that I wish her well and godspeed with the sale of her home.  If those of you who live nearby feel the earth move in the coming months, never fear - it's not an earthquake but rather me doing an epic happy dance to celebrate my neighbor's good fortune in concluding her sale.

This is my Wednesday Vignette.  For others, visit Anna at Flutter & Hum.

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

Monday, October 24, 2016

In a Vase on Monday: Similar but not the same

After failing in my plan to create a fall-themed vase resplendent with oranges and reds last week, I powered ahead with that image in mind this week.  As appears to have become my habit, I got carried away with my snipping, ending up with material ample enough to fill 2 vases.  The colors are similar and I used some of the same types of plants in each but I think they still have distinct personalities.

Front view with Grevillea 'Superb' and the berries of Auranticarpa rhombifolia fighting for center stage

The lop-sided back view

I had a heck of a time trying to get a top view of this arrangement and the dark tones of the Leucadendron (top of photo) seem to battle with the brighter tones of the vase's other contents

Clockwise from the upper left, the vase contains: Grevillea 'Superb'; berries of Auranticarpa rhombifolia, which look like miniature pumpkins; berries of a noID Cotoneaster, which planted itself in my garden; Leucadendron salignum 'Chief' in its somber winter colors; Nandina domestica; and orange Zinnias from a  'Profusion' mix

The first vase was overstuffed.  Eliminating the Leucadendron would have given it an airier feel but, once stems are cut, I'm usually loathe to toss them out and I didn't have the patience to build yet another vase.  The second vase is a bit more balanced but it could probably have done with fewer stems too.

This vase features Grevillea 'Ned Kelly' (aka 'Mason's Hybrid'), which unlike 'Superb'  has tones more red than pink

Maybe I should have skipped the Cuphea tucked into the back of the vase but I'd wanted to trim the shrubs back to make them bushier

Top view: molten lava!

Clockwise from the upper right, this vase contains: Grevillea 'Ned Kelly'; Cuphea 'Vermillionaire'; "flowers" of a noID Leucadendron I planted shortly after we moved in (maybe L. 'Blush'); more Nandina domestica foliage; Nandina berries; and 2 early blooms of Papaver nudicaule (aka Iceland poppy) from one of my cutting beds

Although we don't get much in the way of fall color in my area of Southern California, I'm happy that I was at least able to conjure up some of the season's warm tones this week.  Here are the vases in their places:

The first vase in the front entry

The second vase on the dining room table

For more vases, visit Cathy, the host of this weekly "IaVoM" meme, at Rambling in the Garden.

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

Friday, October 21, 2016

Fall Plant Shopping

Fall is unequivocally the best time to plant in Southern California.  It's also the time of year I spend the most time plant shopping.  The weekend before last, a friend and I hit 4 nurseries/garden centers on Saturday and a sale at my local botanic garden on Sunday.  This post provides a rundown of our expedition.

Our first stop was Australian Native Plant Nursery in Casitas Springs.  It was late morning when we arrived but already very hot.  The sun was high so my few photos are sun-drenched.

From left to right: Leucadendron 'Safari Sunset' (I think), a beautiful if chlorotic Grevillea 'Peaches & Cream', and the nursery's goodwill ambassador, Wallaby

Before heading back to the freeway, we dropped in at Ventura Cactus & Succulents.

The nursery had a wide selection of plants, a portion of of which can be seen on the left, most unfortunately unlabeled.  The plants on the right were part of displays.

After lunch in Carpinteria, we spent a little time perusing Porch, a retail store offering nature-inspired goods for indoor and outdoor settings.

From there, we headed to Seaside Gardens, also in Carpinteria.  Seaside is one of my favorite nurseries.  In addition to a fabulous collection of plants, they have an extensive demonstration garden featuring mature specimens of many of the plants they sell.  I took fewer photos than usual because the sunlight was intense but you can find photos of a previous fall trip to Seaside here.

View of the pond with a mass of pink and white Japanese anemones visible in the distance

The grassland area

Clockwise from the left: Russelia equisetiformis, which I don't think I've even seen not in bloom at Seaside; another view of the Japanese anemones; Gaura lindheimeri gone wild; a Banksia; and a beautiful silver shrub/tree for which I have no ID

Our final stop before heading homeward was Terra Sol in Goleta.

Clockwise from the upper left: Piper auritum (aka Mexican pepperleaf), which I wish I'd bought; Aloe polyphylla, which I may buy someday if it ever comes down in price; Echinocactus grusonii, which IS coming down in price; a pretty orange mum; a flowering Tillandsia; and Halloween-themed pottery

The next day we headed to the South Coast Botanic Garden, which is about 5 miles from my home.  The botanic garden has discontinued its annual fall plant sale in favor of smaller "shop local" events.  After checking out the plants for sale, we did an abbreviated walk through the garden.

More Japanese anemones here surrounding a tree-like Senna, possibly S. bicapsularis

Dracaena draco (aka dragon tree), shown here with close-ups of the  developing berries and bark

From the left: A monarch butterfly enjoying Salvia leucantha, a clump of Agave 'Blue Glow', and a sprawling mass of asters of some kind

A tree I can't identify in full flower

So what did I bring home?  I featured my succulent plant purchases in an earlier post but here are the rest:

Grevillea sericea (left), purchased from Australian Native Plant Nursery, and Echium handiense, purchased from the South Coast Botanic Garden

Clockwise from the top left: Crowea 'Parry's Hybrid', Leonotis leonurus, Leucadendron salignum 'Blush', and Trichostema 'Midnight Magic' (all except the Crowea add to specimens of species I already have growing in my garden)

After getting some rain earlier this week, the Santa Ana winds turned the heat up again here but temperatures are expected to drop once more this weekend.  I'm already anticipating another plant shopping run.  How about you?  Have you picked up any new plants?

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

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

A Cause for Celebration (and a Wednesday Vignette)

If you've read my blog for a while, you probably know that I have something of an obsession with water and, more specifically, rain, which we've had precious little of for the last 5 years.  According to the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Los Angeles had average precipitation of just under 15 inches per year from 1981 through 2010.  Last year, my personal weather station recorded a total of 5.65 inches of rain for the season beginning October 1, 2015 and ending September 30, 2016.  And last year was an El Niño year, which was expected to bring higher than average rainfall.  As it turned out, that rainfall shifted northward, benefiting Northern California more than Southern California.  Many pundits believe this will be a La Niña year, bringing us below "normal" rain.  As last year's forecasts were off, at least as they related to SoCal, I'm hoping for the best but also trying to keep my expectations in check.

That "wait and see" attitude governed my outlook on the forecasts predicting a 40% chance of light rain last weekend.  According to one weather agency, the rain expected for my area was on the order of 2 one-hundredths of an inch, which was certainly nothing to get excited about.  However, I watched the clouds closely.  Saturday, the promise of rain hovered above us, literally.

Clouds over the Los Angeles Harbor Saturday afternoon

Clouds at sunset

Saturday night we got all of one one-hundredth of an inch of rain.  Sunday's clouds looked promising at first but less so by the end of the day.

Clouds early Sunday morning

By sunset, the clouds in the immediate area had dissipated, leaving this formation, which looked a little like an alien spacecraft and which I offer as my Wednesday Vignette (visit Anna at Flutter & Hum for more photographic vignettes)

But, wonder of wonders, we got almost 3 tenths of an inch of rain early Monday morning.  I slept through most of it but woke to a glistening backyard.

Unfortunately, my photo doesn't quite capture the magical sparkle the rain added to the garden

Rainwater droplets on foliage are somehow far more beautiful than the water droplets left behind by an automated irrigation system

Now, I admit that 0.31 inches of rain, the current total through today, isn't a lot but even a small amount of rain on a roof sheds a considerable amount of water.  My previously empty rain barrels aren't empty any more.  The 50-gallon tank is full; the 160-gallon tank is half-full; and the 265-gallon tank is at least one-quarter full.

You can make out the water line on the 160-gallon tank here (along with the algae I failed to clean up when the tank was empty)

Now that's a cause for celebration!  There was another 40% chance of rain in the forecast for a week from Thursday but it's already disappeared; however, hope springs eternal.

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