Friday, December 2, 2016

After the Rain

It's a pleasure to walk through the garden right now.  Our temperatures have remained in the low to mid-60s, cool but not uncomfortable.  The air is relatively clear and, despite the return of our Santa Ana winds, the plants generally aren't crying out for water.  I've given collected rain water to some of those I recently planted but, thus far, I've been able to leave the irrigation system off.  There's even another chance of light rain in the forecast for next Friday, although that's still too far out to feel confident about.

The foliage looks fresh.

The 3 Acacia cognata 'Cousin Itt' (left) planted under the peppermint willow (Agonis flexuosa) in the backyard border are looking better than ever.  The 'Cousin Itt'  planted in the front garden in November 2014 (right), which I almost pulled several times, is finally settling in.

Prostanthera ovalifolia 'Variegata', planted in the same bed as the second 'Cousin Itt' shown above, seems to be thriving.  I love this shrub but it hasn't ever had a long lifespan in my garden.  I've got hopes that it'll enjoy a longer life in this spot, where it seems to be getting just the right mix of sun and shade.


Bulb foliage has appeared.

Foliage of Amaryllis belladonna (left), not to be confused with its cousins in the Hippeastrum genus, has suddenly appeared everywhere.  I received about 2 dozen bulbs from Tammy of Casa Mariposa in April 2015.  Planted soon after receipt, they produced foliage off-schedule in spring of this year.  An untimely heatwave caused the foliage to die off early and I got no flowers this summer but it's right on schedule now to produce blooms in summer 2017.  Meanwhile, the Freesias (right) I planted in areas throughout the garden at intervals since moving here are coming on like gangbusters.


Seedlings are also showing up.

Left to right: Borage, Osteospermum, and Pelargonium seedlings


There have also been some surprises.

Left to right: A late - or very early - Agapanthus bloom; a bud of Camellia 'Taylor's Perfection' ready to take off about a month ahead of schedule; and foliage of Helleborus x 'Anna's Red', which I'd feared I'd lost


But then there are the weeds.  Weeds haven't been much of a problem for many months.  Apparently, they knew better than to appear when temperatures ran high and water was in short supply.  They're popping up everywhere now, though.  In addition to the conventional weeds, I've got a healthy number of weed-like thugs that aren't wasting any time spreading wherever there's an inch of bare ground.

The worst is Geranium incanum, something one of the prior owners of the property must have planted.  I've been pulling out swaths of this plant continuously almost since we moved in.  It's admittedly pretty but, if not promptly pulled, it spreads everywhere, growing over and through other plants.  I shudder every time I see it offered in the local garden centers.

Here it is, with its innocently dainty foliage swamping Amaryllis, Lantana and Alstroemeria foliage among other things.  By the time I took this photo, I'd already pulled out trugs full of the stuff.


There are plenty of other aggressive plants also on the move in the garden.

Clockwise from the left: Cotula lineariloba, a plant with pretty foliage and flowers but aggressive tendencies, which I thought I'd eradicated last spring; Erigeron karvinskianus, a useful filler that came with the house with which I try to coexist but which will probably consume the entire garden one day; Helichrysum petiolare minus (aka Plecostachys serpyllifolia), also inherited with the house, which spreads with abandon even in the driest areas of the garden; and Lotus berthelotii, planted by me, which is shown here swallowing succulents and daylilies, but which does put off digging by the raccoons

I'll be back in the garden pulling weeds and thinning out the weed imitators this weekend.  More rain, should we be lucky enough to get it, will only support their march and there's no frost here to put a stop to that.


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

20 comments:

  1. So great that your Amaryllis is getting back to normal.

    A plant that can compete with lantana - yikes! In my garden it's the lantana that is swamping nearby plants.

    It's great seeing your freesias doing so well! I planted a dozen F. alba last fall, but rabbits have been tearing some of them up (tearing, but not eating...). I hope I get a good showing from the rest. Does anything bother your freesias?

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    1. The trailing form of Lantana goes crazy here too but the hybrid shrubs are more well-behaved. The Freesia foliage is relatively pest-free here but then I'm lucky not to have rabbits. (I guess the coyotes are good for something.)

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  2. I've tried planting Geranium incanum but couldn't keep it alive.
    Borage seedlings coming up here too.

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    1. Yes, it seems that once you plant Borage you'll always have it, if not necessarily exactly where you'd like it.

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    2. Oddly enough, zero borage here so far. In fact it has been less and less each year since 2013 without any real caution taken toward it reseeding.

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    3. That's interesting. It pops up in the veg beds, the gravel and the backyard border here.

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  3. What a relief for you after so many months worrying about drought. Everything looks so fresh and green. Your weeds look very pretty and exotic to me.

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    1. Unfortunately, the drought's far from over, at least in southern and central California; however, 25% of the state, mostly in the north, is considered no longer in drought. The weeds are exotic, I guess - the Geranium hails from South Africa, the Cotula from South Africa and Australasia, the Erigeron from Mexico, and the Lotus from the Canary Islands.

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  4. So happy for you that your garden got some rain. The borage and all the silvery plants surrounding it are a lovely group. I don't have Geranium incanum, but do have G. robustum. It can be weedy, too, but it doesn't seem to like germinating in the mulch I put on the bed it's in. It has jumped across the pathway to another bed, though. We'll see if it turns into a weed. I don't think I could ever truly consider those beautiful silver leaves weedy, though! I stayed away from aggressive plants for a long time after a few early bad experiences, but I've started planting a few again this year. I may regret it later, but I also feel like I understand a bit better now how to combine them with plants they can't swamp. Time will tell.

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    1. I inherited the Geranium and Erigeron and the Cotula came without a warning but I planted the Lotus with fore-knowledge so I have only myself to blame there, although I'm happy to have the raccoons avoid digging in the area. I'm pleased with the Borage mash-up too - the Veronica 'Waterperry Blue' creeping around it seems to virtually disappear during the warm months but it's come back reliably here in cooler weather.

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  5. Your Cousin Itts look better and better! The wind here was real bad, howling and throwing things at the windows most of the night. Some weeds here, but already pulled.

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    1. Thankfully, the wind here wasn't that intense - trees came down in some areas I understand. Both weeds and reduction of the weed-like thugs is still a work in process here.

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  6. It's been cooler here, upper 50s. The weeds have come back with a vengeance here too. But so have the California poppies.

    I also have that geranium. No idea where it came from.

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    1. The Geranium would be fine if it was satisfied with being a filler but it's rampant here and any control I obtain is only temporary. I wish California poppies would take off here but, despite regular seed sowing, that hasn't happened yet - I suspect we need more rain to accomplish that.

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  7. Hi Kris, I am always amazed at the variety of interesting plants you grow. Cousin It is one of my favorites in your garden. As for the invasives, I wonder if the original owner of my house ever dreamed that plants like bamboo and English ivy would become the thugs that they are, and I wonder if I may be planting future thugs myself! We finally have rain here, and I am reminded of the many fall tasks, such as planting shrubs purchased at the end of summer before the drought began and transplanting others already in the garden but needing new locations. But winter has arrived with the rain. I am not sure how much I will get done, but we are sure to have some pleasant days suitable for gardening. If I can find the time in this busy season!

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    1. I'm so pleased to hear that you got rain, Deb! What will become a thug in the garden varies so much from location to location, even within the same climate zones, that warnings are difficult to assess. We've been warned about Stipa tenuissima (Mexican feather grass), for example, and, while it does self-seed, it's not nearly the menace in my garden that Geranium incanum or even Erigeon karvinsianus is.

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  8. I'm delighted that you have got some rain, but sorry about your weeds. It happens here in spring. Just as we're supposed to be busy sowing, the weeds take over. I swear they pop up overnight. Interesting what you say about Stipa tenuissima. It seeds itself around very readily in my garden. If I didn't love the plant so much, I would say it was a weed.

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    1. I don't want to suggest that Stipa doesn't self-seed freely, Sarah - it certainly does but it's still less vigorous by far than the Geranium or Erigeron or even Albizia julibrissin, the mimosa tree intent on world domination.

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  9. Things look so lush and happy in these photos, with your cooler temperatures and rain. I had not really seen what the big deal was about 'Cousin Itt' when it first started popping up on blog photos, but yours look amazing. Sometimes it just takes seeing a plant in the right context or in person to flip the switch.
    It's funny how some plants seem desirable and then start outcompeting other plants. I've had my share of thugs to eradicate, although sometimes they fit the bill for tough spots where nothing else will grow!

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    1. 'Cousin Itt's' appeal may be attributed to its ability to handle dry shade (or partial shade anyway). The plant lost much of its allure here when so many people had difficulty getting it established. The 3 I planted under the Agonis flexuosa were the first ones I purchased and they've done better in that location than any others I've tried. Both are Australian natives and I've wondered if their compatibility gave the Acacia a boost.

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