Friday, January 27, 2017

January Favorites

After 4 inches of rain on Sunday, the sun reappeared on Monday, offering an opportunity to give the garden a thorough once over.  With heavy rains at intervals over the past 2 months, the season-to-date rain total in my area is more than twice what we got during the entirety of the October 2015-September 2016 season.  According to the US Drought Portal, my area now is now classified as in "severe drought."  Does that sound bad?  Well, maybe it's not exactly great but it's MUCH better than the "exceptional drought" designation we had when our winter rainy season began in October.

I spied a rainbow peeking out below the exiting rain clouds earlier this week


There are weeds popping up all over.  (I had remarkably few issues with weeds last year - apparently, even weeds didn't like our drought.)  But, in addition to weeds, California poppy seedlings are popping up in several locations, mere weeks after I complained about the difficulties I've had growing those flowers from seed.  It also wasn't hard to find plants to get excited about for the monthly favorite plants post hosted by Loree at danger garden.  Instead I had to winnow my list down so as not to be obnoxious.

So here's what made this month's cut, starting in the back garden:

Agonis cognata 'Cousin Itt' probably gets more than it's fair share of attention in this blog but doesn't it look good here under the tree?  Maybe I'm imagining things but I swear it grew a few inches in height in the past month.  This mass is comprised of just 3 shrubs, all planted in fall 2012.  I have plants in a few other areas but none have done quite as well as these.

Directly opposite the Acacia on the other side of the flagstone path, Rosmarinus officinalis 'Gold Dust' is coming into its own.  I planted 5 4-inch plants here in March 2014.  Variegated leaves are responsible for the gold cast to its foliage.

Agonis flexuosa 'Nana' is a dwarf version of the peppermint willow trees I have elsewhere in the garden.  The foliage has the same light peppermint scent and new growth emerges in a pretty reddish-orange.  The growth spurt visible here is attributable to the rain.  I used 3 shrubs to screen the small patio on the south side of the garden, a job it's done effectively.

This is Westringia fruticosa 'Morning Light' (aka coast rosemary).  Like the Acacia and the Agonis, this plant hails from Australia.  I planted 4 of these last year to add some sparkle to the backyard border.


The steep upper section of the back slope still looks awful and now weeds punctuate the empty spaces between dead ivy and honeysuckle vines but there are some stars to be found in the lower section:

The 3 Ribes viburnifolium (aka Catalina Perfume), planted in 2011, are in full bloom.  It isn't a flashy plant most of the year but it holds the slope and it tolerates dry shade conditions.  The leaves are glossy now that they've been cleaned by the rain.

This is one of 3 Pittosporum tenuifolium 'Silver Magic' we planted at the boundary line of the property after we took out the invasive Yucca elephantipes forest that had previously grown there.  These plants, which are outside our irrigation zone, have struggled, in part because the massive Yucca roots continue to decay and the ground here has slowly sunken in response.  However, this shrub looks as though it nearly doubled in breadth overnight in response to January's heavy rain.


Out in the front garden, I found a couple more plants to crow about:

Agave impressa, a solitary growing species, bore the red stripes of a bad sunburn during the summer but it's a healthy green now, surrounded by Graptoveria 'Fred Ives' and other  happy succulents.  The raccoons have been digging in this bed, even through the gravel cover, but they haven't bothered the agaves.

Rhodanthemum hosmariensis (aka Moroccan daisy) is producing loads of white flowers.  Although I love daisies, I almost prefer the pretty buds that stand out against the silvery foliage.  Formerly classified as Chrysanthemum and more recently reclassified as Pyrethropsis hosmariense, the former genus Rhodanthemum is what's still stuck in my head.


Finally, although it already featured prominently in my January Bloom Day post, I have to mention Leucadendron 'Wilson's Wonder' as January is its month to glow - literally.

I have 2 of these plants now.  The first, shown at the top of this collage, is one of the few shrubs I brought with me from our old house, where it'd been confined in a pot.  I put it in the ground in the front garden shortly after we moved in 6 years ago and it exploded in size.  I haven't properly measured it but I'd guess it's about 6 feet tall and wide now.  It's bracts turn red in summer but winter is all about the yellow cone flowers.  I added a second shrub, shown on the lower right, in November 2014.


I'll cut the list there this month but visit Loree at danger garden to discover what she and other gardeners have pulled out of the hat during what's been a very difficult winter in many regions.


All material © 2012-2017 by Kris Peterson for Late to the Garden Party

22 comments:

  1. Four inches of rain on Sunday?! I know you need the rain, but that's a lot of rain to get in one day! I'm glad you didn't get washed away and that your plants are enjoying all the rain, even if it also means more weeds.

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    1. I'm still discovering water-logged pots...Sunday delivered the most rain I've seen in one day since we moved here. Our irrigation system has been off almost 2 months now and we just got the lowest water bill we've ever had.

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    2. congratulations on the water bill!
      Still working on our water consumption.

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  2. Beautiful, Kris. Cousin Itt deserves all the attention it gets in that location. I'm crazy about the Agave-Graptoveria photo and plants. Stunning!

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    1. I thought the Agave was especially photogenic, Tim! I was also surprised and pleased to see that its summer sunburn had entirely disappeared.

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  3. Your January favorites are well chosen. 'Wilson' continues to be so striking, and I have 'Itt' envy. Finally found a 'Wilson' of my own. Yes, Village.

    Windy where you are? No gardening here today.

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    1. Congrats on your new 'Wilson's Wonder'! I MUST make Village part of my regular nursery rounds from here on out. We had a breeze but the Santa Ana winds did not blow hard here at all.

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  4. The rain really has had a noticeable effect - everything looks so invigorated!

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    1. Everyone here is predicting a glorious spring, Eliza. I hope they're right!

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    2. Wish I could fly out to see it!

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  5. That agave is pretty, and part of a great combination! I'm slowly trying more Leucadendron - yours looks great! And I wonder whether 'cousin itt' would like the desert?

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    1. A lot of people here complain about how difficult 'Cousin Itt' is and I've had problems with it myself, Renee. I've lost a couple of plants and others have been slow to establish. The 3 planted under the peppermint willow trees (Agonis flexuosa) are an exception. I've wondered if the Agonis and Acacia just happen to be compatible because they're both Australian natives. Or it could be that, having been planted well before water restrictions were in place, they were better able to get established. Who knows. In any case, if you plant one, I think you'll want to ensure that it gets shade during the hottest part of the day.

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  6. I am thrilled you're getting all that much longed for rain. Even more so that its quantities don't appear to be doing your garden any harm. The Agave impressa and its companions make for a lovely vignette! Thanks for participating in the "Favs" post once again, I really do love seeing what you're loving in your garden.

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    1. Some of my succulent pots developed standing water, which is a first, and although I dumped the excess water as soon as I discovered it, I worry that some of the plants in those pots may rot. But, beyond that, thankfully the succulents and other drought tolerant plants seem to be taking the "excess" moisture in stride.

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  7. We just got back from a trip to Disneyland this week. We arrived on Monday afternoon and all the Disney employees were talking about was how rainy it had been on Sunday, and how windy and cold it was. It did indeed feel cold to us. I'm trying to figure out why 60 degrees feels cold in southern California but warm in Seattle. Your garden looks beautiful!

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    1. That's funny, Alison! Maybe it's just the power of suggestion but, more likely, the wind factor played a significant role. I hope you enjoyed the trip despite our inclement weather.

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  8. The transformation is just amazing. Positively lush.
    I'm so happy for you Kris.

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    1. Thanks, Jessica! I guess all those rain dances we've been doing the past 5 years finally worked their magic.

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  9. Kind of amazing to think we've gone this far without our winter rain -- what a difference it makes!

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    1. The rain has felt a little like a miracle, Denise. I read speculation asserting that residual force of last year's El Nino had somehow combined with the weak La Nina to generate higher than normal rainfall but the argument seemed convoluted at best. I also heard that the so-called "ridiculously resilient ridge" (of high pressure) that prevented rain from reaching us for the past few years had gone "wandering" between Baja and Hawaii, allowing rain to come ashore in SoCal. As for me, I'm crediting the rain dances mentioned in my response to Jessica above...

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  10. The Agave and succulents image is outstanding Kris; it is definitely inspiring me to plant a small bed of just succulents, so far all of mine in pots seem to have come through our very cold temperatures so far this winter. You have a lot of treasures. Our electricity bills are lower in winter than summer due to the cost of the pump bringing the water up from the well!

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    1. If you're not already familiar with Gerhard Bock's blog, Succulents and More, you might want to check it out, Christina. He has a HTML page listing a LOT of agaves and their cold tolerance (in Celsius as well as Fahrenheit).

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