Friday, February 17, 2017

Foliage Follow-up - Highlights of my Garden Stroll

With what's reputed to be the most powerful storm of the season to hit Los Angeles in the offing, I took a spin through the garden to see if there were any tasks I should take care of before it arrived.  In the process, I took photos of whatever foliage caught my fancy for this month's Foliage Follow-up post, hosted by Pam at Digging.

I started on my neglected back slope, an area easily overlooked because it's largely invisible.  Accessible only by a narrow (and steep) stairway of  concrete blocks hidden behind a hedge, it's easy to ignore and, since the area was severely impacted by a horrific heatwave on the first day of summer last year, spending time down there has been more of a chore than a joy.  Cooler temperatures and the winter rains have done more than my poor ministrations to improve its appearance and there are now quite a few things to smile about.

The Agave attenuata I planted 2 or 3 years ago looked awful this past summer but they're looking great now.  One has even produced 2 pups (not visible in this photo).  The Euphorbia 'Dean's Hybrid' and Pelargonium 'White Lady' I planted have spread nicely.  The noID Iris germanica I moved from elsewhere in the garden look better than any of the Iris I have in the more carefully-tended areas of my garden.  Only the Carpenteria californica here (upper right) still looks terrible.  I pruned it in the hope of giving it a fuller, more pleasing shape.

The lemon tree was badly impacted by June's heatwave, dropping two-thirds of its fruit virtually overnight.  The rest rotted in place until I removed it.  It recovered well with extra watering through the remainder of the summer and the rains have also given it a boost.  It's loaded with immature fruit now.  Below it are some plants I inherited (Zantedeschia aethiopica, which die back each summer but return with our winter rains), others that moved in on their own (Centranthus ruber), and some I planted (Seslaria 'Greenlee's Hybrid' and Stachys byzantina).

Beyond the lemon tree, closer to the property line, there are more Calla lilies, some just beginning to flower; more self-planted Centranthus; a Romneya coulteri (aka Matilija poppy) I planted last year (upper left), which is fleshing out nicely after the haircut I gave it several weeks ago; and lots of California poppy (Eschscholzia californica) seedlings.  I bemoaned my inability to grow California poppies in a post a month or two ago but the rains have finally germinated some of the seeds I spread in this area so I may get a crop after all.  The raccoons like to dig here so  production is still lower than I'd like but it's a start.

Other foliage highlights on the slope include the almost florescent green moss I've shown before (which I guess isn't really foliage but I hope you'll humor me); an artichoke, which also dies down to the ground in summer but returns annually during our rainy season; and a close-up of some of my lovely poppy seedlings


Heading back up the stairs from the bottom of the slope brings me to my dry garden.  Just a couple of things grabbed my attention there.

Coprosma repens 'Plum Hussey', the first one I planted and still the largest and most robust, now about 5 feet tall

Two of my many succulent pots.  The one on the left with Agave titanota 'White Ice' as its centerpiece was recently spruced up with the addition of Graptoveria 'Fred Ives'.  The one on the right is newly planted with Sansevieria parva and noID succulents that appear to be some form of variegated Kalanchoe.


The front garden contains a lot of foliage plants but most of them have received plenty of attention in prior foliage posts.  However, two vignettes drew my attention on my pass through.

Phormium 'Maori Queen' enveloped by Euphorbia characias 'Black Pearl' 

The same Phormium viewed from the other side of the bed with Corokia x virgata 'Sunsplash' to the left


Moving down the dirt path that runs parallel to the street behind a Xylosma hedge to an area below the main section of the front garden, I spent a good half hour pulling seedlings of yet another of my hedges, which consists of Prunus laurocerasus (not shown).  While doing this I discovered a mystery vine, which has clearly sprouted and been encouraged to spread by all the rain we've received this season.

I wondered if it could be a passionflower vine but the way it's spreading (as shown on the right scrambling up the oleanders that run the length of my neighbor's driveway), I fear it could be a morning glory.  In my former garden, I learned the hard way how difficult it is to manage a morning glory growing in the ground.  Any guesses?  The leaves are smooth, not pleated.


Back up on the main level of the garden in the backyard, the Xylosma congestum hedge is still the most compelling foliage feature but I already gave that its due in last week's Wednesday Vignette (which you can see here).  However, there were a few more foliage plants that drew my eye.

Leucadendron 'Jester' with Melianthus major, which a cut back to the ground a few weeks ago

A noID succulent (perhaps a Crassula?) in a deep red color

Pseuderanthemum 'Texas Tri-star', which looks best growing up through another plant (like Ageratum corymbosum here), which hides its bare legs


That's it for my foliage highlights this month.  Visit Pam at Digging for more.


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

28 comments:

  1. Your mystery vine is Marah, wild cucumber, a native. Not quite sure of the species, probably either macrocarpus or oreganus.

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    1. Thanks for the ID, Jane! That may be even better than passionflower. It looks like a very interesting plant. I wonder how it got here? I tried to find the plant's base but it seems to be somewhere in the midst of the thicket of oleander, technically part of our property but, as it faces the neighbors' driveway, unofficially part of their turf. There is one resident nearby with an extensive kitchen garden so perhaps a bird dropped off the seed. Anyway, I hope I get to see it bloom and set fruit before the neighbors decide to hack back the oleander.

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    2. Be aware that this plant will take over your garden if allowed. The alternate name is manroot because the root is so large. It has the neatest seedpods; I call them porcupine eggs. The flowers are quite small. It is very common. You either got it by exposing some new ground to sunlight or you got a piece or a seed in a pot from some nursery or online. That is why I can't tell the species. The normal would be macrocarpa, but the lobes look too indented for that. If you got it from some northern place (Bay Area and points north) it would be oreganus. The fruits of the those two species look different. We have to wait.

      The wind is blowing very hard, but no rain yet at 10:45.

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    3. I doubt our next door neighbors planted this vine and I certainly didn't so it either germinated from something planted by persons unknown years ago or was planted by wind or critters. I'm not sure how the neighbors will react to it but I'm inclined to let it stay until they do.

      We got deluged with rain starting at noon today. I made the mistake of meeting friends for lunch and had a miserable time on the road afterwards. We've recorded just over 1.6 inches so far and it's still raining steadily here. I hope you're safe and comfortable.

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  2. Glad to see the back slope flourishing in all the rain. I hope the storm you're expecting doesn't do any significant damage. I love the two vignettes with the phormiums. I wish they were more reliable this far north, but I'm planning to try some Cordyline australis this year as an alternative. They can be killed to the ground in hard winters, but seem to return more reliably than phormium. Your mystery vine looks like a wild cucumber, to me. There are various species, but Marah macrocarpa is native to your area.

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    1. Jane agrees with you on the vine ID, Evan. I'm excited to see if it'll flower and fruit. Re Phormiums and Cordyline, the former have done better than the latter for me here. I had the best luck growing Cordyline 'Renegade' but even it did better in a pot than in the ground. I lost 2 beautiful 'Electric Flash' to some kind of bug working from below ground. I'm now gun-shy about trying more, which is a shame as breeders are doing marvelous things with them.

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  3. Nothing brings a garden back to life more than rain, does it?. Interesting to see how differently rain affects it vs. all of our watering. I tried growing Centranthis rubra a number of times with no success.

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    1. Rain really doe affect the garden differently than irrigation, doesn't it?! Centranthus is a virtual weed here, Linda, albeit a pretty one. It's welcome on the back slope, where growing anything poses a challenge but I try hard to keep it out of the rest of my garden.

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  4. Your garden is looking spectacular, no doubt from the rain you had in January. I was driving home a few minutes ago and heard them talking about the weather zin LA this weekend. It sounds as though it is going to be a major event. I imagine you will have water cascading down those steps but hope that the slope holds up and your plants don't suffer any damage. I'm sure your lot has seen this kind of rainfall before as they mentioned 2010 but it seems the worst in the late 1800s. Stay safe. Having driven r=through LA during the last rain event that LA river may burst its banks. It was almost at the top last time. Stay safe.

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    1. So far, the rain, while heavy, isn't any worse than that delivered by the storm a couple of weeks ago but it's still coming down steadily. I did have to take a circuitous road home, though, as my main route had been shut down for unknown reasons. My guess would be another downed tree.

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  5. I can see how your choice of plants, by necessity perhaps, are those that can survive lack of rain but what is the situation about using water. Are there limitations, by cost or regulation?

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    1. We were placed under watering restrictions in June 2015. There are financial penalties for violating certain rules (e.g. hosing down pavement) and for using more than has been budgeted on a monthly basis. Our initial budget represented a 36% reduction vis-a-vis our 2013 usage levels but that was reduced to a 10% reduction a few months ago. Some areas, such as many in Northern California, have had all restrictions lifted, at least for the time being, but Southern California is still considered in a drought status.

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  6. We have the Marah macrocarpa growing wild around here also. It takes a year off when it is super dry. That red Crassula is fabulous.

    Indeed your garden is as much a foliage garden as flower garden as was just displayed so well in your bloom day post.

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    1. Thanks HB! I hope the rain hasn't caused any harm out your way. I had to run an obstacle course getting home yesterday. The rain is lighter now but still coming down - we've had just over 2.5 inches in the last 24 hours. Unfortunately, yesterday's heavy rain didn't keep the raccoons away.

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    2. We "only" got 1.65", but that was plenty good. No problems here.

      Raccoons still destroying? Sigh.

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  7. Always a pleasure to see photos from around your garden! Since almost every phormium around town is, once again, melting from our winter temperatures, it was especially nice to see yours looking healthy. Hope the storm doesn't live up to the hype.

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    1. We lost power (several times) and our main route in and out was closed yesterday afternoon but we haven't experienced any serious problemshere, although there have been mudslides and flooded roads in the larger area. We could use some time to dry out but doesn't look like we'll get that today and another storm is said to be heading our way on Monday. It's nothing like what you've experienced this winter, however!

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  8. It's great to see your back slope plants recovering - those agaves look great! So far you're having much better luck than I with California poppies. I've been reseeding off and on since autumn and just tried one more batch. Hopefully this weekend's rain will do the trick!
    I really love your phormium/Euphorbia combination!

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    1. Rain is definitely the magic ingredient when it comes to germinating California poppy seeds, Amy. Now, if only I can keep the raccoons from digging up the seedlings...

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  9. So much diversity in your garden. I'll never get tired of your photos.

    Do have problems with Euphorbia characias reseeding aggressively? I removed mine years ago because I got tired of the seedlings but I miss it every spring. Would love a sterile cultivar!

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    1. I'd love a sterile Euphorbia too. This one certainly isn't it - it's probably no worse than Geranium incanum but that's not an endorsement. It's been a good filler for me but I can foresee the possibility of pulling them out myself one day.

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  10. I hope that the storms do not do wreak any havoc to your beautiful garden Kris. There has been some coverage on our television news here on what has been happening in California. Whilst you will no doubt be relieved to see the back of the drought steady gentle rain would have been preferable.You have some striking foliage plants. The deep red succulent in the blue pot is so eye-catching.

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    1. Northern and Central California have been hit much harder by the storms than we have in Southern California. The damaged dam up north was particularly frightening, although that seems to be stabilized, at least for the time being. Last Friday's storm did pummel us for hours and caused damage in some areas but, hopefully, that experience is behind us and the rain expected this week will be gentler.

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  11. Quite a lot of rain you've been having. Do you wish you had a bigger cistern?
    I esp. love your phormium in midst of the euphorbia - like a sea wave and a splash!

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    1. My current barrels, which hold a total of 475 gallons of collected rainwater, have been full since December - the little I've used along the way was rapidly replaced. It's more than a little frustrating to think about all that rain I might have captured if I had greater capacity but our property isn't large enough to accommodate a really large tank. I'll be even more annoyed this summer when what I've got now is long gone and it's dry as dust.

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  12. Although I always think of your garden as being full of exotic blooms you also have a great display of fabulous foliage too! I liked seeing your Melianthus major looking so good; I fear at least two of the ones I grew from seed last year succumbed to the icy cold winds and they aren't established enough to come back from the base I don't think.

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    1. Oh, that's too bad, Christina. I hope you can find a replacement.

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  13. There were downed trees all over Long Beach causing roads to be blocked but no loss of power here. Incredible winds, tho! Sounds from your comments that you came through unscathed. Nice to see you at the So Coast talk last week! I had to scoot out quickly so didn't get a chance to say goodbye but it was a treat to see you there.

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