Friday, March 31, 2017

Too Many Favorites!

It's the final Friday of the month, the date Loree at danger garden hosts favorite plant posts.  I really tried to winnow down my list to a reasonable level but every trip through the garden presented a challenge for me.  Our heavy winter rains have given us the gift of a truly splendid spring and I can't help but use every opportunity to present it in all its glory.  (Watch out for my wide shots post next week - I expect it's going to be very photo heavy!)

So, here we go with my current (dozen) favorites:

I showed a similar view of dwarf Echium webbii a few posts ago but I can't resist showing the plant as it looks now.  It fits this space next to the back patio much better than the Lupinus propinquus I had in this spot last year (before it was consumed by tent caterpillars).  The Felicia aethiopica at its feet and the over-achieving Lobelia valida 'Delft Blue'  to the right complement it well too.  The Echium is drought tolerant and should get no larger than 3x3 feet.

Given that I live in California, you might think that growing California poppies (Eschscholzia californica) from seed is no mean feat but between the interference of raccoons and inadequate rain in prior years, I've had no end of trouble getting them to bloom.  This year I got a good turn-out from 'White Linen' on the back slope.  They look nice with the Calla Lilies (Zantedeschia aethiopica) that came with the garden too.  The lilies die down every summer but return following our winter rains.

Leucadendron 'Pisa' has produced its cone "flowers" right on schedule this year.  The foliage is a wonderful silver color.  The luminescent yellow "flowers" are actually bracts surrounding a silvery cone.  This plant started out life in my garden in a pot in 2014 and moved into its current location in late winter 2015.  It needs moderate water and can grow to 8x5 feet.  Mine is closer to 6x4 feet.

My last remaining stretch of Ceanothus hedge is in full bloom.  As with the Ceanothus hedge I removed from the front garden when the shrubs began to fail, it's backed by another hedge of Xylosma congestum.  Inherited with the garden, I have no ID for the species or cultivar.  I lost one of the shrubs making up this hedge in 2015 but, so far, the remaining shrubs appear healthy.  Sitting at the edge of the steep back slope, perhaps they have better drainage than the ill-fated specimens that were planted on the front slope.

Cistus x skanbergii responded to warmer temperatures by covering itself in pale pink blooms.  Planted in September 2014, it took our drought in stride.  I think I'm really going to like how it looks with the smoke bush (Cotinus coggygria 'Royal Purple') I planted in the same bed last November.  The latter began leafing out this month.

Hellebores aren't common here so I'm really pleased to have 2 varieties bloom for me.  The variety shown at the top of this collage is Helleborus 'Anna's Red'.  It produced its first burgundy red bloom a month ago but it has several buds now.  I love its foliage too.  H. 'Phoebe' (bottom row) was added to my garden soon after I moved in, probably in 2011.  It didn't bloom in its original location and I moved it a couple of years later.  It sulked for a long time.  It produced one, maybe 2, flowers last year but it has close to a dozen blooms and buds now.  'Anna's Red' died down completely last summer but 'Phoebe' was evergreen.

In contrast to the hellebores, ivy geranium (Pelargonium peltatum) is very common here but I still want to share what a terrific show P. 'Pink Blizzard' is putting on along the raised wall we extended last year.  I suspect it likes the improved soil and drainage and of course the winter rains didn't hurt.  It's winding its way around and through Aeonium arboreum and Rosa chinense 'Mutabilis' here.

Here's another common plant, albeit one in a relatively uncommon color.  Anagallis 'Wildcat Mandarin', planted in 2015, is returning for a third run.  It makes a good low-growing ground cover in this partial shade setting and nicely echoes the orange tones in the Arctotis 'Pink Sugar' next to it.

Lotus bertholdii 'Amazon Sunset' is aggressive to say the least but it has been effective in keeping out the raccoons who regularly tore up this bed on the south side of the house.  It seems to take regular trimming in stride but I've found I have to keep at it to prevent the vine-like stems from covering the flagstone path.  I'd thought that the flowers would be less showy when used as a ground cover rather than hanging from a pot but I was wrong!

After months of flaunting buds, Ageratum corymbosum finally burst into bloom just after Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day.  This plant is an evergreen shrub or, as the grower describes it, an "ever-purple" shrub.  It needs afternoon shade in my climate.  When it's done with its spring bloom period, I cut it back hard and the attractive, velvety-textured foliage refreshes itself within a month or so.

Okay, you've made it to the last plant on my list!  This is Acer palmatum 'Mikawa Yatsubusa', a dwarf Japanese maple.  I unceremoniously moved it to a border in the vegetable/cutting garden in December after I replaced it in its former backyard location with a dwarf Jacaranda I'd coveted.  Frankly, I didn't have high hopes for its survival - Japanese maples can struggle here - but it's come back strong, probably aided by all that rain we got.


I'm lucky that my climate has positively affected my garden.  My only complaint at present is with the persistent high winds, which are drying things up quickly now that our winter rains are over.  I know other gardeners, including our host, have faced far more serious weather challenges.  Visit Loree at danger garden to discover what's stood the test of the tough winter she and others have had to face down.


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

20 comments:

  1. Hi Kris, interesting to see you favorite plants for this month! Love the Echium webbii, such a pretty blue.
    I am so surprised to see that you are able to grow hellebores! I always have liked helleborus very much, but really thought we couldn't grow these plants here at all, so I didn't even try. But after seeing your pictures maybe it is worth giving 'Phoebe' a go.
    Wishing you a nice weekend!
    Christina

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    1. Patience is required with hellebores here I think, Christina. 'Phoebe' took forever to bloom for me, although, to be fair, the first location I selected for it may have been a poor choice. While 'Anna's Red' has bloomed, albeit not heavily, all 3 springs I've had it, the others I've planted, all in the 'Winter Jewels' series, have struggled just to produce foliage.

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  2. Wow, does your garden look gorgeous! The Ceanothus and Cistus are just right. Rain IS magic.

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    1. Maybe we'll be lucky and get some nice tropical rainstorms this summer! Now, where did I put my rain dance drums...

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  3. "Where there is water there is life." Your garden proves it. Gorgeous!

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    1. The winter rains were such an unexpected blessing after that disappointing El Nino the year before! I'm hoping that the so-called "ridiculously resilient ridge" (of high pressure) that kept rain out of SoCal in previous years has permanently relocated.

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  4. That tapestry of colour in the first pic is just glorious. And to think it was planted less than two years ago.

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    1. After all the work that's gone into it, the garden feels like it's finally coming together, Jessica - at least until our climate throws another challenge our way.

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  5. WOW! You must be so happy right now, your garden looks just absolutely amazing, no wonder you couldn't pare down your favorites (and why should you?). That Leucadendron 'Pisa'...oh that I could have it in my garden!

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  6. It looks like your Cistus/Cotinus combination will be to die for! And it's wonderful the 'White Linen' poppies finally came through; they look quite pretty on that slope. My own results include a reasonable showing from the basic orange, self-seeded in odd spots. (They seem to germinate best between the pavers...!) And a few plants have come through from all the seeds sown late last year. It's fabulous that your Hellebores have bloomed :) And I love the Lotus - what a lot of gorgeous color!

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    1. I'm pleased with the placement of the Cotinus thus far. Re the California poppies, I suspect the spaces between the pavers allow water to percolate down into the soil and poppies do want water to germinate and bloom!

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    2. My Californian poppies are beginning to bloom. I can see drifts of fallen seedpods ... they even wander into the house caught on Thomas silky fur. Learning to be ruthless about weeding, and leaving enough to delight in!

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    3. I'm struggling to find a happy place between order and utter chaos myself, Diana. So far, I'm afraid I'm a bit too tidy.

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  7. Your garden looks incredible!! I'm so happy with all the rain you've had! Is the drought officially over?

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    1. No, I don't think anyone's calling the drought entirely over, although water restrictions have been lifted in many, if not most, areas. It remains to be seen how the snow pack in Northern California holds up this summer - there are some fears that it could melt too fast, reducing the water reserves we need to get us through our long annual dry period. SoCal isn't in as good a shape as NorCal. My own area is classified as between dry and in moderate drought. Our water restrictions have been reduced but not eliminated.

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  8. Just stunning. The winter rains have been a bonus for your garden-but then you chose a pretty gorgeous selection of plants to add to your garden. And nice to see the white linen California poppy. Have you grown and other colors? One year I had success with a mixed packet seeds but have not tried since.

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    1. I've tried spreading California poppy seeds in various colors at intervals over several years with limited success until this year. In addition to 'White Linen', I spread what I recall was a mix of colors but, although they've germinated, none have bloomed as yet. I put in plugs of a 'Thai Silk' variety last year on my front slope but, as of yet, I haven't seen any sign that those plan to return this year.

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  9. Wow Kris, your garden is overflowing and abundant! Regular water makes such a difference. We've had two "droughty" years in a row in CT. Hopefully lack of rain won't prove to be one of those things that comes in threes.

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    1. I hope not, Sue. Our drought lasted 5 years and, despite this winter's good rains, I'm not counting it over quite yet. Although my fingers are crossed that the tide has turned, there's always the possibility that this winter was a one-off event.

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