Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Foliage Follow-up & Wednesday Vignette - May 2017


The blooms in my garden are very distracting at the moment and frankly I find it hard to see the foliage for the flowers but I took a look around and identified a few foliage specimens that I could get excited about, even if I've featured some of them before.  The first were the Aeonium arboreum cuttings I planted on the front slope, originally as filler after removing several of the Ceanothus shrubs that made up a hedge in that area.  As more of those shrubs failed and were removed, I filled in with more and more Aeonium cuttings until they became a feature.  All originated from a few cuttings a friend gave me soon after we moved into our current house almost six and a half years ago.

All these plants came from a single source of cuttings and all are planted in partial shade on the front slope.  Some are currently redder than others but I expect that's due to slight variations in the timing and degree of sun exposure.


Another early introduction to my garden was Acacia cognata 'Cousin Itt'.  My first specimen went into a pot but, entranced with its wispy foliage, I bought more and soon I was trying them in a variety of locations.  I lost one or two along the way (including the one that spent the first part of its life in a pot) but I currently have six of these plants.  After two and a half years, the last of those is finally bulking up nicely.

According to my records, this is the last 'Cousin Itt' I planted, circa November 2014


My oldest specimens, planted between October 2012 and April 2013, are more impressive.  I've featured them before but I thought I'd share before and after shots to show how far they've come.

The photo at top was taken in September 2014.  The photo on the bottom was taken this week.


The next plant that deserves mention is my much maligned mimosa tree (Albizia julibrissin).  I inherited this tree with the house and, were not for its size, its placement atop my back slope, and its overall presence in my back garden, I'd replace it.  It's an extremely messy tree and for almost half a year it's bare of foliage.  Its blooms are pretty but they begin littering the patio and garden as soon as they appear.  The flowers are followed by seedpods that perpetuate the litter for another six months and produce seedlings everywhere.  However, when the foliage emerges and before the flowers appear, the tree is attractive.

Flowers will begin to appear within the next month but I'm enjoying the tree for now


It's unusual for me to say I prefer a plant without flowers rather than with them; however, the Albizia isn't the only instance in which that's true.  I'm no Morticia Addams* but I will cut flowers off certain plants.  Here are two examples:

Helichrysum thianschanicum'Icicles' with flowers (left) and after the flowers were removed yesterday (right)

While I don't mind the flowers on the green Santolina, the bright yellow blooms on the gray form (S. chamaecyparissus) bugged me so they got clipped this week too


This brings me to the end of the foliage follow-up portion of this post but visit Pam at Digging, the host for this monthly feature, for more foliage highlights as I segue to my Wednesday Vignette.

My one hesitation about cutting all the flowers off the Helichrysum and the Santolina was that it might disturb the pollinators in my garden; however, the bees seemed to have plenty of other plants to keep them happy, from the Hairy Canary Clover (Dorycnium hirsutum) growing next to the Helichrysum to the Salvia argentea growing near the Santolina.  If I had any remaining concerns about impacting the bees, the following scene unfolding in my garden on Monday afternoon put these to rest:

Early Monday afternoon, I received a message from a neighbor warning me with some alarm that she'd spotted a swarm of bees near the top of the stairs of my back slope.  I went to check and saw this mass of bees, as well as others flying all around the area.  Although the bees showed no interest in me, I still kept about 5 feet away.  I told the neighbor that I was going to leave them alone for the moment but promised that I'd continue to monitor the situation.

When I checked the area four hours later, it looked like this.  Although there were a few confused bees still flying about, there was no other evidence of the earlier swarm.  If I hadn't seen it with my own eyes, I wouldn't have known anything at all had happened.


The swarm is apparently a common spring phenomenon, arising when a bee colony divides, which may be the result of overcrowding.  If you're unfamiliar with the phenomenon, as I was, you can read more about it here.  The bee swarm photos are my Wednesday Vignette.  Visit our Wednesday Vignette host, Anna at Flutter & Hum, for images that caught the attention of other bloggers.


*I belatedly realized that I'd featured two members of the Addams Family in a single post - Cousin Itt and Morticia.  Cousin Itt was related to Morticia by marriage through her husband, Gomez.  I'm holding 'Cousin Itt' accountable for my temporary Addams Family fixation.





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

18 comments:

  1. Two of your foliage features (the Aeonium and Cousin Itt) are ones I yearn to replicate in my own garden...but of course our climate does not allow that. Thanks for sharing yours and letting me swoon a little.

    Love the Adams Family...

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    1. It surprised me when I realized I'd been channeling the Addams Family - maybe Morticia WAS guiding my clippers when I went after the Helichrysum and the Santolina?!

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  2. I venture to say three Addams family members -- don't forget their daughter Wednesday. We love the Addams family here. That bee swarm is cool. Good for you for not over-reacting.

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    1. How could I have forgotten Wednesday! You're right, Alison. Re the bees, I'm glad they moved on by themselves - I was afraid my neighbor would make an issue of a swarm so close to her spa on the other side of our shared fence.

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  3. Wow, to have the aeonium and acacia do so well!

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    1. The Acacia require some patience - they take their time settling in and spreading out. In contrast, the Aeoniums are super easy - I just cut a rosette and stick it in the ground.

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  4. Hope the bees have settled into a peaceful new home, where they can enjoy your flowers, without disturbing your neighbour, or you.

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    1. I was surprised - and pleased - to find that the bees dispersed so quickly and entirely on their own. I thought I was going to have to put up caution tape restricting access to my back slope (if my neighbor didn't push for the bees' removal).

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  5. Love the aeoniums and Cousin Itt. Yellow flowers on grey foliage bugs me, too. I was glad to learn of Santolina 'Lemon Queen' because the very pale flowers look much better with the grey foliage.

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    1. Achillea 'Moonshine' also has gray foliage and yellow flowers but it doesn't bug me. Part of what bothered me about the gray Santolina was that it's growing just across from the Achillea - it was too much yellow. The green Santolina has tiny, very pale, almost luminescent, yellow-green flowers that don't bother me at all.

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  6. I used to religiously remove the Santolina flowers too. Now, due to a combination of tolerance and laziness, I usually let them stay. But I agree the clipped plants look better. I love the before and after shot, reminding us that it takes time for garden pictures to look unified and for plants to bulk up. I enjoyed your little video clip.

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    1. I left the flowers on the green-foliaged Santolina - they're more of lemon-lime than yellow and have a more subtle presence in the garden I think. Acacia 'Cousin Itt' seems unusually slow about bulking up but I'm glad I've been patient with it. I wasn't sure if the Addams Family was known outside the US - it's something of a cult classic here, which is perhaps how the Acacia got its cultivar name.

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  7. It is harder at this time of year to appreciate the foliage as much as we should but you found some great examples that prove foliage is always important. As others have said, well done for not over-reacting to the swarm; it must be quite scary to see; I hope they found a good new home.

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    1. Honey bees don't generally bother me but I admit that seeing so many in one place was a little intimidating. I have no idea where the new hives are but I'm pleased that there are none on any of my main garden thoroughfares!

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  8. Hopefully all those bees found a good home. I was wondering about your Addams family fixation and thought it was intentional!

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    1. Well, 'Cousin Itt' has settled in here for the long haul - he's got to be the reason Morticia suddenly popped into mind when I found myself chopping the flowers off the Santolina!

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  9. Aeonium has beautiful foliage! Many years ago honeybees were thinking about setting house in between the walls of our horse shelter. So I called a beekeeper out, but by then they had moved on.

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    1. I was contemplating calling in a beekeeper to move them when my husband speculated that they were building a hive right next to one of our major passageways through the garden (and too close to the next door neighbor's spa on the other side of the fence). Luckily, it was just a swarm massing prior to going 2 separate ways. They were gone within 4 hours of my sighting of the swarm.

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