Friday, May 26, 2017

May Favorites - 2017

I'm joining Loree of danger garden in recognizing my favorite plants this month.  I can't see the foliage for the flowers right now so perhaps it's not surprising that all my current favorites are in flower, even if at least some of them were originally planted specifically for their foliage.

Achillea 'Moonshine' began blooming at the start of the month and it's in full flower now.  It has a long bloom period.  Last year, it bloomed from the latter part of April until mid-September.  It's sunny presence dominates my back garden at the moment.

When we removed the last of our back lawn in 2015 and laid a flagstone path between wide borders on either side, I planted 'Moonshine' on both sides to tie the areas together visually


The next plant, Arthropodium cirratum, commonly known as Renga Lily, is my go-to favorite for dry shade.  I purchased my first plant in January 2011 by mail order and added more later the same year.  In January 2012, I even added 3 plants to my neglected back slope.  They survived there and even bloomed but, when the removal of the giant Yucca elephantipes made the area much sunnier, I pulled the plants, divided them, and replanted them in shadier locations.  Within 2 years, they form large clumps and dividing them is relatively easy.  The last time I did so, I had not only enough plants to fill another area newly cleared of lawn but also enough to give to a friend and a next door neighbor.  And, with still more plants left over, I placed the bulb divisions in buckets along the street (with a plant description) to be taken by anyone who walked by.  They need periodic dividing as they otherwise get huge and baiting for snails is essential.

The evergreen clumps are attractive year round but I also love the tall flower sprays they produce this time of year


I planted 3 Centaurea 'Silver Feather' in March 2015 for the foliage.  I considered that the pinkish purple flowers mentioned on the tag would be a bonus.  My plants didn't bloom in 2015 or 2016 and I'd pretty much given up on their doing so until the first flowers appeared earlier this month.  According to the tag, the plant was supposed to grow about 16 inches tall and 12 inches wide and I planted based on those dimensions; however, even after hacking the plants back this winter, they're closer to 30 inches tall and wide.  In colder climates, I understand that they'll die back over winter but here the plants are ever-silver.

The plants weren't intended to block the flagstone path.  I may try moving them this fall.


Dorycnium hirsutum (aka Hairy Canary Clover), another silver-gray plant I introduced for the foliage, is also in bloom at the moment.  It self-seeds freely here and, although the seedlings can be touchy about being transplanted, I've managed to spread it through several areas of the garden.  It stays low and makes a good weed-suppressing ground cover.

The foliage is soft and fuzzy to the touch.  The bees love the clover-like pink and white flowers.

A self-seeded Dorycnium is shown here next to succulent Oscularia deltoides, making a pretty in pink combination


Another pink-flowered plant that surprised me with recent blooms is Echinopsis oxygona.  A gift from a friend, I thought I'd missed out on the flowers this year but 2 more flowers appeared this week.  I'm thinking of giving the plant a chance to live outside its pot but I'm dreading the transplant process.

At some peril, I managed to remove the weed in this pot


I included Euphorbia 'Dean's Hybrid' in this month's favorites post principally because it just looked so good backlit on the back slope paired with Agave attenuata.  I've cut back most of the flowering plants on the slope so there's not a lot of color there at the moment but 'Dean's Hybrid' adds a nice glow to the space.

'Dean's Hybrid' has grown on the dry back slope for 5 years now.  It dies out here and there but gently spreads itself around, always forming nice big clumps of chartreuse color.


Believe it or not, I also bought Globularia x indubia for its foliage.  I liked the thick, almost succulent leaves.  I'd never heard of the plant when I picked it up at a local botanic garden sale in 2012.  Its blue and white flowers were a surprise.  It's been slow to beef up but, like so many plants in my garden, I think this past winter's heavier-than-usual rains gave it a major boost.

I fondly refer to this as my hairy blue eyed plant


My next favorite, Jacaranda 'Bonsai Blue', is a relatively new acquisition.  I picked it up as a Christmas present to myself late last year, after giving up the hope that its price would come down. Living in Southern California, you can't help but fall in love with Jacarandas.  They're common here and, despite being one of the messiest trees around, are frequently used as street trees.  Regardless of their messy ways, they're gorgeous when in bloom; however, the common form can grow 40 feet tall, which creates an issue in my community if it's planted anywhere that might interfere with a neighbor's view.  'Bonsai Blue' is a dwarf.  The tag said it grows just 6 feet tall but other sources claim it can get 10 feet tall.  Even so, that's under the limit specified by my community's "view conservation" ordinance.

At present, my 'Bonsai Blue' is just over 2 feet tall


Some people consider Shasta daisies, Leucanthemum x superbum, common but I love them.  I have a ruffled form, sold without a cultivar name.  They flower on roughly the same schedule as Achillea 'Moonshine', although they don't have quite as long a bloom period.  Their petals are such a bright white I found them hard to photograph even under cloudy skies.

The plants do best here with some light shade during the hottest part of the day


The small white flowers of Tanacetum niveum were easier to photograph.  Like the larger Shasta daisies, they add a sparkle and freshness to the garden.

The flowers look like those on the common feverfew but the foliage is a soft gray color.  The plant is moderately drought tolerant.


I'll close with a mash-up of 3 evergreen vines that flower in unison at this time of year: Pandorea jasminoides, Trachelospermum jasminoides, and Pelargonium peltatum.  Although these are relatively common plants, at least here, their combination is somewhat unexpected.  The white bower vine and star jasmine were in place when we moved in.  I added the dark pinkish-red Pelargonium, which I'd brought with me from my former garden.  I hadn't intended to have it climb the arbor to join the other 2 plants but it had aspirations and took off on its own 2 years ago.

The only problem with this mash-up is the difficulty in keeping it trimmed.  I'm going to have to get a ladder out to cut it back this year.


Visit Loree at danger garden for a look at what she and other gardeners are favoring this month.


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

22 comments:

  1. I'm amazed to see the pelargonium reaching up so far (the most we can hope for is 12" before frost ends the season). Love the Achillea 'Moonshine' and C. 'Silver Feather' - tags can be so misleading, right?
    I meant to mention in a previous post how much I like your 'waterless' birdbath. It's a lovely focal point!

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    1. Pelargoniums, particularly the ivy geranium varieties, love our climate I think, Eliza, but even I was surprised when this one decided to climb - it wasn't that exuberant in my former garden. I suspect the dimensions on 'Silver Feather's' tag were based on circumstances in a very different climate. Like the Pelargonium, the Centaurea doesn't die back or die off when winter arrives - it just keeps on growing.

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  2. Inspired by your Pelargonium I tried to get one to grow up a trellis--no luck. I'll enjoy your photo instead. The Dorycnium looks great paired with the Oscularia, and the Tanacetum surrounded by...thyme?

    How do you like the dwarf Jac--worth the $$$?

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    1. The Pelargonium took a few years to gather its courage and climb. The Tanacetum is indeed surrounded by creeping thyme, something that does much better in my garden than Dymondia it seems. The Jacaranda's been in the ground just over 6 months so a judgment may be premature but so far, so good.

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  3. Silver feather looks like my plant.
    Which needs to be cut back and take cuttings and start again, every year or two. My four clumps are stepped like siblings. Going to make them five clumps. Autumn here - time for mine to get the chop.

    I have seen unpruned plants do a good imitation of a little tree.

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    1. It may be coincidental but I note that 'Silver Feather' bloomed after being cut back, which is something I didn't do in its first year in the garden. I'm going to try some cuttings too, Diana, but, as I haven't seen the plant in local garden centers, I'm also going to hang on to the parent plants for a while.

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  4. I love this list of favorites! Well, most of them. Shasta daisies send me into dizzy sneezing fits. My variegated Arthropodium (wintered in the greenhouse) is about to bloom. I would grow that Centaurea if it was just a tiny bit hardier, and the Globularia x indubia is going on my Brookings fantasy garden list.

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    1. The Globularia has turned out to be a surprisingly satisfying plant, Evan. I look forward to the day you create that Brookings garden - and I hope I have the opportunity to see it one day!

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  5. Everything is interesting and looks just like it belongs. Didn't realize Pelargonium would climb like that. Wow. That view image of Moonshine is wonderful Kris.

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    1. I didn't realize the Pelargonium could/would do that either, Susie. Most, if not all, of the ivy geraniums are trailing plants but it was a surprise when I realized it was shooting for the stars, or more probably the sun.

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  6. A wonderful favorites list Kris, I think my favorite (a favorite favorite?) would have to be that Centaurea 'Silver Feather'... wow! Then again that Jacaranda 'Bonsai Blue'...gorgeous. I remember flying into LAX one year when the Jacaranda trees were in bloom, what a sight!

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    1. I've always loved Jacarandas, despite their sloppy behavior. They're truly terrible street trees despite their heat and drought tolerance, unless of course your goal is to keep people from parking in front of your house during the summer months.

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  7. I'm rather taken with your hairy blue eyes. Be careful on the ladder.

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    1. Although I've no fear of heights, ladders do scare me, even when I'm not the one standing on them - they just don't seem dependable.

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  8. The Centaurea 'Silver Feather' was new to me from a previous post of yours, and now I'm smitten with the Globularia -- one of my favorite effects, plants that are almost prettier in bud than in bloom (like Edgeworthia, pearlbush, some peonies). And I can see how the foliage (which I assume is evergreen there) is an asset when it's not in bud or bloom. What a delight!

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    1. I agree, Nell - the blue buds on the Globularia are amazing. The petals appears to be arranged in a Fibonacci number sequence.

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  9. not only do I love looking at and reading about your plants, it is also personal for me. Some of I have, some I had (r.i.p) and some are ideas for me to try. That self-formed arbor is perfect, I love it when plants can be free enough to show us what works for them.

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    1. Coastal Southern California has a Mediterranean climate very much like parts of Australia so some of your plants do very nicely here, Sue. Even after 6 years in this location, I'm still learning about the garden's microclimate. Some California natives simply aren't happy here so I look more broadly for plants adapted to this climate. Our long drought and the the conditions accompanying climate change make plant selections ever the dicey proposition.

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    2. I guess California is so big that different regions have different climates? So all Californian natives won't necessarily work. And even in one garden there are several micro climates. Plant selection is dicey but it's so satisfying when you get ones that settle down and are happy. Canary island plants do well in our sorts of climate. Have you tried Echiums?

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    3. People often do talk about California natives as if all will work within the confines of the state's boundaries, Sue, but I know all too well that's not the case. I try to focus on those specific to my coastal scrub area but even those aren't foolproof. I do grow Echiums - I think I currently have 5 (only 2 of which are the same species and cultivar). They've done well here.

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  10. I love your Globularia--that's a real winner in my book!

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    1. It's been a winner in the garden too, Emily. It took a while to get going but it bulked up dramatically after our heavier-than-usual winter rains.

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