Friday, June 30, 2017

June Favorites

My garden is a mess.  That's not all that unusual for summer, which is the toughest season in my garden, but several days away during a heatwave didn't help matters any and a full schedule has yet to give me time to dig into a full-scale clean-up even though the return of our marine layer has made working in the garden pleasant again.  So, when I stepped into the garden to take photos for the monthly favorites post hosted by Loree of danger garden, I was hard-pressed to see what was looking good.  The biggest problem is that everything within 20 feet of the large mimosa tree (Albizia julibrissin) in the middle of my back garden, is covered in a layer of pink and brown fuzz.

Although I love the structure and presence of the multi-trunked Albizia in my back garden, I HATE the mess it creates every year, starting from the moment it begins leafing out in late spring and continuing into winter when every seedpod it drops seems to produce viable seedlings.  During the height of the drought last year, the litter was low by comparison to prior years but, after our solid winter rains this year, it seems to be making up for lost time in the litter department.  Within an hour of arriving home late Monday afternoon, with the temperature still in the low 90s, I spent half an hour sweeping up the back patio, just because I couldn't stand the mess.  The picture on the right was taken on Wednesday, just hours after the gardeners had visited to blow the debris clear.  Those fuzzy pink flowers stick to everything!

But I persevered and, after a couple of rounds of the garden, photographed quite a few plants that held their own against both heat and pink fuzz to share with you.

All the Abelias in my garden are looking good right now.  I have at least 4 different cultivars and perhaps a dozen plants but Abelia 'Kaleidoscope' stood out from the pack.  It's done a nice job here of acting as a ground cover, although, as you can see in this photo, it does have the odd habit of throwing up a few straight stems.  As soon as I get more time in the garden, I'll be cutting those off to encourage the plant to extend out rather than up.  One bonus with this plant is that pink fuzz does not adhere to its glossy leaves.

I'm chagrined to report that I don't have a name for this dark-leaved Aeonium arboreum.  I clipped a rosette from somewhere and stuck it in among the green-leafed variety when I planted the area above the dry-stacked wall we extended last year.  Its rosettes seem to be flatter than the dark Aeonium I grow elsewhere.

The Agapanthus I inherited with the garden are in full bloom in both the back and front gardens.  The largest clumps are in the back but those are covered in pink fuzz so I photographed these fuzz-free specimens in the border fronting the house.  I probably have a month more of blooms before I start cutting the flowers back.  Last year, I stopped counting the bloom stalks I cut after I passed 250.  Most are various shades of blue but there are a few clumps of a white-flowered variety too.

This Coprosma repens 'Plum Hussey' planted alongside our south patio looked terrible last year.  I gave it a judicious pruning during the winter months but I think the winter rains deserve most of the credit for its resurrection.  I love its glassy foliage, which I frequently use as an accent in floral arrangements.

I didn't have this plant listed in my personal directory but I believe it's a Cotyledon orbiculata.  It's taller and has larger leaves than the 2 other Cotyledon I have.  It's surrounded by another Abelia 'Kaleidoscope' on one side and Grevillea 'Superb' on another.  The flowers play off the colors in both of those plants and the leaves contrast nicely with their textures.

This is Duranta 'Sapphire Showers', which is the heaviest bloomer by far of any of the Duranta I grow.  I dump gray water from the kitchen on it once a week and it flowers without fail during the summer months.  (I picked the pink fuzz off of it before taking my photographs.)

I returned home from the Garden Blogger's Fling to find that the wisteria I've been trying to eradicate almost since we moved in had crept onto the side patio along my cat's screened enclosure to weave itself up this potted Kalanchoe orgyalis.  Although there was no way I was going to leave the wisteria in place, I admit that I like the way its green and bronze foliage complemented the succulent.

The wispy foliage of Leptospermum 'Copper Glow' isn't easy to photograph but this tall shrub, one of 2 in my front garden, deserves special mention for the large sprays of small white flowers it produced this year.  The second shrub has just a few widely scattered blooms.  Neither produced much in the way of flowers at all in prior years.  Perhaps this is yet another impact of our heavier-than-usual winter rains.

Certain Leucadendron develop red foliage during the summer months.  L. salignum 'Chief' is one of those.  Its foliage is finer than that of most of the other Leucadendron I grow.  The smaller dark-leaved shrub in front of 'Chief' is L. 'Ebony' and the burgundy-foliage plant to the rear on the right is another Coprosma 'Plum Hussey'.

Leucadendron 'Wilson's Wonder', one of my all-time favorite plants, also develops red color during the summer months.  This is the smaller of my 2 specimens, planted 2 and a half years ago.  I'm hoping I can keep it smaller than the one I brought with us when we moved here over 6 years ago, which is probably 6 feet tall and at least as wide.  (You can see a photo of it in its summer glory in an earlier post here.)

For more June favorite plant selections, visit Loree at danger garden.

Best wishes for a wonderful holiday weekend for those of you in the US celebrating Independence Day!

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

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Wednesday Vignette: Postcards from the 2017 Garden Bloggers' Fling

Should you have wondered where I disappeared to for a week, I recently returned from the 2017 Garden Bloggers' Fling, held in the Washington D.C. area.  Although I've been blogging for four and a half years now, this was my first Fling.  It was both wonderful and exhausting.  I came home with almost 900 photos and it will be a while before I've sorted them out.  I'll share my tour in installments once I've done so but, for today's Wednesday Vignette hosted by Anna of Flutter & Hum, I thought I'd show you some randomly selected shots.

Engraved stone tablet in the Virginia garden of Jeff Minnich

One of several similar sculptures at Marjorie Merriweather Post's Hillwood Estate, this figure of a woman with the limbs of a lion was simultaneously captivating and creepy

Scene from the US Botanic Garden on the National Mall, featuring Cercis canadenis 'Rising Sun' (right), a tree I've long coveted

A beautifully designed and intricately layered combination of plants in Barbara Katz's garden, one of my favorites on the tour

One of the many inhabitants of the Butterfly Conservatory at Brookside Gardens in Maryland

Steps in the backyard garden of Tammy Schmitt, the Capital Region Fling Director

Tammy and her sweet dog

A frog (or toad?) enjoying the pond in Linda Hostetler's fabulous Virginia garden

View from the back patio of the Stone Tower Winery, where Fling participants had a wonderful lunch

Lotus in full bloom at Meadowlark Gardens in Vienna, Virginia, where our Fling ended

These photos reference less than half the sites we visited but I promise to share many more at intervals over the next couple of months.  In the meantime, visit Anna at Flutter & Hum for more Wednesday Vignettes.

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

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

The new kind of marauder

Last week, a visitor to my garden left a calling card of sorts.  On an early morning swing by the fountain the back area, I saw this:

I haven't seen a raccoon in months and there's been none of the usual signs of their activity.  No plants have been pulled out of the ground or left shredded in pieces.  No trenches have been dug through my planting beds.  No soil has been strewn about.  But birds and squirrels aren't known to rearrange the shells in our fountain.  Conceivably, it could have been a skunk but I've never seen them rummage in the fountain either and there were no tell-tale olfactory clues.  However, thanks to a new security system, we now have a video record of intruders.  Footage of the back garden showed the culprit in the act.  I pulled a series of screen shots.

He spent a little over 7 minutes in and around the fountain.  Other than dropping a few shells on the ground and breaking a few more, he caused no damage.  Have the raccoons of old been replaced by more gentle marauders?  Or is he still learning his tradecraft?   Only time will tell I suppose.

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

Monday, June 19, 2017

In a Vase on Monday: Lisianthus, at last

I don't know if you've wondered what in heck happened to the blooms of my Eustoma grandiflorum (commonly known as Lisianthus), but I have.  However, looking back into my photographic record from last year, I found that I featured these flowers in vases for the first time in mid-June almost exactly one year ago.  So, it appears they're not actually late at all (even if they did bloom earlier in 2015).  I've just been impatient.  And I'm still impatient, as there was only one bud in full bloom on Sunday.  Under most circumstances, I'd have waited until there were more flowers before cutting any but we're in the middle of an extended heatwave and I'm going to be out of town from mid-week through the weekend so I thought I might as well enjoy the bloom while I can.  My husband is assigned to water the garden should the heat start to shrivel everything in my absence but, if the heat is severe, that may be of little help.

Despite my focus on the Eustoma, my first vase is an ensemble cast.

The white Eustoma flower is surrounded by both new blooms, like the ornamental oregano, and others on the wane, like the Arthropodium

Back view, highlighting foxglove stems that have hung on longer than I expected, especially given the rise in temperature

Top view

Clockwise from the left, the vase contains: Eustoma grandiflorum, Arthropodium cirratum, Ocimum 'African Blue Basil', Digitalis purpurea, Erigeron glaucus 'Wayne Roderick', Origanum 'Monterey Bay', and Tanacetum nivium

As I wandered through my garden in search of flowers, I passed the artichoke plant on the back slope.  I'd no idea what to do with the 2 long-stemmed chokes left on the plant but they were already too old to make good eating so I went ahead and cut them for a second vase.  I cut some Centranthus ruber as well while I was down there but didn't like the combination of the 2 elements so took a different tack when I assembled the arrangement.

Front view

Back view

Top view

Clockwise from the left, the vase contains: 2 artichokes, Leptospermum 'Copper Glow', Artemisia ludoviciana, and Coprosma repens 'Plum Hussey'

The unused Centranthus flowers went into a tiny vase with one of the Zinnias just now coming into bloom.

The tiny vase sits at the kitchen sink but was impossible to photograph there due to window glare

The larger vases took their usual places in the front entry and on the dining table.

Although, there were signs that the first vase might need to be moved to a safer location when it garnered unwanted attention.

Maybe Pipig is jealous of Lisianthus?

But Pipig was soon diverted.  A foolhardy lizard ventured into her screened porch.  She brought it through the cat door into the house, prompting an on-and-off again effort on the part of all members of the household to recapture it after she dropped it - twice.  My husband and I moved various pieces of furniture and tried to motivate the lizard to leave the sanctuary it eventually found behind the bookcase bolted to the living room wall.  Meanwhile, Pipig lost interest and gave up the chase.

She looks annoyed, doesn't she?  Whether that's because she blames us for taking away her catch, or because we didn't appreciate her gift, is hard to say.

I kept up reconnaissance efforts while she took a nap.

Pipig displays her signature signal that she's done with exercise for the time being

The lizard eventually turned up in the kitchen.  After a few more failed attempts to trap it, including one that involved moving the refrigerator, it was safely captured and released back into the great outdoors (while the cat continued to sleep).

Visit Cathy at Rambling in the Garden to see what she and other bloggers have going on for "In a Vase on Monday."

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

Friday, June 16, 2017

Foliage Follow-up - Knitting things together

No, I don't knit, but I do use certain plants over and over again to create a sense of continuity in the garden.  Late last month, Hoover Boo of Piece of Eden wrote about her use of Graptoveria 'Fred Ives' as a unifier in her garden and asked readers whether there were plants they used as such.  Aeonium arboreum is one of mine, as is creeping thyme; however, for today's Foliage Follow-up post, I thought I'd focus on another example: Aeonium haworthii 'Kiwi'.  I've previously described this plant as my "gateway" succulent, the source of my subsequent succulent plant addiction.  It was the first succulent I introduced in my former garden and the only one I brought with me to my current garden.  Like Aeonium arboreum, it's very easy to propagate.  When faced with an empty spot, I simply clip a piece and push it into the soil.

Here are some examples of how I've used it as an edging material:

I lined the patio side of this bed with Aeonium 'Kiwi and cuttings of Aeonium arboreum

Here, 'Kiwi' lines both sides of the gravel path through my dry garden

And here it lines another gravel path running between the garage and the street

Although Leucadendron 'Wilson's Wonder', currently flaunting its summer red foliage, was the focal point of this photo, you can see Aeonium 'Kiwi' (and A. arboreum) just alongside on the right, filling in a small gap between the chimney and the driveway

I've used it as an accent in plant beds too, as shown here:

This is a section of the succulent bed that faces the street, where I used 'Kiwi' (and yes, more A. arboreum) to accent Agave desmettiana 'Variegata' and Euphorbia tirucalli 'Sticks on Fire'

And here it is in the succulent bed running along the top of the stacked stone wall

And I've often used it to fill out pots of succulents:

Prior to the arrival of guests last week, I replanted this hanging pot in record time with succulent cuttings, including A. 'Kiwi', 2 varieties of A. arboreum, and a noID Rhipsalis

'Kiwi' can be found in many other areas of my garden but these examples are sufficient to demonstrate my dependence on the plant (and a shorter post was called for today after the marathon post I inflicted on readers yesterday).  For more Foliage Follow-up posts, visit our host, Pam at Digging.

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

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Bloom Day - June 2017

While much of what was blooming last month is still blooming this month, the garden has firmly shifted into its summer mode.  We were lucky to enjoy the effects of a generous marine layer through most of May and on into June but that seems to be over.  Temperatures have risen this week but I took advantage of the cloudy skies beforehand to take loads of photos before the heat arrived.  By way of both an apology and an explanation for yet another photo-heavy Bloom Day post, I also used this event as an opportunity to test out the capabilities of the new camera I received as a recent birthday present from my husband.

This month Agapanthus and Shasta daisies are taking command of the garden.

I inherited dozens of clumps of no-name Agapanthus with the garden.  This dark blue variety sits below the mimosa tree.

These clumps of a lighter blue variety sit in the same border.  There are also white Agapanthus here and there, as well as dwarf varieties.

Shasta daisies, Leucanthemum x superbum, add sparkle throughout the garden.  This noID ruffled variety is my favorite but I have some shorter varieties with single petals too.

In sheer numbers, Agapanthus and Leucanthemum flowers dominate in both the back and front gardens but the yellow yarrow is still an attention-grabber in the back garden.

Achillea 'Moonshine', shown here with a couple of spikes for Salvia 'Mystic Spires' among the blooms

 Leonotis leonurus (aka lion's tail) is also demanding attention.

The plant in the background came with the garden and struggled throughout our drought.  I cut it back hard during the winter and it roared back to life following our heavier-than-usual winter rain.  The plant in the foreground was added in the fall.

The strong yellow and orange hues of the Achillea and Leonotis are echoed in other plants.

Anigozanthos 'Yellow Gem'

Crassula pubescens subsp. radicans with yellow flowers on foliage developing its red summer color

Gaillardia 'Arizona Sun', shown with Euphorbia 'Ascot Rainbow' (left) and Gaillardia aristata 'Gallo Peach' (right)

Santolina virens

The white color of the Shasta daisies is picked up by the smaller daisy flowers of Tanacetum niveum scattered about.

Tanacetum niveum surrounded by thyme, a golden ornamental oregano, Gazanias, and Eustoma grandiflorum, which seem stubbornly reluctant to bloom

With a few exceptions, flower color is generally softer in the front garden, which is also peppered with Agapanthus, Leucanthemum and Tanacetum.

Oscularia deltoides

Abelia x grandiflora 'Edward Goucher'

Centaurea 'Silver Feathers'

Rosa 'Pink Meidiland', shown here with Cuphea ignea 'Starfire Pink'

Magnolia grandiflora

Gaura lindheimeri

Leptospermum 'Copper Glow', producing a larger number of dime-sized flowers than it's ever had before

The strongest color in the front garden has been provided by Hemerocallis 'Spanish Harlem', which began blooming just a day or two after May's Bloom Day post.  The flush is nearly over.

None of the 5 clumps of 'Spanish Harlem' produced more than 2 flowers in any one day

The back slope is almost devoid of any color other than green right now.  The Matilija poppies are the most notable exception.

These poppies, Romneya coulteri, move on their tall stems with the slightest breeze, making them very difficult to photograph

Scattered about, the floral workhorses of my garden, Gazanias, Grevilleas and Osteospermums, continue to produce a nearly endless supply of flowers.

These are just a few examples of the range of Gazania hybrids currently in bloom.  The beautiful pink and white flower on the left and the near-white one to its right are both volunteers.

Clockwise from the left are Grevillea 'Ned Kelly', G. 'Superb', G. alpina x rosmarinifolia, and G. 'Peaches & Cream'

Clockwise from the left are Osteospermum '4D Silver', O. '4D Purple', O. 'Berry White' (or its progeny), and O. 'Sweet Summertime Kardinal'

Am I done?  Well, no.  There are also blooms of many varieties present in smaller quantities as shown in these collages:

Top row: Aquilegia 'Spring Magic', Catananche caerulea, and Erigeron glaucus 'Wayne Roderick'
Middle row: Globularia x indubia, Nierembergia linarifolia, and Plectranthus neochilus
Bottom row: Polygala myrtifolia 'Mariposa', Symphyotrichum chilensis, and Wahlenbergia 'Blue Cloud'

Clockwise from the upper left: Arthropodium cirratum, Alstroemeria 'Claire', Digitalis purpurea 'Alba', Lagurus ovatus, Pandorea jasminoides, and Pennisetum orientale

Clockwise from the left: Tagetes lemmonii, Cotula 'Tiffendell Gold', Hemerocallis 'Double Impact', Jacobaea maritima, and Lonicera japonica

Top row: Bignonia capreolata, Bulbine 'Hallmark', and Cotyledon orbiculata
Middle row: Cuphea 'Vermillionaire', Lantana camara 'Irene', and Lobelia laxiflora
Bottom row: Pelargonium 'Tweedle Dee', Russelia 'Flamingo Park', and Rosa 'Joseph's Coat'
Clockwise from the upper left: Lotus berthelotii 'Amazon Sunset', Arctotis 'Pink Sugar', Gomphrena 'Itsy Bitsy', Pelargonium peltatum, Rosa 'Ebb Tide', Rudbeckia 'Cherry Brandy', Salvia lanceolata,  and Viola 'Pandora's Box'

Finally, barring another horrific heatwave of the type that struck on the first official day of summer last year, here's a peek at what's coming up in July:

Clockwise from the left: Albizia julibrissin, Alstroemeria 'Indian Summer', Hemerocallis 'Sammy Russell', Thymus serphyllum, and Zinnia 'Whirligig'

That's my round-up for the month of June.  Thank you for hanging on through the end.  For more June Bloom Day posts, visit Carol at May Dreams Gardens.

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