Monday, July 31, 2017

In a Vase on Monday: 'Loverboy' strays...

Last week we saw Dahlia 'Loverboy' married off to lovely blue Eustoma grandiflorum; however, this week finds 'Loverboy' on the prowl for a new companion.  Funny, but Annette of Annette's Garden asked whether loverboys ever really settle down.  I held out hope for the union.  Even Hollywood can point to Warren Beatty and George Clooney as males with a certain reputation who found good matches, albeit later in life.  Anyway, let's see what 'Loverboy' is up to this week.

'Loverboy' has been found hanging out with Gomphrena 'Itsy Bitsy',  possibly attracted by her height and willowy look

But she really is a bit of a bubblehead and you can see right through her

On the other hand, 'Itsy Bitsy' doesn't compete with 'Loverboy' - he's clearly in charge in this relationship

Clockwise from the left, this week's cast includes: Dahlia 'Loverboy', Gomphrena decumbens 'Itsy Bitsy' (who has also been known to call herself 'Little Grapes' and 'Airy Bachelor's Buttons'), Abelia x grandiflora 'Edward Goucher', and the Ocimum hybrid known as African blue basil

'Itsy Bitsy' seems to have a wandering eye herself.  Not content by 'Loverboy's' side, she's playing the field.

Perhaps she was attracted to the exotic Phalaenopsis?

Or maybe Dahlia 'Little Robert', found hiding around in the back?

She seems to be floating all over the place

Clockwise from the left, this case of characters includes: noID Phalaeonopsis (perhaps the mystery surrounding his identity is intriguing), Dahlia 'Little Robert', cool yellow Eustoma grandiflorum, Gomphrena 'Itsy Bitsy', and Leucadendron 'Pisa'

So what's happened to Eustoma?  Well, she's blue of course.

She's laying low this week, knocked down by the force of shifting winds

Her frequent companion, 'Sapphire Showers', has returned to her side

The tiny ensemble includes: blue Eustoma grandiflorum, Duranta erecta 'Sapphire Showers', Leucadendron 'Pisa' and Mentha spicata (spearmint)

Will 'Loverboy' and the elegant blue Eustoma get back together?  'Loverboy' may find his first relationship was the best one.  But will blue Eustoma have left town?  Or might 'Loverboy' be incinerated in an August heatwave?  Only time will tell.

Visit Cathy at Rambling in the Garden to see what's up with her floral creations and those of other "In a Vase on Monday" contributors.

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

Friday, July 28, 2017

July Favorites

I'm still in my summer doldrums, where it's hard to see my garden's pluses.  The sun's glare shines a spotlight on its imperfections and, despite all the mulch and soil amendments I've added, my sandy soil sheds water faster than I can deliver it, leaving many plants looking perennially parched.   The mimosa tree's pink flowers have turned brown and continue to drop fuzz under its wide canopy.  Nonetheless, the favorite plant selection hosted monthly by Loree at danger garden encouraged me to take a closer look at what I've got and I found plenty to be pleased about.

I see this Agave ovatifolia (aka whale's tongue agave) first thing every morning through the bathroom window.  It looks good regardless of the season.  It was one of the first plants I put in the dry garden on the northeast side of the house after I cleared the area of weeds and the plastic sheeting buried several inches below compacted soil and gravel.  Planted almost 5 years ago in August 2012, it's still only 18 inches tall and about 28 inches in diameter.  Although it wasn't labeled as such, my guess is that it's the cultivar known as 'Frosty Blue'.  

In March 2012, I planted 3 Cuphea 'Starfire Pink' in the backyard border, where they've performed admirably ever since.  They're not actually in peak condition in the middle of summer but, if you could see the mass of bees and tiny butterflies that swarm the plants from early morning into evening at this time of year, you'd understand how they ended up on my July list.  Annie's Annuals & Perennials recently featured this Cuphea on its "indestructable plants" list.  Mine get watered 2x a week during the summer months by our automated irrigation system but I don't consider it a water hog and it takes our hot summers in stride.  As an aside, the unidentified butterfly is smaller than the average skipper and seemingly impossible to catch with its blue wings open.  Amy of A Small Sunny Garden has seen it in her garden in the Sonoran Desert too. It's underside wings appear similar to butterflies identified alternatively as the Hammock Skipper and the Cassius Blue but on-line input makes both IDs unlikely.

So far, Dahlia 'Loverboy' is the most vigorous of the Dahlias I purchased by mail order as tubers this spring.  Several others have yet to flower and a few plants, most notably 'Otto's Thrill', don't look as though they'll even reach bloom size this year.  'Loverboy' is identified as a semi-cactus type.  I don't usually go for red flowers and this one wasn't originally on my shopping list but, when many of my top picks sold out before I reached check-out, I picked this one as a substitute on the fly.   'Loverboy' may be a turning point in my relationship with red flowers.

The Echeverias are looking good in mid-summer.  All 3 of these are in pots kept in afternoon shade.  Left to right, they are: Echeveria 'Afterglow', E. cante, and E. 'Raindrops'.  

Eustoma grandiflorum (aka Lisianthus) has been the star of my summer garden for several years now.  In prior years, the pink forms outshone the blue, white, and yellow varieties but this year the blues have it.  The semi-succulent leaves help the plants survive our summer heatwaves.  The blue form appears to appreciate some afternoon shade.

The sunflowers (Helianthus annuus) I planted from seed in April finally began to bloom this month.  The first to do so are 'Lemon Queen', shown here.  Half a dozen or more flowers have opened since I took these photos.  So far, none of the plants have toppled over or broken in the wind but I did have to add supports to some of the taller stems.

Okay, I featured Leucadendron salignum 'Chief' in last month's favorites post but, when I caught a photo of the leaves in the early morning sunlight, I had to share it again.  It makes great use of the early morning and late evening sunshine and, in my opinion, should always be sited to take advantage of it.

Rudbeckia hirta 'Cherry Brandy' has provided me a lesson in patience.  I planted 2 six-packs (plugs) of these plants in early November last year.  They've previously bloomed off and on throughout the year for me but this time they made me wait until summer to bloom.  However, this is the only Rudbeckia that's ever done well here so I'll forgive it the delay, especially as every source I've consulted indicates that my prior experience was unusual and that it normally blooms summer to fall.

This is Sedum oxypetalum (aka dwarf tree stonecrop), which I picked up earlier this year at the local Cactus & Succulent Society show and sale.  The plant is suitable to treatment as a bonsai subject to keep it smaller than its projected mature size of 2-4 feet tall and 1-2 feet wide.  While mine is placed in full sun, it tolerates shade as well.  It also has low water requirements.  The flowers are a bonus in my view as its foliage and tree-like form is what attracted me to it.

My Zinnias, most grown from seed, are even splashier than the Dahlias in my cutting garden.  They do need a substantial amount of water to thrive, which is why I've restricted them to these raised planters in what formerly functioned as my vegetable garden.  However, they handle summer's heat with aplomb.  The variety of colors and flower forms also makes them useful in floral arrangements.

With the exception of succulents, buying new plants in summer is at the top of my list of garden don'ts; yet it's a rule I break just about every year.  Featuring any such recent purchase as a "favorite" within a month or less of purchase also seems inadvisable as it could easily be dead before summer draws to a close but, because I can't help myself, here are 3 additions to my list of favorites this July.  Perhaps I should refer to them as "plant crushes" rather than favorites as they could be history in no time.

The burgundy beauty in these 2 photos is Alternanthera 'Little Ruby'.  I added 5 of them at the edge of the narrow bed that runs outside our dining and living room windows.  I like how they pick up the purple in the stems and leaf undersides of Plectranthus 'Zulu Wonder' (left) and complement the deep burgundy of Pelargonium peltatum (right).  They get morning sun and afternoon shade.  I've grown other Alternanthera as ground covers with relative success.  They're short-lived perennials here and most have gotten by with moderate water but the descriptions of 'Little Ruby' all refer to moist, well-drained soil so I have some concern in that regard.  Hopefully, I'll keep it from going belly up before the winter rains return.

The grass-like plant in the middle of this photo is Lomandra 'Platinum Beauty', a new hybrid.  I picked it up and put it down several times before I took it to the check-out stand.  It was a pricey plant but I've had great success with Lomandra 'Breeze' so I found I couldn't pass this one up.  It's a low-water evergreen plant that grows no bigger than 3x3 feet and it's good in sun or partial shade.  I've planted it among succulents on my front-facing slope, replacing Pennisetum alopecuroides 'Hameln', which apparently wanted more water than it got in this location.

Mandevilla 'Sun Parasol Apricot' was another impulse purchase.  I first saw it in early June and managed to walk away but I ran into again a week ago at my local garden center, offered in its own hanging basket at a lower cost than the plant in the nursery pot I originally saw.  As the succulent planter I had hanging by the front door was in need of an overhaul, I decided this could be a summer substitute.  Mandevilla generally do well here year-round, although I've never grown one in a hanging basket before.  According to on-line sources, it should be allowed to dry out before being watered. which gives it improved chances of survival. 

That's my July list.  I can only hope things look as positive at the end of August.  Visit Loree at danger garden to see what's found her favor this month, as well as links to related posts by other bloggers.  And, for what's looking good across the pond, check Chloris' top 10 list for July at The Blooming Garden.

Best wishes for a wonderful weekend!

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

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Meadowlark Botanical Gardens - Captivating views

In late afternoon on the last, very full, day of the 2017 Garden Bloggers' Fling, we arrived at Meadowlark Botanical Gardens.  We were scheduled to attend a dinner in the garden's Atrium at 6pm, which left us with relatively little time to tour the property's 95 acres.  Susie of pbmGarden and I practically sprinted in the direction of a scenic overlook that stood atop a spiral mound in the distance (point 14 on the map found here), admiring some flowers along the way.

This long bed, bordering a wide section of lawn, was dominated by plants favored by pollinators

Echinacea purpurea, Daucus carota and other plants I won't try to identify

Inula helenium maybe?

A little further along the path, we found a large collection of beautiful daylilies.  All the Hemerocallis seemed to be at their peak in the Capital Region during the Fling.

This rustic pergola marked the scenic overlook at the top of a spiral path leading up a lawn-covered mound

The spectacular views from the top of the mound and back down at its base are what I remember most clearly about my visit to Meadowlark.

This gazebo stood at the end of a wooden boardwalk extending into one of the lakes

Facing in another direction, I could see across 2 lakes, surrounded by more rolling lawn

Back down on the main path, we skirted around the lakes, briefly stopping to snap a few photos of what I think was the Toddler's Tea Garden.

However, it was absent of toddlers when we passed by

Along the edges of one of the lakes, we found lotus in bloom.

You can find lotus (Nelumbo nucifera) in Southern California but they're not common.  The sight of them always takes my breath away.

I was enamored with the geese we saw on the lake and at its edges but, based on the comments I heard from those around me, I think I may have been the only one in the vicinity who liked them.

My impression was that many of the locals held views of Canada geese similar to those held of the wild peacocks in my own community, where the birds are loved by some but despised by many

My favorite vista was one looking back across the lake toward the lotus.

The sky, trees and even people on the lake's shoreline are neatly mirrored in the lake's surface.  I'm tagging this as my Wednesday Vignette this week.  For other WVs, visit Anna at Flutter & Hum.

Having little time left, Susie and I headed back in the general direction of the Atrium, stopping for a quick spin through the Korean Bell Garden.

Clockwise from the lower left: the entrance to this garden, one of the decorated walls surrounding it, the view from the structure within which the bell stands, and the Bell of Peace and Harmony itself.  (You can find a better view of the bell here.)

We enjoyed a great dinner.  I even won a bottle of wine (based only on discovery of a ticket taped to the bottom of the chair I'd selected), which I asked the catering staff to open so my table companions could share it.  I've no photos of the wine or the wonderful dinner but suffice it to say that it was a great way to end the Fling.

I've covered just a portion of the venues we visited during the course of the Fling.  I'll pick up others now and then but I thought I'd take this opportunity to formally thank Tammy Schmitt, the Director of the Capital Region Fling; the rest of her team, Michele Shaw, Wendy Kremer, Teri Speight, and Peggy Riccio; all the gardeners who generously opened their spaces; and the sponsors.  Well done all!

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

Monday, July 24, 2017

In a Vase on Monday: 'Loverboy' gets married

The question is: Is the marriage a good one?  Dahlia 'Loverboy' has been blooming his heart out for over a week now, outstripping the other Dahlias in my cutting garden, so it was a natural choice for inclusion in a vase this week.  However, with its vivid red color, I was at a loss as to which plants to partner with it.  I have other reds in my garden, mostly in the form of foliage, but those generally have yellow-brown undertones, while this Dahlia has purplish-blue undertones.  Eustoma grandiflorum (aka Lisianthus) fit the purple-blue spec but I'm not sure the marriage is entirely happy.  You can judge for yourself.

If I had a plentiful supply of props like our host, Cathy at Rambling in the Garden, I'd have paired this vase with a wedding cake.  I guess I could have scrounged up a couple of rings but that was an afterthought.

This photo shows that Eustoma grandiflorum deserves the comparison with roses it often receives - could there be anything closer than a blue rose bud than this?  I almost prefer this view of the back of the vase to that I selected as the front.  A lighter touch with the Dahlia blooms may have been a good move in composing this vase.

Top view

Clockwise from the upper left, the vase contains: Dahlia 'Loverboy', Aloysia citrodora (aka lemon verbena), African Blue Basil, blue Eustoma grandiflorum, Eustoma 'Rosanne Black Pearl' (which is a LOT smaller than it appears in this photo), and a very dark purple-red Pelargonium peltatum.  My husband sniffed and asked "what's that smell?" when I was preparing this vase and his tone wasn't positive.  I think the combination of the lemon verbena and the basil is lovely but tastes clearly differ.

The first sunflowers bloomed in my cutting garden late last week so I cut the head off the tallest one while I could still reach it without a ladder.

Helianthus annuus 'Lemon Queen' needs little accompaniment but of course that didn't stop me from cutting all kinds of accent plants

Back view

top view

Clockwise from the upper left, the vase contains: Helianthus annuus 'Lemon Queen', Coreopsis 'Redshift', Jacobaea maritima, Leucadendron salignum 'Chief', Pennisetum advena 'Rubrum', Phlomis fruitcosa (flower), Phlomis seedpod, and Tanacetum vulgare

Two very different vases!  Visit Cathy at Rambling in the Garden to find more.

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

Friday, July 21, 2017

Linda Hostetler's Garden - Just beautiful!

After touring Tammy Schmitt's garden as part of the 2017 Garden Bloggers' Fling, we headed to Linda Hostetler's garden, arriving along with the 3 other buses of camera-ready bloggers.  The crowded venue and mix of sun and shade had me struggling to capture the beauty of the place.

I never managed a good photo of the front of the property.  Most of my shots focused on plant vignettes.

There were a lot of Japanese maples in this garden, all beautiful

The maples in this area of the front garden were placed in full sun at mid-day, something I could never do in my own garden.  The face plaque shown on the right was sited at the middle front of the bed shown on the left.

This large bed occupied the middle of a lawn area

Another good-looking Japanese maple, surrounded by other colorful foliage and flowers, with the house just visible in the background

There were nice patches of shade along the margins of the front garden, like this one

and this more formal section

Heading back along the side of the house brought us to a patio.  My immediate focus was the stream and the pond it flowed into.

I loved the fullness of the planting around this stream

The stream fed into this pond, which was an integral part of the patio on the side of the house

And here's one of the pond's resident amphibians

The area next to the pond was also densely planted

A wider view of the area surrounding the pond, caught as I was on my way back to the bus at the end of our visit

Although I didn't get a good photo of the patio itself, I snapped a few close-ups of the features surrounding it, including a Japanese maple under-planted with Japanese forest grass, a cute table topper featuring frogs, and bunnies guarding a conifer

Beyond the pond and the patio was a good-sized shed, complete with adornments of its own.

3 sides of the shed are shown here

My only clear shot of the house was this one from the back.

Beyond the wide gravel area behind the house was a huge backyard, already chock full of bloggers when I made it to this point.

A wood arbor marked the entrance to the back garden

This stacked stone wall with its own seating area was just to the left as I walked through the arbor, if I remember correctly

This is the far end of the wall and seating area shown in the prior photo

Another colorful planting scheme, accompanied by equally colorful ornaments

This spiral flagstone circle was much larger than the segment captured in this photo.  Edged by lawn, it created an area for the eye to rest in what was otherwise a densely planted garden.

Shady areas lined the area along the fence on one side of the property and we once again encountered a stream

Cobalt blue features appeared throughout the back garden.  They stood out against all the lush green but also contributed to the tranquility of the space.

Blue arbors marked transition points in the garden and blue umbrellas and furniture provided places to sit and enjoy the view.  There was also a blue birdcage, occupied by a spiky agave. 

But the centerpiece of the back garden, at least in my opinion, was another pond.  There was a gazebo within easy viewing distance but I didn't get a photo of that either.

View looking across the pond, which had a small wood bridge crossing the stream that fed it

I didn't have a chance to look for more frogs here

At about this point in my rounds of the garden, the call rang out to head back to the buses for a trip to the Stone Tower Winery and lunch.  I managed a few more shots as I hurried to catch up.

This plant combination stood just beyond the bridge over the stream leading to the pond

And this seating area was tucked into a corner

I enjoyed this garden tremendously.  To wrap up, here are just a few close-ups of some of the stunning plants I saw:

Clockwise from the upper left: Cercis canadensis 'Rising Sun', Curcuma alismatifolia (I think), Filipendula?, yellow and burgundy Hemerocallis, Hydrangea, Asiatic lily, and Iris ensata?  (Other than the daylilies, these plants don't generally grow in my area so some of my IDs are guesses.)

I've covered only about a third of the gardens I saw during the Fling.  I plan to cover the rest but my remaining posts are likely to be strung out over a longer period.  In the meantime, if you're interested, check out the posts of other Flingers, the links to which can be found here.

Best wishes for a great weekend!

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