Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Wednesday Vignette: Checking out the Dahlias

I'd been planning to stop by my local botanic garden to check out its dahlia display for well over a month.  Last weekend, the garden had an orchid show so I popped over.  There were lots of pretty orchids but nothing to swoon over; however, before I left, I swung by the dahlia garden to see what there was left to see.  The plants, like those in my own cutting garden, were on the decline but there were still a few fabulous blooms.  I wasn't the only visitor, though.

This was my first praying mantis sighting this year - I've yet to see any in my own garden

This one was fairly small yet and clearly hadn't mastered the art of camouflage

The praying mantis is my Wednesday Vignette.  For more images that caught someone's fancy this week, visit Anna at Flutter & Hum.

I'll close with a few of those fabulous dahlias.  If they were labeled, I was unable to make out these out behind their screen of mildewed foliage.

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

Monday, September 18, 2017

In a Vase on Monday: Zinnias steal the show

I'd planned to showcase one of my large-flowered Grevilleas, 'Ned Kelly', accenting it with Dahlia 'Terracotta', but the latter's blooms were looking shabby so I cut Zinnias instead.  As it turned out, the Zinnias stole the limelight.

Grevillea 'Ned Kelly' was subordinated to a supporting role

Even Leucadendron 'Chief', used as a foliage filler, seems to overshadow 'Ned Kelly' in this rear view

Top view highlighting the coral Zinnias

Clockwise from the left, the vase contains: Grevillea 'Ned Kelly', Leucadendron salignum 'Chief', Tanacetum pathenium, and several varieties of Zinnia elegans

As I've been spending lots of time in the garden on new projects, I'd intended to stop at just one vase this week but I couldn't bring myself to leave the front entry table unadorned.  I immediately thought of the Oncidium orchid I recently found blooming in a shady corner of my garden.  A brief stop at my local botanic garden's orchid show and sale on Saturday had finally provided me with a name for the cultivar, Oncidium 'Wildcat' (although an on-line search suggests a more complicated lineage).  I cut one stem and began hunting for suitable companions.

As you can see, Dahlia 'Loverboy' managed to insinuate itself in yet another arrangement.  While all the other Dahlias are either bloom-less or looking shabby, 'Loverboy' continues to produce one perfect bloom after another.

The rear view shows off the flower-like bracts of Leucadendron 'Safari Sunset'

I'd intended to give the orchid star billing but, looking at it from above, it's hard to claim that the orchid outshines either 'Loverboy' or 'Safari Sunset'

Clockwise from the upper left, the vase contains: Dahlia 'Loverboy'; Oncidium 'Wildcat'; Leucadenron salignum 'Chief'; Leucadendron 'Safari Sunset'; berries of a noID, self-planted Cotoneaster; and Alternanthera 'Little Ruby'

The color palette used for this week's vases, like our cooler weather, has a distinctly autumnal feel.  As fall officially arrives on Friday, perhaps that's appropriate.

It'll be interesting to see if other "In a Vase on Monday" participants are also feeling the seasonal shift.  Visit our host, Cathy at Rambling in the Garden, to see.

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

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Foliage Follow-up - The first signs of fall

With the return of cooler temperatures in coastal Southern California, I've thrown myself into a variety of fall garden projects and had just about forgotten that it was time to celebrate the foliage in my garden with Pam at Digging, who hosts the Foliage Follow-up meme on the 16th of each month after Bloom Day.  The first foliage plant that caught my eye was Acer palmatum 'Sango Kaku', also known as coral bark maple.  It's one of just 2 Japanese maples in my garden.  I've tried growing others but our summer heat, water restrictions, and exposure to heavy winds makes my garden relatively inhospitable for these beautiful trees.  'Sango Kaku' is a delightful exception and she's already showing a bit of fall color too, something else that is in short supply here.

This east facing spot next to the garage offers protection from the wind, morning sun, and shade from the hot afternoon sun, which seems to be just what the maple wants

My other Japanese maple is the dwarf, Acer palmatum 'Mikawa Yatsubusa'.  Unfortunately, it doesn't handle summer heat as well as the coral bark maple.  Last winter, I moved it from the backyard to a more protected area in the cutting garden in the hope that would improve its performance.  It may have helped some but the lengthy heatwave that began in late August and extended into early September was too much for it.  Just as it did last year in the back garden, it prematurely dropped all its leaves.  However, this week, I noticed that it responded to the small amount of rain we got from a surprise September thunderstorm and our current cooler temperatures by producing new, spring-like growth.

It still looks fairly bare but the bright green foliage helps its appearance a little

Meanwhile, in the back garden, Jacaranda mimosifolia 'Bonsai Blue', the tree that replaced the dwarf maple in its former location, took the long heatwave in stride.

Planted last December, the tree handled its first summer here with no trouble

Before I close this post, I'll mention another sign of fall, albeit an unwelcome one.  My mimosa tree, Albizia julibrissin, has moved to the next stage of its messy annual cycle.  Having littered my garden with a fuzzy mass of dried brown flowers for months, it's now dropping its leaves and its seedpods.  This week, while taking photos for bloom Day, I saw this:

This Albizia seedling was hiding behind a mass of Agapanthus foliage along a dirt path I travel infrequently.  I fear that one day the Albizia seedlings will get away from e and I'll wake up in a forest of mimosa trees.

I immediately pulled up the seedling, which was already nearly 2 feet tall.  The foliage was darker than that of my mature tree and brought the hybrid form Albizia 'Summer Chocolate' to mind but, pretty as it might have been, I couldn't bring myself to invite another of those messy trees into my garden.

This photo of the seedling sitting in a tub waiting to be hauled out to the compost bin shows its darker color better than the first photo

For more Foliage Follow-up posts, visit Pam at Digging.

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

Friday, September 15, 2017

September Scavenger Hunt - Bloom Day Edition

I stepped into the garden to conduct my Bloom Day survey believing once again that I didn't have much going on.  In actuality, there are a lot of plants with blooms but few plants with a lot of blooms.  However, there were a few exceptions.

Gaura lindheimeri is back after being cut back by half in June

The Pennisetums are in their glory.  From left to right are Pennisetum 'Fireworks', P. advena 'Rubrum', and P. orientale

This part of the backyard border is the most floriferous right now.  Gaillardia 'Arizona Sun' and Mimulus 'Fiesta Marigold' occupy the foreground; Leonotis leonurus (also back after a June trim) sits in the background; and Bouteloua gracilis 'Blonde Ambition' is scattered in between.

Bauhinia x blakeana (aka Hong Kong orchid tree) is making its regular September appearance

With the exception of the Gaura, most of the plants shown above were also blooming last month, although less robustly.  There are only a few recent arrivals.

This noID Oncidium produced several bloom stalks for the first time since last December

This variegated rosemary, Rosmarinus 'Gold Dust', just developed flowers

Most of the cutting garden flowers are on the decline but Salvia elegans (aka pineapple sage) has finally produced a mass of flowers

The stars of last month's Bloom Day post - the dahlias, sunflowers, zinnias and Lisianthus - are on their way out.

Clockwise from the left are: Dahlia 'Loverboy', D. 'Little Robert', D. 'Otto's Thrill', D. 'Punkin' Spice', and D. 'Terracotta'.  'Otto's Thrill' and 'Punkin' Spice' produced what seem to be the last of their blooms earlier this month but the other 3 are troopers.

After I cut the head off Helianthus annuus 'Lemon Queen', she produced a large batch of short-stemmed flowers, all clustered tightly around her stem and half-hidden under her leaves

I pulled about a third of my scorched Zinnia elegans after our last heatwave but some are still going strong

Eustoma grandiflorum (Lisianthus) did poorly overall this summer and I'm not sure why as the plants got more water this year than during last year's drought.  The one on the far left is 'Rosanne Black Pearl' but I don't have cultivar names for the others shown here.  The pink, solid blue, yellow and green forms are all MIA.

The tough, virtually ever-blooming plants are still going strong despite the extended heatwave we had from late August into early September.

Cuphea 'Starfire Pink'

Duranta repens 'Sapphire Showers'

Gomphrena decumbens 'Itsy Bitsy'

The large-flowered Grevilleas, left to right: Grevillea 'Ned Kelly', G. 'Peaches & Cream', and G. 'Superb'

The Lantanas also enjoy summer's heat.  From left to right: noID trailing lavender variety, variegated L. 'Samantha', and L. 'Lucky White'

All the ivy geraniums (Pelargonium peltatum) are blooming well

The heatwave may have set back the clematis, which was blooming more heavily last year at this time than it is at present.

Clematis paniculata (aka Sweet Autumn Clematis)

Other tidbits of bloom found during my scavenger hunt can be seen here:

Clockwise from the left: Mandevilla 'Sun Parasol Apricot', Achillea 'Moonshine', Coreopsis 'Redshift', Gaiilardia aristata 'Gallo Peach', Bulbine frutescens 'Hallmark', Cuphea 'Vermillionaire', and Russelia 'Flamingo Park'

Clockwise from the left: Abelia 'Kaleidoscope', Anemone hupehensis japonica, Asparagus fern, Cosmos bipinnatus, noID white Pentas, Tanacetum parthenium, and Zephyranthes candida

Clockwise from the upper left: Argyranthemum frutescens; Correa 'Wyn's Wonder, Gomphrena globosa 'Fireworks', noID violet Pentas, Pseuderanthemum 'Texas Tri-star', and Rosa chinensis "Mutabilis'

Top row: noID Angelonia, Catananche caerulea, and Globularia x indubia
Middle row: Liriope muscari, Lobelia valida, and noID Osteospermum
Bottom row: Salvia macrophylla, Symphyotrichum 'Monch', and Trichostema 'Midnight Magic'

If you're hunting for more flowers to view, visit Carol of May Dreams Gardens, the host of the monthly event that is Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day.

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

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Wednesday Vignette: Full moon over the Los Angeles Harbor

Last week, on September 5th, I caught sight of the full moon hanging low over the Los Angeles Harbor just after twilight's end.  Usually, any photos I take of the harbor at night are blurry at best.  But I thought this photo put the harbor in a particularly nice light.  (Pun intended.)  I'm presenting this as my Wednesday Vignette.  Visit Anna of Flutter & Hum to see what her camera caught this week and to find images shared by others.

I also took a couple shots of my cat this week that made me laugh, although the source of my amusement requires explanation.

Has Pipig been given a "time out" for some transgression?

Or is this simply an example of the usual feline narcolepsy?

Neither of those theories explain Pipig's behavior.  As it turns out, she was intently focused on a very narrow space at the bottom of the door, a spot about a quarter of an inch wide and less than an inch tall, where the weather-stripping running the length of the door stopped short of the threshold.  For over a week, my husband and I'd been perplexed about how teeny-tiny baby lizards were getting into the house.  Pipig is usually my husband's favorite scapegoat when something goes awry in the house but even he didn't think she was bringing in the tiny lizards.  Her behavior at the door provided the final clue.  As my husband searched for a temporary solution to stop the small lizards from entering through the gap, Pipig stood watch.  However, she eventually got bored and left her station, leaving us to chase down one more baby lizard before the hole was patched.

Frustrated house-loving lizards continue to hang out by the front door.

This is an adult lizard, approximately 3 or 4 times the size of the invading baby lizards.  Of course, the larger lizards do have another way into the house.  It they're foolish and enter Pipig's screened porch, she'll catch them and bring them in to lay at my feet, as she did yesterday.  Catching that one took my husband and I a good half hour and required moving several pieces of furniture.  He was relocated to the back slope, far from Pipig and her porch.

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

Monday, September 11, 2017

In a Vase on Monday: Silver looks good with everything

The silvery Leucadendron 'Pisa' that sits outside my home office had become top-heavy and during the high winds that accompanied last week's thunderstorm I was concerned that some of its branches might snap.  They didn't, but with a second thunderstorm possible on Sunday, I decided to trim away more of its foliage to take a bit of weight off.  The pruned foliage provided the starting point for today's vases.

Leucadendron 'Pisa' after I lightened its load

The cutting garden took a beating during our last heatwave and I've since pulled all but 2 of the sunflowers and a good many zinnias but there are still some dahlias producing new, if smaller, blooms.  Once again, Dahlia 'Loverboy' was the most prolific bloomer.

I added the foliage of Alternanthera 'Little Ruby'  to pick up the purplish color at 'Loverboy's' center but there's not enough contrast to create the desired effect

I threw in a few pink zinnias but they're over-shadowed by the red dahlia blooms too

As 'Loverboy's' blooms age, the petals develop tinges of pink

Clockwise from the upper left, the vase contains: Dahlia 'Loverboy', Agonis flexuosa 'Nana', Alternanthera 'Little Ruby', Leucadendron 'Pisa', Pseuderanthemum 'Texas Tri-star', and Zinnia elegans

The Eustoma grandiflorum 'Rosanne Black Pearl' (Lisianthus) I tried this year has been disappointing but, for the first time, I had enough blooms to use it as a focal point in an arrangement so I let those flowers set the color scheme for a second vase.

'Rosanne Black Pearl' isn't so much black as eggplant purple and the flowers are smaller than those of the other Eustoma grandiflorum I've been growing

I made a last minute change in the vase just before shooting these photos, swapping a ceramic base for this visually lighter glass one

Top view

Clockwise from the left, the vase contains: Eustoma grandiflorum 'Rosanne Black Pearl', a paler blue variety, and the same white variety flushed with lavender I featured last week; the silvery Leucadendron 'Pisa'; the flowers of Liriope muscari, normally hidden from view by the plant's strappy foliage; Osteospermum '4D Silver'; and Symphyotrichum chilense

Sunday's thunderstorm was a no-show, at least here, although we did get winds gusts of 20mph in the evening hours so I'm glad I got the Leucadendron trimmed despite an unexpectedly hot (91F) afternoon.  I can't complain, though - my weather wasn't punishing like that faced by residents of Florida and the Southeastern Seaboard.  My thoughts are with all of you touched by Hurricane Irma, as well as the survivors and families of victims of the 9/11 attacks 16 years ago today.

For more Monday vases, visit Cathy at Rambling in the Garden, the gracious host of "In a Vase on Monday."

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