Friday, October 27, 2017

October 2017 Favorites

This week's heatwave has tried my patience and once again made it difficult for me to look at my garden without a jaundiced eye.  Nonetheless, I found plants that stood out and I'm joining Loree of danger garden once again to celebrate this month's favorites.

The first are the 2 tardy bloomers I mentioned in my October Bloom Day post.  Mid-month they were showing only a handful of blooms but, despite this week's miserable heatwave, both are now blanketed with flowers.

Barleria obtusa, aka bush violet, is a low-water shrub native to South Africa.  I picked up 2 in 1-gallon pots in 2014 at my local botanic garden's fall plant sale.  The one in the middle photo sits in a bed next to the fountain in the back garden, where it has plenty of room to stretch out.  The one in the photo on the right is squeezed into a space between 2 other shrubs in the backyard border, where despite pruning it threatens to swamp its neighbors.  It grows about 3 feet tall and 5 feet wide.  Its evergreen foliage is attractive all year.  I was told that the parent plant blooms off and on year-round but mine have only bloomed in the fall.  It self-seeds readily but the plants are easy to pull out and transplant if desired. 

I planted this Senna bicapsularis 'Worley's Butter Cream', aka Winter or Christmas Cassia, in December 2011, unfortunately deciding to squeeze into a narrow spot between the fence at the northern boundary of our property and the cement stairway leading down to our back slope.  It'd probably look better grown in a tree-like form as its lower branches are bare of leaves.  The summery flowers arrive each October here.  It's a host plant for the cloudless sulphur butterfly and attracts them in large numbers every year.


This month I can't ignore the large-flowered Grevilleas.  These plants are true garden workhorses.

All 3 of the large-flowered Grevilleas are blooming but I've only shown 'Superb' (left) and 'Peaches & Cream' (right) here.  'Peaches & Cream' and 'Ned Kelly' (not shown) bloom at regular intervals throughout the year but 'Superb' blooms continuously all year, at least in the case of this mature specimen I planted from a 1-gallon container in 2013.


Another workhorse, Lantana camara 'Lucky White', also deserves a shout-out.

Lantana is often dismissed in the same way that Agapanthus is here, where both plants are common, but you can't beat it for handling hot and dry conditions.  The butterflies love it too.


When the heat is on, you can't help but admire the succulents in the garden.  They don't shrivel under the intense sun and near-zero humidity.

The 3 Agave americana var medio-picta 'Alba' shown on the left were given to me 2 years ago as pups by Hoover Boo of Piece of Eden.  I understand that they're the dwarf variety.   (HB, please tell me if my recollection is accurate.  If it's not, I need to move them further apart!)  I've tried planting the area between them with a couple of different groundcovers and, as the last selection, Lessingia 'Silver Carpet', is disappointing, I'll be looking for another soon.


There are other plants that stand up to the heat too.

This is one of the smaller Leucadendrons, L. salignum 'Summer Red'.  This one has been in place for a year now.  It's looked good since the time it was planted.  I have 2 more of these plants elsewhere in the garden, as well as 2 'Winter Red', which are substantially similar except for the time of year they get their "red" on.  They're all neat, compact, drought-tolerant plants.

This is a 2-fer listing as I couldn't show one plant without referencing its companion.  The Phormium is 'Ed Carman', which I picked up at Seaside Gardens in Carpinteria in March 2015.  It's fared well in partial shade despite encroachment by Aeonium arboreum on one side and Acacia cognata 'Cousin Itt' on another side.  The Aeoniums are finally coming out of their summer dormancy.  These, in partial shade, look pretty good all year but even they flesh out when the nighttime temperatures drop in the fall.  Some of those rosettes are as big as my head.


I've also got a couple of unusual flowering plants to share.

This is Asclepias cancellata, aka wild cotton, a South African milkweed.  It's reported to be perennial in my climate.  I planted it in July 2016 and this is the first time it's flowered.  It's supposed to be a host plant for Monarch butterflies but, thus far, I've only seen a crab spider (hidden in one of the blooms in the photo on the left) and bees visiting it.

This is Lotus jacobaeus.  Frankly, I was worried about whether it would survive the summer when I planted it in this pot in July but it's handled our rolling heatwaves well.  The tiny, almost-black flowers are hard to photograph, especially under Santa Ana wind conditions, but I persevered.


I'll close with plants belonging to a next door neighbor but readily visible from my garden.

The red Bougainvillea on the left peeks over the hedge that lines the back of the backyard border, atop a steep slope.  It literally glows in the early morning sunlight but my photo doesn't capture that.  A mix of pink and orange Bougainvillea spilling over an arbor in the same neighbor's garden (right) can be seen from the stairway down our back slope.  The peach tree on the lower left and the ivy mess on the lower right is part of our property.  We've got a single Bougainvillea on our property but it's small and unobtrusive, which is fortunate as my husband hates these plants.  He calls them "evil," a term I reserve for serial killers and certain politicians.  At least I can enjoy them in our neighbor's garden.


Visit Loree at danger garden to see what favorites she and other gardeners are flaunting this month.


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

22 comments:

  1. Seeing your Barleria is doubly exciting as I'm just getting the first buds on one of my seedlings :)
    I have to agree about lantana; it's a victim of its own success perhaps, but it grows despite heat and drought, and the butterflies and hummers love it, so what's not appreciate?!
    And your Grevilleas are to-die-for!

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    1. I'm glad those Barleria seeds came through for you, Amy. It's a wonderful plant. I've transplanted a few seedlings myself, one of which has already produced a flower. The plant may take a good year plus to bulk up but, when it does, there's no stopping it. A friend who lives in one of our hottest inland valleys and restricts her irrigation has also had luck with the plants.

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  2. Your Proteas and the succulents are the showstoppers for me. Oh and that Lotus jacobaeus! Oh my! I can't believe the heat you guys are experiencing. Just crazy. I hope it passes soon.

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    1. There's a slow cool-down on the way. I was inland in the Pasadena area (at the Huntington!) today and the temperature only reached the low 90s - that's an improvement! By Monday or Tuesday, we should get back to the mid-to-upper 70s here.

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  3. Kris, your Aeoniums are just wonderful! Mine are growing very fast but they are potted, I can't plant them in the ground because when it rains for weeks their roots get rotten. I had never seen a white Lantana before, I have the common orange Lantana which is native to north argentina and very popular with butterflies! Wish you a good and cooler weekend!

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    1. I'm among the group that under-valued Lantana but the warmer, drier conditions facing me here have turned around my thinking. We're also lucky to have many hybrids with flowers in varied colors to choose from. I even have a Lantana with variegated foliage.

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  4. then your husband (not mine) will understand me lopping off the Bougainvillea arms that clamber over our boundary wall.

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    1. Yes, my husband would be right in there with you, Diana! He truly detests the plants. I admit it has nasty thorns but that's what makes it great for use as a barrier plant. However, my husband hated it mainly because it used to grow a foot a day (I exaggerate only slightly), stretching into the driveway at our old house and scratching his beloved electric car, a vehicle he himself transformed from gas-powered to electric-powered. He also went through the trouble of cutting down several of the shrubs and digging them out to "save" his car.

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  5. Why would you ever ignore the large-flowered grevilleas? lol. I love borrowed views, like your neighbor's bougainvillea. I wish I had more views worth borrowing here. The best is a Norway maple in the neighbor's yard that glows through the Douglas firs in the fall. It's pretty, but I have to patrol the woods on our side of the fence and pull the seedlings it spreads all over.

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    1. Those Grevilleas are such steady, reliable performers that they rightly deserve a place on the favorites list every month, Evan. However, when everything else is shriveling almost before my eyes, they shine especially bright. Perhaps some plants, like your Norway maples (and bougainvillea in my husband's eyes), are simply best viewed from a distance.

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  6. These are all favorites of mine, too, having admired them in your vases and other posts. Love the Barleria and Lotus especially. Interesting to see your Asclepias, hope it brings the monarchs in for you.

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    1. The Senna is already bringing in the sulphur butterflies and I hope the monarchs join the party too!

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  7. Still plenty of beautiful color in your garden. Here there's toasted foliage from that terrible heat, even the mature established Aloes suffered damage I haven't been out there yet to see what died.

    That variegated Agave americana is dwarf if you compare it to the plain blue model, but its not small--a good 4'x4' or 5'x4' at maturity.

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    1. It's finally cooling down here - we even had a thick marine layer this morning, which is just in the process of clearing now. I hope you're getting similar relief and that the damage isn't as bad as you feared. Thanks for the input on the agave's size. I'm going to do some juggling.

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  8. Your garden has so much interest in every week of the year; due entirely to your thoughtful planting. I hope you get as much joy as I do from seeing it and don't just the the problems (that is my husbands only fault - he walks around and only sees weeds or other problems not some glorious combination of plants in front of his eyes!)

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    1. I do tend to focus on what needs fixing, Christina, especially at this time of year when there are a lot of holes to fill. I feel better once I can get started with clean-up and replanting. That was on hold due to our persistent heatwaves but the temperature is finally coming down, albeit slowly.

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  9. Great selection of plants/ shrubs. The bush violet is something I think would work in my garden, if it works for zone 7a I'll look for it next year.

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    1. The Barleria is a South African plant, Patsi, so I'm not sure how it'll hold up to your winter weather. One of the California growers claims that it's hardy to 20-25F.

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  10. I love your African bush Violet and Grevilleas! It must be very frustrating to be dealing with intense heat this late in the year.

    You asked about the cardinal - it's fighting with its image in the car mirrors. Oddly enough it looks like a female but it's obviously got high testosterone. I was hoping she would lay off after breeding season but once the refractory period was over she went right back at it.

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    1. The most recent heatwave, which lasted a good week, seems to be over. Hopefully, that was the last one for the year, although there's really no telling. We've yet to see any rain either.

      Poor confused cardinal!

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  11. I like this colour coded post. I find plants with black flowers irresistable, I'm so pleased you perservered. Some flowers are really hard to photograph. It's funny you put Lantana underneath the Grevilleas. Lantana is a terrible weed in parts of Australia and is out of control.

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    1. I've never heard of Lantana becoming a weed here, nor seen signs of self-seeding, Sue. Perhaps what we buy in our garden centers are sterile hybrids, though.

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