Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Pleasant surprises (and a Wednesday Vignette)

Unless I have a very early appointment, I usually stroll through the garden every morning.  My most common discoveries are uprooted plants and holes dug by raccoons, skunks or squirrels.  But occasionally I have a pleasant surprise.  This was one:

This is a flower on Dermatobotrys saundersii, a plant I picked up at The Huntington Garden's fall sale in late October.  I placed the plant in a large pot in a moderately shady spot in my new bromeliad garden early this month.

This photo, taken November 2nd, shows what the plant looked like shortly after I potted it up

During the last heatwave, I noticed that it'd dropped a large number of its leaves.  I wasn't sure if that was a response to the heat, the sharp drop in humidity, too much shade or too little, or watering errors on my part but the leaves continued to drop and I feared I'd killed the plant.  Then it began to produce flowers and show the first signs of producing new leaves.  Hurrah!

This is what the plant looks like now.  It has relatively few leaves but lots of flower buds.  It turns out that the plant is semi-deciduous.  I learned a lot more about it through on-line references after the flowers appeared, including that it's considered at risk of extinction, that its fruits are considered edible, but also that the USDA classifies it as poisonous.

But those weren't the only flowers that came as a surprise.  There are a few more.

Echeveria 'Serrana' has bloomed.  I was attracted to the succulent's dark maroon foliage but its bright orange flowers are attractive too.  I don't always like succulent flowers but these are definitely an exception.

Some of my Eustoma grandiflorum (Lisianthus) are producing new flower buds too.  In late summer and early fall, the buds of many plants withered in place.  I pulled many of the plants up, tossing quite a few out, including what I thought were all of the pink-flowering varieties, which performed poorly this year.  Apparently, I missed at least one.

To top things off, as I was taking photos this morning, I ran into a visitor.

A Monarch butterfly!  She flitted all around the 2 Arbutus 'Marina' in the back garden but I never captured a good photo with her wings open.  Annoyed by my presence, she moved on to flowers higher up in the trees so I left her in peace.  She's my Wednesday Vignette.

I also left a surprise for my neighbors this morning.

Despite giving away bags and bags of lemons to friends over the last several weeks and dropping off a couple more at my next door neighbor's door, the tree down at the bottom of our back slope remained heavily laden with fruit, straining some of the branches.  I decided to lighten its load by giving some of it away and left 2 buckets of lemons at our driveway entrance early this morning.

Three-quarters of it was gone in less than an hour

For more Wednesday Vignettes, visit our host, Anna of Flutter & Hum.

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

Monday, November 27, 2017

In a Vase on Monday: Maybe I just need bigger vases?

Last week, I rued the fact that I'd crammed too much into my vases, yet this week I've once again stuffed them to the gills.  Apparently, I can't help myself.  Looser arrangements usually show off the individual components to better advantage but somehow I always cut more than I need during my Sunday rounds through the garden and then I find myself loathe to discard the excess.  So now I'm thinking: maybe I just need bigger vases.

I'd planned to focus on succulents this week but then I realized that one of the faded 'Medallion' roses was just about a perfect match for the blooms of Grevillea 'Peaches & Cream'.  With those 2 elements, I was off and running.

IAVOM never seems to coincide with the peak bloom stage of the 'Medallion' roses but they're pretty even when past their prime

The flowers of Graptoveria 'Fred Ives' and the foliage of Corokia 'Sunsplash' deserve more prominence than they received half hidden at the back of the vase

The top view is dominated by Grevillea 'Peaches & Cream'

Clockwise from the upper left, the vase contains: Corokia x virgata 'Sunsplash', berries of a noID Cotoneaster, flowers of the succulent hybrid Graptoveria 'Fred Ives', Grevillea 'Peaches & Cream', Leucanthemum x superbum, Leucadendron 'Wilson's Wonder', and Rosa 'Medallion'

Tagetes lemmonii (aka Mexican Bush Marigold and Copper Canyon Daisy) also had a heavy flush of blooms despite its partial shade location.  The unusual yellow and burgundy flowers of the orchid Oncidium 'Wildcat' set the color scheme for the second vase.

Unfortunately, the orchid's flowers are still in the process of opening and are largely eclipsed by the berries of the Toyon I placed behind that stem

I could've used another stem of the Tagetes in the rear here but was trying to limit the volume of the odoriferous blooms

This vase is another jumble as the top view shows

Clockwise from the upper left, the vase contains: Tagetes lemmonii, Leucadendron salignum 'Chief', Oncidium 'Wildcat', Leucadendron 'Safari Sunset', and berries of Heteromeles arbutifolia (aka Toyon, the official native plant of Los Angeles)

The problem with Tagetes lemmonii is its scent.  While I like it, my husband is bothered by it.  He says it makes him sneeze.  I've managed to create vases with small amounts of the flower without it bothering him but this vase contained more flowers than he could tolerate so it was banned from the house.

The first vase sits on the dining room table.  The second sits on a small table on the south patio.

Rather than leave the front entry unadorned, I reused remnants of last week's busy blue vase.

At least I kept this one simple!  It contains a single stem of Eustoma grandiflorum (Lisianthus) and Leucadendron 'Pisa'.

For more "In a Vase on Monday" arrangements, visit our host, Cathy at Rambling in the Garden.

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

Friday, November 24, 2017

Sometimes you just have to look harder

With the persistent heat we've experienced since the fall season began, I'd assumed that I wasn't going to see any fall color here.  Not that coastal Southern California is known for its leaf color in the first place but October was more hot than not, causing leaves on most of my deciduous plants to go from green to brown without any flashes of yellow, orange or red in between.  Early November was blessedly cool but our Thanksgiving holiday this week was pronounced the hottest on record.  Still, it cooled off at night, which isn't usually the case during our summer heatwaves.  And, when cutting back the grapevine on the north side of the house, I found we had a touch of fall color after all.

Most of the grape leaves dropped during October's heat but this vine, which had stretched over the fence into our lime tree on the other side, still had some leaves

Colorful leaves to boot!

This discovery sent me off on a scavenger hunt with my camera and I found a bit more leaf color here and there.

The peach tree that sits along the back slope near our property boundary is showing a flash of color

So is this persimmon tree in my vegetable-turned-cutting garden.  The persimmon tree on the other side of the fence dropped most of its leaves, all brown, in October.

The maple trees in the neighbor's front garden across the street are suddenly showing some seasonal color too

And this noID tree, also in the neighbor's garden across the street, is sporting warm yellow tones

While I was out looking at foliage, I realized that I wasn't the only one on a scavenger hunt.

I'd moved the 3 miniature pumpkins I had in the house into the garden 2 weeks ago when I saw they were showing the first signs of rot.  They were unmolested for some time but discovered as a happy Thanksgiving surprise by this squirrel.  He ran away with the smallest pumpkin the day before, despite the fact that it had to be almost one-quarter of his size.

These photos, taken from inside the kitchen, aren't great but I had to share the squirrel's aborted attempt to run off with another of the small pumpkins this morning.  He literally tumbled head first in the effort, as you can see in the middle photo.  Apparently, he gave up the idea of carrying it off, at least until he whittles it down to a smaller size.

If you're out and about this weekend, I hope you find what you're looking for too!

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

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

More plant shopping

Since the weather cooled at the end of October, I've been making up for lost time shopping for plants.  The weekend before last, a friend and I visited 3 garden centers in Santa Barbara County and last Friday I drove to Orange County to visit Roger's Gardens.  As I'd arranged to meet a friend down there for lunch, I didn't dilly-dally much with photos but I snapped a few things that caught my attention upon arrival.

This mass planting of the new-to-me hybrid Aloe 'Safari Sunrise' was stunning 

I was also impressed with the massed planting of Crassula multicava next to the Aloes.  I've planted nearly a dozen of these plants in my own garden but it never would have occurred to me to mass them like this.

I was tempted by this display of tiny barrel cacti (Echinocactus grusonii) in 4-inch pots.  I don't usually get excited about true cacti but these are one of the exceptions.  Mature specimens are usually very expensive.  These weren't expensive but, between having no idea where I would put them and the time I expected it would take for them to reach basketball size, I turned my back and moved on.

This is one of the best specimens of Cordyline 'Electric Flash' I've seen.  Bugs of some kind ate away at the roots of 2 smaller specimens I planted from 1-gallon containers a couple of years ago but I may try another in a pot one day.

Although Roger's opened its Christmas Boutique before Halloween, preparations for the event were still in full swing when I visited.

The succulent display in the demonstration garden near the front entrance (on the left, photographed in September) has been replaced by the usual toy holiday train display (current photograph on the right), although the train itself didn't appear until I was on my way to the check out area.

Baskets meant to conjure winter (despite the pleasantly warm weather) were in place

An area intended to display wreaths was under construction

But scarier than any of the Halloween decorations that Roger's had on display on my prior visit in September, including the avenging angel...

Was this sight:

The back lot filled with fresh Christmas trees

I didn't peruse the holiday displays.  I selected the plants I'd been looking for and several more I wasn't and high-tailed it to my lunch appointment.

More frightening still, I looked out my home office window Monday night and saw the first house in the area totally bedecked in lights.  How did Christmas sneak up on me yet again?!  Our temperature is expected to reach 90F today!  I haven't even thought about holiday greeting cards, presents, decorating or celebratory get-togethers.  I still have gardening to do!

Filling this basket, hung on a screen on our south side patio, was my primary objective in visiting Roger's.  It doesn't look like much yet but I'm hoping it'll be gorgeous by January.  It contains: Lotus berthelotii 'Amazon Sunset', red pansies, 3 Butterfly Amaryllis (Hippeastrum papilio), and rooting cuttings of Alternanthera 'Little Ruby'.  The bulbs are currently hidden behind the Lotus foliage, which should soon trail down to hide the basket.

Among other things, I also splurged on an Aloe 'Safari Sunrise', shown here in place in my south side succulent bed

I hope all of you in the US take time to thoroughly enjoy the Thanksgiving holiday tomorrow before facing down the specter of the year-end holiday festivities.  Best wishes!

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

Monday, November 20, 2017

In a Vase on Monday: Not simple enough

As I was preparing last week's Bloom Day post, I was surprised to discover that my New Zealand tea trees were sporting a heavy flush of pink blooms.  They were a natural choice for this week's edition of "In a Vase on Monday" in which Cathy of Rambling in the Garden challenges us to create arrangements from materials on hand.  The question I faced was: what do I have to accent these flowers?  I cut stems of Coprosma and Camellias but used only the latter.  Much as I love Camellias, in retrospect I think I probably should have let the Leptospermum stand alone.

While both the Camellia and Leptospermum flowers are pretty, I'm not sure they do much for one another

The back view is nearly identical

The vase contains only the glossy-leaved stems of a noID Camellia sasanqua and the prickly stems Leptospermum scoparium 'Pink Pearl'

As my bush violets are on the wane, I thought I'd also assemble another vase using them while I still could but the flowers were sparser than I'd realized so I ended up picking bits and pieces of a lot of other things to fill out the vase, creating a mish-mash.  I was pleased to find a one blue Lisianthus in bloom, though.

While some ensemble casts may be considered greater than the sum of their parts, I don't think that can be said of this one

The arrangement ended up lop-sided too

Top view

The vase contains: Top row - Barleria obtusa and Duranta repens 'Sapphire Showers'
Middle row - Erigeron glacus 'Wayne Roderick', Eustoma grandiflorum, and Lavandula multifida
Bottom row -  Leucadendron 'Pisa', seedheads of Catanache caerulea, and Osteospermum '4D Silver'

Both vases this week might have been more effective had I kept their contents simpler I think.  We'll see if I can manage to keep that lesson in mind next week.

For more IAVOM creations, visit Cathy at Rambling in the Garden.

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

Friday, November 17, 2017

Foliage Follow-up - New Plants!

I recently posted photos of a dramatic change to the southwest corner of my garden resulting from a neighbor's removal of several large oleanders suffering from leaf scorch.  As plans were afoot this week to install replacement shrubs, I'd planned to provide photos of the newly installed Pittosporum hedge for this week's Foliage Follow-up, the feature hosted by Pam at Digging each month following Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day.  But, as the schedule for the planned installation stretched out, I began looking for a new topic.  I've been on a few fall planting sprees of late so I focused on some of my new foliage purchases.

On a trip to Seaside Gardens last weekend, I picked up 3 Cordyline 'Renegade', which I planted this week.  Their burgundy color nicely mirrors the color of Leucadendron 'Ebony' in the background (currently in danger of being swallowed up by Leucadendon salignum 'Chief').  The grasses in front of the Cordylines, Melinus nerviglumis, are also relatively new introductions.

I also picked up Leucadendron 'Little Bit' at Seaside, shown here planted in front of Echium candicans 'Star of Madeira''Little Bit' should eventually grow to 3 feet tall and wide, relatively small for a Leucadendron but a nice accent to the larger Echium.

In last month's Foliage Follow-up, I focused on the Acacia cognata 'Cousin Itt' that threatened to encompass everything in its path.  Commentators were nearly universal in supporting removal of the succulents that stood in the path of these shrubs and I recently moved the succulents.  However, as I can't abide an expanse of bare soil (and didn't want to give the local raccoons an invitation to dig), I planted Lotus berthelotii, a low-growing ground cover, to bridge the gap between the Acacia and the creeping thyme.  The new plants are shown in the photo on the left.  The photo on the right shows an expanse of established Lotus on the other side of the path.  The Lotus (aka Parrot's Beak) develops red flowers but shouldn't fight with 'Cousin Itt' the way the taller succulents did.

The area in the foreground here was a sloppy mess of overgrown thyme and raggedy Carex testacea.  I moved a Stipa arundinacea 'Sirocco' that had been growing in the front garden (the orange grass shown above) and picked up 2 more of these plants to fill in the area in front of Leucospermum 'Goldie'.  The new plants should take on the same orange color as the transplant in time.

Near dusk yesterday afternoon, the neighbor's garden crew finally finished work on the installation of the new hedge of Pittosporum tenuifolium 'Silver Sheen'.  The light wasn't great for photos but I'm going to include these anyway.

The first photo on the left shows the property line between us and our neighbor to the south before the mass of oleanders on the neighbor's side was removed.  The middle photo shows the area as it looked immediately after the oleanders were removed, exposing the neighbor's driveway to our view.  The third photo is a blurry shot of the new Pittosporum hedge just beyond our property line.

This is a closer view.  There are a total of 7 Pittosporum 'Silver Sheen' here.  The neighbor also laid new irrigation, jute to hold the slope as the plants become established, and plugs of ice plant to serve as a ground cover.  We're sharing in the cost of both the oleanders' removal and the new installation so I appreciate all the work that went into getting the new hedge off to a good start.

Our side of the property line is also a mess as work has finally begun on the lath (shade) house planned for the southwest corner.  While I've been slowly clearing out the pots and detritus that had accumulated in the area during the 7 years we've lived here, my husband has the hardest job: building the structure.  Thus far, only the footings are in place but that's progress!

The lath house will be a 5-sided structure.  The space between the 2 footings in the foreground on the left will hold a door.  The 2 walls on either side of the door will have windows (and window boxes).  All the walls and the roof with be constructed of lath to allow air and light into the structure.  I expect I'll fill in with plants around the structure but I probably won't figure that piece out until the structure is complete.  My husband tells me that the pitched lath roof is likely to be the trickiest part of the project. 

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

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