Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Wednesday Vignette: Dry Days Ahead

Last week, we got a little rain.  Although it was a smidge less than a quarter of an inch, it was enough to top off my rain barrels.  Of course, I hoped for more.  The clouds that greeted me last Wednesday morning looked promising.

View from my backyard looking east

But the clouds blew east and took the rain with them.  No more rain for us.  While the long-range forecasts I'd viewed back in February suggested that we could look forward to rain at intervals through April, those predictions have evaporated - there's not a drop of rain in the forecast for the next 90 days and, as our rain is largely limited to the winter months, we can probably expect the dry spell to continue until fall.

NOAA's 90-day precipitation forecast for the US

Today's weather forecast is for summer-like temperatures.  Will the summer be miserable?  The forecast doesn't look great for large swaths of the country but most of Southern California seems to have an equal chance of warmer or cooler temperatures, at least over the next 90 days.

NOAA's 90-day temperature forecast for the US

What are the prospects for the country in managing global warming?  Gloomy indeed, based on the President's action yesterday rolling back environmental regulations.  The federal government's failure to assume responsibility shifts the burden to the states, some of which are stepping up to the challenge but it remains to be seen how individual states and cities - or individual countries for that matter - can combat the problem when federal officials deny scientific evidence and act with reckless abandon to advance short-term political goals.  But maybe the President has a plan he hasn't shared?

Is this the President's escape plan when his policies help destroy the earth's environment?  Despite slashing support for environmental and social programs in his proposed budget, he DID sign a bill allocating billions for exploration of Mars.  (Image provided with permission of a source who chooses to remain anonymous)

These images are my Wednesday Vignette.  To see more of the images that captured the bloggers' attention this week, visit our host, Anna of Flutter & Hum.

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

Monday, March 27, 2017

In a Vase on Monday: Spring Bloomfest

My garden is a little overwhelming at the moment - in a good way.  True to predictions, our heavier than usual (even by pre-drought standards) winter rainfall has produced an abundance of spring flowers.  It's tempting to flit from plant to plant, cutting a little of this and a little of that.  For this week's vases, I focused my efforts by selecting 2 color schemes before heading out the door, one centered around the magenta color of a particular Pelargonium and the other around the color of my pink Freesias.

The first color scheme produced this:

Front view, which points out that not all "white" Freesias are the same.  The bulbs for these two Freesia were acquired from the same source and planted in the same location but the flower on the left reads as ivory by comparison to the bright white of the one on the right.

Back view

Top view

Clockwise from the left, the vase contains: Pelargonium cucullatum 'Flore Pleno' (aka 'Golf Ball'), Ageratum corymbosum, Coriandrum sativum, ivory Freesia, white Freesia, lavender Freesia, and Polygala myrtifolia 'Mariposa'.  I love the red blushed leaf edges and flower buds of the Pelargonium and the lavender streaks on the back of the white Freesia.

The second color scheme provided more of a challenge.  The pink Freesias have a blue undertone and many of my pink flowers have yellow undertones.  Here's what I ended up with:

Front view: I added soft yellow notes with the Narcissi and the Leucadendron to pick up the subtle yellow in the Alstroemeria

Back view: The pink tones of the Freesias and sweet peas are louder here

Top view

Clockwise from the upper left, the vase contains: noID Alstroemeria, Argyrantemum frutescens, Centranthus ruber, Erigeron karvinskianus, Freesia, Lathyrus odoratus, Leucadendron 'Pisa', and Narcissus 'White Lion' and another noID Narcissus.  The Erigeron and the Centranthus are virtually weeds here, albeit ones I allow to spread within limits.  Most of the Narcissus died off following a warm spell the week before last and, as temperatures are expected to climb again this week, I thought I might as well cut what was left.

I had some leftover stems, which I threw into a tiny vase:

A few short stems of Freesia, Argyranthemum, and Erigeron were tucked in here along with 2 slender stems of Ixia (aka African corn lily), which is currently blooming in the wrong place

Last week's vases held up relatively well but I tossed out their contents anyway to make way for the new arrangements.

The first vase sits in the front entry and the second on the dining room table.  The third sits on the desk in my office.

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

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

Friday, March 24, 2017

Bloom Day Postscript

One of the glories of spring is that each passing day brings new revelations.  While some of the new arrivals may still be around to celebrate April's Bloom Day, others may not so I'm going to go ahead and share a few (well, maybe more than a few) now.

Echium webbii (a dwarf) is now blooming alongside Felicia aethiopica

Ajuga hybrid 'Mint Chip' has appeared with the first blooms of Anagallis 'Wildcat Mandarin'

Aristea inqualis, planted in 2014, has finally produced its first blooms

Iris douglasiana 'Santa Lucia' is in bloom along the driveway.  I've had a remarkably difficult time getting Pacific Coast Iris to bloom here but this winter's rain appears to have provided the help I needed.

Ageratum corymbosum has had buds for months but, the day after March Bloom Day, they finally began to open

This noID Delosperma has appeared in spots all along the street-side succulent bed.  I thought it made the pretty Agave 'Blue Flame' shown here look even prettier.

Polygala myrtifolia 'Mariposa' produces a smattering of flowers most of the year but now it's really blooming!

The 2 Cercis occidentalis (Western Redbuds) that came with the garden just burst into bloom

The first Eustoma grandiflorum (Lisianthus) of the season has appeared!

Higher than normal temperatures last week knocked out most of my daffodils but Narcissus 'White Lion' seems to be a sturdier sort

The Prunus laurocerasus hedge is blooming on the southwest side of the garden

A few noID Calendulas, presumably from seeds I scattered 2 years ago that never germinated, have bloomed, nicely complementing Bulbine frutescens 'Hallmark'

This is a poor photo of a relatively new addition to the garden, Verbascum arcturus

I've had California fescue (Festuca californica) in my garden for a few years but this is the first time it's flowered like this

There are blooms on fruit trees too!

Blossoms on the navel orange tree (left) and peach tree (right).  Both trees came with the garden but the noID peach was invisible until we removed the giant Yucca elephantipes at the bottom of the back slope a few years ago.

And more of the Pelargoniums are blooming.

Clockwise from the left: Pelargonium 'Tweedle Dee', noID, 'Golf Ball', 'White Lady', and 'Vectris Glitter' 

I even have my first rose bloom, appropriately perhaps, 'California Dreamin'.

I've been fighting an onslaught of aphids on all my roses and it looks as though I need to leap into the fray again

I hope this post isn't too obnoxious.  Spring does come very early in coastal Southern California.  Unfortunately, summer's heat does as well so we have to celebrate when we can.

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

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Desert Super Bloom (& Wednesday Vignette)

Approximately once every 10 years, the deserts of Southern California experience a "super bloom" when they receive enough rain during the winter months to carpet the normally hard-baked ground in flowers.  Last week I joined 2 friends for the long drive to Borrego Springs in northeast San Diego County to catch this year's show before soaring temperatures bring the curtain down.  The trip south on the freeways was made easier by my friends' express pass but, when we turned further inland, it was far slower going on a one-lane highway, which slowed still more as we wended our way along the final leg of our journey along a steep, winding road into the 600,000 acre desert state park.

Because the drive was so long, we didn't have hours to hike trails into the desert so we caught only a small portion of the wildflowers.  A more thorough exploration probably would have required at least an overnight stay.  Temperatures in the mid-to-upper 90sF also limited our exploration but here are some of the highlights:

Scene near the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park's Visitor Center

The majority of the blue, white and yellow flowers in this area were clustered around cactus or, as here, skeletons of cactus

My guess is that the cactus skeleton shown above was what was left of what I think is a Teddy Bear Cholla (Cylindropuntia bigelovii), which, both dead and alive, were plentiful in the area

If I've identified the yellow, white and blue blooms correctly they are Desert Dandelion (Malacothrix glabrata), Desert Pincushion (Chaenactis steviodes) and Blue Phacelia (Phacelia distans)

This shrub, which I think is Creosote Bush (Larrea tridentata), was also prevalent

As were these shrubs, Brittlebush (Encelia farinosa) and what I tentatively identified as Desert Lavender (Hyptis emoryi)

Ocotillo (Fouquieria splendens) could also be seen everywhere but they appeared to be just starting their bloom cycle

Concerned about how much longer our trip home might take on SoCal's famously congested freeways if we didn't get a lead on rush-hour traffic, we had to turn around and head home all too soon.   We tried to capture snaps of the California poppies and lupines as we whizzed along the highway but there was nowhere to pull over.

There were lupines here and there in Borrego Springs but nothing like this mass of purple we saw from the highway

Masses of orange poppies could also be seen as we whizzed along Highway 15

Near Lake Elsinore in western Riverside County, we finally pulled off the road to take another flurry of photos of California's official state flower in all its glory.

Massive traffic jams were reported in this area over the past 2 weeks and, even in late afternoon mid-week, it was hard to find a spot to park.  I'm offering this photo of the area near Walker's Canyon as my Wednesday Vignette - for more photo vignettes, visit Anna at Flutter & Hum.

Once again, we didn't have the time to hike far but we got our fix of California poppies (Eschscholzia californica) anyway

If you're interested some of the wildflowers we missed, additional photos can be found here and here.

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

Monday, March 20, 2017

In a Vase on Monday: One simple, one not

I spent a couple of hours working on my back slope on Saturday and, after admiring all the Calla Lilies in bloom there out of view, I felt compelled to use some of them in this week's "In a Vase on Monday."  I had a few ideas as to what might be used to complement them but, in the end, I kept the arrangement very simple.

Front view: This arrangement is similar to one I created a month ago, albeit without the Moroccan daisies and with a different vase
Back view: Although it's a bit of a shame to cut the long stems of the lilies short, that was necessary in using this ornamental teapot as a vase
Top view

The vase contains just 3 materials: Freesias, Zantedeschia aethiopica flowers, and a few Zantedeschia leaves

While I appreciate the simplicity of my first vase, with spring in full gear in my garden, I also felt the need to bring some of that riotous color inside.  The oldest of my Grevillea 'Superb' shrubs is now large and floriferous enough to cut long stems so, with those in hand, I hunted down plant material to complement the coral color of the shrub's blooms.

Front view: Strong corals and oranges with a touch of yellow as an accent

Back view, showing more yellow color

Top view

Clockwise from the upper left, the vase contains: Grevillea 'Superb', orange-tinged foliage of Agonis flexuosa 'Nana', Alstroemeria 'Inca Husky' (shown with a newly opened bud of Papaver nudicaule), Bulbine frutescens, Lobelia laxiflora, Papaver nudicaule, Phlomis fruticosa, and Russelia equisetiformis 'Flamingo Park'

The vase full of Leucadendron stems I created over 2 weeks ago still looked good but it got evicted from the dining room table in favor of the vase featuring the Grevillea flowers.  The Calla Lilies sit in the front entryway.

Here are the Leucadendron 'Wilson's Wonder' stems photographed on March 3rd (left) and March 19th (right)

And here are the new vases in their places

For more vases, visit our "In a Vase on Monday" host, Cathy at Rambling in the Garden, who is also celebrating her 5-year blogging anniversary this week.  Better yet, if you have some spring flowers in your garden, create a vase of your own and join the fun.

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