Monday, April 23, 2018

In a Vase on Monday: Ensemble Casts

I had ideas for 2 vases this week, each with a specific flower assuming a starring role.  However, as is often the case (at least in my universe), my vision didn't materialize as planned.  The first arrangement was constructed with Pelargonium 'Oldbury Duet' in mind as the centerpiece.

The Pelargonium's variegated foliage is its principal attraction in my view  but I enjoy the flowers too

As pretty as 'Oldbury Duet' is, it was quickly put in its place by the blooms I selected to accompany it, creating a mix that can more accurately be described as an ensemble cast.

'Oldbury Duet' set the color palette but both the snapdragons and the burgundy ivy geranium are splashier

Back view, showing off white Centranthus and the blooms of bolting cilantro, as well as some of my first sweet pea flowers

Top view

Clockwise from the upper left, the vase contains: Antirrhinum majus, Centranthus ruber 'Albus', Coriandrum sativum (aka cilantro), Helleborus 'Anna's Red', lilac and violet Lathyrus odoratus, burgundy Pelargonium peltatum (aka ivy geranium), and, in the center, Pelargonium 'Oldbury Duet'

The second arrangement was intended to feature the tall bearded Iris on the back slope.  The back slope is invisible to all but the most intrepid visitors and even my husband and I only visit the space a couple of times a week on average. 

I took this photo last Thursday, thinking one or both of the Iris stems shown here would be flowering by Sunday; however, only one very small stem (not shown) had an open flower

As the 2 taller Iris stems failed to bloom on my schedule, I ended up with another ensemble case.

Blue and purple flowers are abundant in my garden at the moment and I made liberal use of them in putting together this arrangement, adding a few white flowers for sparkle.  If I'd found more unblemished Matilija poppies on the back slope, I'd have given them the starring role.  Ditto for the silvery Dutch Iris.

Back view, featuring white breath of heaven and borage

Top view

Clockwise from the upper left, the vase contains: Borago officinalis, Bulbine frutescens, Coleonema album, Consolida ajacis (aka Delphinium ambiguum), Echium webbii, Iris hollandica 'Silvery Beauty', noID Iris germanica, Lathyrus odoratus, Osteospermum '3D Silver', Scabiosa 'Fama Blue', and, in the middle, Romneya coulteri

With the exception of the arrangement in the clasped hands vase, last week's arrangements were relegated to the compost bin.  Before I tossed the one containing the white Delphinium, though, I snapped a photo showing how that pristine white flower evolved during the course of the week.

As the week progressed, the formerly white Delphinium slowly turned a medium blue, starting at the bottom and gradually extending upwards.  Is that normal for Delphiniums?  I've had little prior experience with them.

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

All material © 2012-2018 by Kris Peterson for Late to the Garden Party

Friday, April 20, 2018

So now what?

One of the two Grevillea lavandulacea 'Penola' in the dry garden area on the northeast side of our property has been looking unhealthy for some time now.  I first noticed dying branch tips on the formerly robust shrub last spring.  I pruned off the sections that looked bad and waited to see if it'd recover.  While it produced some new green foliage and it bloomed on schedule, it looked worse overall this spring.

This is the healthy Grevillea 'Penola'

and this is the unhealthy specimen.  If you look at the base of the plant, you can see it's leaning.  I wondered if the heavy winter rains of 2016-2017 combined with the high winds that routinely rip through our area combined to compromise the shrub's root system.

This isn't the best photo but it gives you a good idea of what the branch tips looked like

I enlisted my husband's help in taking out the afflicted Grevillea this week.

This is a wide shot of the area immediately before the Grevillea was removed

And this is approximately the same view after the Grevillea was removed.  The bare tree in the center of the photo is a cherry we inherited with the garden.

This is the same area, viewed from the concrete steps that lead into the area from the back slope

So now what do I do with this area?  The status of that cherry tree alongside the stairs to the back slope is still in question.  Inherited from a prior owner, it amazed me by producing a handful of cherries for several years in a row, despite the fact that getting the recommended 800-900 hours of winter chill is a virtual impossibility here.  However, I don't recall seeing any fruit last year and thus far this year it hasn't produced leaves, much less flowers.

There are lots of buds like these but they show no signs of opening

If  we pull out the cherry tree, I might try another tree in that location.  A crape myrtle maybe.  Whatever I select, it can't be too tall as I don't want to risk the ire of my next door neighbor, whose spa sits on the other side of the fence.  I still haven't planted the Arctostaphylos 'Louis Edmunds' I picked up at a discount at my local botanic garden a couple of weeks ago either, so that's another possibility.

Meanwhile, other parts of this garden area also demand further consideration.  I never designed this part of the garden so much as just plunked plants there.  My husband said he'd like to add a tree to block the view of (and from) a house up the hill that's currently in the latter stages of construction.

The owners of the house I've circled in this photo more than doubled their space, adding an entire floor on top of the existing structure.  It's been under construction for over 2 years now but it finally looks as though they're getting close to completion.

If I positioned a tree to screen the area my husband identified, it'd mean removing the Salvia clevelandii 'Allen Chickering' I circled here

There was an apricot tree in the general location of that Cleveland sage when we moved in but it died soon afterward.  If I put a tree in the Grevillea's former spot, that'd probably be too close anyway.  As the spot gets a considerable amount of shade from a mature Arbutus 'Marina' nearby, maybe another New Zealand tea tree (Leptospermum scoparium) would be a better choice to address my husband's request.

That question had me considering the placement of the 2 Leptospermum I currently have in this area.  The 2 shrubs sit beside an inherited guava tree.  I don't hate the guava but it's not something I would've planted either and it doesn't look at all great next to the Leptospermum.  Maybe the guava needs to come out.

The guava tree (left) and the Leptospermum (to the right) don't do anything for one another.  The second Leptospermum is largely hidden behind the guava from this viewpoint.

There's another guava tree on the other side of the gravel path running through the area.  Guavas are self-fruitful so it doesn't require a second tree to produce fruit but fruit production is said to be heavier when there are others in the same species nearby to promote pollination.  However, no one here eats guavas except the squirrels and I wouldn't be distressed if they had fewer fruits to bury in my garden borders.

And then there's the problem of what to do about the Cordyline 'Renegade' I planted last fall.  They looked great - until our temperature unexpectedly soared into the 90s a couple of weeks ago.  What happened to them doesn't bode well for their fate this summer.

Here's what the Cordylines look like after a week of temperatures above 90F

A friend recently told me that, when remodeling a home, the domino theory comes into play, with one change precipitating another.  It looks as though the same can be said for gardens.

Any and all suggestions will be gratefully considered!  In the meantime, I'll leave you with a pretty picture of one of the Matilija poppies now blooming on the back slope.  Enjoy your weekend!

I may not have any California poppies at the bottom of the slope but Romneya coulteri had no problem returning for a second year

All material © 2012-2018 by Kris Peterson for Late to the Garden Party

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Foliage Follow-up: Green & Gray

Each month, following Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day, Pam of Digging encourages us to celebrate the foliage in our gardens.  Although I'm a bit late getting to it, the view of the Mexican feather grass waving in the wind yesterday morning compelled me to take notice so I took my camera on a quick spin and captured a few foliage shots to share.

Mexican feather grass (Stipa tenuissima) has a reputation for being invasive in our climate.  Were I planting the back garden from scratch now, I'd probably make another selection, although frankly it isn't nearly as aggressive as other plants in my garden I consider more deserving of such a label (e.g., Geranium incanum and Euphorbia characias).  That aside, you can't beat it for adding movement in the garden.

Another grass I've used extensively is Sesleria 'Greenlee's Hybrid', shown here edging the flagstone path running through the front garden.  Like Festuca californica (not shown because I couldn't capture a good photo of it), it's a tidy plant and easy to maintain by comparison to Stipa tenuissima.  It also handles quite a bit of shade and stays relatively small.

Here it is again lining a path in the back garden

There's more Sesleria planted at the bottom of the slope but I didn't take a photo of it; however, I can't resist sharing a photo of the foxtail agaves (Agave attenuata) I planted down there as pups at least 3 years ago.  They were beautifully backlit by the morning sun.

There's not much color back there yet, although the Euphorbia 'Dean's Hybrid' surrounding the agaves has started to bloom.  It's a great filler and tolerant of the very dry conditions in this area.

Finally, I'm showcasing a new addition to my plant collection, received by mail order just last week.

This is Senecio candicans 'Angel Wings'.  I fell in love with it when I saw it advertised in an on-line nursery post.

My plant's still small but I gave it a good-sized pot to grow in.  As I'm not sure how much sun it'll be able to take when summer gets going here, the pot will allow me to move it around as needed.

For more foliage shots, visit Pam at Digging.

All material © 2012-2018 by Kris Peterson for Late to the Garden Party

Monday, April 16, 2018

In a Vase on Monday: Not at all what I'd planned

When I stepped into the garden on Sunday morning, I had specific plants in mind to cut, mostly in tones of blue and purple.  However, just as not all reds mesh well, I found the same could be said for my blues.  After cutting a few stalks of Echium webbii, I found myself veering toward pink flowers.  While there's nothing wrong with that combination, it's not my usual palette.  After adding some white flowers, it felt a little syrupy sweet to me but I eventually got a mix I could live with.

I swapped out the pink snapdragons I'd originally cut for Centranthus ruber, which has a blue undertone

The pink and white flowers dominate the back view

The stamens and base of each Echium flower have tinges of pink, which is what led me in the pink direction

The vase contains: 1st column, top to bottom - noID Delphinium and Echium webbii
2nd column - noID Agapanthus (the 1st to bloom this year), noID Ceanothus, and Lavandula multifida
3rd column - Agryranthemum 'Mega White', Centranthus ruber, and Ranunculus asiaticus
4th column - stems of 'Pink Icing' blueberry bush, Coleonema album, and Westringia fruticosa 'Morning Light'

My second vase couldn't be more different.  As my Lotus bethelotii is rapidly growing to cover the flagstone path in the back garden, I felt I had to cut some of it back and those cuttings became the springboard for vase #2.

The fiery color palette here is one I've used a couple of times before, although the elements aren't identical to those in my prior compositions

The back view is dominated by a stem of Leucadendron 'Safari Sunset'

Top view

Clockwise from the upper left, the vase contains: Alstroemeria 'Indian Summer', Abelia x grandiflora 'Kaleidoscope', Bulbine frutescens, Grevillea 'Superb', Leucadendron salignum 'Safari Sunset', and Lotus bethelotii 'Amazon Sunset'

And I have a third vase this week.  As mentioned, I'd cut pink snapdragons when I was collecting material for the first vase but I changed my mind about including them in that arrangement.  However, the blooms were in perfect condition and I couldn't bring myself to toss them out so I gathered a couple of other complementary plants to create vase #3.

I think the spare collection of blooms fit the somewhat fussy china vase I picked up earlier this year in a thrift shop

Unlike my prior efforts using this vase, this arrangement shows off the manicured nails of the disembodied hands

Top view

The vase contains: Antirrhinum majus, Argyranthemum 'Madeira Pink' and Ranunculus

Visit our host, Cathy at Rambling in the Garden, to find more Monday vases.

Each of the vases sits in its own room so the clashes between them aren't noticable

All material © 2012-2018 by Kris Peterson for Late to the Garden Party

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Bloom Fest (Bloom Day - April 2018)

I think my garden may have already reached its peak in terms of spring blooms.  At this point, it seems it'd be easier to list what's not blooming than what is.  I gave up trying to take photos of everything and I once again threw a lot of my photos into collages just to keep this post to a manageable size.

Echium webbii began blooming last week.  It's a bee magnet.

Other blue blooms include: Top row - Ajuga 'Mint Chip', Alyogyne huegelii, and 'Pink Icing' blueberries
2nd row - Ceanothus arboreus 'Cliff Schmidt', noID Delphinium, and Felicia aethiopica
3rd row - light blue and mid-blue Freesias, and Iris hollandica
Bottom row - Osteospermum '3D Silver', Scabiosa 'Fama Blue', and Wahlenbergia 'Blue Cloud'

This "ever-purple" Ageratum corymbosum has already begun to fade in response to last week's heat

Clockwise from the upper left, other purple and magenta blooms include: Gomphrena decumbens 'Itsy Bitsy', Geranium 'Tiny Monster', Iris douglasiana 'Santa Lucia', 2 varieties of Lathyrus odoratus, Lavandula stoechas 'Anouk Deep Rose', Limonium perezii, Osteospermum '4D Berry White', Polygala myrtifolia 'Mariposa', Salvia 'Love and Wishes', and, in the middle, Osteopermum 'Violet Ice'

All the Coleonema album are in full bloom.  Together with Erigeron karvinskianus, a weedy groundcover here, they create a sparkle of fluffy white throughout the garden.

Still more splashes of white are provided by Pyrethropsis hosmariense, which has become one of my favorite year-round groundcovers as it's beautiful in and out of bloom

Other white bloomers include: Top row - Argyranthemum 'Mega White', Centranthus ruber 'Albus', and Convolvulus cneorum
Middle row - a few Leucojum aestivum, white Freesia, and Narcissus 'British Gamble'
Bottom row - Narcissus 'White Lion', orange blossoms, and Zantedeschia aethiopica

More Erigeron karvinskianus mixes here with Gazania 'White Flame' surrounding Phormium 'Maori Queen'

Lotus berthelotii 'Amazon Sunset' is still going strong on one side of the path through the back garden.  The newer plants on the other side of the path are now caged to protect them from the bunnies that ate several small plants down to nubs.

Other plants sporting red color include: Top row - Alstroemeria 'Indian Summer', Cymbidium Sussex Court 'Not Peace', and Euphorbia characias 'Black Pearl'
Middle row - Helleborus 'Anna's Red', Lotus jacobaeus, and Oncidium 'Wildcat'
Bottom row - Pelargonium peltatum, P. 'Oldbury Duet', and Ranunculus asiaticus

Arctotis 'Pink Sugar' is STILL blooming strong with regular dead-heading

Other pink blooms include: Top row -  noID Alstroemeria, Antirrhinum majus, and Arctotis 'Opera Pink'
2nd row - Argyranthemum 'Madeira Pink', Centranthus ruber, and Cistus x skanbergii
3rd row - Cuphea 'Starfire Pink', Helleborus 'Phoebe', and Lampranthus 'Pink Kaboom'
Bottom row - Leptospermum scoparium 'Pink Pearl', Pelargonium peltatum 'Pink Blizzard', and picotee Ranunculus

Ever-blooming Grevillea 'Superb' continues to out-perform even the other large-flowered Grevilleas in my garden

Clockwise from the upper left, orange flowers include: Begonia 'Fragrant Falls Peach', Bignonia capreolata, Calendula 'Bronzed Beauty', Digitalis pupurea 'Dalmatian Peach', Narcissus 'Geranium', Metrosideros collina 'Springfire', Grevillea 'Ned Kelly', G. 'Peaches & Cream', Lantana camara 'Irene', 'Joseph's Coat' rose, and, in the middle, Fuchsia 'Gartenmeister Bonstedt'

Hunnemannia fumariifolia (aka Mexican tulip poppy) is new to my garden this year but doing well despite my sandy soil

Clockwise from the upper left, other yellow blooms include: noID Argyranthemum frutescens, Bulbine frutescens, noID Carpobrotos, Gazania 'Gold Flame', Euphorbia 'Ascot Rainbow', E. 'Deans Hybrid', E. rigida, Euryops chrysanthemoides 'Sonnenschien' Euryops virgineus, Nemesia fruticans 'Sunshine', Osteospermum 'Spring Day', Phlomis fruticosa. and, in the middle, Leucospermum 'Goldie'

When I checked last April's Bloom Day post, I discovered that most everything is blooming on schedule, despite the stretch of higher-than-average temperatures we've had recently.  However, many of the flowers on my April bloomers are less profuse this year than they were last year, which I attribute to the substantially lower rain levels this past winter.  Our "normal" annual rain total is about 14 inches, most if not all of which falls during the winter months.  During the 2016-2017 rain year (calculated from October 1st 2016 through September 30th 2017), our rain totaled just over 24 inches and the garden celebrated the bounty.  This past winter (since October 1st 2017), our roof-top weather station recorded 3.59 inches, just 26% of "normal" and 15% of the prior year's total.  I can only hope that the summer will be punctuated by some tropical rainstorms.

Visit Carol at May Dreams Gardens, our Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day host, to see what's blooming elsewhere this April.

All material © 2012-2018 by Kris Peterson for Late to the Garden Party