Monday, October 22, 2018

In a Vase on Monday: Bidding adieux to my dahlias and zinnias

I'd hoped that I could keep the dahlias and zinnias in my cutting garden going until the end of the month but last week's Santa Ana winds, also known as "devil winds," knocked out the blooms of all but one variety of the dahlias and badly dried out the zinnias.  That's not to suggest that these plants were looking great before the wind arrived.  The dahlia blooms had steadily decreased in size; weak stems caused most of the flowers to flop; and leaf-miner had begun to badly mar the foliage.  The zinnias' foliage has mildewed and foraging raccoons have already trampled some of the plants.  So, with one possible exception, I expect to pull all those plants this week to make way for my winter cutting garden.  It's already running late to sow sweet pea seeds here and I have a number of other seeds I'd like to direct sow, as well as ranunculus corms that need planting.

I'll store the dahlia tubers for use next year but I want to bid them a fond farewell for the season.  Despite the hot, dry winds that blew all last week, Dahlia 'Punkin Spice' manged to produce another bumper crop of flowers.  As the foliage I used in last week's vase was still in good shape, I've reused it for my first vase this week, simply refreshing the floral elements.

'Punkin Spice' was the best performer among this year's dahlia crop in my cutting garden

Last week's vase containing these dahlias had landed on my dining table so I'd planned to move this week's version to the front entry but, as the back view looks so good, I had to give it a position where it can be viewed from all sides

This view from the top highlights the variations in the dahlias' petal color

Clockwise from the upper left: Agonis flexuosa 'Nana', berries of Auranticarpa rhombifolium (now splitting to reveal the seeds inside), Leucadendron 'Wilson's Wonder', gold Zinnia elegans (looking just a little like sunflowers), an assortment of other Zinnias, and 2 views of Dahlia 'Punkin Spice' (again showing off its color variations)


The berry and wine-colored zinnias were also still blooming well, even if the foliage looks horrible, so I cut most of those for a second vase.

In retrospect, these flowers might have looked better in a vase that allowed a looser arrangement

The back view shows off the Leptospermum flowers that began blooming in earnest again this past week

Top view

Clockwise from the upper left: Zinnia elegans, Coprosma repens 'Plum Hussey', Gomphreana decumbens 'Itsy Bitsy', Pentas 'Kaleidoscope Appleblossom' and Leptospermum scoparium 'Pink Pearl'


The bush violets (Barleria obtusa) began blooming last week so I decided to make use of them and my beloved Plectranthus 'Zulu Wonder' before their relatively short bloom periods are over.

I had a few more lisianthus (Eustoma grandiflorum) make an appearance following our recent rainstorm

The bush violets drop continuously but luckily those in bud continue to open

Top view

Clockwise from the upper left: Barleria obtusa, 4 varieties of Eustoma grandiflorum (the darkest one is 'Black Pearl' but I don't have cultivar IDs for the others), Symphyotrichum chilense, and, in the center, Plectranthus ciliatus 'Zulu Wonder'


Visit Cathy at Rambling in the Garden to find other IAVOM arrangements created from materials on hand.  Have a colorful week!



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

Friday, October 19, 2018

New Plants!

Fall is the best time to plant in our climate and, although the thermostat turned up again this week with the arrival of our moisture-sucking Santa Ana winds, I've been moving ahead with my own planting plans, aided in part by friends in the social media sphere.

About 2 months ago I left a comment for Tamara of Chickadee Gardens expressing admiration of her Callistemon viridiflorus, a plant I've been searching for, quite literally, for years.  At one point, I made contact with a mail order nursery about purchasing the plant but, after exchanging a couple of messages, I got no further response.  I consulted a Southern California nursery specializing in Australian natives but they weren't carrying the plant so I bought another species that reportedly produces green flowers 50% of the time and red flowers 50% of the time.  After more than 2 years, it still hadn't produced a single flower, green or red, and I gave up on it.  To my surprise, in response to my comments on her blog, Tamara offered to find the plant for me and she did!  It arrived earlier this week.

You can see what it will look like when mature here


I planted it the very same day (with a little help from my husband in digging a good hole to give it the best possible start).

Here's the Callistemon in its selected spot, formerly occupied by a Grevillea lavandulcea that went into decline last year.  I'm going to add a ground cover around it while it settles in and gains size.


Tamara's delivery was followed 3 days later by another box of goodies, from a party who wishes to remain unidentified.

I was surprised by the size of the box as I was expecting a few small pups

On the left is Billbergia Quesnelia marmorata 'Tim Plowman', which I've been trying to hunt down for more than a year after seeing it at Sherman Gardens.  On the right are 2 pups of Mangave 'Kaleidoscope', the largest of which was as big or bigger than the plant I'd previously mail-ordered from a major nursery.


I promptly planted those as well.  Our Santa Ana winds make me feel as though I'm being mummified alive so I can only imagine the impact on plants and I didn't want to risk their health by dawdling.

The Billbergia Quesnelia went into the bromeliad bed I created last year

The larger of the 2 Mangave pups went into this bed directly across from the entrance to my lath (shade) house

The second pup was situated near my original plant in the succulent bed I renovated a year ago

While I was fussing with my decision on the second pup's placement, this little fellow showed up, seemingly ready to add his input


In addition to these wonderful plants, I picked up several on my own at the fall plant sale at South Coast Botanic Garden.

While the fall sale has been scaled back in recent years, they still had a good selection.  I picked up 3 plants when I attended the official sale last Saturday with a friend and then 2 more when I made a trip back to the garden to attend a meeting on Monday morning. 


I got all 5 of these plants tucked in this week too, although 2 of them went into pots.

This is Aloe vanbalenii x striata, which I planted in the succulent bed on my front slope.  I love the color but I've no idea of its mature size.  I previously picked up an Aloe vanbalenii x ferox hybrid at another SCBG sale and it's done well in my garden thus far.

This is Hypoestes aristata (aka ribbon bush).  I had a splendid specimen of this plant in my former garden but I've had poorer results with it in my current garden.  I'm hoping this one finds this particular spot in my front garden to its liking.  You can get a look at its flowers here.

This is a noID Plumeria (aka frangipani).  I don't even know what color flowers it'll produce.  I've killed a number of these plants but I've seen them growing in gardens in the surrounding area so I remain hopeful.  I think my biggest challenge will be to get the watering schedule right.

This is Psoralea pinnata (aka the kool-aid bush because its flowers are supposed to smell like grape kool-aid).  A neighbor I ran into at the SCBG sale told me this plant has done well in her garden.  You can see it in bloom here.

This Tillandsia wasn't labeled at all.  My best guess is that it may be T. fasciculata, although the foliage color doesn't look quite right when compared to specimens shown on-line.  I stuck the plant in a pot with some bark nuggets for now but the plant is ready to divide and I may break it apart once it's finished blooming.


I've recently done a bit of work in my front garden too.

I added Grevillea 'Ned Kelly' and Leucadendron 'Jubilee Crown' to this bed in the front garden a few weeks ago.  Last weekend I added Alternanthera 'Joseph's Coat', Gaillardia aristata 'Amber Wheels', and 3 Cordyline 'Renegade' to fill in around those plants.  The Gaillardia and Cordyline were marked down 50% when I found them so I figured I couldn't lose.

This is a closer look at the plants on the left end of the bed.  I think I'm going to add more Alternanthera as ground cover and bark mulch to accent the dark Cordyline.


Every once in awhile I wonder if I'm getting carried away buying new plants.  But somehow it always seems there's room for something more.  This week I realized that I'm going to be needing at least a couple of new plants for the succulent bed facing the street.

Both of the Agave desmettiana 'Variegata' in this bed are preparing to bloom

Once they bloom, I may have lots of bulbils but I'll also have 2 large holes


We have one more day of very warm temperatures and dry air before our weather improves.  For those of you in Central Texas, I hope the rain has abated and your area is spared any further flooding.  Best wishes for the weekend.


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

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Fall at South Coast Botanic Garden

A meeting brought me to South Coast Botanic Garden on Monday morning and, after it was over, I decided to take a spin through the garden to see what's going on as I haven't conducted a tour since August.  Although the new school year has started, there hasn't been the demand for docents there was earlier in the year.

The Floss Silk Trees (Ceiba speciosa) immediately command your attention.  They're all in glorious bloom.

This is the tree near the front entrance, captured from 2 angles.  Its floral color was echoed in the Salvia shown in the shot on the right.

Another specimen, with more unusual flower color


There was also more in bloom in the Volunteer Garden than I'd have expected after a hot, dry summer.

I wish I could grow asters like this!  I'm unsure of the species.  I suspect this section of the botanic garden gets watered more than my garden does.

The Japanese anemones (Anemone hupensis var. japonica) also grow well there

And this Senna bicapsularis, grown as a tree, looks so much better than my own

Jewels of Opar (Talinum paniculata), which I tried growing once

Queen Ann's Wreath or coral vine (Antignon leptopus) growing over a garden service building


Butterflies were flitting about wherever I went.  Gulf Fritillary and Cloudless Sulphur butterflies seemed to be the most common.  I usually have tremendous difficulty getting decent photos of any butterfly but the Gulf Fritillaries in particular couldn't stay away from the Tithonia (aka Mexican sunflower or torch flower) in bloom near the vegetable garden and, for once, they didn't seem to object to my presence.


Gulf Fritillary on the left and Monarch (photographed from a greater distance) on the right


Behind the vegetable garden, two men were hard at work creating a new vertical garden.

What looks like a roof on the succulent wall is the structure behind it where the garden's tram is kept

I'm not sure when the wall is scheduled to be completed but they were making good progress Monday morning


I walked deeper into the garden past the dry lake bed.  It's been cleaned up since I last passed through that area.

The lake has been empty for a long time.  The liner beneath it decayed and it was no longer cost effective to fill it during our long drought.  I've been told that 40 fewer bird species have been sighted in the garden since the lake was drained.  However, there's a project afoot to restore it and the creek that feeds it.  The area had been cleaned up since I last saw it a month ago.


There are still a lot of roses in bloom but I only strolled the perimeter.

This florabunda, used to line the rose garden's entrance, is 'Sparkle & Shine'


On my way out I admired the Salvia leucantha in bloom across from the Desert Garden.

There was a larger mass of Salvia leucantha (aka Mexican bush sage) near the Mediterranean garden but I didn't get a photo


Overall, the garden looked refreshed after last weekend's rain.  The birds and butterflies were happy, the sun was shining, and the air was clean - everything seemed right in this little corner of the world.


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

Monday, October 15, 2018

Another Bloom Day/In a Vase on Monday Mash-up

Two great memes, Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day and In a Vase on Monday, coincide once again this month so rather than creating two separate posts I've combined them.  But first the most exciting news: we got rain this weekend!  After a prior rain forecast touted as a virtual certainty failed to materialize, most people I know turned a deaf ear to talk of a slight chance of rain on Friday.  When rain started to fall early Friday evening, my husband chided me for thinking it'd amount to anything.  However, once it got started, it came down steadily well into Saturday morning, accompanied by the best lightning show I can remember - it went on for hours!  All told, we got a little over half an inch of rain, which is very good for us.  It was our first real rain since late March and just about everyone here is giddy about it.

However, the rain came too late to give us a Bloom Day boost.  My traditional fall bloomers have been slow to develop.  The bush violet, Barleria obtusa, has a few tiny blooms but it's far from ready for prime time exposure.  Even my beloved Plectranthus ciliatus 'Zulu Wonder' has been light on blooms thus far.

While the clump of 'Zulu Wonder' I have in the back garden has more flowers, this one in a relatively shady area of the front garden has experienced less insect damage so it's more presentable


Senna bicapsularis (aka Winter Cassia) opened its first flowers this week.

I didn't cut the Senna back as hard as I should have after last year's bloom.  Not only is the plant very leggy this year but the  flowers are largely out of reach. 


As the Senna flowers were hard to see in the photo above, I cut 2 stems to make up an arrangement for In a Vase on Monday to show them off.

This photo shows the arrangement from both the front and the back.  In addition to Senna bicapsularis, it includes white Eustoma grandiflorum, Gaillardia 'Fanfare Citronella', Lantana 'Samantha', Leucanthemum x superbum, and Zinnia elegans.


The Japanese anemones (Anemone hupehensis var. japonica) surprised me by producing a smattering of blooms this fall despite our very dry year.

Both noID cultivars came with the garden


The ornamental grasses still look great of course and a few other plants are putting on a pretty good show.

Pennisetum advena 'Rubrum' is on the left and Pennisetum 'Sky Rocket' is on the right

All 4 of my Arbutus 'Marina' are loaded with flowers this month, although mature fruit is also forming

The Erigeron glaucus 'Wayne Roderick' I planted in the front garden in early September are already blooming.  The older plants in the back garden are lagging behind a bit.

I picked up 3 Celosia argentea 'Intenz' several weeks ago to provide a blast of color in the backyard border

I was thrilled to find this Helichrysum argyrophyllum groundcover I planted in early March blooming in a sunny corner behind my lath (shade) house.  The silver foliage is accented with papery yellow flowers.

Feathery Phylica pubescens makes the most of the light in the back garden


A few plants rebounded as the temperatures cooled to produce a second season of bloom.

Lotus jacobaeus dropped all its flowers when the horrible heatwave hit in early July.  Those tiny, deep burgundy, almost black, flowers are back this month.

The Pentas are making the most of our cooler temperatures too (Pentas 'Kaleidoscope Appleblossom, left, and P. lanceolata 'Nova, right)

I cut Wahlenbergia 'Blue Cloud' back following the worst of the summer heatwaves but they're back in bloom in one of the driest areas of my garden.  The plants are slowly spreading themselves around but they're very well-mannered about it.


Much of what was blooming last month is still blooming, albeit in lesser quantities.

The dahlia blooms are getting smaller but narrowing stems still can't hold up their heavy heads, especially after a good rainstorm.  Clockwise from the upper left, we have 'Terracotta', 'Punkin Spice', 'Loverboy', and 'Otto's Thrill'.  The pink and white flower in the last photo is a mutant form of 'Otto's Thrill'.


The dahlias didn't look great following our rainstorm but I still managed to cut enough blooms for 2 more arrangements on Sunday morning.

This arrangement was designed around Dahlia 'Terracotta'.  In addition to the dahlia, the vase contains Coprosma 'Plum Hussey' (foliage), Correa 'Wyn's Wonder' (aka Australian fuchsia), and Grevillea 'Superb'.

Despite all the flowers I cut last week, Dahlia 'Punkin Spice' had more to offer this week.  In addition to the dahlia, the vase contains Agonis flexuosa 'Nana' (foliage), Auranticarpa rhombifolium (berries), Leucadendron 'Wilson's Wonder' (foliage), Pennisetum 'Rubrum' (feathery plumes), and red-orange Zinnia elegans.


The large-flowered Grevilleas bloom year-round here.  Grevillea 'Superb' (left) is the most floriferous.  On the right, top to bottom are close-ups of 'Superb', 'Peaches & Cream', and 'Ned Kelly'.

The Lantanas are also long-blooming, although they need to be cut back regularly to prevent them from getting twiggy.  Clockwise from the upper left are 'Samantha', 'Lucky White', a noID pink-orange variety', 'Irene', and another noID pink variety.

This is the third Bloom Day in a row featuring Zephyranthes candida!

The Zinnias are starting to mildew and the raccoons got an early start in pulling them out last week.  I expect to yank the rest of them and dig up the dahlia tubers by the end of the month to make way for winter-blooming plants in my cutting garden.


I'll end my Bloom Day report as I usually do with collages showing the best of the remaining bits and pieces flowering in various areas of the garden.

Top row: Duranta 'Sapphire Skies', Lavandula multifida, and Leucophyllum laevigatum
Middle row: Melaleuca thymifolia, Polygala myrtifolia 'Mariposa', and Rosmarinus 'Gold Dust'
Bottom row: Symphyotrichum chilense, Tibouchina urvilleana, and Trichostema 'Midnight Magic'

Top: Artemisia ludoviciana
Bottom row: Osteospermum '4D Silver', Leucanthemum x superbum, and Eustoma grandiflorum (aka lisianthus)

Top row: Achillea 'Moonshine' (back for round 2), Aloe 'Johnson's Hybrid', and Brugmansia 'Charles Grimaldi' (at last)
Middle row: Cuphea 'Vermillionaire', Euryops 'Sonnenschien', and Hunnemannia fumariifolia
Bottom row: Leonotis leonurus, Oncostele 'Wildcat', and Wilsonara 'Wildcat Harmony'

Top row: Correa 'Wyn's Wonder' and Cuphea 'Starfire Pink'
Middle row: Gomphrena 'Itsy Bitsy', G. 'Pinball Snowtip Lavender', and Leptospermum scoparium 'Pink Pearl'
Bottom row: flower-like Leucadendron "Safari Sunset' and burgundy-flowered Pelargonium peltatum


For more Bloom Day posts, visit Carol at May Dream Gardens, and for more arrangements made from materials at hand in the garden, visit Cathy at Rambling in the Garden.

This week's vases in their final places


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