Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Bloom Day - August 2018

Even though I've been doing much more watering than usual, I'm surprised at just how much I have blooming in mid-summer.  Thus far, my summer water usage has been hovering just below 60% of the level budgeted by our water service provider so I'm not feeling too guilty yet - we'll have to see if the August billing changes things.  Meanwhile, deep-watering selected areas of the garden once a week has made a difference.

Like August last year, my Bloom Day stars are the dahlias, lisianthus (Eustoma grandiflorum), and zinnias.  The dahlias and zinnias are less profuse than mid-month last year but I think that's largely attributable to the fact that I planted both my tubers and seeds late this year.

Clockwise from the upper left, the dahlias that have made appearances thus far this season are: 'Loverboy', 'Otto's Thrill', 'Punkin Spice', and 'Terracotta'

I've got many more varieties of Eustoma grandiflorum this year.  Some of those I planted last year returned for a second year of bloom and I added a couple of new varieties.  I don't have cultivar names for all of them but the one on the upper left is 'Balboa Blue Rim'; the one in the lower right corner is 'Mint Cocoa'; and the one in the lower left corner is 'Black Pearl'.  The unnamed green variety in the middle is my current favorite.

I supplemented the Zinnia elegans seeds I planted with plugs and I can no longer account for which is which.  My best guess is the the variety on the upper right is 'Queen Red Lime'; the one on the lower right is part of a 'State Fair' mix; and the one on the lower left is 'Benary's Giant Salmon Rose'.  I've no idea where the cream-colored flower on the upper left came from.

A few other plants are making their seasonal splash as well.

My mimosa tree (Albizia julibrissin) continues to struggle.  It was almost 3 months late in leafing out and I didn't expect it to bloom at all but it has.  While the back half of the multi-trunked tree looks fairly good, several large branches in the front are naked of both leaves and flowers.  I'm planning to consult an arborist in September about the prospect of pruning out the bare limbs.

Callistemon 'Cane's Hybrid' is covered with blooms and bees this month

Magnolia grandiflora makes up for its summer litter habit with lots of beautiful blooms

Pennisetum advena 'Rubrum's' summer-to-fall bloom cycle is off to a good start

I planted 2 California asters (Symphyotrichum chilense 'Purple Haze') in September 2016.  I don't remember much in the way of flowers in 2016 or 2017 but the plants have spread dramatically throughout a large area this year producing a mass of airy blooms.  Its spread is a little frightening, though.

The bed I featured last month is still the most colorful space in my garden.

A photo of the bed is shown in the center of this collage.  Clockwise from the upper left, the elements in bloom include: Ageratum houstonium 'Blue Horizon', noID Anigozanthos, blue Eustoma grandiflorum, Gaillardia 'Mesa Peach', Gaillardia 'Fanfare Citronella, Lantana 'Samantha', and Nierembergia 'Purple Robe'

There were a few surprises as well.

Amaryllis belladonna (aka the naked lady lily) produced a single bloom stalk.  This and 23 other bulbs were sent to me by Tammy of Casa Mariposa in March 2015.  I got a few blooms last year but this is the first one thus far this year.  I'm hoping it's the start of a stampede, despite our very poor winter rain..

Two of my begonias recovered sufficiently from the nuclear heatwave in early July to produce new blooms.  The one on the left is 'Fragrant Falls Peach'.  I've lost the name of the one on the right.

My fuchsias in the lath (shade) house also recovered from the heat blast.  On the left is Fuchsia 'Galfrey Lye''Mendonoma Belle' is on the upper right and 'Old Berkeley' is on the lower right.

A light scattering of rain lilies (Zephyranthes candida) appeared in response to the extra water they received

As has become my habit, I'll close with collages covering the best of the rest.

Top row: one of the last Agapanthus, Catananche caerulea, and Melaleuca thymifolia
Middle row: Osteospermum '4D Silver', Plumbago auriculata 'Imperial Blue', and Scabiosa 'Fama Blue'
Bottom row: Tibouchina urvilleana, weed-like Tradescantia, and Wahlenbergia 'Blue Cloud'

Top row: Abelia grandiflora 'Edward Goucher', Agastache 'Ava' (backed by Cuphea 'Starfire Pink'), and Cistanthe grandiflora
Middle row: Pseuderanthemum 'Texas Tri-star', Rose 'Pink Meidiland', and Crassula falcata
Bottom row: flower-like Leucadendrons 'Safari Sunset' and 'Blush', and Gomphrena decumbens 'Itsy Bitsy'

Top row: Coreopsis 'Redshift', Cotyledon orbiculata, and Echeveria 'Afterglow'
Middle row: Euryops chrysanthemoides 'Sonnenschien', Grevillea 'Superb', and Hesperaloe parviflora
Bottom row: Russelia equisetiformis 'Flamingo Park' and Leonotis leonurus

Top row: Asclepias physocarpa, Asparagus densiflorus, and Gazania 'White Flame'
Middle row: Tanacetum parthenium, Scaevola 'Surdiva White', and Helianthus 'Sun-fill Green'
Bottom row: Pandorea jasminoides, Phylica pubescens, and Lantana 'Lucky White'

My biggest disappointments this August are my sunflowers.  I planted seeds late; germination was low; and repeated heatwaves sapped the strength of the few seedlings that sprouted.  The plants I got had spindly stems easily broken by strong winds.  Lesson learned!  Next year I'll start my sunflowers much earlier, in pots if space in the cutting garden is temporarily limited as was the case this year.

For more Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day posts, visit our esteemed host, Carol at May Dreams Gardens.

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

Monday, August 13, 2018

In a Vase on Monday: Loverboy keeps things simple

Dahlia 'Loverboy' finally showed up on the garden scene.  He looks a little diminished by comparison to his larger-than-life presence last year but maybe the lower profile is a response to tough circumstances.  When seeking out others to pal around with this week, he took a long hard look at his former paramour, Eustoma grandiflora (aka Lisianthus) but she's still blue and seemed more comfortable on her own.  So he elected to hang out with his friends Otto and Edward instead.

Okay, those of you that followed last year's drama may note that Gomphrena 'Itsy Bitsy' managed to squeeze herself into the mix once more this year but it should be noted that, scattered and flighty as she is, she's likely to keep things light

Otto, better known as Dahlia 'Otto's Thrill', seems to be of 2 minds (or, er, conjoined buds) about hanging around with 'Loverboy'

On the other hand, Edward, who prefers to be addressed formally as Abelia 'Edward Goucher', gets along with everyone

They look like a congenial group anyway

Clockwise from the top, the group includes: Dahlia 'Loverboy', Gomphrena decumbens 'Itsy Bitsy', Dahlia 'Otto's Thrill', and Abelia grandiflora 'Edward Goucher'

Vase #2 this week presented problems of another kind.  I started out with Dahlia 'Terracotta' and, although I kept adding other flowers and foliage to my bucket, the mix struck me as dull until I realized that Callistemon 'Cane's Hybrid' was begging for inclusion.

How I missed Callistemon 'Cane's Hybrid' for as long as I did when it was waving in the breeze at me is a mystery

The Callistemon helped to integrate the peachy-pink dahlias, the green lisianthus, and the silver-green cones of the Leucadendron

In this photograph of the rear view, the variegated Abelia unfortunately obscured the flowers of Eustoma 'Mint Cocoa'.  The brownish-green flowers of the latter are interesting but I haven't entirely warmed to them.

Top view

Top row: Abelia grandiflora 'Hopley's Variegated', Callistemon 'Cane's Hybrid', and green Eustoma grandiflorum
Middle row: Helianthus 'Sun-Fill Green' (with the center now turning yellow), Dahlia 'Terracotta', and Leucadendron 'Pisa'
Bottom row: Eustoma grandiflorum 'Mint Cocoa', Tanacetum parthenium, and Zinnia elegans

That's it for this week's floral drama.  For more "In a Vase on Monday" stories, visit our host, Cathy at Rambling in the Garden.

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

Friday, August 10, 2018


Last weekend, the South Bay Bromeliad Associates (SBBA) held their annual show and sale at Rainforest Flora in nearby Torrance.  As I've been slowly adding to my collection of these often pricey plants, I had to check it out.

Rainforest Flora's interior sales area

I checked out the SBBA show first.  Held in Rainforest's warehouse area, the surroundings aren't as attractive as the plants.

Panoramic view of the show area.  Hey, I warned you it wasn't fancy.

The plants were grouped by genus.  Here's a selection of my favorites:

Billbergia saundersii

I've been looking for Quesnelia marmorata for well over a year now.  The one on the left is 'Rafael Olivera' and the one on the right is 'Tim Plowman'.

Dyckias, clockwise from the top: 'South Bay', 'First Cousin' and 'Carol Wajick'

Hechtia 'Baker's Beauty'

Tillandsias, clockwise from the upper left: T. capitata 'Peach', T, capitata 'Variegata', T. durantii var saxatilis, mixed Tillandsia wreath, and T. hybrid (maybe 'Silver Trinket')

Vriesea ospinae var. gruberi (left) and V. 'Splendide' (right)

Unfortunately, even though I arrived within just a couple hours of the show's opening, the varieties offered by the SBBA sale didn't reflect the range of plants on display in the show area.  I bought just one plant.

This is Billbergia 'Boracho' trying out a spot between my succulent and bromeliad beds in the front garden.  I was concerned that the morning sun might be too strong here but it seems to be holding up just fine.

So I took a stroll through Rainforest Flora, which was offering 20% off on all bromeliads.

The official greeter was lying down on the job.  To be fair, it was very warm.

I considered the lovely Tillandsia kimosthenes (left) and a variety of Vriesea (right)

Instead, I bought Tillandsia 'Isaac Jogues', on sale for nearly twice the cost of the prior options

I'd hoped to find more bromeliads to fill in empty spaces in the pocket garden area I created last year.  It's a good that I had a back-up plan.  I'd placed an order with Plant Delights for 3 new x mangaves.  Those arrived Wednesday afternoon so I'm now eyeing the available space in the bromeliad garden for at least 2 of them.

From left to right, the new plants are Agave-Manfreda hybrids 'Spotty Dotty', 'Bad Hair Day', and 'Kaleidoscope'.  The latter arrived a bit battered but it looks like it pups readily so I trust it'll outgrow the damage.

I'd planned to get the Billbergia and mangaves planted this week but an extension of the excessive heat warning had me putting that task off.  With monsoonal moisture blowing in from the east, the temperature should come down so hopefully I can tackle planting this coming weekend.  Do you have plans to work in your garden this weekend?

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

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Lath House 2.0

On July 6th when our temperature soared to 110F (43C), the heat, intense sun exposure, and high winds combined to sear many of my plants, including tender specimens in the lath (shade) house my husband built me last December.  I'd mistakenly assumed that the lath structure and the large plants surrounding it on the south and west sides would be sufficient to protect the plants inside.  I was wrong.  The begonias, fuchsias, and orchids suffered most and it was clear that, if I want to grow these plants, I needed to increase the amount of shade they receive during our long summer season.  Renee (Gardening Turned Up to Eleven), who is used to dealing with incendiary temperatures, suggested using temporary screens to provide extra protection as needed and I immediately began researching my options.  Then I consulted my "builder" about an upgrade.  He quickly got to work on outfitting my lath house with custom shades.  These were completed and installed late last week, just in time for our current heatwave.

From the outside the structure doesn't look much different, does it?

This is the sun screen fabric we selected, conveniently available at one of our local big box stores

To provide interim protection, we tacked an old sheet to the inside of the lath house roof (left).  Elegant, huh?  My husband's custom roof shades (right), constructed in 2 pieces, look much better.

The lath house has an irregular shape so each screen section had to be constructed according to exacting measurements.  My husband stained the lath used to make the shade cloth frames to match the original structure.  They fit seamlessly in place.

He even stamped each piece to indicate where it belongs.  This one fits into the west side on the left.  The shades were placed inside the top and middle shelves on the south and west sides of the structure.  We left the bottom area and the east and north sides of the structure uncovered.

Once the shades were in place, I cleaned the space and moved the plants I'd shifted to the floor during the July heatwave into place on the upper shelves.  It's amazing how much cooler it is inside now with the shades in place.

This is a view of the inside of the structure from the upper level of the garden

A closer look from the ground level

The large, sad-looking plant in the corner of the upper shelf is Hoya multiflora (aka shooting stars plant).  It'd been in the window of my home office for years but, despite blooming nearly continuously, it'd developed yellow leaves I haven't succeeded in treating.  I gave it a larger pot and new soil in the hope it'll return to its former glory but, hedging my bets, I also took a cutting from a healthy stem.  

I potted up the seedlings I germinated from seeds collected from my Ferraria crispa.  I still have to repot a few of my orchids.

The flowering begonias are blooming again - they rebounded better than the begonias grown chiefly for their foliage.  The gardenia, always positioned in this corner on the southeast side took the early July heatwave in stride.

I tossed out a couple of plants that were badly damaged by that first major heatwave, but moved a few others, like the Hoya multiflora, into the space.  I also moved the pretty Caladiums that finally leafed out into more prominent positions and added a very pretty but expensive Tillandsia I picked up at a bromeliad sale last week.

I planted Caladiums 'Candyland' (left) and 'Miss Mufflet' (right, shown with Fuchsia 'Galfrey Lye') from tubers.  They took so long to leaf out I'd almost given up on them but, while still relatively small, they've finally earned a prominent space in the newly arranged lath house.

This is Tillandsia 'Isaac Jogues', which I picked up and put back at least 3 times before finally carrying it to the cashier, despite the 20% off sale

My fingers are crossed that all my lath house treatures will be happy through the remainder of what's stacking up to be a tough summer.

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