Thursday, February 15, 2018

What's blooming during SoCal's drought? (Bloom Day, February 2018)

Last year's drought recovery was short-lived.  Southern California is considered back in a drought status and the situation in Northern California isn't much better.  According to weather-watchers, SoCal has had just one real rainstorm since February 19, 2017, the January 2018 storm that caused the horrific mudslides in Montecito.  We got light rain this week but it was spotty and not every area benefited from it.  According to our personal weather-station, we've racked up only 1.45/inch of rain since our short rainy season began on October 1, 2017 and, as reported in the Los Angeles Times this week, the outlook for more isn't especially promising.  Our irrigation system helps of course, as does the gray water system attached to our washing machine, the water I collect in our shower and our kitchen sink, and the accumulation in my 3 rain barrels.  The situation makes me all the happier that we removed our lawn years ago and began swapping our thirsty plants for more drought-tolerant specimens but it's still downright depressing.  Still, I realize that I've got a lot more going on in the garden this month than most areas in the Northern Hemisphere, many of which are still shivering under snow and ice.

Most of the plants that bloomed last year at this time are also blooming this February, if not as abundantly.  This Bloom Day, I'm presenting what's blooming by area, starting in the back garden.

Arctotis 'Pink Sugar', under-planted with gold-flowered Lotus Berthelotii

Bulbine frutescens

Echium handiense, beloved by bees

Clockwise from the upper left, other warm-colored blooms include: Arbutus 'Marina', Gaillardia 'Arizona Sun', the first Sparaxis bloom, Russelia equisetiformis 'Flamingo Park', Lobelia laxiflora, Lotus bethelotii 'Amazon Sunset', Hunnemannia fumarifolia, and, in the center, Grevillea 'Ned Kelly'

Clockwise from the upper left, cooler-colored blooms in the back garden include: Erigeron glaucus 'Wayne Roderick', Geranium 'Tiny Monster', Ipheon uniflorum, Osteospermum 'Berry White', O. '4D Silver', and noID Viola

Flowers blooming on and around the back patio include: Aloe striata, yellow Freesia, Argyranthemum 'Mega White', Lotus jacobaeus, Lobelia erinus, and Osteospermum 'Lavender Frost'


The garden on the south side of the house consists mostly of succulents but there are some blooms.

More pale pink blooms appear on Cistus x skanbergii every day

Clockwise from the upper left, other blooms in this area include: Cistus 'Grayswood Pink', Bryophyllum fedtschenkoi, Grevillea alpina x rosmarinifolia, Metrosideros collina 'Springfire', and a noID trailing Osteospermum


The southwest corner of our property, occupied by the lath (shade) house my husband built me for Christmas, has some blooms inside and more in the area surrounding the structure, which has been my main focus over the past month.

Clockwise from the upper left: Euryops 'Sonnenschein', white and pink Cyclamen (both inside the lath house), Violas, Nemesia 'Sunshine', and Salvia 'Mystic Spires'


The front slope, which parallels the street and curves on the south side to face the lath house, also has a few blooms.

Clockwise from the upper left: Pelargonium peltatum 'Pink Blizzard', Crassula multicava, Rosa chinensis 'Mutabilis', Echeveria agavoides, and Aeonium arboreum


The front garden, facing west, is the most floriferous.

Bauhinia x blakeana (aka Hong Kong orchid tree) is still blooming!

Coleonema pulchellum 'Sunset Gold'

Cuphea x ignea 'Starfire Pink'

Gomphrena decumbens 'Itsy Bitsy' is a tangled mess but loaded with flowers

Grevillea 'Peaches & Cream' (left) and G. 'Superb' (middle and right) are always in bloom

The luminous flower-like bracts of Leucadendron 'Safari Goldstrike' stood out this month

Since last month, the bracts of Leucadendron 'Wilson's Wonder' have turned from yellow to reddish-pink

Other blooms in the front garden include, top row: Coleonema album and white Freesia
Middle row: Gaillardia 'Sunset Flash', Gazania 'White Flame' and self-seeded form
Bottom row: Lavandula multifida and Lantana 'Lucky White'


The area in front of the garage responded to the cooler temperatures we've had the last couple of weeks by producing some new blooms too.

Osteospermum 'Violet Ice'

I like the buds of Pyrethropsis hosmariense as much as the daisy flowers

Clockwise from the left, other flowers in this area include: Kumara (formerly Aloe) plicatilis, Calliandra haematocephala, Crassula 'Springtime', and Pyrus calleryana.  The last is blooming even though it still hasn't shed the majority of last year's foliage.


The cutting garden is relatively short on flowers at the moment.

Poor Camellia x williamsii 'Taylor's Perfection' (left) was dropping blooms as quickly as they opened during our extended spell of warm, dry weather in January.  On the right are: Calendula 'Bronzed Beauty' (top) and Ocimum hybrid 'African Blue Basil'.


The garden on the northeast side of the house has a few more splashes of color.

Grevillea lavandulacea 'Penola' is covered in small flowers

Trailing Lantana montevidensis creates a froth of color at the base of Agave ovatifolia and A. vilmoriniana (top).  At bottom are: Grevillea sericea (left) and Leptospermum scoparium 'Pink Pearl' (right).


This brings us to the back slope.  Spring is usually the only time the area is really colorful and, even though January was unusually warm, the slope hasn't gotten a jump start on the spring season yet.

Clockwise from the upper left are: Bignonia capreolata, Ribes viburnifolium, Ceanothus arboreus 'Cliff Schmidt', and the first blooms of Centranthus ruber 'Roseus' and  Zantedeschia aethiopica


My garden usually peaks between March and April.  How will it do if we don't get any more rain?  That remains to be seen.  The driest year on record for Los Angeles was 2007, when the annual total was 3.21 inches.  I really hope we don't break that record this year.

That's it for my Bloom Day report.  For more, visit Carol at May Dreams Gardens, the host of Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day.


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

32 comments:

  1. So many flowers! Your garden really is a shining example of how to plant for beauty and pollinators in your low-water climate. Bravo! I especially appreciated how a few Agaves managed to photo-bomb the flower party.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. There are a LOT of agaves, Loree, although of course not nearly the number in your collection. They just don't mingle much with plants that guzzle water with more abandon.

      Delete
  2. What can I say? Such an amazing abundance of glorious blooms, all of them grown to perfection. Your garden is paradise. And here we are grovelling around in the cold,counting little green spots on snowdrops.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Your flower power will undoubtedly out-distance mine once spring arrives in your part of the world, Chloris! As we never really had even our version of winter here, there was no dormant period.

      Delete
  3. Kris, what a wonderful display of blooms you have in your garden! That Honk Kong orchid tree is a real stunner! 1.45/inch since october? this is shocking! we had 2 weeks without rain and it seemed an eternity and then we had 3 inches of rain in two days.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Even though we get far less rain than you do in a "normal" year, 1.45/inch is truly pathetic. A "March miracle" like the one Southern California experienced in 1991 would turn things around but it's not likely and the impact could be devastating to the areas hit by the December fires so it's probably best not to wish for that.

      Delete
  4. I sympathise so much about the rain. I’m in the Central Tablelands of NSW Australia. So far in Feb, we’ve had 1.4 mm (0.05 in) and there’s hardly been a day where the max temp has been below 35 degrees. My garden is suffering terribly. Like you, I try to grow drought hardy plants. The flowers in your garden look wonderful and there are so many ideas to use for a drought tolerant garden. Unfortunately there aren’t too many succulents I can plant as we have heavy frosts in the winter. I have just found your blog and look forward to seeing more of what you do in your tough climate.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Bauhinia is a beauty - nothing like a tree covered in large flowers for impact!

    I wonder if my Kumara will bloom - our plants seem to be a similar size / age.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The bloom stalks on the Kumara were a big surprise, Diana. The plant was given to me by a friend (I think it was a cutting or division) and it spent a year in a pot. It's only been in the ground since September.

      Delete
  6. You know something, Kris, your garden blog looks as beautiful as one of those glossy garden books one sees in show houses. Except that it is all real and centered on your own vivacious garden. Informative as well. And were it possible I would undertake to pipe a garden full of English rain water straight to your door. And have a few buckets full to spare.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Your comments are very kind, Ian. I wish we could exchange a little of our warmth for some of your rain too.

      Delete
  7. I'm starting to recognize some of your flowers without having to read the captions! I love the colors in that Arctotis at the top of your post. I nearly bought an Aloe striata the other day. I should go back and get one. Thanks for sharing your blooms with us sun-starved folks.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The stalwart flowers in my garden (Grevilleas, Gazanias and such) seem to bloom almost continuously now, a by-product of the apparent loss of seasonal distinctions down this way. It'll be interesting to see if some of the plants that prefer variations in temperature and moisture show up. The fact that the hellebores appear to be skipping their usual bloom cycle is an early warning that some plants may be flower-less this year.

      Delete
    2. The unusual warmth / lack of a dormant period may be as responsible as the dryness for the hellebores' lack of bloom.

      For the sake of trees and the water table, I'm hoping for a March miracle -- as un-torrential as possible, for the sake of the fire-scarred areas.

      Delete
  8. I know you may feel down about the lack of rain, but what you've managed to create in drought conditions is incredible. It's miraculous! You could be teaching classes to your drought-stricken neighbors. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh, we still benefit from irrigation, even if the level has been racheted down by a third or more. The persistent worry is that the level may be forced to drop still further.

      Delete
  9. You could have fooled me about the drought from the pix of your garden. But it is very worrying that our weather is not normal anymore, no matter where you live. I love that very first image with the orangey-gold and pink. Just a knockout. How do you get gray water from your shower? Do you just put a bucket in the shower with you or is there an attachment to your plumbing?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The washing machine is the only plumbing actually attached to pipe - it carries the soapy water down to our back slope. I use a bucket in the shower and a tub in the kitchen sink to catch other gray water. The shower water is generally used to flush our toilets but I use the water collected in the kitchen to soak pots and the like, dumping any I don't use that way on outdoor plants. I vary where I use it so any soap still in it doesn't build up too much in the soil.

      Delete
  10. Wow, stunning! I don't know where to start, again. ;-) So many of these plants are familiar to me after my trip out your way a couple of years ago. Love the Echium and the Bauhinia and the Bulbine. I would never know you were experiencing a drought based on your garden. Sorry you have to deal with that, though.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. At the moment, the impact of renewed drought is limited - with a few exceptions, the same plants are blooming, just not as prolifically. My real worry is what are things going to look like as the year progresses, especially if water restrictions tighten up again.

      Delete
  11. Kris, I admire your skill and resourcefulness. To have so many interesting plants in flower given the water conditions is amazing. I must remember not to pout if we don't get rain for a few weeks (not that that's been a problem recently here). Love the color of Osteospermum 'Violet Ice'. Have a great weekend!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That Osteospermum perked up as soon as the weather cooled a bit, just in time for Bloom Day.

      Delete
  12. Awesome, Kris!

    I cut way back on irrigation for the winter, and it shows. :(

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. While I've kept close to the level set when the 36% water restrictions were in place here, I have NOT racheted my irrigation down to the level at which it's usually set during this time of year, HB. Irrigation certainly helps but, as you know, there's nothing like real rain to get plants in shape.

      Delete
  13. Your garden is a shining example of how beautiful a xeric garden can be! Happy GBBD, you talented flower floozy!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I accept my "flower floozy" title with pride, Peter!

      Delete
  14. Despite irrigation, my plants have really resented this very dry winter too. Bloom times are a bit off, and Eremophila 'Valentine' is virtually a no-show, though our recent gentle rain may, possibly, bring out a few flowers. For all the water woes, your garden is looking beautiful - quite a tribute to your work restructuring it for more arid conditions.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I heard there's a chance of a little rain on Monday. Fingers crossed we both get some!

      Delete
  15. I'm sorry you're dealing with drought yet again, especially after just a brief reprieve. Your garden has looked beautiful in spite of the lack of rain due to your planning and hard work, and looks beautiful now. Such a bounty of flowers too, in every shape and color!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The garden thought it was summer for awhile, sweetbay! Winter temperatures have unexpectedly returned this week but, sadly, not yet any real rain.

      Delete
  16. Pretty flowers! Yes, we all have our worries,and we are shivering under snow and ice...

    ReplyDelete
  17. Thanks, Villrose. We're cold here too this week but it's nothing like it is in your part of the world!

    ReplyDelete

I enjoy receiving your comments and suggestions!