Friday, March 30, 2018

Seeking Inspiration (and plants)

I visited Roger's Gardens in Corona del Mar this week seeking plants and inspiration.  Fall may be the best time to plant in Southern California but spring can't be beat for enticing gardeners outside.  The garden center held an extended spring celebration earlier this month but I was unable to get there so, with a free day in front of me, I decided to pay a mid-week visit and I was lucky to arrange a meet-up with blogging friend, Hoover Boo of Piece of Eden, too.

The skies were clear, the temperature was comfortably warm, and the garden center wasn't overly crowded on a weekday morning.  As HB and I chatted about plants, one of garden center's unofficial greeters commanded our attention.

A fountain just outside my shot on the left was splashing water on the red flowers of this Martha Washington geranium (Pelargonium), which the hummingbird used as a perch

He seemed to enjoy his light shower and paid no attention whatsoever to the 2 nearby bloggers who simultaneously raised their cameras for a rapid flurry of photos

My main purpose was to check out the new display gardens Roger's had set up in advance of their spring celebration.  There are 7 of these, although I missed the one focused on edibles.

This is the Balcony Garden, designed as inspiration for people who don't have ground to plant in.  It featured vertical planters constructed from pallets, a few edibles, and succulents.

The Bird & Butterfly Garden was perhaps the largest of the display gardens

I was pleased to note that many of the plants included in the garden's plant list are present in my own garden, including yarrow (Achillea), Ceanothus, Gaura, lavender, rosemary and Salvia clevelandii.  The tall Leucadendron wasn't on Roger's official plant list but it looks stunning in the background.

In contrast to the Bird & Butterfly Garden, the California Friendly Garden was relatively small, consisting of 2 identical raised planting beds, filled with a variety of plants suitable to our Mediterranean climate, arranged around pineapple guava trees (Acca sellowiana, formerly Feijoa)

The Flower Garden near the front entrance features ornamental pottery and flowers mainly in shades of blue and white

The foxgloves looked great with back lighting

The Modern Garden was planted with sculptural succulents

Although I love succulents, the colors used were a little too muted for my taste

This is the Small Space Garden, designed to show people what they can create even with limited space.  I loved the combination of the red kangaroo paws (Anigozanthos) with rose-pink Grevillea 'Penola', although I can tell you from personal experience that the Grevillea gets really big within a few years.

The display gardens weren't the only attractions.

I'm not sure whether the circular metal structure shown on the left was intended as a bench or merely decoration.  The Kokedama creation shown in close-up on the right (featuring what I think must be Colocasia, aka elephant ears) was huge!

As always, the garden center had a range of succulent containers

However, in my opinion, the best displays were in the parking lot.

This area featured Aloes in bloom, Sedum nussbaumerianum, and large specimens of Leucadendron 'Jester'

In addition to the Aloes, there were lots of blooming pincushion proteas (Leucospermum sp.)

I've noted that Leucospermums are becoming more widely available in prices that don't always require obtaining a second mortgage on your home and Roger's had a great selection

Hoover Boo and I enjoyed a nice lunch and I came home with plants of course.  I didn't take photos of my new acquisitions but they included: blue Freesias to replace the bulbs that bloomed in unintended shades orange and pink in my garden; a butterfly and California-friendly Scabiosa; Salvia 'Love & Wishes', a plant HB has had great success with; a 6-pack of California poppies to make up for the fact that none of my poppy seeds germinated this year; and 2 6-packs of Lisianthus (Eustoma grandiflorum) because I just can't help myself.

Best wishes for a beautiful Easter weekend.

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

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Rain Effects (and Wednesday Vignette)

More often than not, our short rainy season comes to an abrupt end in March.  While the 2017-2018 winter season doesn't appear to have set a new low as the driest on record in Los Angeles, it's right up there near the top (bottom?) of the list.  Our roof-top weather station shows that our seasonal total (October 1st to the present) is a paltry 3.59 inches, more than 11 inches short of "normal."  Still, we got a good soaking here last week and the garden is showing its gratitude.

This area of the back garden on the south side of the house has exploded in color, thanks mainly to Lotus berthelotii 'Amazon Sunset' and Leucospermum 'Goldie'.  It's my Wednesday Vignette.  (For more, visit Anna at Flutter & Hum.)

Close-ups of each.  The Lotus were planted from plugs in May 2016, while the Leucospermum was added in early December last year.

I'm very happy that I've finally had Leucospermum bloom in my garden.  In addition to 'Goldie', two other plants have buds (not counting the 'Spider Hybrid' I recently bought already in bloom).

Leucospermum 'Brandi', planted in March 2016, has its very first flower buds!

Although this small plant looks like it's taken a beating, L. 'Spider', planted late last year, also has some tiny buds

But the Leucospermums aren't the only plants showing promise after the March rainstorms.

The snapdragons I grew from seed are finally starting to bloom

This artichoke is returning for its 4th year on the back slope.  It looks as though all the new artichoke plugs I planted in the fall are also coming along.

After complaining for weeks about the failure of my hellebores to blooms, H. 'Anna's Red' suddenly appears poised to do just that

Lavandula stoechas 'Anouk Deep Rose' is blooming in the front garden for the first time since it was planted in September 2016

Romneya coulteri (Matilija poppy) on the back slope has buds

And the 'Joseph's Coat' climber, usually the first rose to bloom in my garden, is getting close to doing so

However, a few new blooms, while pretty, have fallen short of expectations.

This appears to be yet another mislabeled bulb.  Sold as Iris germanica 'Autumn Circus', it looks nothing like it was supposed to (as shown here)

Narcissus 'British Gamble' also falls short of the mark (as shown here)

and this picotee Ranunculus is more reddish pink than pink and white

The calla lilies (Zantedeschia aethiopica), while very late, are finally beginning to bloom here and there but the California poppies are complete no-shows thus far.  So early spring is a mixed bag this year.  I enjoy the season regardless, although I admit I wouldn't mind a bit more rain...

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

Monday, March 26, 2018

In a Vase on Monday: It had to be orange

Saturday, 800+ cities in the US and around the world joined a massive group in Washington D.C. led by students from Parkland, Florida to protest gun violence and call for sensible gun control.  A friend and I were among the 55,000 or so that participated in the march in downtown Los Angeles.

The tone of this march was very different than the Women's March in January 2017

While there was a great deal of energy on the part of those who participated, it was in many ways more somber and emotional, at least in my opinion

After all, whatever some talking heads say, the central issue here isn't political but truly a matter of life and death and there has already been much too much of the latter

The color of the day was orange, selected in 2015 to recognize and honor previous victims of gun violence.  As the march and its purpose were still very much on my mind on Sunday when I prepared my arrangements for "In a Vase on Monday," I gravitated to that color in my garden.

I'm not sure when so much orange crept into my garden but I certainly have no shortage of it

Back view

Top view

Clockwise from the upper left, the vase contains: Agonis flexuosa 'Nana', Argyranthemum 'Mega White', Calendula 'Bronzed Beauty', Digitalis 'Dalmatian Peach', red-orange Freesia, Sparaxis tricolor, Lotus berthelotii (gold form), Narcissus 'Geranium', and, in the center, Grevillea 'Superb'

Refreshed by last week's rain, the heaviest we've had all season (and possibly our last until next winter), my garden is in its early spring glory so of course I also have a second vase.

Osteospermum hybrid 'Berry White' was the starting point for this arrangement

but it meshes well with Ageratum corymbosum, a perennial with "ever-purple" leaves, that just started its annual bloom cycle

Top view showing off the Ageratum's dark leaves

Clockwise from the upper left, the vase contains: Ageratum corymbosum, Coleonema album, Pyrethropsis hosmariense 'Casablanca' (formerly Rhodanthemum), Osteospermum 'Berry White', and white and blue Freesia

For more vases, visit our host, Cathy at Rambling in the Garden.

For more on the Los Angeles March for Our Lives click here.  For more on the Washington March and other supportive US marches click here.  For information on marches outside the US click here.  I fully expect that change is going to take time in a country with a gun-culture as entrenched as ours but I think the young people leading the charge have shown themselves up to the task.

This is just a handful of the signs I photographed during the march

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

Friday, March 23, 2018

Local Spring Flower-fest

It's that time of year.  New flowers seem to appear nearly every day in my garden.

Appearing this week: noID Iris germanica, blooming on the back slope underneath the leaf of an agave (left), and Iris douglasiana 'Santa Lucia' in the front garden (right)

I wandered further afield this week to see what else is making an appearance now that our long-awaited rain has arrived.  I started my search in my own neighborhood.

Alyogyne huegelii (aka blue hibiscus)

Azalea 'George Tabor'

Beschorneria yuccoides, the first I've ever seen in bloom (or almost in bloom)

What I believe may be wild borage of some kind, growing head-high in a vacant lot

The biggest Leucospermum I've ever seen, which blooms reliably every year in this neighbor's garden

A yellow-flowered Leucospermum, planted just a few houses further up the road

A large pink-flowered Pelargonium blooming along yellow Euryops, Limonium perezii, Persicaria capitata, Cordyline and Agapanthus on a relatively steep slope.  This slope was replanted last year.

Wednesday, as a new storm was moving in, I also made a quick tour of South Coast Botanic Garden, just 5 miles away.

More of the garden's cherry trees have burst into bloom.

These trees surround the garden's amphitheater

The Wisteria vines planted along the arbors are producing their first blooms.

It'll probably be another month before the flowers thoroughly blanket the arbors

Even the desert garden has flowers.

The rains triggered the growth of California poppies and blue lupine here (while I've yet to see any sign of California poppies in my own garden)

The redesigned Mediterranean garden is studded with flowers in shades of white, orange, yellow and blue.

Top row: noID Cistus, Eschscholzia californica, and Nectarine tree blossoms
Middle row: Penstemon heterophyllus, P. eatonii, and Phlomis fruticosa
Bottom row: Salvia clevelandii 'Winnifred Gilman', Trichostema lanatum, and Verbena lilacina

The new rose garden is getting ready for its grand opening in April.

The framework is in place and the roses are planted, but blooms are still relatively sparse

It'd started to rain as I photographed the roses so I didn't bother to look for name tags

And the Volunteer Garden has positively exploded in flowers.

I'm beginning to think orange California poppies go with everything

The centerpiece here is a noID Magnolia in full bloom

I don't usually like pink and red together but I liked this combination

This bed had me asking why I've never tried growing Cerastium tomentosum in my current garden

Note the Brugmansia in full bloom in the background.  The flowers on the Echium on the left were just beginning to open.  The bed on the right was full of various kinds of Pelargonium.

You may have noticed that I've paid more frequent visits to my local botanic garden of late.  Last month I started training to become a volunteer docent.  My last training session is next week.  My first 2 tours are already scheduled for April.  Ninety percent of the tours involve guiding schoolchildren, which isn't a group I've had much experience with in recent years.  One of my biggest problems has been coming up with the common names of plants and flowers as I've somehow managed to hard-wire my brain to produce the Latin names, at least for those plants I'm most familiar with.  So I've been working hard to pull common names back into my vocabulary.

Top row: Calendula (pot marigold), Crocosmia (montbretia), Dietes grandiflora (fortnight lily), and Eschscholzia (California poppy)
2nd row: noID Euphorbia (spurge), Euryops (African sunflower), Gazania (African daisy), and Gladiolus (sword lily)
3rd row: Helianthus (sunflower). Kalanchoe beharensis (felt plant), noID Narcissus (daffodil), and Nemesia  (no common name)
Last row: Oxalis (weed!), noID Pelargonium (geranium), hybrid Penstemon (beard tongue), and Papaver nudicuale (Iceland poppy)

Top row: Alstroemeria (Peruvian lily), Arctotis (African daisy #2), Borago (borage), and Cerastium (snow-in-summer)
2nd row: Cerinthe (honeywort), Hyacinthoides (Spanish bluebells) Limonium perezii (sea lavender), and Myosotis (forget-me-nots)
3rd row: Osteospermum (African daisy #3),  pink Iceland poppy, Persicaria capitata (knotweed), and Salvia 'Mystic Spires' (sage)
Last row: noID Salvia (sage), Scabiosa (pincushion flower), Scilla peruviana (another "Peruvian lily," actually of Spanish origin), and what used to be Solanum rantonetti (blue potato bush)

Wish me luck!

Actually, it is easier to remember this as an apricot trumpet flower tree than Handroanthus chrysostricha x impetiginosus, formerly classified as Tabebuia (and much simpler to pronounce)

Enjoy the first weekend of Spring!

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