Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Who'd have guessed? (Wednesday Vignette)

Last Thursday, our newspapers came up missing.  My husband usually picks them up from our driveway before he starts his morning walk.  He was much later than usual in getting started that morning but, thinking the paper delivery person may also have been late, he took off.  While he was out he noticed that several of our neighbors had papers in their driveways so, when he returned home, he did a thorough search of the bushes to see if he could find ours.  He didn't and, assuming that the delivery person had simply missed us or that someone had walked off with them, we called in for replacements, which were promptly delivered.  My husband asked if I could imagine that anyone in the neighborhood could have walked off with them and I shrugged and said it was just one of the two only plausible possibilities.  We'd had papers "walk away" on numerous occasions at our former house but our present neighborhood is both less densely populated and more off the beaten track, so theft seemed unlikely.  I sat down to my breakfast with the Los Angeles Times, while my husband took off with his Wall Street Journal, and I promptly dismissed the whole question.  But, my husband, being curious, decided to check our security cameras.  He quickly returned, urging me to come view the camera footage with the statement "you're never going to guess what happened."

The paper WAS delivered.  I've circled it sitting at the bottom of our driveway.

A mere minute or 2 later, a visitor strolls by and immediately checks out the paper, which was wrapped in a red plastic cover due to rain

Yes, that's Mr. Coyote carrying off the paper

It looked as though he was headed down the moss-covered dirt path just inside the hedge that borders the street

But he apparently clambered up the stepping stones that lead up to the main level of the front garden.  You can see him just to the left of the date stamp at the top of the screenshot.

And another camera picked him up here rounding the bend into the garden on the south side

At least he paid no attention to Pipig's screened porch on the right, although she was probably in the house yelling at me to dish out her breakfast at that point

He retained a good hold on that paper as he trotted along

This was the last good view we had of him

Although a fourth camera picked up his movements along another dirt path in the back garden (roughly above the "01" in 2018 above), I couldn't get any decent screenshots from this view.  However, I did find the missing papers another 20 feet or so beyond this point, where I suspect he abandoned them to dart through the hedge and down the slope into the canyon in search of other prey.

For the record, I did guess correctly in response to my husband's question but my response was in jest and I was incredulous when I saw the video, depicted here in selected screenshots from four separate cameras.  I still can't fathom why the coyote chose to pick up the paper, much less carry it through the garden for two or more minutes.  Maybe he was annoyed that I'd cleaned up the deposit he'd left in the driveway the morning before to mark our house as his territory.  Or maybe he was irritated that I'd discouraged bunny visits to my garden by caging the plants they've been grazing on.  Maybe he has an interest in what's happening in the stock market.  Who knows!!!

For more Wednesday Vignettes, visit Anna at Flutter & Hum.

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

Monday, March 19, 2018

In a Vase on Monday: Spring has arrived!

Two weeks of periodic rainstorms may not have made up for the overall dryness of our winter rainy season or lifted us back out of drought but it's re-energized both the garden and the gardener, at least for now.  Suddenly, the problem in preparing arrangements for "In a Vase on Monday," the popular weekly exercise hosted by Cathy at Rambling in the Garden, isn't what to pick but how to cram everything I've picked into the vase I've selected.  The Ranunculus in the cutting garden got me started this week as they all seem to be blooming at once.

I wasn't sure what I was going to pair with the vivid red Ranunculus when I cut those first stems but in no time I'd gathered more than I needed.

The red Ranunculus were supposed to be purple but I must admit they proved useful as vase material this week

The orange-red Freesia were supposed to be blue and, although they're messing with the color composition of 2 of my borders, they also came in handy in preparing this arrangement

Grevilleas and a stem of early-blooming Alstromeria added extra pizzazz 

Clockwise from the upper left, the vase contains: Alstroemeria 'Indian Summer', red and yellow Freesia, Ranunculus californicus (aka California buttercup), red Ranunculus (open form), Xylosma congestum, another red Ranunculus (rose form), Lotus berthelotii 'Amazon Sunset', and, in the center, Grevillea 'Ned Kelly'

My second vase also started out with Ranunculus and Freesia.

I cut the first bloom of Digitalis 'Dalmatian White' in my cutting garden to give this arrangement more height

This is the back view but, when I reviewed my photos, I liked it better than the view I selected as the front of the arrangement

Clockwise from the upper left, the vase contains: Coleonema album; Cuphea hybrid 'Starfire Pink'; Coprosma repens 'Plum Hussey'; pink and white Freesia; white, pink and picotee Ranunculus; Leptospermum scoparium 'Pink Pearl'; and, in the center, Digitalis purpurea 'Dalmatian White'

For more vases from IaVoM contributors, visit Cathy at Rambling in the Garden.

Last week I discovered a new book on flower arranging that captures my own approach, Color Me Floral by Kiana Underwood.  It offers recipes for monochromatic arrangements, albeit based on a wider range of floral and foliage materials than most of us are able to forage from our gardens.  You can find more information about the book here if you're interested.*

Image from

*I found this book on my own and wasn't offered anything to include mention of it in my post.

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

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Foliage Follow-up - Standouts and Hidden Treasures

Rain and other demands on my time delayed my Foliage Follow-up post this month.  As early spring brings new blooms every day, it's also easy to lose track of the foliage for the flowers.  But, despite my seeming obsession with floral color, my garden actually has its share of attractive foliage.  I'll share a few of the standouts today, along with some plants my camera's missed in the past.

I love this Echium webbii both in and out of bloom.  In bloom, it looks like a dwarf version of E. fastuosum 'Pride of Madeira'.  Even though it's less flashy than the variegated 'Star of Madeira', its graceful form always draws my eye.

On the smaller end of the plant spectrum, this Abelia x grandflora 'Confetti' also earned my admiration this month.  Unlike most of my other Abelia, which throw out tall gangly branches on a haphazard basis, this one continues to form a nice neat clump.

This graceful Agave desmetiana 'Variegata', nicely framed by the bronzy new foliage of the Xylosma congestum behind it, also drew my eye

It looks great when viewed from the street too

After taking the first photo of the Agave desmettana shown above, I panned my camera further along the same bed and captured one of my favorite Agaves half-hidden from view.

Viewed from the back side of the street-facing succulent bed, this Agave 'Blue Glow' is partially screened by stems of the restio planted behind it.  The restio was sold to me years ago as the dwarf Chondropetalum tectorum (aka small cape rush) but, as explained in this article, it's probably C. elephantinum.

Here's another view from the street.  There are actually 3 'Blue Glow' Agaves in front of the restio.

I've pondered the fate of that restio many times, but it took years to become established and I lost 3 other specimens in the time that took that one to reach this point so it's going to stay.  Perhaps the 'Blue Glow' Agaves beneath its skirt will grow large enough to stand out on their own but, eventually, they'll bloom and die and I can replace them with something more appropriate in that spot.

You may remember that I faced a similar issue with out-of-control 'Cousin Itt' Acacias in my back garden (addressed in my October Foliage Follow-up post).  As mentioned in November's Foliage Follow-up, I moved the succulents swamped by the Acacias and planted several Lotus bethelotii to fill in as a groundcover in front of the Acacias.  The Lotus has always been a fast grower, with aggressive tendencies of its own, so I was perplexed by the failure of these plants to spread.  It soon became obvious that something was eating the infant plants as one after another virtually disappeared.  Disappearances and evidence of persistent nibbling occurred elsewhere in my garden too.  Insects?  Squirrels?  Birds?  I considered all of them.  Earlier this week, the culprit finally revealed itself.

Many of you may have immediately identified a bunny as the culprit but, although I know there are plenty of rabbits in a park a mile away, I've never seen any here.  I assumed they either had a territorial arrangement with the raccoons and skunks or their range was constrained by the coyotes.

My husband pulled video of the rabbit bouncing around our back garden in the early evening before my paparazzi effort sent it hopping.   Three screen shots are shown above.  Maybe the rabbits have expanded their range as more and more of my neighbors bring their dogs in at night due to the intensifying concerns about coyote attacks on pets. 

I'd already caged some of my plants and now the Lotus are covered too.

The bunny apparently loves the fresh foliage of Orlaya grandiflora (aka Minoan Lace).  A few of the plants completely disappeared overnight.  Caged, this one is now recovering.

I'm using empty flats turned upside-down to protect the Lotus berthelotii 'Amazon Sunset'.  They're held down with landscaping pins to prevent the bunny from moving them.  Why the bunny ignores the rampant Lotus on the other side of the path is a mystery.

Meanwhile, I've discovered that 'Cousin Itt' is now enveloping plants on the back side of that bed too.

Maybe the Duranta repens 'Gold Mound' can survive 'Cousin Itt's' embrace but, if it can't, it's not a big loss.

Oh well.  Visit Pam at Digging for more Foliage Follow-up posts.  Have a great weekend!

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

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Bloom Day - March 2018

Last March, Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day followed a long period of heavier than usual rain and the garden was looking good.  While there's no real shortage of flowers this year, there aren't the large blocks of color I found last year.  Such is the life of a gardener.  I know I'm still luckier than gardeners in the US Northeast who are facing down their third Nor'easter.

The early spring bulbs are providing the best splashes of color at the moment.  I've featured some bulb blooms in posts over the past week so pardon me if some of this is redundant.  These blooms will be mostly gone by next month so now's the time to celebrate them.

The Dutch Iris (Iris x hollandica) I planted my first year here are continuing to naturalize

After failing to bloom for several years, Scilla peruviana has bloomed for a second year in a row despite this year's low rainfall

Ipheion uniflorum (aka starflower) has also naturalized here

I've already made a big to-do about this plant, Ferraria crispa (aka starfish lily), this month but I can't help it

Freesias are blooming in areas throughout the garden in a range of colors and both single and double forms.  No matter how many I add each year, I never feel I have enough.

Some Narcissus I planted this fall are blooming alongside those I planted in prior years.  Clockwise from the upper left are: Narcissus 'Geranium' (new this year), a noID variety, and N. 'Katie Heath'.

Prodded by our recent rain, the Ranunculus tubers I planted this fall are finally blooming.  Pretty as the red variety is, I'm still annoyed that these aren't the purple they were supposed to be.

Meanwhile, the "mixed" collections of Sparaxis I planted in beds in both the back and front gardens are still all coming up orange

Last month's Bloom Day post led off with a photo of Arctotis 'Pink Sugar' mingling with the gold form of parrot's beak and that's still the most compelling combination in the back garden but 'Pink Sugar' and other so-called African daisies are popping into bloom elsewhere in the garden too.

Arctotis 'Pink Sugar' planted with gold Lotus berthelotii in the back garden

Arctotis 'Pink Sugar' occupies the background in the front garden here with another African daisy, Gazania 'White Flame', occupying the foreground.  Cuphea 'Starfire Pink' can be seen in between them on the left.

Another African daisy, Osteospermum '4D Silver' (lower left), blooms on and off all year here.  It's shown in the photo on the upper left mingling with Echium handiense (shown in detail in the upper right) and Aristea inaequalis (lower right).

The photo in the upper left shows a slice of the front garden alongside our driveway.  Osteospermum 'Violet Ice' (upper right) and 2 forms of Pyrethropsis hosmariense (lower photos)  are in full bloom despite regular digging in the area on the part of raccoons and skunks.

After seeing Osteospermum blooming en masse at Seaside Gardens in Carpinteria on a recent shopping trip, I added more of these plants to this dry garden area on the northeast side of our house.  Osteospermum 'Summertime Sweet Kardinal' (upper left) was already in place, as was a self-seeded white variety, but I added 5 O. '4D Violet Ice' (shown lower left) a week ago.  It looks remarkably like '4D Silver' except the flowers are larger.  The plant on the lower right is Globularia x indubia (aka globe daisy).

Clockwise from the top left, here are a few more African daisies: Arctotis 'Opera Pink', Osteospermum '4D Purple', O. 'Berry White', a self-seeded Gazania, and a self-seeded Osteospermum.

Other South African and Mediterranean plants are also putting on a good show.

Coleonema album is shown in the left and middle photos and Coleonema pulchellum 'Sunset Gold' is shown on the right

Cistus x scanbergii was blooming lightly last month but the blooms are profuse now

Lotus bethelotii 'Amazon Sunset' is also taking off, shown here with the first bloom on Leucospermum 'Goldie'

I'll close as I usually do with collages capturing the best of the rest of what I've got blooming this month.

Clockwise from the top left: Gardenia jasminoides, Jasminium polyanthum, Limonium perezii, Lavandula multifida, and Ocimum hybrid 'African Blue Basil'

Top row: Kumara plicatilis, Argyranthemum frutescens, Bulbine frutescens, and Calendula 'Bronzed Beauty'
Middle row: Digitalis 'Dalmatian Peach', Euryops chrysanthemoides, Hunnemannia fumariifolia, and Nemesia 'Sunshine'
Bottom row: Grevillea 'Peachs & Cream', G. 'Superb', Leucospermum 'Hybrid Spider' (new), and Lobelia laxiflora

Top row: Alstroemeria 'Indian Sunset', noID Alstroemeria, Argyrantemum frutescens, and Bauhinia x blakeana
Middle row: Calliandra haematocephala, Cymbidium Sussex Court 'Not Peace', Grevillea 'Ned Kelly' and Grevillea 'Penola'
Bottom row: Gomphrena 'Itsy Bitsy', Leptospermum 'Pink Pearl', Oncidium 'Wildcat', and Pyrethropsis 'Marrakech'

For more bloom Day posts, visit Carol at May Dreams Gardens.

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