Friday, April 27, 2018

The Domino Effect

Last week I published photos showing the removal of a large Grevillea in the dry garden area on the northeast side of our property.  At that time, I commented on the domino theory and how one change can precipitate another.  Well, further changes were made this week.  The sad little non-blooming cherry tree came out and so did one of my two guava trees.  The latter change made the biggest difference in the area.

Here's a before shot showing the guava tree in question, which largely obscured the Leptospermums behind it

and here's the area after the guava tree, which we inherited with the garden, was removed

The flower and leaf-less cherry tree can be seen here, to the right of a persimmon tree that's in the process of leafing out

and here's a shot of the same area after the cherry tree was removed


I made the changes (with my husband's able assistance) despite the fact that I haven't yet decided what will go into the empty spaces.  I don't plan to put anything large into the space formerly occupied by the guava tree.  I want to give the 2 Leptospermums in that area a chance to fill out and I expect I'll just add ground cover plants beneath them, or possibly fill in with more Centranthus ruber, which is a virtual weed here.  Leptospermum scoparium 'Pink Pearl' is one of my favorite plants and it deserves an opportunity to shine.

The 2 shrubs need shaping but I'll handle that after the current bloom cycle.  They have a long bloom period, heaviest in spring with a light repeat bloom during the fall.


While I'm talking about favorite plants, I thought I'd join Chloris at The Blooming Garden and share my top 10 favorite bloomers for the month of April.  As I've got a flower fixation and as April is possibly the most floriferous month here, restricting myself to 9 other favorites wasn't easy but here we go:

Echium webbii is my current favorite in the back garden.  It's a bee magnet.  I don't think I'd be exaggerating to say that there are at least a hundred bees swarming about the plant during the sunniest part of the day.  It's bloom cycle is well ahead of variegated Echium candicans 'Star of Madeira' this year.

Most of my Freesias are done blooming but this batch of blue Freesia in the back garden is still going strong.  In this case, I bought the plants in bud to replace the pink, red and orange Freesia that came up in place of the blue blooms I expected from the bulbs I planted last fall.  I'm much happier with the blue blooms here and, given my luck (or lack of it) with packaged bulbs, I may have to make it a practice to buy such bulbs in bloom in the future to ensure I get what I want.

I've bemoaned the failure of my bearded Iris to bloom over the past few years so I was delighted when this noID Iris germanica on the neglected back slope produced 3 tall bloom stalks this year, despite our truly pathetic winter rains. 

I look out at this Hunnemannia fumariifolia (aka Mexican tulip poppy) from my home office window and smile every time I see it

I featured Leucospermum 'Goldie' (top row) in my Bloom Day post.  Planted late last year, it represents my first real success with the genus; however, 2 other Leucospermums, 'Spider Hybrid' (lower left) and 'Brandi' (lower right, planted in March 2016) are also blooming and still another plant has buds.  I'm thrilled to think I may have finally overcome my problem with this genus.

While all my Alstroemeria are blooming, 'Indian Summer' is the most striking of them all.  In addition to the attractive flowers, its dark foliage is also attractive, especially when backlit.

These are the same photos I used for my Bloom Day post but I cut the Lotus berthelotii 'Amazon Sunset' here back dramatically a week ago so it doesn't look quite this good at the moment.  However, past experience suggests that it'll come roaring back.  It's a very vigorous plant and makes a great ground cover.  Its only fault is that it'll swamp anything in its path if allowed free rein.

Gazania blooms year-round here but it's at its flashiest in the spring.  The 2 top photos feature 'White Flame'.  The photo on the lower left is 'Strawberry Shortcake' and the bloom on the lower right is a noID self-seeded form.

Coleonema album (aka breath of heaven) adds white froth to the garden at this time of year


One plant that didn't make the cut this month is Festuca californica, a native California grass that's currently blooming.

It's hard to capture its beauty unless it's backlit


The grass adds an airy feeling to the garden and, rather than plant a tree in the area formerly occupied by the Grevillea and the cherry tree, I'm considering adding a mass planting of this grass and perhaps another large agave in that area rather than a tree.  My husband has made it clear that he really wants a tree to screen his view of the newly renovated house up the hill from us and I don't want to place two trees in such close proximity.

Enjoy your weekend and do check in with Chloris at The Blooming Garden to see what blooms gained her approval and that of other participating gardeners this month.


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

32 comments:

  1. You've made some great changes! This time of year, it's really difficult to choose just ten blooms but you've got some winners!

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    1. Some of our early spring blooms had already tuckered out by the time I sat down to consider favorites, which simplified things a bit! Of course, then there's the added complication of new blooms just getting their start too.

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  2. Wow it all looks so beautiful. It's hard to believe it is so dry in your part of America. Do you have a watersystem in your garden?
    Thanks for sharing all this beauty with us.
    Have a wonderful day.
    Rosehugs Marijke

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    1. Yes, we couldn't have much of a garden without an irrigation system, but we still have restrictions on the frequency with which we use the system. Our generally sandy soil further complicates things - it drains well but we could use a bit more water retention.

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  3. So many blooms to enjoy in your garden,Kris, and the changes you made are great. Leptospermums are favourites of mine too as they flower so prolifically and for so long. Those leucospermums are gorgeous too.

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    1. After killing 2 or 3 Leucospermums, I thought I lacked the ability to grow them, Jane, but persistence was finally rewarded.

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  4. Kris, your garden looks splendid! It is so densely planted and so exuberant that is hard to think it is located in a naturally dry area. Wish a very nice weekend!

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    1. We're very thankful we have an irrigation system, MDN. I suspect that's not something you need!

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  5. Hi Kris, You have so much blooming. I love what you did to the garden and really think there's not much you need to do. Unless the photos are deceiving, it looks great the way it is. I love Gazania. How great is it that they're a perennial in your neck of the woods.

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    1. We don't have the kind of winter you do, Sally! In fact, we generally say we have just 2 seasons here: a cool season (starting in late October if we're lucky and continuing through April, again if we're lucky!) and a warm/hot/dry season. Summer seems to be lengthening its grip on us as winter has done in your case this year. We've had a few days above 90F already this month!

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  6. Judging from your photos, the decision to remove the guava and cherry trees -- hard as it may have been -- was a really good one. The shot showing the area after the cherry was removed really shows how you've opened it up, to good effect in my eyes.

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    1. That guava tree just wasn't providing a good value for us but it is hard to take out a healthy tree. I hadn't even considered it until recently. We still have one guava so the squirrels' needs are covered, at least for the time being!

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  7. Nice fine tuning, Kris. Sometimes a bold hand is needed to balance things out, particularly as plants outgrow their space. I wait too long to grab the ax, but then when I do, I wonder what took me so long!
    That native Festuca is pretty, and Grevillea 'Spider' has a great look. Still love the Lotus, even if it takes over, though it seems easy to chop back.

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    1. It's funny how hard it's been for me to take out someone else's plant choices but, you're right, once the decision is made I've generally been happy with it.

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  8. Sometimes it's sad to lose some of your plants/shrubs/trees But it does make room for something new and how much fun is that. Do love all your blooms and yes The Indian Summer is the most striking.

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    1. The decision to remove the dying Grevillea was a lot easier than the one to take down the healthy guava but, after years of working around the guava planted by a former owner, I finally decided it wasn't adding anything meaningful to the garden (although the squirrels may beg to differ).

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  9. You’ve made so many great changes and it’s paying dividends with the garden looking so good!

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  10. So many beauties in your garden already. I do have some iris blooming. The old fashioned purple ones which were a pass along. The Gazanias are so cute. We have to use them as annuals here. I like their cheerful faces.
    the area you have shown with the removals still look good without any additions. Good luck with your decisions.

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    1. Gazinias are very happy here, Lisa. They're perennial; they bloom pretty much year-round; and they self-seed freely (although their progeny don't always directly resemble their parents).

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  11. Thank you so much for joining in and showing us your favourite April blooms Kris, I am drooling over them. The carpets of Lotus berthelotii are stunning. The banksias are exquisite and I would love to grow leptospermums. I have a friend who grew Echium webbii, I love it. It only survived one season here, does yours bloom every year?
    Gardens need fine tuning all the time and sometimes that means taking out trees, I think it is a great improvement. I am sure you will be pleased with the result.

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    1. I planted Echium webbii from a 4-inch pot in May 2016. I've no record of it blooming in 2016 but it bloomed well in 2017, as well as this year. My other Echiums also bloom annually. They're a good fit for coastal California.

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  12. wow Kris, you must be thrilled with the fruits or your removal efforts,it looks so much better- very noticeable improvement even without replacement plants. You definitely made the right decision !

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    1. The space looks a lot more open without the one guava tree, doesn't it?! I've looked at the guava trees with something of a jaundiced eye since we moved in 7 years ago. Perhaps, if I'd given the space more thought at the outset, I could've found something that complemented the guava tree on the left (the Leptospermum certainly didn't) but I'm relieved to have it gone. The Leptospermum fit my vision for the garden better and the tree we removed added insult with prolific suckering.

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  13. It is amazing how one plant can open and change an area....I have removed trees and what a change of sun and space. I love the openness of the area and how the plants will stretch. May and June are usually our biggest blooming months. I like the idea of profiling 10 plants a month but for me, that can only be from May-August I think. That Echium webbii is stunning and I really love it too. Your garden is gorgeous right now!

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    1. April-May our our most floriferous months. By June things really start heating up and the plants hunker down and hold on as best they can for the next several months. Of course, summer seems to be arriving earlier and earlier...

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  14. I do like the effect after removal. And I just noticed my hunnemania has buds -- woohoo, flower floozy here I come!

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    1. Watch out, Denise, you may be headed down a rabbit hole ;)

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  15. I don't know how you chose ten plants; all of them would be my number one plant if they were mine. Although your climate is harsh, you have made great selections to be able to create a wonderful tapestry of colour. You're brave removing trees, but I'm sure you've made the right decisions. I have to make some changes but that is due to plant deaths caused by the arctic blast in February!

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    1. Although my current garden is many times bigger than my former one, it's still relatively small so I finally decided I should lay claim on the all the space I have rather than work around the plant selections of prior owners. Cherry and other stone fruit trees aren't performing here as our winters no longer provide the required chilling period (even for low-chill varieties) so that was a relatively easy call. And, in the choice between the guava tree and the New Zealand tea trees, the latter simply won out as a better fit for my overall landscape.

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  16. We have had such a cool spring, it is hard to imagine that summer's heat and humidity will soon arrive. We were in the low 80s this afternoon, after a very cool night. Your garden is a wonderment. 'Spider Hybrid' is the flower that most caught my attention. It is totally weird, which I love. I think changes in the garden (and changes in life in general) always lead to another change, another project, and the garden keeps growing on!

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    1. I thought Grevillea flowers were strange when I first saw them, Deb, but Leucospermums take it to a whole new level. I'm glad I've had some success with the genus at last.

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