Wednesday, May 30, 2018

May: Glory Days in the Garden

March, April and May are the very best months in my garden; however, March is usually the month that I experience my twirl-in-the-garden reaction to the wonders of Spring.  I didn't feel that moment in March this year, nor April either.  That may have been a reaction to the pathetically low rainfall we received during our winter rainy season and apprehension about what the summer would bring.   Flowers bloomed but less profusely than last year and prior years in general.  Fruit trees failed to produce buds.  The mimosa tree (Albizia julibrissin) has failed to leaf out at all and shows all the signs of infestation by the shot hole borer killing trees throughout Southern California.  The mimosa tree still looks like a goner but a long, nearly continuous stretch of "May Gray" weather has provided relief.  The drizzle that's accompanied it on some days even racked up a total of 8/100ths of an inch of precipitation in this location, 3/100ths of that this morning alone.  That's admittedly not a lot but, when your annual rain total (for the rain year beginning October 1, 2017) stands at 3.78 inches, it's appreciated nonetheless.  So mid-May finally brought that feeling of utter joy I associate with Spring.  I'm celebrating it by sharing a few wide shots of my garden and belatedly joining Chloris of The Blooming Garden in sharing my top 10 blooms for the month of May.

Since I returned from the Austin Garden Bloggers' Fling in early May, there have been only 2 truly sunny days.  This photo of the back garden taken last Friday morning facing the entrance to the Los Angeles Harbor was one of them.  Most days, we get at least a couple of hours of clearing by late afternoon but we've occasionally been socked in all day.


This is the view of the back garden looking north from the main patio area.

Two of my favorite May bloomers, both members of the Protea family, are visible here

The first is Leucadendron 'Pisa'.  Its "flowers" are actually bracts surrounding cones.  They literally glow against the tree-like shrub's silvery foliage.

The blooms of Leucospermum 'Royal Hawaiian Brandi' are still relatively sparse but as this is the first year the plant has bloomed since I planted it in March 2016, I'm thrilled


The views of the back garden looking south reveal other favorites.

The moderate gloom on the morning I took this photo was generally great for photographs, although the yellow flowers of Achillea 'Moonshine' blend in with the foliage of Coleonema pulchellum 'Sunset Gold' here

The Achillea shows up better in this photo, taken early yesterday evening


Favorite flowering plants in this area include the following:

Achillea 'Moonshine' lights up the back border in late Spring/early Summer and balances the blue of the Agapanthus, which are just now beginning their bloom cycle

A few Alstroemeria are still blooming but 'Indian Summer' is the most vibrant.  I draws my eye even when I'm inside the house.  Its dark foliage gives is extra zing.

I had the devil of a time time reducing my favorite blooming plants to 10 but Ozothamnus diomifolius (aka rice flower) made the cut.  It looked terrible last year and I debated pulling it out entirely before cutting it back dramatically.  It's made a great comeback.


The front garden is also looking lush.

Leptospermum 'Copper Glow' is living up to its name right now, showing off nicely against the chartreuse foliage scattered about


Dorycnium hirsutum (aka Hairy Canary Clover) is doing a nice job as a ground cover along the edge of the driveway.

Hairy Canary Clover is attractive in and out of bloom.  The flowers are drawing bees now.  The plant self-seeds but it isn't a pest and I've used it widely throughout the garden in areas that are particularly dry.

Looking southward at the front garden from a different angle brings another of this month's favorite blooming plants into view.

The flower spires of Echium candicans 'Star of Madeira'  are just visible behind Leptospermum 'Copper Glow' on the right

Variegated 'Star of Madeira' is blooming about one month later this year than it did last year and well behind Echium webbii in the back garden.  Luckily for the bees, as the flowers on the latter shrub fade, they've been able to move to the fresh flowers on 'Star of Madeira'.


From the south end of the front garden looking north back toward the driveway, you can see not only the Echium but also one of my favorite Pelargoniums.

Pelargonium 'Oldbury Duet' is scattered to the left of the path

'Oldbury Duet' is flowering especially well this year.  In contrast, Eustoma grandiflorum (Lisianthus), also shown in this photo, seem reluctant to bloom at all.  Although Lisianthus has over-wintered for me in prior years, most of last year's plants failed this winter, possibly due to our paltry rain.  I've added lots of new plugs this year but, thus far, I've had just a couple blooms.


The wide shots I shared above hid only 2 of the blooming plants on my top 10 list for May.

Planted in the front garden on the far south side outside the cat's screened porch, I love Salvia lanceolata (aka Rocky Mountain Sage), a South African native, for its quirky flowers.  Its gray foliage has a lovely satin texture.

Pelargonium peltatum (aka ivy geranium) is a very common plant here but it's never sold as the climber it's shown itself to be in my garden.  I brought this plant from my former garden and planted it as a ground cover at the base of an existing vine (Pandorea jasminoides 'Alba') in what's now my cutting garden.  I cut it back hard last year but it's climbed right back this year.


Visit Chloris at The Blooming Garden to see her top 10 list for May and to find links to other top 10 choices.


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

30 comments:

  1. Thanks for that nice garden tour, Kris. It looks totally different to my garden in May. Maybe I should also show some May views of my garden on my blog.

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    1. You should, Sigrid! Collecting wide views of my garden has proven to be very useful in making year-to-year comparisons.

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  2. Hi Kris, this is the first time I’ve seen the front garden in full, and I must say I think it looks just fabulous: you’ve planted so cleverly with an eye to form and colour. And the leptospermum Royal Hawaiian, what a star! Everything looks wonderful, all the more so because you’ve had so little rain. Thanks for the tour.

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    1. You're welcome, Jane! I set a quarterly schedule for my wide shot posts but I had to deviate from it and include some shots this month as the garden is at its height.

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  3. I love those big purply blooms sticking straight up.

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  4. Love seeing the wide shots of your garden, Kris. A beautiful blend of color and texture. I consider it quite a feat to produce a garden like this with less than 4 inches of rain. I feel like a cheat when we bathe in over 45"/yr.

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    1. Forty-five inches a year! I have difficulty even conceiving of that, Eliza. Of course, a good many of my plants might perish under than much rain, even with the good drainage provided by my sandy soil.

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    2. That's why our summers are so green!

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    3. My mother used to tell the story of driving into California for the first time (my father had a job as an airplane mechanic lined up). She saw a billboard that said something like "keep California green and gold" and asked my father what that meant. She proceeded to complain that they should have settled in New Hampshire for the rest of her life.

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  5. I'm echoing the comment of Jane Ivers, above The front garden looks fabulous. And the rest is not very shabby!

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  6. I just think your garden looks so fantastic Kris. You have really created something special. Thumbs up !

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    1. Thanks Kathy. I still tend to see the minuses rather than the pluses but I admit it's filling in, slowly but surely!

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  7. It’s looking fantastic and I’m happy to read that you’ve been enjoying it. Maybe June will continue as May has? I held my breath when you mentioned the Chocolate Mimosa, praying maybe things were improving. I’m so sorry. Finally, I scored that same ‘Indian Summer' Alstroemeria from Alison last weekend at our garden bloggers plant swap, I hope it fills out like yours!

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    1. My 'Indian Summer' Alstroemeria has only been in the ground 6 months or so but it seems more vigorous than any of the others I've got so I have high hopes for it. I hope yours does well too. As to the mimosa, it has a few more leaves than a month ago but you still have to look hard for them. It definitely does not look like it's long for this world.

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  8. All the long views look amazing but stand-out for me today was the view of the front garden and drive to the house. What a welcome your visitors have. To think that only a very short time ago it was mostly lawn! I love in all parts of the garden the differing heights and textures of the plants. It looks spectacular.

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    1. I'm amazed too when I remember how much of the garden used to be grass. I wish I'd done a better job with my before photos but lawn removal began before I started blogging and regular picture-taking.

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  9. Your garden always looks wonderful but is especially fabulous now. 'Indian Summer' is a favorite Alstroemeria and one of my two plants made it through the wet winter. Hopefully It'll be as happy as the others of it's clan in my garden. Thanks for the beautiful views. Definitely twirl-in-the-garden reaction time. (Do be careful though, one wouldn't want to get dizzy and fall on an agave - ouch!_

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    1. I'm careful never to twirl around my agaves, Peter! They can't be trusted.

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  10. You had me instantly googling for the 'Indian Summer' Alstroemeria and hurrah! my usual supplier stocks it. It's gone straight on this month's list. :)
    I only wish the same could be said for Leucadendron 'Pisa'. :(

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    1. I don't imagine 'Pisa' would like your winters much and its mature height is too great for a greenhouse, Jessica!

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  11. Your garden looks so good, Kris! I've read a few posts like this, I really should get my act together and write a post showing my own garden, warts and all (unfortunately, there are a lot of warts right now).

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    1. I've my share of garden warts too, Alison, but May seems a time to celebrate what's good (and I've no doubt you have your fair share there). I usually consign the warts to a late summer doldrums post.

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  12. Your garden looks fantastic, Kris! I always enviously comment on the Leucospermums and Leucadendrons, but this time around, I'm really intrigued by your Rice flower. What a cool plant!
    Testing Loree's theory that anonymous posting might get me through, works. Fingers crossed!

    Anna

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    1. It worked, Anna! Rice flower is a cool plant. The foliage has a nice herbal scent too!

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  13. Gorgeous! We haven't had the May gloom, but instead gone straight to summer heat. What a great view of your front garden, it proudly shows a great gardener lives there.

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    1. There's no June Gloom here this morning, Renee, but I'm hoping the marine layer hasn't deserted us entirely. It really does do a remarkable job of keeping the heat down. Stay cool there in the desert!

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  14. Your garden looks fabulous. Better and better all the time. This May has been an excellent one, all the grey days--it has made up (a little) for the awful dry winter.

    Hoping for some June Gloom--was out there for an hour this morning and had to retreat from the heat--first time that has happened for quite a while.

    'Royal Hawaiian Brandi' is a beauty!

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    1. I'm hoping for some June Gloom too. And would it be too much to ask for some No Sky July as well? It was decidedly warm here too, although the temperature probably never exceeded 81F. I hate to think of it escalating from there.

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