Thursday, June 28, 2018

June's Top 10 Blooms

Chloris at The Blooming Garden hosts a monthly recap of the top 10 blooms selected by gardeners each month.  I'm joining this month with my own list.  While my Bloom Day posts are free-for-alls that cram together virtually everything I find in flower, the top 10 exercise requires more thought and, better perhaps for readers of my blog, much less to digest.  The exercise of distilling my list down to 10 plants was surprisingly difficult, at least at this time of year.  What is the basis for selecting such favorites?  Do I apply that rationale consistently?  Should I rule out plants that bloom all or most of the year to focus only on plants that peak during the month in question?  Am I over-thinking this?  The answer to the last question is "probably."

I often over-analyze things; however, in this case, I found that the blooms that are the most profuse in my garden generally rose to the top of my list, followed by flashy plants that put on a limited show.  Then, once I ruled out plants that I'd previously listed as favorites this year, plants that are new and haven't yet proven their value, and plants that are only just starting their bloom cycle, I was able to settle on my top 10.

Agapanthus was an easy choice.  It's blooming en masse this month.

The plants and their flowers are often dismissed as common here because you see them everywhere but that's because they're tough, attractive in and out of bloom, and fairly drought resistant

These 2 large masses consisting of multiple clumps of Agapanthus are located in my front garden.  There are similar masses in other areas of the front and back gardens.

All my Agapanthus came with the garden, although I've dug up, divided and moved some clumps over the course of our time here.  This group sits under the mimosa tree in the back garden.

Arthropodium cirratum (aka Renga Lily) is also blooming in spots throughout my garden.

This is a plant I introduced in this garden.  I purchased 3 plants by mail order from Annie's Annuals & Perennials our first year here and I've divided them several times already.  I've spread them throughout the garden.  They bloom best when given morning sun and afternoon shade.

Another profuse bloomer is Crassula pubescens ssp radicans.

This Crassula with its tiny yellow flowers is another one I've spread throughout my garden but the flowers show up best against the larger agaves in this area

My choice of Cuphea 'Vermillionaire' surprised me a bit but, after doing little or nothing last year, it's come into its own this summer.

It looks best when backlit.  Between the Cuphea and the Grevillea 'Superb' (right) the hummingbirds are in heaven here.

Gazanias Gaillardias are one of the flowers with an exceptionally long bloom period in my garden, although unlike some of my Grevilleas they don't actually bloom all year.  However, 'Arizona Sun' is at its best this time of year.

I've used 'Arizona Sun' in a number of areas as it nicely echoes the reds, oranges and yellows in many of my beds

This clump is in the front garden.  Even though this photo was taken at dusk, 'Arizona Sun' still shines.

Gaura lindheimeri also has a long bloom period.  In addition, its delicate bloom stalks blow in the wind, adding movement in the garden.

Gaura is admittedly a rampant self-seeder but, if you're watchful, you can pull up the seedlings easily when they're small

Perhaps you noticed the flowers of Hemerocallis 'Spanish Harlem' in the photo of the Gaura above.  That photo was taken in the late afternoon after a day of intense sun and the flowers look more washed out that they appeared earlier in the day.

'Spanish Harlem' was one of the first daylilies I introduced to this garden.  It's flowered well this year despite our pitifully low winter rainfall.  It also hasn't had the rust issues I've noticed in prior years.

No one can claim that this bloom looks washed out!

Leucanthemum x superbum (aka Shasta Daisies) are common in gardens all across the country but I love the ruffled form that grows in my garden.  A friend gifted me with 6 plants in 4-inch pots following my mother's death in 2013.  They come back more strongly every year.

If the plants came with a tag identifying the cultivar, I've no record of it.  This mass of blooms is in my back garden.

And this is one of several in my front garden

My next choice, Polygala, almost didn't make the cut for this list because it doesn't photograph well, or, more accurately, I never managed to capture it well.  Still, I notice it every time I walk through both the front and back gardens so it deserves a place on the list.

This is a smaller variety, Polygala fruticosa 'Petite Butterfly'.  It's self-seeded a bit in my front garden.

This taller variety is Polygala myrtifolia 'Mariposa'.  The flowers are identical to those of 'Petite Butterfly'.  Only the plant's mature size seems to be different.  These in the back garden get more sun and the foliage tends to yellow a bit.

My last selection, Salvia clevelandii 'Winnifred Gilman', also didn't show up especially well in its photos but its flowers are a bright blue so I'll forgive it just about anything.

This Salvia has been in the ground just 2 years and it's still well shy of its projected mature size

That's my top 10 list of blooms.  What's on yours?  To see others, visit Chloris at The Blooming Garden.

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

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Wednesday Vignette: Nature's version of stained glass

Although we haven't been blasted by summer's heat yet in my area of coastal Southern California, some of my Leucadendrons are already sporting their summer colors.  When backlit, you can't help but notice them.  They always make be think of stained glass.  I captured a few photos to demonstrate their appeal for this week's Wednesday Vignette, the feature hosted by Anna of Flutter & Hum.

This is the older of my 2 'Wilson's Wonder' Leucadendrons.  I kept this plant in a large pot at my former house and brought it with me when we moved to our current location more than 7 years ago.  It was one of the first things I planted.  It's supposed to grow 6x8' but it consistently exceeds that height.  I cut it down by half in late winter and it's already made strides in regaining its former size.

I planted this 'Wilson's Wonder' on the opposite end of the front garden in late 2014.  Thus far, I've managed to keep it to about 4' tall.

This shot captures 3 more recent introductions in the back garden, 2 Leucadendron salignum 'Summer Red' book-ending a single L. 'Jester'.  'Jester' will eventually grow 4-5' tall.  'Summer Red' is supposed to top out at 3' tall.

This shot provides a closer look at 'Summer Red' (on the right).

Leucadendron 'Chief' and L. 'Safari Sunset' also look great backlit at this time of year but I didn't manage to photograph them at the right time.

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

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

Monday, June 25, 2018

In a Vase on Monday: Mutants!

Although my Agapanthus continue to produce a few new stalks here and there, I think their floral display has reached its peak.  There are fewer blooms this year, presumably due to our exceptionally poor winter rainy season, but I have enough clumps of these plants to provide a good show nonetheless.  So cutting a handful of those tall stalks for this week's vase was a no-brainer; however, to change things up just a little, I included two of the mutant stems I recently discovered in my arrangement.

Normally, Agapanthus produce single flowers at the top of each long, straight stalk.  As you can see in the photo above, this Agapanthus produced a second bloom mid-way along the stalk, which has curved in a gentle arc.  I'm assuming this is an example of fasciation.

I liked how the fasciated stem stretched out of the vase as if offering its blooms for closer examination.  Unfortunately, the second fasciated stem got lost in the middle of the arrangement but it's in there!

The top-heavy stems tended to flop so I added glass marbles to the vase to give them support

This was yet another vase that was hard to photograph from overhead

Clockwise from the upper left, the vase contains: noID Agapanthus, Eustoma grandiflorum, Pandorea jasminoides 'Alba', Abelia x grandiflora 'Hopley's Variegated', and Leucanthemum x superbum

Of course I didn't stop at one vase.  With our morning marine layer firmly in place along the coast, we're still enjoying cooler than average temperatures and flowers remain plentiful.  It's a huge difference from the start of summer 2016, when a sudden spike in temperature to 105F (40C) caused the widespread loss of not just flowers but entire plants and every lemon on my tree.  It took a good year for the lemon tree to recover and I count myself lucky it did.  This is a long-winded way of explaining why we so appreciate our gray summer mornings.

My second vase was inspired by the Drumstick Alliums in bloom this month.  I planted three species of Alliums in early November.  Allium aflatunense 'Violet Beauty' was a complete bust - I planted 18 bulbs and got no blooms.  Allium rosenbachianum bloomed early and well but I'd planted only 3 bulbs.  I wasn't impressed with the foliage of Allium spharocephalon but most of those 10 bulbs surprised me by blooming this month despite their spindly stalks.

It didn't take me too long to find flowers and foliage to pair with those lime and raspberry Allium blooms

I used a small glass cream pitcher unearthed during a recent purge of unused kitchen items as a vase

Top view

Clockwise from the upper left, this vase contains: Arthropodium cirratum (aka Renga Lily), Abelia x grandiflora 'Edward Goucher', Allium spharocephalon (aka Drumstick Allium), Westringia fruticosa 'Morning Light', Hebe 'Wiri Blush', and Origanum 'Monterey Bay'

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

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

Friday, June 22, 2018

The View from Ruthie Burrus's Garden (2018 Garden Bloggers' Fling)

We saw many fabulous gardens during the course of the 2018 Garden Bloggers' Fling in Austin, Texas back in early May.  One of my favorites was Ruthie Burrus's Garden in Texas Hill Country.  Upon arrival, we walked up a steep driveway, enjoying wildflowers in bloom on both sides.

I loved the natural feel of the front garden and the mix of flowering plants and succulents.

There were masses of Salvias of various kinds, like 'Amistad' (shown here in the top and lower left photos) and 'Black & Blue' (lower right)

All the agaves, especially Agave ovatifolia (right), which seemed to be Austin's favorite species, looked perfect

I also appreciated how well the house nestled into the garden, despite how large it was.

View of the house from the driveway

View from the house level

I loved this water trough surrounded by ferns and native rock

And I was very envious of the the galvanized rainwater collection tank.  Such tanks were a relatively common sight in Austin but this one was held up to 10,000 gallons of water.  I have 3 small tanks but my storage capacity maxes out at 475 gallons.  If only I had a spot to put one like this!

The tank sits at the lower level of the back garden.  I photographed it from above in the front garden.

We weren't the only visitors that morning.  I caught a fuzzy photo of this fellow hanging on outside a window.

This tarantula generated some excitement among the blogging visitors.  This was another occasion in which I regretted my decision to leave my better camera at home in California.

Impressed as I was by the front garden, the back garden was a show stopper.  As we walked into the house out onto the patio, we saw this:

The view from the patio looks out on the Austin skyline, including the Texas Capitol and the University of Texas Tower

Here's a closer look

But the back garden had more to offer than its magnificent view.  The patio offered a comfortable entertaining space.

The painting above the patio fireplace may be my favorite piece of garden art ever

There were lots of succulent-filled containers scattered throughout the patio and elsewhere in the back garden

Like this one

And here on the generously-sized outdoor dining table

The back garden offered a little something for everybody.

Another perfect Agave ovatifolia, accompanied by Achillea 'Moonshine'

A pizza oven

A sunny spot for morning coffee or tea

A beautiful stone garden house with climbing roses

And a large, well-organized compost area

The back garden was a great place to putter, entertain or just chill out as this frog was doing next to a rain chain and drain

We were invited to go through the house and up the tower on one side to the roof, which as you might expect also offered fabulous views.

Another view of the Austin skyline.  Some of us from Southern California couldn't get over how green Austin is.  It gets more rain on average than Los Angeles by more than double, even though the area has also experienced serious droughts.

The roof also revealed a river view

Lucky as I am to have a view from my own back garden, I found those in this one more tranquil, although a heavy marine layer this morning is making it feel as if we're floating in a cloud today.  Whatever you're doing during this first weekend of summer, I hope it comes with great views too!

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