Friday, July 20, 2018

Rained Out at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center (2018 Garden Bloggers' Fling)

I've been weeding through more of the photos I took at the 2018 Garden Bloggers' Fling in Austin, Texas back in early May.  Many aren't worthy of publication, especially as there are better posts already available.  I dithered awhile over my photos of the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center as a monumental downpour brought that tour to an abrupt end and the gloomy skies didn't show it in its best light (pun intended) but, as I enjoyed flipping through my photos, I thought you may as well.  You can find other posts on the Wildflower Center on the Garden Bloggers Fling page (see May 4-Day 2).

Mine was the second bus to arrive at the Wildflower Center.  Light rain began falling as we moved toward the entrance for a mass photo of Fling participants.  Flingers on the first bus arrived earlier for a photography workshop so they had a little more time on-site before the rain began to fall.

This is my best photo of the expansive front courtyard.  You can find a map of the 284 acre property here.

This is a partial view of the Seed Silo Garden.  The seed silo itself can be seen in the upper right of this photo.

Umbrellas and plastic rain ponchos, included in the swag bags handed out to Flingers when we checked in, began making an appearance as I entered the Central Garden

The Wildflower Center features 800 species of plants native to Texas.  This photo and the next one were taken in the Theme Garden area.




I think this photo was taken in the Pollinator Habitat Garden as I moved in the direction of the Luci and Ian Family Garden, designed to provide families an opportunity to interact with the natural environment

The Family Garden includes a stumpery

as well as this spiral mosaic structure.


My favorite area was the Dinosaur Creek, although it had begun to pour by the time I reached it.

It included a grotto with a waterfall,

facsimile dinosaur tracks,

and caves.  As you may be able to tell from the rain spattered photo, it was raining hard at this point.


I began paying attention to the fact that the rain was accompanied by thunder and lightning and I realized that carrying an umbrella wasn't a bright idea.

This is the last photo I took before joining several other bloggers under the roof of the Robb Family Pavilion you can see in the background of this photo


I stowed my umbrella and put on the rain poncho while we waited to see if the rain was going to let up.  It didn't.  As the downpour got worse,  we collectively decided it'd be prudent to head back to cover in the central courtyard area.  With the wind blowing, our rain ponchos didn't provide much protection.  We all got soaked.  Most of the bloggers did.  In the women's restroom, some bloggers even tried using the hand-driers to dry their clothes.  However, as the rain continued almost unabated for the entire day, all or most of us spent the day wet.  When we reboarded our bus, I noticed that my phone showed an emergency flood alert. 

Someday, I hope to return to the Wildflower Center for a more complete tour under sunnier skies.  Right now, I wouldn't complain if we got a rainstorm like the one that battered Austin that day.  There have been monsoonal rains to the east of us recently but we've experienced nothing other than heightened humidity here and another heatwave is expected to envelop us next week.  In the meantime, I hope to make the most of a warm, sunny weekend.  I hope you have the opportunity to do the same!


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

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Summer isn't for planting

Gardeners in cold weather climates don't plant in mid-winter when there's snow on the ground or the risk of freezes in the forecast.  In hot, dry summer areas like mine, it's similarly inadvisable to plant in mid-summer.  Frankly, I believe it's inadvisable to plant anytime between the end of April and mid-September here, not that my self-imposed rule has ever stopped me.  Even when I take precautions - deep-soaking planting holes prior to placement, watering more often, providing shade during heat spells - plants added within that window frequently fail.  As our recent monster heatwave once more reaffirmed, established plants struggle when temperatures shoot up into the stratosphere and new plants don't usually stand a chance.  But what's a plant addict to do?  In my case, I try to focus on planting up pots and, more specifically, planting succulents in pots.  It's easier to move pots in a heatwave emergency and, if a potted plant dies, the empty container can be tucked behind the garage or in some other innocuous location, eliminating a constant reminder of the loss.

So 'tis the season for planting and replanting succulent containers!  Last weekend I replanted a large metal wok on my side patio.  It'd looked pretty sorry for months and needed a fresh start.  I picked up 4 'Lemon Ball' Sedums at my local garden center and filled in with succulent cuttings from elsewhere in my garden.

Sedum 'Lemon Ball' is supposed to handle heat better than 'Angelina'.  I hope that proves to be true.

The variegated succulent is Aeonium haworthii Kiwi'.  Cuttings of it and the noID smaller succulent came from elsewhere in my garden.


Aeonium 'Kiwi', which I've previously described as my "gateway succulent," is everywhere in my garden so it wasn't hard to find pieces to cut.

I brought cuttings of Aeonium 'Kiwi' with me from my former garden when we moved 7 years ago

It's a great edging material

It's good at forming colonies

Unlike other Aeoniums, it holds up fairly well against the summer sun

Although it appreciates a bit of shade


The larger Aeonium arboreum shown with 'Kiwi' in the photo above is another of my go-to succulents when I have gaps to fill; however, it's more sensitive to strong sun exposure and goes semi-dormant during the hot summer months, closing itself into a ball shape to protect its central leaves.  Do you have a go-to plant you use to fill vacancies in your garden?  Do tell!  I need to accumulate more of them.


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


Monday, July 16, 2018

In a Vase on Monday: Welcome blooms

After our awful July 6th heatwave, walking through my garden became much less joyful; however, the Leptospermum 'Copper Glow' I planted in 2014 gave me reason to smile.  To my recollection, the 2 shrubs produced their first spare sprays of flowers last summer.  This summer, despite the hot, dry conditions here, they're blooming more heavily.  They were the starting point for my first vase.

I wasn't sure the dahlia fit the arrangement but, as the bloom was perfect for cutting this week, in it went

The back view shows off the pretty sprays of white Leptospermum 'Copper Glow' flowers, arranged more loosely along their stems than flowers of the Leptospermum 'Pink Pearl' I've used more often

The top view shows the Leucadendron "flowers," actually bracts, which make me think of the buds of long-stem roses

Clockwise from the upper left, the vase contains: Dahlia 'Otto's Thrill', Leptospermum 'Copper Glow', noID Leucadendron salignum (possibly 'Devil's Blush'), and Leucanthemum x superbum


My Eustoma grandiflorum (Lisianthus) are off to a slow start but I found a smattering of blue and white blooms to make up a second small vase.

I used 4 colors of Lisianthus in this vase: white, pale lavender, blue, and purple 

Back view

Top view: I love the greenish color at the middle of the white Lisianthus

Clockwise from the upper left, the vase contains: Ageratum houstonianum 'Blue Horizon' with Catananche caerulea, Trichostema 'Midnight Magic' (a hybrid of California native Wooly Blue Curls), and Eustoma grandiflorum


For more Monday vases, check in with Cathy at Rambling in the Garden.




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

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Bloom Day - July 2018

After obsessing about the damage done by the nuclear heatwave we experienced on July 6th, I nearly lost track of Bloom Day.  Like many of my summer Bloom Day posts, my meanderings through the garden felt a lot like a scavenger hunt.  Despite the 110F (43C) temperature that scorched the garden and killed some plants outright a week ago, there are still flowers.  There are just far fewer of them.  The Dahlias and Zinnias that stole the show in my July 2017 post are only just getting started this July 15th and many of the other plants I featured in last year's post are either no-shows or they've been incinerated by the heatwave.

The nicest bed is one which is partially shaded in the afternoon and is also protected from the wind by its proximity to the house and a tall shrub on the west side.

The photo on the upper left shows the bed in question.  Clockwise from the top right, the bed contains: Ageratum houstonianum 'Blue Horizon', Gaillardia 'Fanfare Citronella', variegated Lantana 'Samantha', a noID Anigozanthos, and Leucadendron 'Pisa'.  There are blue Eustoma grandiflorum (Lisianthus) in there too, mostly plants that over-wintered from last year, but none are blooming yet.


Some flowering plants laughed at the heatwave, figuratively speaking.

Abelia x grandiflora 'Edward Goucher' is blooming right on schedule, although it undoubtedly benefited from the shade of 2 large trees overhead

Achillea 'Moonshine's' first flush of blooms are fading but that has nothing to do with the heat.  With deadheading, they'll continue to produce new, albeit smaller, blooms for awhile yet.

Grevilleas 'Ned Kelly' (left) and 'Superb' (right) literally never stop blooming

Succulent Oscularia deltoides is in its glory at this time of year

I noticed flowers on Leonotis leonurus for the first time this season as the heat abated.  Could this have been prompted by the temperature spike?

Romneya coulteri (Matilija Poppy) didn't appear to even register summer's shift into high gear


Other plants were affected by the heat but still have blooms.

The appearance of the Agapanthus flowers certainly wasn't improved by the high temperatures and dry wind conditions but at least they didn't burn

All the Gaillardia 'Arizona Sun' blooms dropped their petals but, as soon as they were deadheaded, new blooms appeared.  However, the foliage has been scorched.


Still other plants are just getting into their summer stride.

I was late in getting all my Dahlia tubers planted this year.  'Otto's Thrill', purchased in a pot with buds, is the only plant I currently have in bloom but others are showing buds at last.

I thought my Eustoma grandiflorum (Lisianthus) were slow to get going this year but, looking back at last year's July post, it seems they're right on schedule; however, the recent heat did scorch some plants, which may affect future blooms

Leptospermum 'Copper Glow' appears to be blooming later but even better than it did last year


The daylilies fizzled out a little early but a few varieties produced flowers even during the heatwave.

Hemerocallis 'Sammy Russell' (top), a dormant variety that came with the garden, is showing off its last blooms.  The same is true of 'Apollodorus' (bottom left), which is new to my garden this year, and 'Persian Market' (lower right), one of my old favorites.


The rest of the flowers in the garden are scant but I'll share them in the form of color collages as I usually do.

Clockwise from the upper left: Catananche caerulea, Duranta erecta 'Sapphire Showers', noID Lavandula, Trichostema 'Midnight Magic', Osteospermum 'Violet Ice', Polygala fruticosa 'Petite Butterfly', and, in the center, Melaleuca thymifolia

Clockwise from the upper left: Gaura lindheimeri (shown with Myrtus communis 'Compacta'), Leucanthemum x superbum, Scaevola 'Surdiva White', noID Osteospermum, and Pandorea jasminoides 'Alba'

Clockwise from the upper left: Calendula 'Zeolights' grown from seed, Crassula pubescens ssp radicans, Euryops 'Sonnenschein', Hunnemannia fumariifolia (Mexican Tulip Poppy, a plant that keeps on giving), and Santolina virens 'Lemon Fizz'

Clockwise from the upper left: Cuphea 'Starfire Pink', Gomphrena decumbens 'Itsy Bitsy', Lobelia laxiflora, Lotus jacobaeus, Pelargonium peltatum, Pentas lanceolata 'Nova', Zinnia elegans 'Queen Red Lime', and, in the center, a noID rose.  The latter opened and promptly withered yesterday morning.


That's it for my Bloom Day round-up.  For more Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day posts, visit our host, Carol at May Dreams Gardens.


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

Friday, July 13, 2018

Lath House Update

In December, my husband built me a lath house to allow me to grow plants that require more shade than my open garden spaces provide.  I moved some plants, like my small orchid collection, into it immediately but I've been slow about filling it up.  Its interior is small to begin with so I wanted to be selective.  I also wasn't sure which plants would survive the heat of summers here so my early choices have been experiments for the most part.  In late June and early July I took photos of the exterior and interior areas for an update on the lath house project; however, before I got around to putting it together, we were hit with the worst heatwave we've experienced in the seven and a half years we've been here.  The plants in the lath house weren't spared.  Like the rest of the garden, some came through the experience with flying colors but others were badly damaged.  There are lessons for me there but I'm not going to go into detail on the losses here.  The photos shown here were all taken prior to the heatwave.

I've spent as much or more time dressing up the exterior of the lath house as I've done cultivating the plants I housed inside of it.  Interestingly enough, without exception, the exterior plants were entirely unscathed by the last Friday's 110F temperature and dry winds, perhaps because, like the plants inside the lath house, they get watered more frequently than the rest of the garden.

The lath house sits in the southwest corner of our property, bounded by a neighbor's driveway (left) and the street (behind and right).  I've decorated the front exterior with matching window boxes, matching pots, and a host of plants, including Agapanthus, Argyranthemum, and grass-like Acorus gramineus 'Golden Lion'.  The yellow-flowered Euryops 'Sonnenschein' was in place before the lath house was built.

When our neighbors had the oleander that formerly lined their driveway removed, it left the bare legs of the English laurel hedge on our side exposed even after the neighbor planted several good-sized Pittosporum 'Silver Sheen'.  Although it's difficult to see in my photographs, I filled the space below the laurel with more plants, including Achillea 'Moonshine', Lomandra 'Finescape', Salvia 'Mystic Spires', and Convolvulus sabatius.  I threw in a few Iris germanica, Abelia 'Radiance', Lavandula stoechas and a 'Golden Celebration' rose for good measure.  I left the asparagus fern that was already there because it's impossible to get rid of anyway.

I used 3 stumps left behind when we cut down one of our peppermint willows to create an informal sitting area on the west side.  It's backed by my street-side succulent bed and 2 of the original Auranticarpa shrubs that formerly made up a hedge along the street.  These shrubs have been dying off since we moved in.  These 2 may go as well, in which case I'll plant more Xylosma congestum, extending the healthy hedge that starts next to our driveway.  Someday, we may have privacy from the street here...

I replanted the window boxes with summer-hardy plants: yellow Osteospermum, purple Calibrachoa, blue Scabiosa, and white Scaevola


Now, let me show you the interior.  Keep in mind that these photos were taken before the heatwave.  Some of the plants shown here no longer look nearly as good.

A cast iron cat I've had longer than I can remember guards the door (and keeps the wind from blowing it open)

I originally planted the dirt areas surrounding the concrete pavers with creeping thyme but it didn't do well there.  More recently, I replanted it with a mix of coleus, more Acorus 'Golden Lion, a couple of flowering Kalanchoe, Iresine moved from another area of the garden where it got too much sun, and some of the Heuchera that formerly filled the window boxes.

This is the view from the open doorway looking west

This shot was also taken from the doorway, scanning to the left

And this is the view looking roughly southeast

The plants inside the lath house include, clockwise from the upper left: Fatsia japonica 'Camouflage', Adiantum pervianum (aka silver dollar fern), a mix of Rex Begonias, my small orchid collection (half of which is shown here), a few fuchsias, and Iresine 'Brilliantissima' 


Even before the heatwave struck, I'd concluded that some of the plants in the interior need bigger pots.  The plants in small pots dried out too fast and some, like the fuchsias, clearly need more root space.  The strong, dry winds that accompanied the heatwave showed me that shade and ample water aren't sufficient to support every shade plant.  The begonias, especially those grown primarily for their foliage, suffered badly.  I may have to either give up on them or find them space with better wind protection.  The damage to my orchids surprised me.  I thought the laurel hedge behind the lath house would offer them extra protection but the orchids on the top shelf were burned and badly withered so that exposure definitely doesn't fit the bill.  The Fatsia lost half its lower leaves but whether that was a response to the wind or the heat alone I don't know.

Heat or not, I've enjoyed puttering in and around my lath house.  The views from inside are nice too.

View from the doorway looking up toward the house

View from the window on the north side looking toward the driveway

View from the other window looking east


As the heat fades a bit, I'll be back at work in the lath house, repotting orchids and fuchsias.  I expect my plant collection will continue to evolve as I discover what shade plants I can and can't grow there.

Enjoy your weekend!


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