Monday, July 30, 2018

In a Vase on Monday: Summer Stars

Finally, the flowers that define summer in my garden have arrived!  My lisianthus (Eustoma grandiflorum) experienced a set-back following the nuclear heatwave in early July, searing foliage and withering some buds in place, but in general the plants have recovered in the weeks since that event.  My dahlias and zinnias were late to arrive because I planted the tubers and seeds late.  I subsequently filled in with a few nursery grown plants and I'm pleased to see that the former are now catching up to the latter.

The green-flowered lisianthus that bloomed this past weekend provided the starting point for my first vase.   I think they look their prettiest as the buds first begin to open but that stage doesn't last long when temperatures are as warm as they've been of late.  We benefited from unexpected morning fog for a few days last week but the afternoons were still toasty.

I snapped this photo late Saturday afternoon when the flowers looked like rose buds

By Sunday morning the green Lisianthus no longer looked like roses but their color provides a nice foil for the more fully petaled Eustoma grandiflorum 'Black Pearl'.  I planted the dark-flowered lisianthus last year and the flowers were disappointing but they look much better their second year in the ground.

Hebe 'Purple Shamrock' (aka Veronica 'Purple Shamrock') forms the base of the arrangement

The top view shows off the native California aster, Symphyotrichum chilense.  It spreads by rhizomes.  The seller claimed it wasn't aggressive.  I'd beg to differ.

Clockwise from the left, the vase contains: noID green-flowered Eustoma grandiflorum, E. 'Black Pearl', Hebe/Veronica 'Purple Shamrock', and Symphyotrichum chilense 'Purple Haze'

Vase #2 includes lisianthus, dahlias and zinnias.

Dahlia 'Otto's Thrill' continues to pump out big beautiful new blooms

Zinnia 'Queen Red Lime' decorates the back of this arrangement with a little help from pink lisianthus

Top view

Clockwise from the upper left, this vase contains: Dahlia 'Otto's Thrill', Abelia grandiflora 'Hopley's Variegated', pink Eustoma grandiflorum (most of these from last year's plants), Zinnia elegans 'Queen Red Lime', Prunus laurocerasus (aka English laurel), and Tanacetum parthenium (aka feverfew)

While most of my dahlias now have buds, nursery grown 'Otto's Thrill' is still the most prolific; however, 'Terracotta' produced its first bloom this week and, with the promise of more blooms to come, I cut it for a small vase.  My recollection is that last year's blooms were large.  I thought it was a dinnerplate variety but it's actually classified as a semi-cactus variety.  Still, the blooms have a projected size of 4-5 inches and this first bloom is a relatively small 3 inches in diameter.

Front and back views of the small arrangement

This vase contains: Dahlia 'Terracotta', Leucadendron 'Safari Sunset', Prunus laurocerasus and, hidden behind the dahlia, a noID Zinnia elegans

Visit Cathy at Rambling in the Garden to see what she and other IAVOM contributors have put together this week.

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

Friday, July 27, 2018

More succulent container rehabs

I've been planning to rehab the succulent container near our back door for months.  A trip to a new-to-me succulent nursery in nearby Torrance provided both the incentive to do so and a supply of fresh material.  The nursery is an offshoot of California Greenhouses/OC Succulents and it specializes in succulents and other drought tolerant plants.  I've visited the Irvine location many times and when I learned they'd opened a store much nearer to me I made plans to check it out, although it took me almost a year to finally get there.

Unfortunately, I left my trip until mid-afternoon and, as they close at 4pm, I didn't have much time to explore.  Focused on succulents in 4-inch pots, I found plenty of those in a very large shade-covered tent structure.  I took a few photos.

The area was neat and well-organized

and all the plants were in pristine condition

I didn't have time to check out the bromeliads, much less the larger succulents in the outside area or the indoor plants

I came home with 14 plants, all succulents.  Some of them went into replanting the pot by the back door.  I cleaned up and reused the 'Sunburst' Aeoniums and the variegated Portulacarias that were included in the pot when I first planted it, filling in with another of my favorite succulents, Echeveria 'Blue Atoll'.

This was the planter as it looked back in January with Aeonium 'Sunburst' hogging all the attention

This is the newly replanted container.  Unfortunately, the Aeoniums are sun-scorched, something I didn't notice until I cut their tall stalks in preparation for replanting the container.  I'm guessing this was yet another impact of the nuclear heatwave we experienced in early July.  While some of my other 'Sunbursts' are bleached out, no others are scorched like this and I'm wondering if reflective glare from the the patio surface could've been a factor in the damage.

There was a very large, healthy specimen of 'Blue Atoll' at the nursery.  It was impressive but the 4 I included in my pot cost about half as much altogether.

It filled a 10-inch pot.  I didn't know it could grow this large.

I noticed that the color of the 'Blue Atoll' Echeverias I've planted out in the garden has faded.  Although some growers said full sun exposure is acceptable, I think they'll probably retain their blue color better with less sun so I plan to keep my refurbished pot out of the hot afternoon sun.

I used another Echeveria and Portulacaria in replanting a pot by the front door.

This pot was formerly occupied by a Senecio candicans but that plant seems to prefer life in the ground to life in a pot so I moved it

I expect I'll be paying another visit to OC Succulents in Torrance soon.  Their selection and prices are much better than my local garden center.

Best wishes for a cool, comfortable weekend.  For my local friends, may the fog be with you!

We've enjoyed morning fog for 3 days now.  This photo was taken at noon yesterday when the fog held on until 2pm.  It's kept our afternoon temperatures much lower than those we started out with at the beginning of the week.

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

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Wednesday Vignette: Hazard Zone

We've lived in our current house for more than 7 years.  We've talked on and off about renovating our kitchen.  My issues mainly have to do with the work surfaces, cabinetry, and aging appliances.  My husband is more concerned with the layout and the annoying upper cabinet he still bumps his head on.  Our discussions never led anywhere until the cabinets literally began falling apart.  We met with a contractor and designer who'd done work for a neighbor and, as these things go, we fell down a rabbit hole.  My husband, who I thought was committed to keeping the project small, proposed raising the roof height over the kitchen and pushing one wall into the existing patio area by 5 feet.  I thought the roof height change might be an issue.  It wasn't.  But pushing out the wall is.  The city we live in has designated an open spaces hazard zone, intended to address landslide risks.  We knew that but we'd received notice in 2012 that the city was planning to move the hazard zone east.  For whatever reason, that hasn't happened.  And it seems that the current hazard zone runs right through the middle of our house.  So we filed the appropriate paperwork and paid a fee to request a review.  The city geologist didn't see any obvious problems but we were told we had to obtain and submit a formal evaluation of the site.  That meant hiring a geologist and digging some very big holes.  The geologist's team arrived bright and early yesterday morning.

The change we've proposed would involve extending the kitchen wall (the one with the garden window on the left) to align with the back portion of the house that's already bumped out.  We cleared the space for the geology crew and my husband erected a shade cover before they arrived so they wouldn't be working in direct sun.

As it turned out, instead of 2 holes in the patio area next to the kitchen, they dug one there, one at the patio's edge near the mimosa tree, and another at the bottom of the back slope.  So the shade cover was of minimal use.  I kept the crew supplied with water and coffee cake, though.

This was hard work, involving jackhammers as well as shovels.  The temperature outside reached 95F by mid-day.

The biggest hole, dug until they reached bedrock, was 5.5 feet in depth (shown here with the geologist in an orange shirt standing in it)

They took soil samples from each hole.  In general terms, our soil is classified as volcanic basalt.

Digging the holes, data collection, and restoring the area took 5 hours.  The diggers worked incredibly hard.  It was all the more impressive as we're in the middle of yet another heatwave.  The off-the-cuff comments were positive.  As the crew reached bedrock between 3.5 and 5. 5 feet in all 3 cases, the foundation for our kitchen extension doesn't present any obvious issues, although it'll be weeks yet before we get the formal report.  Then we have to submit it to the city with a good-sized check for review.  If approved, we then have to fit our project into the contractor's and designer's schedules.  Fun.  This adventure represents my Wednesday Vignette.  For more, visit Anna at Flutter & Hum.

In addition to the holes dug into our patio and garden, I faced another hazard this week: the heat.  After the damage done by the early July heatwave, I'm gun-shy and I've gone to great lengths to protect my garden from further heat damage.  I spent a good part of last weekend deep watering selected areas and spreading more mulch.  My husband and I also erected shade covers of various sorts.

Covering a big area of my succulent bed on the south side may seem odd but, in the middle there is my Metrosideros 'Springfire'.  After July 6th's 110F temperature, it's barely hanging on so I'm doing everything I can to baby it.

I've been waiting for the green blooms of the Lisianthus (Eustoma grandiflorum) in this bed for months now.  The plants were scorched in the last heatwave so I purchased a beach umbrella to protect it this time.

The lath house may look the same at first glance but emergency measures have been taken there too as the structure didn't protect all the plants inside during the last heat blast

Until we can construct more attractive shade covers for use during the summer season, we tacked up an old sheet in the roof rafters.  I moved most of the plants on the upper shelves to the floor too.

I also brought out a broken umbrella to provide additional shade for the Fatsia japonica and other plants

The heatwave is expected to peak today with the temperature here approaching the century mark but, oddly, we awoke to fog blowing in.

It feels a little like an episode of the Twilight Zone.   The world around us has suddenly disappeared.  Even the harbor seems strangely quiet this morning.  Not that I'm complaining!  The weather forecasters are continuing to tell us it's going to be hot, Hot, HOT!

All hazards pose challenges.  Some are easier to tackle on one's own than others.  My fingers are crossed that we'll successfully work our way through both of the challenges addressed in this post.

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

Monday, July 23, 2018

In a Vase on Monday: Cool Blues for a Hot Day

We expect to be beset by another heatwave beginning today and continuing through the workweek.  The forecasters say it won't be as nasty as the heatwave of July 6th that sent our temperature here up to 110F (43C) but then they didn't anticipate an event like that in early July either.  I've been giving the most vulnerable areas of the garden extra water in advance of this new heatwave in the hope of stemming further damage.  Whether it'll be enough remains to be seen.

I was tempted to cut just about every bloom I had but I restrained myself - I'd like to have some left to cut in future weeks, especially as my dahlias and zinnias have been slow to get a move on.  I found a few new Agapanthus blooms in the shadier areas of my garden on Sunday morning and cut those on the assumption that I'll get more enjoyment out of the pristine blooms in my dining room than I'd get from seeing withered stalks in the garden.

While Agapanthus was the starting point for this vase, the real stars may be the white and purplish blue Lisianthus (Eustoma grandiflorum), which starting blooming in earnest this month despite the earlier heatwave

I used some of the Lisianthus left over from last week's vase to dress up the back of the vase

Top view: The bi-color Lisianthus (center) surprised me.  I planted it last year but I don't remember it blooming last summer.

The vase contains, top row: Abelia 'Hopley's Variegated', noID Agapanthus, and Crassula pubescens ssp radicans
Middle row: 3 varieties of Eustoma grandiflorum
Last row: Duranta erecta 'Sapphire Showers', noID lavender, and Prunus laurocerasus

As my Gaillardia are blooming profusely, I cut some of them to create a simple arrangement for the front entry.

The stems of the Gaillardia blooms are frustratingly short

Back view featuring 2 varieties of Leucadendron, some taken from another of last week's arrangements

Top view

The vase contains, top row: Gaillardia 'Fanfare Citronella' and variegated Lantana 'Samantha'
Bottom row: Leucadendron 'Safari Sunset' and what I think is L. salignum 'Devil's Blush'

For more Monday vases, visit Cathy at Rambling in the Garden.  I'm off to do more hand-watering before the heat soars.

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

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