Monday, July 9, 2018

In a Vase on Monday: Blast Furnace Survivors

Heat was predicted for the weekend but the forecasts for my immediate area called for temperatures in the low 90sF, which wasn't too ominous.  I gave the areas I thought were at greatest risk extra water and applied some additional mulch on Thursday, thinking that would be sufficient until our irrigation system ran in the wee hours of Saturday morning.  I was wrong.  When we awoke to soaring temperatures on Friday morning, I ran around watering more plants while my husband shuttered the house against the heat.  The air conditioning went on before 10am.  Still, when I left the house to meet friends, I'd no idea just how bad things were going to get.  By the time I got back home mid-afternoon, our temperature had hit 110F (43C) and the humidity was in the single digits.  Strong winds that persisted well into the night made things worse.  At 8:30pm when I went back outside to do more spot watering, it was still 102F and when I went to bed around 11pm the temperature was stuck at 101F (38C).

The temperatures dropped into the low 90sF on Saturday, and Sunday was about the same, but the damage was done.  Flowers shriveled and some plants had outright died.  Even plants in my lath (shade) house were impacted.  Perhaps the biggest shock was the damage done to my Acacia cognata 'Cousin Itt', plants that have survived prior heatwaves without any sign of difficulty.

The tawny bronze color of the leaves here isn't normal and it's worsened since I took this photo.  I've 6 of these large plants scattered about the garden and only the one in the deepest shade is unscathed.  I'm not going to cut the damaged foliage until fall as I assume it'll help protect the foliage underneath from any further heat blasts.


Every time I walked outside, I found further evidence of damage.  I wasn't sure what I would find to cut for a vase and I seriously considered posting a photo of the lemons I picked Friday evening.

During the last horrific heatwave we had back in 2015 2016, my lemon tree dropped every piece of fruit virtually overnight and, although I now give the tree more supplemental water, I feared a repeat of that event.  I'd already gifted bags of lemons to friends that week but I picked buckets more for us and our neighbors Friday evening.


However, while my supply of flowers has been vastly depleted, I was able to find some that made it through the blast furnace undamaged when I surveyed the garden Sunday morning.

Almost all the Lisianthus (Eustoma grandiflorum) blooms were shriveled by the heat but I found 2 in good condition to decorate the front of this arrangement

I dressed the back of the arrangement with one of the few daylilies I found in bloom

The Abelia and Renga Lily blooms shown here were protected by deep shade.  The Artemisia foliage and Allium flowers seemed impervious to the heat.

Clockwise from the upper left, the vase contains: Abelia x grandiflora, Artemisia ludoviciana, Allium sphaerocephalon, Arthropodium cirratum, Jasminium polyanthum, Hemerocallis 'Apollodorus', and, in the center, pink and white Eustoma grandiflorum


Most of my Agapathus look awful and I've already cut down a few dozen flower stalks just because I couldn't stand seeing at them in that state but I found a few in good condition in a relatively shaded area and cut those for a second vase.

The Matilija poppies (Romneya coulteri) at the bottom of the back slope took the heat in stride, although half the blooms I cut shattered before I got them in the vase

The feverfew flowers shown in this back view surprised me - they appeared to bloom in response to the heat!

Top view

Clockwise from the upper left, this vase contains: noID Agapanthus, Abelia x grandiflora 'Hopley's Variegated', Romneya coulteri, noID Lonicera, and unkillable Rosmarinus officinalis.  Included, but not shown in close-up, is the feverfew (Tanacetum parthenium).


I'd foolishly hoped that, after a very dry winter, Mother Nature might favor us with a mild summer.  May and June were unusually cool on average and that gave me an artificial sense of security.  I'm disappointed to say the least and more than a little shocked that our temperature here hit 110F.  I can't recall a temperature that high in the seven and a half years we've lived here.  However, while I the garden sustained some losses, I expect that most of the damaged plants should survive - I just have to face several months of ugliness until they rebound.  Still, I know we're lucky that we haven't been affected by wildfires as many areas in California and the Southwest have.  The only one happy about the weather at the moment are the lizards.



For more "In a Vase on Monday," visit our host, Cathy at Rambling in the Garden.

In addition to this week's vases, one of last week's vases got a face-lift and remains in the front entry.  The dahlia blooms that were in last week's vase reacted badly to the air conditioning but the Lisianthus held up well. 



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

42 comments:

  1. Oh, what a shame about your Cousin Itt. Yours have always been so big and lush, hopefully this won't knock them back too badly. Glad you managed to find some blooms to put in a vase, but it does sound like this heat wave was monstrous.

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    1. My 'Cousin Itts' seems to look worse every time I pass by. One plant in particular looks terrible. The plants usually to hang on to their narrow leaves so I may have brown branches layered over green ones for quite awhile. So far, I've only found one direct reference to sun damage and it suggested pruning lightly, if at all.

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  2. Beautiful vases in spite of the blast of heat. Fingers crossed for plant survival!

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    1. Many will survive but some will not. With the exception of the Acacias most of those that took the hardest hit will be missed mainly because of the large holes they leave behind. It's foolish to plant anything until fall but I may feel compelled to put some annuals in the blank spaces as temporary fillers anyway.

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  3. Here too it I just don't know what is going to permanently suffer - although our temps have only reached the low 90s! I am so glad you were able to find some blooms but we woud willingly have viwed your Luscious Lemons as an alternative IAVOM! The colours work especially well together in your first vase

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    1. Like cold damage, it appears that the extent of heat damage doesn't always show itself immediately. My poor Acacias look even worse today than yesterday, and this morning I noticed that a large Echium is now showing fried foliage. A few plants are barely recognizable. *SIGH*

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  4. Oh those wonderful lemons! What a drastic reaction from Cousin Itt. You're smart to not trim back the foliage right away. We're predicted to hit 98 on Thursday, which will be our warmest of the season. Since I haven't watered anything in the front garden this year (with the exception of a few newly planted things), I guess I'd better get busy doing a little preemptive watering.

    (both your vases are fabulous!)

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    1. Get cracking on that preemptive watering, Loree! While I thought I'd covered my bases, I wish now that I'd done much more in the way of deep watering. Our sandy soil doesn't hold moisture well.

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  5. Your vase is beautiful but your heatwave sounds awful - makes our hot weather sound tame in comparison. Hope for cooler wetter weather for you soon.

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    1. Unfortunately, unless one of the monsoonal storms in the desert areas moves this way, we're out of luck in the rain department until November or thereabouts - ours is a true Mediterranean climate and rain is a winter phenomenon. We're hoping for cooler temperatures, though - it may sound funny but temperatures in the low 90sF on Saturday and Sunday felt tolerable by comparison to 110F on Friday.

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  6. Wow! It was hot here too but nowhere near what you had...I can't even imagine! But form the looks of your arrangements I wouldn't have guessed how much your garden must be suffering from the heat.

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    1. The impact here was worse because it followed on a long stretch of mild, cool weather courtesy of a persistent morning marine layer. The sudden shift to 110F with low humidity and strong winds gave the plants no chance to adapt.

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  7. You've reminded me how lovely abelia is. We had one in our old garden and I miss it! All gorgeous vases.

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    1. Abelias are fantastic plants. The garden came with 3 shrubs (featuring the flowers shown in my first vase) but I've collected possibly a dozen more since we moved in. I love the variegated types like 'Kaleidoscope', 'Hopley's Variegated' and 'Confetti'.

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  8. Despite such terrible heat, wind and drought you have done very well here. I just cannot imagine those temps: we are hot here, although always very humid but yes, the watering systems are critical!

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    1. Frankly, even though it's generally warmer (hotter) here than in our former location just 15 miles away, I never imagined heat hitting 110F, Libby. It was HORRID!

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  9. I almost emailed you over the weekend when I heard about those temps. Really scary and so frustrating that the gov't won't take climate change seriously. I came home from 8 days away and even with rain, a small (2nd yr.) peony was just a brown crunchy little thing. In general we've been getting above normal rain but also way above normal temps.

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    1. Although California's current administration has been more sensitive to climate change concerns than the federal government, I think the decision to lift water restrictions after just one year of decent rain here was a mistake. Based on what I've read, California can expect more extremes in terms of drought, heat, fire and even floods. We need to do a lot more planning around all the emergencies these events will cause. As unhappy as I was over the damage the heat caused to my garden this weekend, I was furious that so many dimwits continued to shoot off fireworks, not just on the 4th, but throughout the hot, dry, windy weekend. Amateur firework displays are illegal here but they're misdemeanors and fools continually risk wildfires.

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  10. Kris, so sorry you're having those awful temps to deal with. It's hard to predict how plants will hold up. Your vases are divine. I love the allium (that's something I've had terrible luck growing) and of course, the agapanthus. We finally had rain last week after 6-7 dry weeks. And such a fluke-today it was 57F at 6:30am, 50% humidity after a brutal first part of the summer, so we're luxuriating.

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    1. I know how ridiculously happy I get over rain on the infrequent occasions in which we get it here, Susie, so I can guess you felt some of the same glee. It feels like a minor miracle. I hope your garden soaks it all in and rewards you with glorious flowers!

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  11. WOW! Amazing work especially under the circumstances. Hot and relatively dry here,but nothing like that. Love the blue vase and still envying your Agapanthus. Cooling thoughts to you.

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    1. Thanks Amelia! At least we have air conditioning. Most of my friends in the nearby beach city we formerly lived in do not, and they're right now. They get a sea breeze we don't get here next to the harbor so their temperatures don't usually get above the low 90s but that's still unpleasant without AC.

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  12. Goodness - I cannot imagine temperatures that high, and shall instantly stop bemoaning our comparatively insignificant dry spell. It's a wonder that anything remained in bloom and I sincerely applaud those beautiful flowers that you've found despite the intense heat. A blast furnace indeed!

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    1. Ours is a true Mediterranean climate, Joanna, so most of our rain is confined to the winter months, although last winter's totals were especially low. However, the heat is becoming more of a problem with each passing year. I can store rainwater and mulch my plants to conserve moisture but there's not a lot I can do about the heat. I'd plant more trees if I could but even that's an issue here as a "view conservation" ordinance prevents foliage that blocks a neighbor's view of sites such as the harbor below us. Ugh!

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  13. Oh, yikes, Ma Nature is not being kind to you. :( So HOT! Sorry about all your losses, it must be heartbreaking assessing the damage.
    You've managed to come up with beautiful arrangements regardless. And a bowl of lemons makes a great centerpiece. :)

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    1. I picked all the lemons I could reach, hoping to get them in the hands of people who can use them. I suspect that most of the fruit remaining on the trees will rot as it did in 2015. The tree usually bears fruit year-round but it took a year before it recovered last time. I've already picked a bucket of squishy lemons to go into the green bin...

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    2. I am allocating weekly water to our lemon tree - that fruit deserves extra help.

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    3. After the 2015 heatwave that caused all the lemons to drop off the tree, my husband extended irrigation to it so it gets water weekly now. I also watered it well when the heat went nuclear on July 6th. However, we still lost all the fruit on the tree. This must be the tree's own way of managing the stress on it. This time, though, I'm hoping it'll recover more quickly. Following the 2015 heatwave, it took an entire year to produce fruit again.

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  14. Oh Kris I can't imagine such temperatures! We think that we are suffering here but it's really nothing in comparison. I do hope that your plants manage to hold on in there and come back to delight you in the future. Your vases must be especially welcome this week.

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    1. Picking flowers early yesterday did actually cheer me up, Anna, if only temporarily. Every time I walk outside, I see more damage.

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  15. I am so sorry to hear that you and your garden are having to deal with such horrific temperatures. I hope Cousin It rebounds and your area doesn't get any more high temps. I love that blue and black vase and the flowers are perfect for it. Happy IAVOM anyway.

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    1. Thanks Lisa. There's little to be done now but to assess the damage, bury what's clearly dead, and wait to see if the scarred plants recover. Although I've beaten myself up a bit for not doing more watering, I'm also not convinced that more water would have made much, if any, difference. The heat and the wind were the biggest problems.

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  16. O dear,poor poor Cousin Itt! Phoenix style temps are just no bueno in coastal LA. At least now you know who the tough kids are for future heat events.It's rough when the heat doesn't build gradually. You pulled off a couple of nice arrangements though I have to say.

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    1. What's weird is that 'Cousin Itt' was unaffected during the terrible first-day-of-summer heatwave in 2015. We hit 106F that time. I guess 110F was just pushing things too far. Thank goodness I don't live in the valley I grew up in - my brother said their temperature reached 117F!

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  17. Oh dear--so sorry to hear about the excessive heat...and unexpected at that. Gosh, the lemons look great! My little Meyer lemon is struggling, and I'm wondering if the 90s and humidity we've had for a good portion of the early summer were to blame. Take care in the heat! I hope it won't be as extreme for you going forward!

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    1. I don't know if humidity negatively impacts citrus, Beth - we don't get a lot of that! In the case of my lemon tree, which was well-established when we moved in, I think it was a combination of inadequate irrigation and the rapid shift in temperature that sucker-punched it in 2015. I've kept it more well watered since and, while the current heatwave may take out the fruit currently on the tree, I'm hoping it won't require a long recovery period like last time.

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  18. Your kitchen looks so beautifully cool! Love your serene arrangements.

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    1. Thanks Sandra! My kitchen is awaiting a major gut job but, if things go as planned, it'll still be white once done, assuming the city ever approves our petition to push the wall out.

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  19. Your weather makes ours seem gentle. I'm surprised you have any flowers left but you still manage to produce wonderful vases. What do you use as mulch? I'm thinking I need to use more.

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    1. I was a little surprised I found any flowers that weren't shriveled too, Alison. That may be more difficult in the coming weeks. I use a variety of materials as mulch but most commonly small bark chips and an organic mix of wood shavings and organic amendments provided by a local company.

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  20. I've been trimming lots of crispy leaves but haven't noted any outright deaths yet. I noted a neighbor's tree ferns were severely cripsed, and he looked crushed about it. Now I've got something new to be afraid of -- heat domes! Good luck with the garden triage and the Cousin Itts.

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    1. I discovered that all the leaves on my Metrosideros 'Springfire' have turned a sickly yellow this morning, Denise. I'm sick about it. I hope it'll come back.

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