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

20 comments:

  1. I'm sorry for your lath house plants that were damaged in the heat and wind, especially the orchids. Most of my non-hardy orchids are strictly indoor plants, though some of them might go to the greenhouse in the summer. That lath house is beautiful and seems like a great place to grow orchid cacti, Epiphyllum, if you were so inclined. Though, the big ones take up room fast. I'm interested to see how your collection in the lath house evolves.

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    1. I've got one Epiphyllum ('Queen of the Night') in there thus far, Evan. It was unaffected by the heatwave, reinforcing your suggestion.

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  2. That is one gorgeous building. I was picturing vertical posts with a lath roof. If not for the weather you would be one lucky gardener. I’ve been going out before 6:30 am to work in the garden. A few things fried up while we were on vacation. Despite enough water they could not take the intense heat and sun. An endless learning experience.

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    1. All my gardening activities are currently confined to early morning and late afternoon too, Linda. It's not as hot this week as it was at the end of last week but it's still uncomfortable out there!

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  3. Your hubs did a great job building and you did a fine job filling it. Too bad Ma Nature dealt a blow, but you're showing great resilience. The story continues!

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    1. I guess the one thing I can count on is that Mother Nature will throw a curve ball on a regular, if unpredictable, schedule, Eliza.

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  4. Good job filling a beautifully built shade house.

    It takes time to figure out what works and what doesn't.

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    1. True, although I'm nonetheless disappointed that those pretty begonias probably don't have a place in the lath house.

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    2. perhaps happier at the bottom, protected by the plants outside?

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    3. Yes, I moved those pots down below once I discovered the damage. My husband's now hard at work building sun shades I can hang or remove as conditions change. We hung a sheet from the lath house roof as temporary cover - even that made a major difference (although the temperatures haven't gotten above 95F since the heatwave in early July either).

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  5. Your lath house is great inside and out. You did a fab job of dressing it up. Sorry about your losses. The views from inside looking at your gorgeous garden are drool-worthy!

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    1. The outside area looks better than the inside at the moment too, Peter!

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  6. There’s no way to sugar coat it...sucks to lose plants! I’m sorry.

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    1. We feel about summer about how you feel about winter, Loree.

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  7. Gardening is a continuing learning experience. I love your shade house. You will get it all figured out. I hate that you had to go through this awful hot spell to discover so many plants that can't take heat/wind.

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    1. The lath house was intended to give me an opportunity to grow plants I haven't been able to grow in the open garden so I'm just frustrated that it still seems I'm not able to grow some of them, Lisa. Oh well.

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  8. That lath house is gorgeous! Have you thought about wind screens/blockers that you could put up only when needed? My guess is your wind comes from a pretty consistent direction... I know I can only keep large leaf plants in those areas that I can block the wind when it gets hot... Good luck!

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    1. When my husband's in a better mood I plan to bring that issue Up, Renee. He made rain shutters for the cat's porch for me years ago so he may be able to come up with a creative solution. Meanwhile I'll research screening materials.

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  9. That's beautiful, Kris! Congrats on your new plant digs.

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    1. Now I just need a second layer of protection to put in place when that Death Star goes into overdrive, Pam!

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