Monday, December 30, 2019

In a Vase on Monday: Variations on a Theme

There's still no new vase-worthy floral material in my garden so once again I was challenged to try putting new spins on the flowers that have been in bloom for some time.  In the first case, I was aided by a vase I received as a Christmas gift.  I received 2 vases for Christmas but this week will feature just the one.  It's actually not new but rather a vase that's been in my family as long as I can remember.  After my mother passed away, I told my brother to dispose of everything as he saw fit, taking away just a single family memento, a tray my father brought home from his travels during his service in WWII as a gift for my mother.  Last July, while talking to my brother's girlfriend, I mentioned a vase that was stuck in my memory.  She mentioned it to my brother and it arrived in a wrapped package for Christmas.

The vase is very heavy leaded glass with a thick base but it bears no maker's mark.  The front face has the indented form of a daisy and leafy foliage.  The upper portion of the back face has more foliage inlays.

As you can see, the vase has a wide mouth but it isn't particularly deep.  I filled it with glass marbles to support the short-stemmed Rudbeckias still blooming in my cutting garden.

I used a woody stem of the Western Redbud (Cercis occidentalis) to provide additional support to the arrangement.  The stems are now bare of leaves but still covered in burgundy seedpods.

The Copper Canyon Daisies (Tagetes lemmonii) are a natural companion for the bright yellow and burgundy 'Denver Daisy' (Rudbeckia hirta)

Top view

Clockwise from the upper left: Rudbeckia hirta 'Denver Daisy', Agonis flexuosa 'Nana', Coprosma repens 'Plum Hussey', seedpods of Cercis occidentalis, and Tagetes lemmonii

Impressed by the pretty green Chrysanthemums Susie of pbmGarden and other IAVOM contributors have used in their vases, I picked up a bouquet of these flowers at my local supermarket last week with an eye to using the flowers to perk up some of my own arrangements.  I removed the pink elements in the smaller of last week's vases, cleaned up the remaining materials, and added a few of the Chrysanthemums, as well as some Campanula stems that had been beaten down by last week's rains.

The snapdragons (Antirrhinum majus), white daisies (Argyranthemum frutescens), and variegated coastal rosemary (Westringia fruticosa) used in last week's vase were still in good shape

Back view

Top view

Clockwise from the upper left: Antirrhinum majus, Argyranthemum frutescens 'Everest', Campanula poscharskyana, noID Chrysanthemums, and Westringia fruticosa 'Morning Light'

I also added some of the Chrysanthemums, as well as berry-laden stems pruned from an unruly Cotoneaster I cut back last week, to put another spin on the 'Zombie' Amaryllis (Hippeastrum) still producing new blooms in my shade house.

This version looked different from every side so I'm sharing photos from 3 angles

Top view

Clockwise from the upper left: Hippeastrum 'Zombie', noID Chrysanthemums, berries of noID Cotoneaster, Grevillea 'Peaches & Cream', and Leucadendron salignum 'Chief'

As I was preparing this post, I remembered that January December 29th marks the 7th anniversary of my blog.  On the one hand, that feels like a long time ago - I couldn't even remember the subject of my very first post - but, on the other hand, the passage of time seems lightning fast although in that time I've somehow managed to publish 1164 posts and accumulate over 900,000 views.  I appreciate all of you who've chosen to read those posts and those of you who've offered support, encouragement and suggestions both in response to life challenges big and small and my ongoing, never-ending effort to transform the garden acquired 9 years ago into something that's more clearly my own creation.  THANK YOU!

For more of the IAVOM posts that have managed to accomplish the difficult task of energizing Mondays, visit our creative and conscientious host, Cathy at Rambling in the Garden.

All material © 2012-2019 by Kris Peterson for Late to the Garden Party

Saturday, December 28, 2019

Snow on Saturday

Actually I took this photo on Thursday but I couldn't resist the alliteration.  At sundown, as our latest rainstorm moved out of the area and the clouds moved out of the way to briefly reveal a clear view of the San Gabriel Mountains to the east, everything turned a delicious shade of pink.

I hope you find the last weekend of 2019 both serene and colorful.

All material © 2012-2019 by Kris Peterson for Late to the Garden Party

Thursday, December 26, 2019

Fall Color: Better late than never

Coastal Southern California isn't known for its fall foliage color.  However, looking back at posts from prior years, it appears that I usually uncover traces of it sometime in November.  That didn't happen this year but perhaps I was just distracted, or maybe the sharp cold snap that accompanied the so-called bomb cyclone in late November did the trick at last.  In any case, here are local examples of the fall color I captured in December before winter officially moved in.

I almost missed the orange and gold tones of the this peach tree at the bottom of our back slope.  The tree, planted by some prior owner and uncovered when we removed the Yucca elephantipes that had taken over the entire area, has never produced mature fruit but it does put on a pretty display late in the year.

These potted blueberries are a bit of a cheat.  While I've had blueberries on the back patio for years, I replaced my original plants this year once our remodel was mostly finished.

I rescued a smoke bush (Cotinus coggygria 'Royal Purple') on a 50% off sale three years ago.  It's still rather spindly but it produced some nice color this year.

This 'Fuyu' persimmon provides the most reliable touch of foliage color in my entire garden

The messiest color is provided by this ornamental pear (Pyrus calleryana).  It's still dropping leaves by the bucket loads.

Peeking over the hedge at the neighbor's garden reveals the brightest foliage in the neighborhood

A mix of gingko and maple trees

I hope you enjoyed a marvelous holiday and that you have an opportunity to continue to bask in its glow through the coming weekend - or the warmth of a heating pad, if that's your preference.

Thanks to all of you who sent Pipig your best wishes.  She's finally free of stitches, bandages and that awful plastic cone, and she loves her heating pad, which I imagine compensates some for her fur-less chest.

All material © 2012-2019 by Kris Peterson for Late to the Garden Party

Monday, December 23, 2019

In a Vase on Monday: A Zombie Christmas

There's still very little going on in my garden when it comes to floral displays.  I've got seedlings coming up here and there but it'll be a good month or two before I start to see vase-worthy blooms from those so I've made do this week with twists on flowers I've been using over the past several weeks.

My husband and I held our annual Christmas smörgåsbord on Saturday and I prepared an arrangement for the new kitchen island to great our guests.  The arrangement was constructed around a single stem of Hippeastrum 'Zombie'.

As I did in early December, I combined the 'Zombie' Amaryllis (Hippeastrum) with Grevilleas but this time I added Australian fuchsias (Correa) and a different mix of foliage

Back view: I used 2 cultivars of Grevillea this time

Top view

Clockwise from the upper left: Hippeastrum 'Zombie', Correa pulchella 'Pink Eyre' (shown with Corokia x virgata 'Sunsplash'), Grevilleas 'Peaches & Cream' and 'Superb', and Euryops virgineus 'Tali' (Stems of Coleonema pulchellum 'Sunset Gold' were also included but aren't shown in close up here)

On Sunday morning, in response to warnings about another rainstorm headed our way, I gathered a few more blooms for a second small arrangement.

The white snapdragons (Antirrhinum majus) are making their seasonal debut with this vase.  Planted from plugs several weeks ago, I never know how long they'll last in my garden as they're magnets for rust here no matter how widely spaced they are to allow air circulation.

In retrospect, I like this back view of the vase better than the one I selected as the front view

Top view

Clockwise from the upper left: Antirrhinum majus, Eustoma grandiflorum (Lisianthus), Argyranthemum fruticosa 'Everest', Osteospermum 'Berry White', Leptospermum scoparium 'Pink Pearl', and Westringia fruticosa 'Morning Light'

Last week's dry vase did only so-so.  The succulents were fine of course but the small amount of water in the floral tubes used to sustain the berries and Coprosma was rapidly depleted and, as they couldn't be refilled without deconstructing the entire vase, those plants shriveled.  The Leucadendron stems fared somewhat better but I'd be hesitant to create a wreath of them, at least for use inside.  Outside, without exposure to the dry furnace air, they might hold up better.

For more of this week's IAVOM creations, visit Cathy at Rambling in the Garden.

All material © 2012-2019 by Kris Peterson for Late to the Garden Party

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Holiday Updates

Finishing up a home remodel and putting our house back in order while also preparing for Christmas and dealing with a serious medical problem affecting my beloved cat has added considerable chaos to this holiday season.  As things get sorted out, I thought it was time for some updates.

Our contractor finally finished up his crew's work on our house last Friday so I took some updated pictures of the remodeled spaces.

This is the view from one corner of the living room looking past the dining room toward the front entry on the left and the back garden on the right.  My husband will be building a mantle for the fireplace but he won't get to that until the start of the new year.

This is the view of the living room looking toward the garden on the south side from the dining area

This is the dining area with what my husband calls my "Alice in Wonderland rug"

The old kitchen was gutted so this is an entirely new space.  We only gained 70 square feet by pushing out the kitchen's exterior wall but it feels like a much bigger space.  The quartz countertops are also a nice upgrade from the tiled surfaces we had before.

I pulled out some of my favorite Christmas decor, spreading it through the front entry and into the living room.  In deference to my husband who's something of a Scrooge when it comes to Christmas, tolerating rather than celebrating it, I restrict most of my decorations to those areas of the house.

A faux tree decorated with wood birds occupies the table in the front entry.  A bicycling Santa sits atop our grandfather clock.  A woodworking Santa and elf occupy an end table in the living room.  I've a small collection of Christmas snow globes, which are also scattered about.

My Christmas decorations are more subdued this year than in prior years but it looks as though I won't have time to do much more this year.  I had to put up a live tree of course.  I've only missed doing so once in the years my husband and I've been together, and that was because we'd only just moved into this house.  In fact, today marks the 9th anniversary of that move.

The Christmas tree's in a new spot this year.  It previously wouldn't have been possible to have it here as the indoor barbecue attached to the fireplace occupied a significant portion of this space.

Our tree is an eclectic collection of ornaments accumulated over decades.

The glass ornament in the upper left is a sentimental favorite.  It was on the tree in my childhood home on the Christmas preceding my father's death in a car accident.  I collected the other ornaments shown in the first 2 rows as an adult.  The last 3 ornaments are part of a collection given to me by a close friend over the years.

"Scrooge" and I made a few dozen ornaments like those shown in the top row here using sequins, beads and pins one Christmas during the early years of our relationship.  My stepfather made half a dozen snowflake ornaments like the one you see on lower right for us during the same period.  All but 2 of those have disintegrated over time so I handle the remaining ones with great care.  The needlepoint gardening Santa on the lower left was made for me by another close friend.

My cat Pipig is the only member of our household besides myself who really enjoys the Christmas tree.  She loves the curl up under it but, following surgery for breast cancer a week ago, she's been locked up in the guest bathroom except for a brief visit to the vet for a progress check on her recovery.

Overall, she's been very good during her convalescence.  It took us all awhile to figure out how to get her properly fed when she was wearing that collar.  The bed worked out nicely, though, as she can stretch out just enough and rest the collar on the bed's side.  I got her a heating pad, which sits underneath the bed.

The good news is that the veterinary oncologist my vet consulted feels a second surgery (to remove the mammary glands on the other side) isn't necessary.  However, they're recommending chemotherapy to give her a better chance of a longer life.  I'll be talking to the oncologist after the new year.  Pipig's stitches are scheduled to come out Monday afternoon and she'll be freed of the sausage suit and the plastic collar she hates so much to spend as much time as she wants under the tree.

I wish you luck in realizing your own holiday wishes.

All material © 2012-2019 by Kris Peterson for Late to the Garden Party

Monday, December 16, 2019

In a Vase on Monday: Something a little different

The cool-season flowers in my cutting garden got a late start and most are nowhere near bloom-stage yet.  While I still have plenty of the flowers I've featured in recent weeks, anything I did with them would likely be a repeat of what I've done before so instead I focused on succulents.  I've used succulents before but, as best I can recall, I haven't used them as centerpieces in an arrangement this year.  With succulent cuttings as my springboard, I filled in with plants suitable to the season.

I used the heavy green and red onyx vase, which doesn't hold water well.  The succulent cuttings don't need water and, after seeing Leucadendron used to create wreaths at an Orange County garden center earlier this month, I decided to test its staying power in a dry vase. 

Back view: I did use water-filled floral tubes to hold the Coprosma and berries I included

Top view: The red flower-like stems of Leucadendron 'Safari Sunset' and 'Blush' ended up taking center stage away from the succulents

Clockwise from the upper left: Aeonium haworthii 'Kiwi', A. haworthii 'Kiwi Verde', Coprosma repens 'Plum Hussey', berries of a noID self-planted Cotoneaster, Leucadendron salignum 'Blush', L. salignum 'Chief' and, in the center, Leucadendron 'Safari Sunset'

I didn't create a second vase this week.  I'm holding aside more of the blooming Hippeastrum I featured two weeks ago to create an arrangement for a holiday gathering this coming Saturday.  This week's new arrangement replaced the last vase I created with the same Amaryllis, while last week's purple mix moved to the kitchen island when Christmas decorations filled the front entry.

For more IAVOM creations, visit Cathy at Rambling in the Garden.

All material © 2012-2019 by Kris Peterson for Late to the Garden Party

Sunday, December 15, 2019

Bloom Day - December 2019

I've got fewer flowers to share than I had last December but perhaps that can be explained by the colder-than-usual temperatures we had in late November and lighter rain.  Or, it could be largely attributable to my reduced involvement with the garden during our protracted remodel, the last piece of which wasn't completed until this past Friday.

Let's start with the plants I consider my stars this month:

This is Hippeastrum 'Zombie'.  Each of the 4 bulbs I potted up has at least 2 flower stalks.  The flowers shown here are on a single stalk.

Bauhina x blakeana (aka Hong Kong orchid tree) is blooming heavily now, right on schedule

The noID Camellia sasanqua that came with the garden took a major hit during our remodel but this particular shrub is doing its best to make up for the lesser performance of the others

After repeated attempts to establish Hypoestes aristata (aka ribbon bush), a plant I grew in my former garden, I've finally gotten 2 of them established here.  The one shown on the left is backed up by one of several Polygala fruitcosa (aka sweet pea shrub) in my garden.  Vigorous plants, this one self-seeded in this spot.  The shrub flowers heaviest in the spring but produces a smattering of flowers, like the one shown in close-up on the right, during much of the year.

Even though this Tagetes lemmonii (aka Mexican marigold and Copper Canyon daisy) grows in partial shade, it blooms heavily at this time of year

The next group consists of plants that surprised me for one reason or another:

This is a pup of a bromeliad I've had growing in a pot for years.  I planted the pup in the ground with succulents about a year ago.  I believe it's Aechmea orlandiana.  The flower isn't as exciting as those produced by many other bromeliads but it's the first one I've seen this Aechmea produce.

I planted this Aloe vanbalenii x ferox in April 2016 and this is its first flower.  I don't have sufficient experience with Aloes to say which of its parents it more closely resembles.

I acquired Dermatobotrys saundersii (aka tree jockey) at a Huntington Garden sale in 2017.  It's semi-deciduous and looks so terrible in October/November that I always think I must have killed it with neglect - but then it blooms.  Still, it's looking leggier this year and I've been wondering if if would respond to pruning.  Mine has both dried and fresh fruit clinging to its stems, even as it's put out a fresh batch of flowers.

I grow Eustoma grandiflorum (Lisianthus) year-round but it doesn't usually bloom in December!

Metrosideros collina 'Springfire' came close to perishing in a horrific July 2018 heatwave.  Luckily for me, it recovered but it didn't bloom in spring or summer this year.  Yet, it's got a light flower flush going on now.  Pennisetum 'Sky Rocket' seems to be sending up fireworks in celebration behind it.

Although I haven't done as much gardening this fall, I have a few new additions to share:

I cleared out the bed shown in the top photograph back in September and subsequently planted it with Argyranthemum frutescens 'Everest', Lobularia maritima (sweet alyssum)  and purple, white and orange ViolasAntirrhinum majus plugs (bottom, right) were planted in November and I popped Cyclamen (bottom, left) in a pot in my lath house last week. 

As always, I have a collection of flowers that don't fall in any of the previous categories, yet are worthy of notice.  As usual, I've organized these into color collages:

Clockwise from the upper left: Gomphrena decumbens 'Itsy Bitsy', Lavandula multifida (against a background of Coleonema 'Sunset Gold'), Campanula poscharskyana 'Blue Waterfall', noID self-seeded Osteospermum, and Phalaeonopsis seco vivien 'Golden Leaves'

Clockwise from the upper left: Arbutus 'Marina', Correa 'Pink Eyre', Digitalis purpurea 'Dalmatian Peach', Grevillea 'Superb', Hemizygia 'Candy Kisses', and Osteospermum 'Berry White'

Clockwise from the upper left: Euryops chrysanthemoides 'Sonnenschein', Grevillea 'Peaches & Cream', noID Gazania, Mahonia x media 'Charity', and Rudbeckia hirta 'Denver Daisy'

For more posts on this Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day, check in with our host, Carol at May Dreams Gardens.  Best wishes to all for a pleasant holiday season!

All material © 2012-2019 by Kris Peterson for Late to the Garden Party