Monday, January 21, 2019

In a Vase on Monday: Subtle color variations

After almost a solid week of rain, my garden is saturated.  That may bode well for my spring blooms but at present there's not much more in flower than there was last week.  I couldn't think of anything new to do with my large-flowered Grevilleas so I checked my back slope on the off-chance that the calla lilies might have made an appearance.  They haven't, but while I was down there I cut a few stems of Ribes viburnifolium, aka Catalina Perfume Currant, challenging myself to come up with something to bring out the color of the currant's tiny flowers.  I'm not at all satisfied with my results.  The color variations are too subtle and there's no real focal point to the arrangement but the high winds that kicked up in the afternoon tabled whatever thoughts I may have had about a re-do.

In retrospect, I should have traded the greener Leucadendron "flowers" for more red and yellow-tinged specimens.  After reviewing my photos for this post, I pulled one stem of green bracts out of the vase but the light required for passable photos was gone so I won't be showing the impact here.

Back view, showing off the variegated foliage of Hebe 'Purple Shamrock'

Top view, dominated by the more colorful bracts of Leucadendron 'Safari Sunset'

Clockwise from the upper left: Grevillea rosmarinifolia, Coprosma repens 'Plum Hussey', Hebe 'Purple Shamrock', Leucadendron 'Blush', L. 'Summer Red', L, 'Safari Sunset', and Ribes viburnifolium

Last week's vases stood up relatively well.  After a little tweaking, I shifted them to different spots with the new vase stationed in the front entry.

All the middle vase needed were new stems of paperwhite Narcissus while the vase on the right was simplified, stripped of its rose, poppy and Grevillea stems

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

There are positive signs on the horizon in my garden.  My Freesias, Ceanothus, Calliandra, and one Echium all have buds and Camellia 'Taylor's Perfection' produced its first bloom on Saturday.  How long it'll take for the buds to bloom isn't clear to me but they have me looking forward to the days ahead.  I participated in a local "sister march" associated with the third Women's March this past Saturday and found positive signs for the future there too.

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

Friday, January 18, 2019

Rain soaked

Over the past four days we've had 4.23 inches of rain, which is a tremendous amount in a short time for us, especially given our recent history.  For three of those days, we were entirely socked in, as if enveloped in a cloud.  We couldn't see the horizon and could barely make out the outline of neighboring homes.  While a heavy morning marine layer isn't unusual here, being wrapped in a blanket for three solid days was a ghostly experience.

The harbor was invisible during the day and, even at night, the lights below us were largely imperceptible

The lovely paperwhite Narcissus have been plastered to the ground since Sunday evening

I planted 3 flats of creeping thyme last week, only to have local critters (opossums or raccoons, I'm not sure which) pull the plugs up, hence the addition of the empty flats laid across the path as protection

A combination of time, wind and rain has stripped the flaking bark off the strawberry trees (Arbutus 'Marina'), leaving them mostly smooth.  The red color of the trunk and limbs is more pronounced under the wet conditions.

After removing as much of the Asparagus fern foliage and roots as I could, I planted the area in front of the mimosa tree with Centaurea 'Silver Feathers', Pelargonium x sidoides, Lobularia maritima, and Thymus serphyllum 'Minus' before the rain began.  I scattered larkspur seeds last weekend too.  I'm still looking for a large pot to hide the mimosa's battle scars.

The mimosa tree looks as though it's about to fall into space, doesn't it?

Ozothamnus diosmifolious (aka rice flower plant) looks great decorated in raindrops

The moisture-filled air lends a sense of stillness to everything, even in photographs

Acacia cognata 'Cousin Itt'  wasn't its fluffy self after 4 straight days of rain

This was the view from our master bedroom window looking out across the front garden on Wednesday morning

So far, none of my succulents seem to be suffering due to the rain.  In fact, most of them look great.  These are planted along the moderate slope in the front garden behind the hedge that runs along the street.

Some of the Aeonium arboreum are starting to bloom.

The rain and cooler weather have transformed this succulent bed on our southwest side.  The Aeoniums (A. arboreum, A x haworthii 'Kiwi', and A. 'Sunburst') still looked terrible in early November but they're not dormant any longer.

Before the rain started, in the area just beyond the Aeonium bed shown in the previous photo, I planted cuttings of Aeonium arboreum and A. haworthii 'Kiwi Verde' in the bare area surrounding a dead tree stump at the top of a relatively steep slope above our neighbor's driveway.  As the rain came down hard at intervals, I was concerned that the cuttings might be washed away but they held up fine.

The sun has already made an appearance this morning and tomorrow's temperature could get up near 70F/21C.  It's nice to see some blue sky again and I look forward to drying out a bit.  There's no more rain in the forecast until early February.  I hope there's some blue sky and warmth in your weekend forecast too.

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

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Bloom Day - January 2019

Last year we had the lowest rain level I can remember, with only 3.88 inches registered in our location between October 1, 2017 and September 2018.  (California's "rain year" is always calibrated from the first of October through the end of September of the following calendar year.)  This winter started on the dry side despite NOAA's forecast of weak to moderate El Niño conditions, which can bring heavier rain to Southern California.  Although NOAA has reported that the predicted El Niño has been stalled by other climate factors, notably the Madden-Julien Oscillation or MJO*, we've had a lot of rain in the past week and considerably more is expected before the end of this week.  Our current total for the rain year to date is 7.04 inches, or 181% of last year's total.  Not spectacular relative to our historical average perhaps but definitely an improvement.  The only difficulty is that it's coming down all at once, leaving us sodden and threatening mudslides in the recent burn areas.  Fortunately, I took most of my Bloom Day photos in advance of the latest spate of storms.  I don't know how those of you in parts of the world with heavier precipitation manage!

The stars of my January garden are fairly consistent with those cited in prior years with the notable exception of Camellia 'Taylor's Perfection', which is usually in full bloom by the middle of January but thus far this year has only tightly furled buds.  The Grevilleas and Leucadendrons win the top slots this month.

The large-flowered Grevilleas bloom consistently year-round here but the volume is greater right now in all cases.  Even so, Grevillea 'Superb' (shown here) is a stand-out.

Grevilleas 'Ned Kelly' and 'Peaches & Cream' aren't looking too shabby either

Blooms on the small-flowered Grevilleas, G. lavandulacea 'Penola' (left) and G. 'Scarlet Sprite' (right), are seasonal but generally profuse

Technically, Leucadendron "flowers" are actually bracts surrounding cones but they count in my book.  I've got 2 L. 'Wilson's Wonder', both shown here.

Leucadendron salignum 'Chief', shown here, sprawls a bit but it makes a great flower substitute in arrangements

More Leucadendrons, L. 'Safari Sunset' with what I think is L. 'Blush' on the left and L. 'Summer Red' on the right

There are other plants that are providing a strong showing this month too.

Bauhinia x blakeana (aka Hong Kong orchid tree) was the head-liner in last month's Bloom Day post but it was still looking great this month, even after some rain; however, I can't say it's looking as good after yesterday's downpours

It may not be entirely evident from this photo but the tiny flowers of Coleonema pulchellum 'Sunset Gold' are a pale pink.  The plant's common name is "Breath of Heaven" for the beautiful scent of its foliage.

Like the large-flowered Grevilleas, the tiny flowers of Gomphrena decumbens 'Itsy Bitsy' keep coming all year

Mahonia x media 'Charity' finally bloomed in early January

These paperwhite Narcissus, planted long ago by some prior owner of our property, have sprung into bloom throughout the garden in response to the earlier rain.  The current rainstorms are pounding them flat.

The white Pyrethropsis hosmariense (aka Moroccan daisy) have also responded positively to the rain

All my rosemary is in bloom but this Rosmarinus 'Gold Dust' delivers something extra with its variegated foliage

A few other plants also deserve special mention.

Succulent blooms are popping up all over.  From left to right here are a tiny noID Aloe, Bryophyllum gastonis-bonnieri (still in bud), Crassula ovata, and Crassula 'Springtime'.

No, these aren't flowers but the Heteromeles arbutifolia (aka Toyon or Christmas berry) and the navel orange are as colorful and the first feeds the birds and the second feeds us (and the greedy raccoons)

As usual, I'll end this post with the best of the rest arranged by color in collages.

Top row: Ageratum houstonianum 'Blue Horizon', noID lavender, and Limonium perezii
Middle row: Ocimum hybrid 'African Blue Basil', and Osteopermums '4D Silver' and 'Violet Ice'
Bottom row: Polygala fruticosa 'Petite Butterfly', Scabiosa 'Fama Blue', and Trichostemma 'Midnight Magic'

Clockwise from the upper left: Arctotis 'Pink Sugar' (off to a slow start), noID Camellia sasanqua (wilting in the rain), miscellaneous Cyclamen, Hemizygia 'Candy Kisses', and Pentas lanceolata 'Nova'

Left to right: Dermatobotrys saundersii, Hippeastrum 'Giant Amadeus', and Rosa 'Joseph's Coat'

Clockwise from the upper left: Achillea 'Moonshine', Lomandra 'Breeze' Tagetes lemmonii, Aeonium arboreum, and Senna artemisioides 

For more blooms, visit Carol at May Dreams Gardens, our esteemed Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day host.

*Once again, descriptions of weather conditions in Southern California are sounding like the mythic battle between Godzilla and Mothra.

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

Monday, January 14, 2019

In a Vase on Monday: More Grevilleas and Leucadendrons

We got rain last week and there's more coming this week!  The air is fresh and clear and my plants have been thoroughly cleaned of dust and grime.   Everything looks prettier, even the usually smog-infused horizon.

This was my view of the Port of Los Angeles Saturday afternoon once last week's storm passed

Late afternoon brought a rainbow

And this was the sky as evening fell on Saturday

The rain hasn't instantly produced much in the way of new blooms but I still found enough to inspire me to fill 2 vases.  My Grevillea 'Superb', a year-round bloomer, is simply loaded with flowers at the moment and the availability of a single rose in a similar hue clinched the color scheme for my first vase.

We could get as much as 4 inches of rain between Monday and Thursday (more than we received in total last year) and I doubt the rose could make it through those storms unscathed.  I need to get started on pruning my roses in any case.  (The sunset showing on the TV screen in the background when I took this photo was a complete fluke.)

Back view

Top view, showing off the flower-like bracts of the Leucadendron

Clockwise from the upper left: Grevillea 'Superb', Agonis flexuosa 'Nana' (my go-to foliage filler), berries of Nandina domestica, Rosa 'Joseph's Coat', noID Leucadendron (probably 'Blush'), and my first bloom of Papaver nudicaule (aka Iceland poppy), recently planted from plugs

The pink Alstroemeria in the backyard border have already produced a few flowers but they were past their prime before I noticed them.  When I saw two more flowering stems plastered against the ground by the last rainstorm, I decided to use them as the starting point for a second vase.

I sought out plants with touches of pink and yellow to complement the Alstroemeria

I almost prefer this back view without the Alstroemeria

Top view: Many of the paperwhite Narcissus were also plastered to the ground by the last storm so they got cut

Clockwise from the upper left: noID Alstroemeria, Coleonema pulchellum 'Sunset Gold', Leucadendron salignum 'Chief', noID Narcissus, and Pyrethropsis hosmariense (aka Moroccan daisy)

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

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