Monday, March 25, 2019

In a Vase on Monday: Pulling Out the Stops

You may not believe it but I do hesitate about cutting some flowers in my garden to fill a vase.  This week, I decided to go all in with some of my selections.  The first of my Dutch Iris started blooming just over a week ago and I took the plunge and cut two of those tall stems yesterday for my first vase.

My Freesias are fading fast and, as the yellow variety provides a perfect complement to the Iris, I wanted to take advantage of this window when both are in bloom

The small yellow flowers at the back of the arrangement are Ranunculus californicus, our state's native buttercup

Top view

Clockwise from the upper left: Iris x hollandica, Freesia, Lavandula stoechas, L. multifida, and Ranunculus californicus


My second arrangement involved the sacrifice of an even more precious bloom, the first fully open flower of Leucospermum 'Brandi'.  Last year, the first time it bloomed since I planted it in March 2016, I got only four or five flowers in total.  This year it's produced one and a half dozen large buds so far with signs of secondary buds still forming.

I admit I still shuddered a little when I cut the Leucospermum bloom.  It's so heavy I was forced to add chicken wire to the inside of the teapot to hold its stem upright.

Lotus berthelottii 'Amazon Sunset' and Ranunculus put on their own show in the back view. Like the Dutch Iris, the Ranunculus in the cutting garden have popped into bloom in the last week.

Top view

Clockwise from the upper left: Lotus berthelotti 'Amazon Sunset' and 'Gold Flash', Helichrysum petiolare 'Licorice Splash', Narcissus 'Geranium', Ranunculus, Narcissus 'Katie Heath' and, in the middle, Leucospermum 'Brandi'


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

My vases in their places


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

Saturday, March 23, 2019

Top Ten (New) Blooms - Late March 2019

Chloris of The Blooming Garden posts a monthly top 10 list of what's flowering in her garden and invites others to join in.  I don't routinely participate as what I'd cover would frequently be a rehash of what's covered in my mid-month Bloom Day post.  As my March 15th Bloom Day post was particularly extensive, bordering on obnoxious, another post featuring many of the same blooms might strike readers as overkill.  Hopefully, Chloris will forgive me if I put my own spin on her meme.  The focus of this post will be on my favorites among the newest blooms in my garden.  With a few exceptions, these are flowers that didn't start blooming until the second half of the month.  In Spring, when almost every day reveals a new jewel, it isn't all that hard to come up with 10 candidates.  In fact, I had several that I culled from the list for the purposes of this post.

In my mid-month Bloom Day post, I bemoaned the fact that some of my most flamboyant bulb blooms hadn't yet made an appearance.  That changed in the second half of the month.

I was delighted when the Dutch Iris (Iris x hollandica) I planted around our backyard fountain our first year here bloomed.  I was more delighted still when they came back year-after-year, stronger than they were the prior year.  I've planted more of these bulbs the past 2 years and look forward to seeing similar results from them.

Scilla peruviana (aka Portuguese Squill) was a haphazard bloomer for my first few years here but it's become more dependable the last few years, a sign that I should plant more of these bulbs as well

I planted Ferraria crispa (aka Starfish Iris), a South African bulb, in December 2016.  If memory serves me correctly, the 2 bulbs bloomed for the first time last year.  I was able to get seeds to germinate too but I expect it's going to be a few years before I get those seedlings to bloom.  In the meantime, I'm pleased to see my original plants return to bloom again this year.  The flowers are about the size of a quarter and last only a day but they're spectacular nonetheless. 


I featured a single photo of one Leucospermum bloom in my earlier post, which is all there was to show at that point.  I took a ridiculous number of photos of that one flower as the bloom slowly unfurled.  My obsession has continued since then as more flowers have begun to open.

I planted Leucospermum 'Brandi' in March 2016 after a few prior failures in growing plants in this genus.  This one produced its very first blooms last year.  This year, the shrub's produced more buds and larger blooms.  The mature bloom is roughly the size of my hand.  I have 3 other species of Leucospermums in the garden now, all with buds, but 'Brandi' is the first out the gate.


Narcissi of various types have been blooming in my garden since January but more appeared last week, my favorite of which is the Tazetta Daffodil, Narcissus 'Geranium'.

This one produces as many as 6 flowers on each stem, making each stem look like a bouquet all by itself


I inherited several Phlomis fruticosa (aka Jerusalem sage) with the garden but most of the shrubs have declined significantly in the last few years, presumably due to persistent drought and soaring summer-time temperatures.  I pulled a couple and hard-pruned the others about 2 months ago.  I didn't have high hopes that they'd rebound; however, at least 2 shrubs are making a good go at doing just that.

I love the soft yellow of the flowers, which always strike me as something Dr. Seuss might have drawn


My mid-month post featured a single photo of a Ranunculus, the only one of these in bloom at that time.  The tubers in my cutting garden suddenly got cracking during the second half of the month.

From one bloom to more than a dozen in matter of days

In addition to white and pink picotee varieties I planted a batch labeled "salmon."  I was concerned that the latter would all bloom in exactly the same shade but "salmon" seems to encompass a range of pinkish-orange colors.  I've had problems growing poppies but these strike me as great substitutes.


The next candidate for my top new blooms list is an odd one.  Some of you may find it homely but I find it very interesting.

This is Salvia africana lutea.  I picked up a small plant at my local botanic garden 3 years ago.  It's still a little less than 2 feet tall but it's blooming well this year.  The flower's shape and color is unusual.


My next "new" bloom doesn't really fit the category as I've described it thus far.  It blooms nearly continuously but it's so hard to photograph that I seldom feature it.  I cut it back a month ago and it's looking particularly good right now.  I also managed a half-way decent photo of it for once so here it is:

This is Lavandula multifida (aka fernleaf lavender).  The pale pink-flowered Coleonema behind it helped the thin flower spires stand out in the photograph on the left.  The blooms last a long time and they're very aromatic, although I don't like the scent as well as I do other lavenders.  Its chief values to me are its deep blue color and drought tolerance.


My last entry is a flowering tree I found blooming only yesterday.  Once I noticed the blooms on mine, I noticed the same species in bloom all over town, as if a bell sounded to call them out.

This is Cercis occidentalis (aka Western Redbud).  In my garden it wants to be a shrub, producing a lot of suckers at its base.  If it wasn't for this annual display of flowers, I'd probably pull both of mine out.


That's it for my top 10 blooms for the second part of March.  Visit Chloris at The Blooming Garden to discover what she and other gardeners are celebrating as Spring kicks off.  Check out my Bloom Day post if you want to see what else is blooming in my garden at the moment - our heavier-than-usual winter rains have created magic.


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

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Wednesday Vignette: Winged Visitors

A good stretch of rainy weather and the resulting explosion of flowers brought hoards of visitors into Southern California.  I'm not referring to the humans streaming into our desert areas to see the "super bloom" wildflower displays, although that's still going on.  Unlike that event, the visitors I'm talking about didn't cause traffic jams or crush plants growing in delicate desert ecosystems.  The visitors I'm referring to swarmed across the border from Mexico unencumbered by walls or border patrol agents.  And, according to most reports, they numbered as many as one billion.  The migration in question was that of the painted ladies, a species of butterflies, Vanessa cardui, that took advantage of favorable environmental conditions to disperse far and wide in search of food and mates.  I noticed them in my garden before I heard anything about their mass migration on the news.  They grabbed the attention of the media and that of almost everyone I spoke with last week as we watched them flutter along roadways, in parking lots, and just about everywhere.

This shot was taken in my backyard

and this one was taken in one of my front garden borders.  I saw what looked like a funnel cloud of them at my local botanic garden but didn't have a camera on hand.


That good news story was followed by another, one that hasn't received any news coverage that I'm aware of.  Last weekend, I noticed what I initially thought were tiny hummingbirds flitting through my garden and even buzzing our living room windows.  On closer examination, I realized that they were representatives of one of the so-called hummingbird moth species.  I've seen these featured in the posts of bloggers in other states but this is the first time I've seen any of them in my own area.

This hummingbird moth is also known as a hawk moth and as the white-lined sphinx moth (Hyles lineata).  Like the painted lady, its wingspan is 2-3 inches and it hails from Mexico.

It flaps its wings so rapidly, even when siphoning nectar from flowers, it was hard to get a good photo.  I saw a lizard leap in an attempt to capture this particular moth when it was hovering mere inches above the ground but he failed in his attempt.


My last winged visitor is a regular returnee.  Like the butterflies and the moths, he was particularly attracted to the blue flowers of Echium handiense.

This is the common bumblebee (Bombus), not known as a big honey producer but one of the best pollinators we have


My coverage of these wonderful winged visitors is my Wednesday Vignette.  For more, visit Anna at Flutter & Hum.


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

Monday, March 18, 2019

In a Vase on Monday: The Blues

I decided to focus on the blues in my garden this week for In a Vase on Monday, the popular weekly meme hosted by Cathy at Rambling in the Garden.  If it has a blue flower and it grows in my climate, I probably grow it or at least have tried to.  Limonium perezii, also known as Sea Lavender and Statice, was the starting point for my first arrangement.

The tall stems of the papery-flowered Limonium began appearing back in January but the flowers took their time to open, which they're now doing en masse

I added a woody stem of Vitex trifolia to the back of the vase as the leaf color picks up the purple color of the Limonium flowers 

Top view

Clockwise from the upper left: Coleonema album (aka White Breath of Heaven), Dianthus caryophyllus, white and blue Freesia, Osteospermum '4D Purple', Prunus laurocerasus (aka Cherry Laurel), Vitex trifolia 'Purpurea' (aka Arabian Lilac) and, in the center, Limonium perezii


When I prepared my post for Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day last week, I noted that some of my favorite bulb blooms had yet to make an appearance.  Then our Santa Ana winds showed up, causing  humidity levels to drop dramatically and sending our temperatures soaring from the 60sF into the low 80s.  Overnight, both the Dutch Iris and the Portuguese Squill began to bloom.  I'm going to give the Iris another week or two to develop but I cut one stem of the Squill (Scilla peruviana) for my second vase.

Scilla peruviana has very short flower stems, calling for a small vase.  I picked up this one almost a year ago but I believe it's the first time I've used it.

The back of this arrangement is a mess.  Whether beaten down by rain or bent by wind, many of my Osteospermum stems are crooked, resulting in downward-facing flowers.

Top view: The tall stem is Aristea inaequalis.  It's blue flowers were open in the sun but unfortunately closed in the lower light of the house.

Clockwise from the upper left: Argyranthemum frutescens 'Mega White', noID Ceanothus, Aristea inaequalis, Euryops chrysanthemoides 'Sonnenschien', yellow Freesia, floppy Osteospermum '4D Silver' and, in the middle, Scilla peruviana (Note: The Squill was mistakenly labeled as "peruviana" because it was transported on a ship called "The Peru" after its collection but it's native to the Mediterranean area of Europe, not South America.) 


Dry conditions are causing my Freesias to wither rapidly and, fearing that my remaining tulip blooms were likely to suffer the same fate, I cut two stems for a bud vase to sit on my desk.

Last week Amelia of The Shrub Queen offered a possible ID for the "two-tone" tulips I purchased as pre-sprouted bulbs from my local garden center: 'Cerise Gris de Lin'


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



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

Friday, March 15, 2019

Bloom Day - March 2019

I looked back at last year's March Bloom Day post, finding that I'd highlighted bulb blooms.   While some of the most spectacular bulbs that were in bloom last March, like Scilla peruviana, Ferraria crispa and Dutch Iris, haven't made an appearance yet, other bulbs are carrying the show for now.

Freesias are everywhere.  They're glorious even when they've been matted to the ground by one rainstorm after another.

I planted Ipheion uniflorum years before we tore out our lawn and expanded our borders.  Now they pop up here and there between plants in my backyard borders.

The fancier, named varieties of Narcissi aren't blooming yet but two noID varieties have popped up in various locations

Last March, I had a lot of Ranunculus in bloom but this was the first one to make an appearance this year

The vast majority of my Sparaxis tricolor are shades of orange but I also have a few pink ones

I'd thought that all our rain would deliver armloads of calla lilies (Zantedeschia aethiopica) but thus far I've had just a few here and there.  I'm hoping warmer temperatures will bring them out in larger numbers.

When it comes to bulbs, my biggest surprise was getting a few tulips to bloom.  Granted, I purchased the bulbs pre-sprouted but I've done that before only to quickly lose the flowers to our dry Santa Ana winds.  Cooler, moister air in February and March gave them a boost this time.  Amelia of The Shrub Queen identified this variety, sold as "Two-tone Tulip", as 'Cerise Gris de Lin'.


I featured the so-called African daisies last month but the flowers are even more prolific this month so I'm showing them off again.  The Osteospermums in particular are running rampant.

Osteospermum '4D Silver' in the back border

A mass of Osteospermum '4D Violet Ice' backed up by O. 'Summertime Sweet Kardinal' in the north side garden.  The '4D Violet Ice' flowers are similar but not identical to '4D Silver'.

The noID white Osteospermum shown in another section of the same bed self-seeded from a variety with spoon-shaped petals.  The pink variety on the left is 'Serenity Pink'.

I added Osteospermum 'Spring Day' to another bed in the north side area last year

More Osteospermums are scattered throughout the garden.  Clockwise from the upper left are: '4D Purple', 'Berry White', noID pink, and 'Serenity Pink'.  The advantage of the '4D' varieties is that they remain open in low light when the single-petaled varieties close up, making them better choices for floral arrangements.


I've fewer varieties of Arctotis, another type of African daisy, but they're also blooming heavily this month.  Other than regular dead-heading to keep the clumps looking neat, they need almost no care.

Arctotis 'Opera Pink'

Arctotis 'Pink Sugar'


The Gazanias aren't putting on the same kind of show but they haven't faded into the background either.

With the exception of Gazania 'White Flame' (lower right), all of these are self-sown plants


Other plants making a strong showing this month include:

Calliandra haematocephala (aka Pink Powder Puff): It gets sheared regularly but still manages to bloom every year at this time

Bay Laurel (Laurus noblis): These shrubs form a hedge next to my neighbor's wire fence.  It usually gets sheared before it blooms but I caught it in flower this year.

Limonium perezii (aka Statice), opening its papery flowers at last

Lotus berthelotti, which I use as a groundcover.  The red variety is 'Amazon Sunset' and the other is 'Gold Flash'.


Several plants that were blooming well last month are continuing to flower well this month.

Camellia hybrid 'Taylor's Perfection' is dropping almost as many buds as it has flowers in bloom but it's still looking good

Ceanothus arboreus 'Cliff Schmidt' is still blooming and now the noID Ceanothus hedge is too

Grevilleas are the backbone of my flower collection but not all of them bloom year-round.  Grevillea 'Scarlet Sprite' is a seasonal bloomer.

Clockwise from the upper left, other Grevilleas in bloom at present include: G. alpina x rosmarinifolia, 'Peaches & Cream', 'Superb', G. lavandulacea 'Penola', G. sericea, a dwarf G. rosmarinifolia, G. lanigera 'Mount Tamboritha', and 'Ned Kelly'.


Are you satiated yet?  I'll close with my usual collages featuring plants contributing floral color on a more restrained scale.

Top row: Ageratum houstonianum, Alyogyne huegelii, and Aristea inaequalis
Middle row: Geranium 'Tiny Monster', Globularia x indubia, and Echium handiense
Bottom row: Lavandula stoechas 'Double Anouk', Pericallis hybrid, and Polygala fruticosa 'Petite Butterfly'

Top row: Arabis alpina 'Variegata', Argyranthemum ''Mega White', Auranticarpa rhombifolium, and Carpenteria californica
Middle row: Crassula multicava, Dianthus caryophyllus, Jasminium polyanthum, and Lobularia maritima
Bottom row: Nemesia 'Snow Angel', Tanacetum parthenium 'Aureum', and Coleonema album

Clockwise from the upper left: Achillea 'Moonshine', Aeonium arboreum, Agave desmettiana, Leucadendron 'Safari Goldstrike', Euryops virgineus 'Tali', Euryops chrysanthemoides 'Sonnenschien', Bulbine frutescens and, in the middle, Euphorbia rigida

Aloe striata, Cuphea 'Vermillionaire', and Leucospermum 'Brandi' (the first bloom of the season, opening VERY slowly)

Clockwise from the upper left: Helleborus 'Anna's Red', Euphorbia 'Black Pearl', Geranium sidoides, another Pericallis hybrid, Gomphrena decumbens 'Itsy Bitsy', and Lotus jacobeaus

Clockwise from the upper left: Coleonema pulchellum 'Sunset Gold', Cistus 'Grayswood Pink', Leptospermum scoparium 'Pink Pearl', Helleborus 'Phoebe', and Rosa chinensis 'Mutabilis'


I haven't checked but I think this post may represent my most flowerful yet.  Still, I'm hoping that April may top it.  Warmer weather is expected and it may tease out some of the blooms still holding back.  Much of the country is colder than we are but Spring is slowly creeping forward everywhere in the Northern Hemisphere despite Old Man Winter's efforts to hold it back.  Visit Carol at May Dreams Gardens to see what's happening elsewhere.


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