Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Tell the Truth Tuesday (Late, Late Edition)

Okay, I know it's Wednesday.  I've somehow lost all control over my week and plans are falling apart all over the place, including my effort to get this post up yesterday.  I'm once again jumping into the meme initiated by Alison at Bonney Lassie, dedicated to sharing the less attractive aspects of our gardens in the interest of honest reporting.

This week I'm focusing on what I call my Eucalyptus Bed.  That description wouldn't make any sense to anyone who's seen my garden since February 2013, when the tree was cut down at the behest of a neighbor that claimed it blocked her view.

This photo was taken in early February 2013, just days before the tree was cut down.  You can learn more about the tree's sad story here.

When the tree was removed I was left with a good-sized bed to plant. 

Photo taken mid-February 2013 after the site was cleaned up and my husband added the cement block wall on the west side

I started planting the area with some pretty perennials, like Heuchera and Argyranthemum, and annual flowers.  I tried shrubs like Loropetalum.  They didn't hold up well.  I planted Helichrysum, which did too well and quickly became an unmanageable mess.  I tried a Japanese maple but it couldn't stand up to the wind that regularly sweeps through the area.  I tried a Drimys lanceolata but it was slow-growing and didn't make a statement.  In 2014, I planted a row of Pennisetum 'Fireworks' along the wall, which has done well.  In 2015 I added a couple of rockroses (Cistus) and in 2016 I added a smoke bush (Cotinus coggygria 'Royal Purple').  However, I've had a hard time getting anything established around the edges of the bed surrounding the shrubs, principally as the raccoons insist on repeatedly digging everything up.  I'd added small succulents but I wasn't satisfied with those for long either.

This photo was taken earlier this week

Last weekend, I started removing the succulents on the west edge of the bed.  I'd already removed half of them by the time I thought to take the "before" photo shown above.  I've ordered Agapanthus bulbs to plant around the smoke bush and added Liriope muscari 'Pee Dee Gold Ingot' around the edge this week.  The Clematis vine growing up the arbor got a hard pruning too.

It's still a mish-mash

Once I get the Agapanthus bulbs in, I expect I'll pull the 'Blue Boy' Yuccas as they're not looking good either.  Whether this new design iteration of the bed will hold up in the long-term is anybody's guess.

This is the bed's "better" side but it could use work too

The Graptoverias and Echeverias formerly in this bed were relocated to the adjacent succulent bed.  However, I initially had no idea what to do with all the Graptosedum 'Darley Sunshine' you see in the "before" photo.  I expect I'll use some cuttings in other succulent beds but, in the interim, I created 2 more of the succulent pots within pots featured on Instagram.

This one features a tiny one-inch pot surrounded by succulent cuttings

I used a shell instead of another tiny pot in this one.  The flowers are from Crassula 'Springtime'.

Further proof that a garden is never "done."

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

Monday, January 28, 2019

In a Vase on Monday: Rain showers yield flowers

New flowers are popping up here and there throughout my garden.  Plants don't follow a precise calendar but it seems at least some plants may be responding to the rain we received earlier this month by blooming a couple of weeks ahead of their usual schedule.

I've been watching buds forming on my Echium handiense for a few weeks now and last week noticed that a neighbor's plant was already blooming.  On Saturday morning I noticed mine had begun to bloom too so I knew it was a prospect for In a Vase on Monday.  Other elements of the arrangement, including the vase itself, were a matter of pure serendipity.

I met a friend for a belated birthday celebration on Saturday (her birthday, not mine).  After lunch we toured a couple of secondhand shops and I found the wonderful glass vase shown here.  A great buy for $16!

While checking out my friend's garden later in the afternoon, I discovered she had a beautiful Bush Germander (Teucrium fruticans).  I begged a few flowering stems, as well as a couple of seedlings.  The flower color is a much deeper blue than the cultivar I grew in my former garden.

I added 2 stems of the tall-flowered Dianthus I picked up on a shopping trip last week and a couple of stems of Camellia 'Taylor's Perfection' to echo the pink color of the Echium's buds

Clockwise from the upper left: Echium handiense, noID Ceanothus, Diathus caryophyllus 'Cut Flower White', Camellia hybrid 'Taylor's Perfection' and Teucrium fruticans (possibly 'Compactum').  The Echium is considered critically endangered in its native habitat in Spain.  I've never seen it in a garden center.  My plant comes from my local botanic garden.

There were a few leftover flowers that didn't fit into my new vase.  I popped these into a tiny vase.  In addition to small stems of Ceanothus and Teucrium, these included several stems of Osteospermum '4D Silver'.

The snapdragons in my cutting garden provided the jumping off point for my second arrangement.  The plants are already showing signs of rust, probably spurred by the warm temperatures that followed the persistent rain we enjoyed the week before last.

I played on the colors in the snapdragon, adding stems of Leucadendron 'Wilson's Wonder', which are currently taking on a reddish tinge, and Grevillea 'Peaches & Cream'

The high winds that blew off and on all last week took out most of my paperwhite Narcissus but I threw a few of the remaining stems in this vase

Top view

Clockwise from the upper left: Agonis flexuosa 'Nana', Antirrhinum majus 'Bronze', Myrtus communis, Leucadendron 'Wilson's Wonder', Papaver nudicaule (Iceland poppy) with noID Narcissus, Pyrethropsis hosmariense (Moroccan daisy), and, in the center, Grevillea 'Peaches & Cream'

My vases assumed spots in the front entry and the dining room table as usual.  The tiny vase of leftovers landed on a side table in the living room.

Unfortunately, the Camellias began dropping one by one almost as soon as I cut them and I had to juggle the stems in the first vase to make up for the loss of those blooms

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

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

Friday, January 25, 2019

Retail therapy

Two weeks ago I took a relatively quick spin through four local garden centers.  As I didn't find what I was looking for during that excursion, I decided to wander further afield this week, driving 45 miles south to Roger's Gardens in Corona Del Mar.  Although there was more going on at Roger's than at my local garden centers, it was clear that there's a way to go before the shelves are fully stocked.  I didn't go home empty-handed but I spent as much time perusing the plant displays on Roger's exterior grounds as I did shopping.

If you're interested in a tour of the exterior perimeter, here we go.

This was the view from my parked car, looking at a large Leucadendron in full flower, surrounded by Aeoniums

This is a view of the same Leucadendron from the sidewalk.  I like how the coral-colored Aloes pick up the color of the Leucadendron's brightly colored bracts.

Two Agaves were blooming.  The one on the right is an Agave 'Joe Hoak' but I'm not sure of the identity of the one on the left.

The Leucadendrons here were mixed with Agave attenuata

These noID Agaves were combined with Grevillea 'Scarlet Sprite' and rosemary

Even the hell-strip looked good.  The Chondropetalum tectorum here are much more well-behaved than my own.

Grevillea 'Scarlet Sprite', prostrate rosemary, and Aeoniums are mixed here with what I think is Westringia 'Morning Light'

At the corner of two busy streets on the outermost edge of Roger's property, a large demonstration garden surrounds a gazebo.  As it's Aloe bloom season, those plants were making a major statement.

I took my photos just after noon so their clarity is less than ideal

I vaguely recall hearing that this Aloe is a hybrid but I've no record of its name.  It's gorgeous, though, as are the Agave ovatilolia cozied up against it.

This area on the other side of the gazebo featuring Agave attenuata was more subdued

Close-up photos, clockwise from the upper left: Flower of the striking centerpiece Aloe, a noID yellow-flowered Aloe in front of an Agave vilmoriniana 'Stained Glass', Agave ovatifolia, and Cordyline 'Electric Flash'

Inside the garden center's sale area, I found the tall Dianthus I've been looking for.  I'm also on the hunt for a Japanese maple and, although they had a selection in stock, I didn't find one that demanded to be taken home with me.  So I stalked the succulent displays.  

Roger's has a great range of succulents in various sizes.  I appreciate that they always have some in wallet-friendly pony-packs.  They had an Agave 'Stained Glass' in a large pot but I couldn't quite bring myself to take it home at the price on the tag, especially as I don't immediately have a spot for a specimen that gets as large as that one.  If I do go with succulents for my back slope, that one may end up on the plant list, however.

The only succulent I brought home was Aeonium 'Zwartkop'.  After seeing my neighbor's combination of that Aeonium and Agave 'Blue Glow' earlier this week, I felt compelled to replicate it in my own garden.

The Aeonium is still in its pot here on its tryout between an Agave 'Blue Flame' and 3 'Blue Glows'

After several weeks of chilly temperatures, our temperatures are climbing.  They could get up to 80F/26C tomorrow.  Nice weather for working in the garden!  I hope you get some nice weather too or, if you're housebound by snow or rain, that you can plant yourself in front of a crackling fire to dream of your spring garden.

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

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

January at my local botanic garden

A number of things have kept me away from the South Coast Botanic Garden since mid-November - the holidays, the weather, and the Los Angeles teacher's strike among them.  With no schools scheduling tours of the garden, there was little need for docents.  However, we had a general meeting on Monday and another docent and I took the opportunity to make a quick spin around the garden to see what's going on while also checking out the new "Incredible Journey" adventure program for kids sponsored by the garden.

I took photos in 3 areas of the garden (all unrelated to the adventure program).  Our first stop was the new Living Wall.  I'd been told that the garden had posted a list of the plants included in the construction of the wall and, some readers of my prior post on the wall had expressed interest in this, I looked for it.

The wall looks much the same as it did in my November post, although what I think were bird's nest ferns in one small section of the planting scheme were struggling

The sign describes the construction of the wall, which is maintained by a hydroponic system.  It's still a mystery to me how it works to simultaneously support the needs of plants as different as succulents and ferns.

This is the plant list, which relies largely on common names.  I'm not sure what's meant by a "Chester Fern" or "Stars" and unfortunately I didn't take the time to examine the plants carefully when I was on-site.  "Stars" might mean "Earthstars," although the photo on the sign doesn't seem right if that's the case.  "Habbit Jade" refers to Crassula "Hobbit" and I think #14 is meant to be spelled "Plumosa Fern."

After we'd completed the "Incredible Journey" adventure tour, my docent friend took off and I cruised through some of my favorite areas of the garden, starting with the Banyan Grove, a common stop on docent tours.

These are photos of Ficus macrophylla, commonly known as Moreton Bay fig trees.  The elementary school kids on our tours love climbing over the huge roots of these trees under their immense canopy.  When our temperatures soar, this is literally the coolest spot in the entire garden.

This photo shows how roots reach down from the tree's limbs to embed themselves in the soil

This photo gives you a sense of the huge canopy created by these fig trees

The Stenocarpus sinuatus (aka Firewheel Trees) next to the Moreton Bay figs were in bloom

This is another tree I commonly point out to kids on our tours.  We refer to is as the "ghost fig" but its proper name is Ficus petiolaris.  The photos I've seen of this plant on-line don't show the yellow color of this particular specimen so that may be an anomaly.  

The fig tree attached to this palm (Phoenix sylvestris) is also one that interests kids.  It's referred to as a "strangler fig" as it's rooted in the palm and working hard to take over its host.  The garden recently cut it back but it's not defeated.

My final stop was the garden's expanded Desert Garden, where I checked out the blooming Aloes.

Aloe arborescens: the group on the left was referred to by the common name of Candelabra Aloe while the group on the right were referred to as Torch Aloes but they're the same species

Aloe aristata

Aloe castanea, or Cat's Tail Aloe, one of my personal favorites

Aloe 'David Verity'

Aloe vanbalenii

Aloe hybrid 'Spiney'

This one wasn't in the Desert Garden and I couldn't find a label but my guess is that it's Aloe wickensii (which I think has been renamed but that's the name I know if by)

I've been thinking more and more about planting my back slope in succulents.  It's east-facing so it's not optimal for Aloes and other succulents that want full sun to flower but I may experiment a bit anyway.  The succulents planted on the southeast-facing slope at the entrance to our neighborhood are doing surprisingly well as shown in the photos below.

Created from a hodge-podge of succulent pups and cuttings donated by neighbors including myself, this succulent bed on a fairly sharp slope looks better every year

This is the view from the other direction

Among other things, the mix includes Agave attenuata, Aeonium arboreum, Aloe arborescens, Crassula ovata, Carpobrotus, and Euphorbia tirucalli 'Sticks on Fire'

A neighbor's front garden just up the street from ours sported an even more impressive display.

Isn't this a gorgeous mix?  It includes Aeonium arboreum, A. 'Zwartkop' (or a relative), Agave 'Blue Glow', Aloe nobilis and other plants I can't immediately identify

Food for thought...

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