Friday, February 15, 2019

Bloom Day - February 2019

By our standards, we've had a LOT of rain in the past month.  Our current total, calculated from the start of our rain year on October 1, 2018, is over 15 inches!  We've blown past our "old normal" annual rain total with more rain yet in the forecast before our rainy season ends in April.  As I've come to think of rain as having nearly miraculous properties, I'm surprised that the garden hasn't already exploded with blooms.  In actuality, what's blooming now is mostly on par with what I had blooming last year, when we were especially dry.  Flowering bulbs seem to be particularly slow in getting started this year but perhaps that's attributable to the fact that it's been colder here than usual this winter.  No, we can't claim to be suffering under the "polar vortex" that's affected other areas of the country but daytime temperatures consistently in the 50s are cold for us.

Note: It rained steadily for most of the past two days.  Most of these photos were taken before the last round of rain started.

The splashiest plant blooming in my garden at the moment is Echium handiense.

Critically endangered in its native habitat of the Canary Islands, this Echium does surprisingly well here on our peninsula

Much to the delight of the bees, another blue-flowered beauty, Ceanothus arboreus 'Cliff Schmidt', is also blooming in earnest.

Planted in 2015, this Ceanothus is finally taking on the tree-like shape I was seeking in this spot at the bottom of my back slope

The African daisies have also appeared in larger numbers with the cool, wet weather.

Arctotis 'Opera Pink'

Arctotis 'Pink Sugar'

Half of the Gazanias shown here are self-sown

Osteospermums, clockwise from the upper left: '4D Silver', close-up of the same variety, 'Berry White', 'Serenity Pink', 'Spring Day', and 'Sweet Summertime Kardinal'

Camellia hybrid 'Taylor's Perfection' isn't as happy with the cold, wet weather.  Many of its heavy blooms simply drop to the ground each time it rains.

After each rainstorm I've found lots of half-opened blooms dropped on the ground

The ornamental pear, Moroccan daisies, and Breath of Heaven shrubs are blooming right on schedule.

Pyrus calleryana developed fire blight last year.  I had the blight pruned out by professionals in December but there's no guarantee it won't return. 

Pyrethropsis hosmariense (aka Moroccan daisy)

Coleonema pulchellum 'Sunset Gold' (aka Breath of Heaven for its scented foliage)

Last month's Bloom Day post highlighted selected Grevilleas and Leucadendrons.  Both genera are continuing to put on a good show this month.

Grevillea lavandulacea 'Penola' is now in full bloom.  The flowers may be small but they're profuse.

The flowers of Grevillea 'Scarlet Sprite' are far more plentiful this month too

I can't seem to allow a month to go by without recognizing my ever-blooming Grevillea 'Superb'

The best of the rest of the Grevilleas in bloom, clockwise from the upper left: G. sericea, G. alpina x rosmarinifolia, 'Ned Kelly', 'Peaches & Cream', and dwarf G. rosmarinifolia

Leucadendron 'Safari Goldstrike' surprised me this month with its luminescent flower-like bracts

I'm showing Leucadendron 'Safari Sunset' again partly because I like how the Arctotis 'Pink Sugar' in the distance (right) echoes its colors from this angle

Gomphrena decumbens 'Itsy Bitsy' may be beaten down by rain but it hasn't stopped producing its tiny flowers.

This is another plant that blooms year-round, except when cut down to a foot tall.  Even then, it recovers quickly.

In the succulent category, Aeonium arboreum is blooming in spots throughout the garden and my Agave desmettiana 'Variegata' have also produced their first flowers.

The Aeonium bloom on the left is an aberrant form.  The one on the right shows its usual shape.

When an Agave blooms, the plant dies but it goes out in style.  The bloom stalk is 5 or more feet tall.  You can see a second one in the background on the left in this photo.

As usual, I'll conclude with collages featuring some of the less prominent flowers in my garden.

Top row: Arabis alpina, Dianthus caryophyllus, and Crassula multicava,
Middle row: Freesia and Geranium 'Tiny Monster'
Bottom row: noID lavender and  Zantedeschia aethiopica (calla lily)

Top row: Begonia x hiemalis, Bryophyllum gastonis-bonnerieri, and Calliandra haematocephala
Middle row: Crassula 'Springtime', noID Cyclamen, and Leptospermum scoparium 'Pink Pearl'
Bottom row: Lotus berthelotii 'Amazon Sunset', Lotus jacobaeus, and Ribes viburnifolium

Clockwise from the upper left: Euphorbia rigida, Achillea 'Moonshine', Euryops chrysanthemoides 'Sonnenschien', Phylica pubescens, noID Narcissus, and Senna artemisioides

Thanks for stopping by to see my floral parade.  For more Bloom Day posts, visit Carol of May Dreams Gardens.

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

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Wednesday Vignette: Not on the menu?

The best thing about my home office is the view out my window.  Every so often I look up to catch sight of something interesting.  Last week, I saw a hawk land in the mimosa tree.  Hawks don't come close to the house all that often and they rarely hang around for long.  In this case, instead of flying off after a moment's rest, he turned his head back and forth scanning my garden, as well as the horizon behind him.

I think this is a Cooper's Hawk

Among other things, his prey is supposed to include squirrels.  Apparently, his scan didn't involve looking down.

Directly below him was Mr. Squirrel, hard at work stealing seed from the so-called "squirrel-buster" bird feeder

Mr. Squirrel appears as oblivious to their proximity as Mr. Hawk

The squirrel can never sustain his gymnastics on the bird feeder for long.  He inevitably loses his balance and falls to the ground but he recovers quickly and usually makes several forays in a row.  He made at least two runs at the feeder as I watched.  The hawk never moved.

But he looked up as soon as I went out the door to get a better picture

And he immediately took off

Mr. Squirrel lives on, working hard to perfect his acrobatic skills during his raids on my feeders.

For more Wednesday Vignettes, visit Anna at Flutter and Hum.

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

Monday, February 11, 2019

In a Vase On Monday: Variations on a Theme

An alternative title for this post might be: Not all Blues Go Together.  My first Freesias, a blue variety, began blooming 2 weeks ago.  I wanted to use them in a vase and, when I discovered last week that the Ceanothus at the bottom of my back slope was also in bloom that sealed the deal on putting together a blue-themed vase.  The trouble was: I didn't like how the Ceanothus and the Freesia looked alongside one another.  So, I've got 2 vases - surprise!  Yes, I know that's not much of a surprise from me but I'd intended to put together a second vase using red flowers in recognition of Valentine's Day.  That plan was scrapped, at least for the time being.

The first vase, featuring Ceanothus and Echium, bears some similarity to the vase I created 2 weeks ago but this one has its own personality.

I kept to blue and white flowers this time around

In addition to white flowers, I used the variegated foliage of a Westringia to lighten up the arrangement

As white flowers are in limited supply in my garden at the moment, I used Dianthus again too

Clockwise from the upper left: Ageratum houstonianum, Dianthus caryophyllus 'Cut Flower White', Globularia x indubia, Osteospermum '4D Silver', Echium handiense, Westringia 'Morning Light', Westringia fruticosa, and, in the middle, Ceanothus arboreus 'Cliff Schmidt'

The Freesia went into a smaller vase, which ended up with a split personality of sorts.

Inclusion of the violet-tinged variegated foliage of a Hebe (now classified as Veronica) shifted the arrangement in a pinker direction

The addition of Moroccan daisies and new Narcissus blooms gave the back view an entirely different look

Top view

Clockwise from the upper left: Freesia, Veronica 'Neprock' (aka Hebe 'Purple Shamrock'), Limonium perezii, Osteospermum 'Berry White', noID Narcissus, and Pyrethropsis hosmarianse (aka Moroccan daisy)

Last week's vases stood up surprisingly well but I chucked their contents on Sunday anyway.  The new arrangements took over the usual spots.  For more In a Vase on Monday posts, visit Cathy at Rambling in the Garden.

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

Friday, February 8, 2019

The joy that rain brings

Last year was one of the driest in Southern California since records have been kept but this year we're on target to reach or exceed our "old normal" standards.  The rain has come in several bursts over consecutive days.  Our last storm cleared out Tuesday morning.  There's a chance of another this weekend and still another during the middle of next week.  We've been lucky to have a couple of sunny, albeit cold, days in the intervening period, during which I took time to clean up the garden a bit and take some pictures.  It already looks as though were headed in the direction of a nice spring.

I don't usually get much pleasure out of visiting my back slope but on this occasion it offered a few positive surprises.

The lemon tree that dropped every single piece of fruit in early July when our temperature hit 110F has fully recovered

Ceanothus arboreus 'Cliff Schmidt', planted in 2015, is finally taking on the tree-like form I envisioned for it

With the rain, the calla lilies (Zantedeschia aethiopica) planted decades ago by another gardener at the bottom of the arid slope have magically reappeared

Centranthus ruber has self-seeded generously in the same area and it looks as though the California poppy plugs I planted in December are thriving too

On the main level of the back garden, I couldn't miss the fact that the Xylosma congestum hedge that surrounds it produced fresh new foliage.

The garden service that maintains our hedges cut the new foliage back the day after I took these photos but, with more rain expected I don't think it'll be long before my "ring of fire" is back

The backyard offered other surprises as well.

I'd entirely forgotten these plants with the tiny white flowers.   I think they smartly went underground last summer.   This is Arabis alpina 'Variegata'.

This is the first flower on Isopogon anemonifolius, an Australian plant I picked up on a whim while plant shopping in November.  It's interesting but it doesn't look like much like it did on the plant tag; however, I'll give it more time to develop before making any decision about whether it stays or goes.

Plants showing flower buds include: Ageratum corymbosum (left) and Leucospermum 'Brandi' (right).  It'll be awhile yet before either will be in full bloom but it's nice to see progress in that direction.

My discoveries weren't limited to the back garden.

Euphorbia rigida is blooming in the succulent garden on the south side of the house

Leucadendron 'Safari Goldstrike' produced its luminescent flower-like bracts seemingly overnight in the front garden

After looking near death this summer, Aeonium 'Mardi Gras' is blushing again

Moss has appeared on paths, along the stairs leading down my back slope and between paving stones

The first flowers have opened on the tall bloom stalks produced by the 2 Agave desmettiana 'Variegata' planted in my street-side succulent bed.  The foliage of each plant now has a pretty pink blush too.  I don't know if that's a reaction to the cold or simply part of its slow process of dying.

Along with the calla lilies, the first Freesia bulbs are flowering.  I expect my other early spring bulbs aren't far behind.

The blue Freesias are the first to appear this year.  Ferraria crispa (upper right) has also produced fresh foliage.  Leucojum aestivum, Narcissus and Sparaxis are also on their way.

I know it's been a nasty winter for many of you in the Northern Hemisphere but spring is getting closer.  Take heart!

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