Friday, August 30, 2019

Lovely Leaves

Last Saturday I attended a Begonia Show & Sale put on by the local chapter of the American Begonia Society. 

I'd intended to arrive near the 9am starting time but didn't manage to get there until nearly 11:30am, by which time the tables were nearly cleared of sale items so I focused on the show specimens.  Here are some of my favorites:

Begonia 'Andrea'

Both of these were purchased by the same exhibitor as Begonia 'Celia'.  They were hybridized by different growers.

Begonia 'Cleopatra'

Begonia 'Joe Hayden'

Begonia 'Little Brother Montgomery'

Begonia masoniana

Begonia medora

Begonia moysii

Begonia semperflorens 'Charm'

I couldn't find the label for this one but I think it could be Begonia 'Summerwings'

Begonia 'White Ice'

Begonia yananoli

I've always loved Begonias, especially the Rex Begonias grown primarily for their foliage.  I grew them in the ground in my former shady garden but, even pampered in pots, I've had a harder time keeping them alive in my current garden.  My lath (shade) house has helped but I have to be careful in managing their water as I seem to vacillate wildly between under- and over-watering them.

Despite the sparse supply of sale items when I arrived, I picked up 2 new plants in 4-inch pots.

I've replanted both in slightly larger pots than the plastic ones they came in.  The one on the left is 'Amberley' and the one on the right is 'Bundy Plum'.

These augmented my existing small collection.

From left to right are: 'Little Darling', a noID specimen, and 'Palomar Prince'.  I have 2 others that were camera shy as they're not currently looking their best.

Do you grow begonias?  Do you have any favorites or, more important, any tips for keeping them healthy?

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

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Wednesday Vignette: What a difference 9 months can make

Last November I posted photos of steeply terraced slope I used to pass weekly.  It's on a busy street in the neighborhood I lived in for 20 years, where homes, mostly condos and townhomes, are packed into small lots and garden space is scarce.  When I lived in the area, this particular slope wasn't terraced and, like many of those nearby, it was covered in weeds.  But in 2018, the owner built a 3-tiered retaining wall system and filled the area with fruit trees.  Admittedly, it looked rather stark when I first photographed it.

Here is what in looked like in November 2018, photographed from across the street.  The top tier was planted with fig trees, backed by decorative square frames.  The second tier contained a couple of what I guessed were peach or apricot trees and one humongous tomato plant.  The bottom tier was filled with citrus trees of different kinds and some low-growing herbs.

This week, almost 9 months to the day, I passed through the area again after a long absence and I noticed how different the the terraced slope looked after one year of good rain.  Fire department vehicles passing through forced me to pull over so I decided it was a good opportunity to take more photos.

This is what it looked like on Monday.  All the trees have filled out.  The figs on the top tier have a new espalier support structure.  There are now more fruit trees on the second tier. all of which are espaliered.  The citrus trees on the bottom tier all looked healthy and the rosemary and lavender planted between them is slowly filling in, although it has yet to spill over and soften those walls.  The structure on the upper right has also been spruced up with the addition of wood shingles and a spire topped with a weather vane.

Here's a side-by-side comparison from different angles.

I didn't manage to capture exactly the same angle but both these shots show the structure photographed from the north end looking south.  The 2018 photo is on the left and the 2019 photo is on the right.

These photos (2018 on the left and 2019 on the right) were take from the south side looking north.  The grassy weeds you can see in the distance in the right-hand photo gives you an idea of what this hillside looked like before the area was terraced.  That's the next door neighbor's weedy slope.

I didn't have time to take a lot of close-ups of individual plants but before and after shots of the finger lime tree (Citrus australasica) provide evidence of significant growth over a relatively short period.

2018 photo on the left and 2019 photo of the same plant on the right

Those cement block walls are still austere but, if this growth rate continues, I think the area should be quite attractive in a few years.  It's unlikely we'll get rain on par with last year's in the coming rain year (calculated from October 1st through September 30th) but we can hope and, in any case, this particular fruit tree garden has a drip irrigation system.

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

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

Monday, August 26, 2019

In a Vase on Monday: Is summer ready to surrender to fall?

Last week I noted a couple of signs that summer might be winding down, readying to turn the seasonal reins over to fall.  One sign was the early appearance of spider webs throughout my garden.  The other was the emergence of Japanese anemones at my local botanic garden.  I know that not everyone looks forward to the end of summer but many Southern California gardeners do.  Our long hot, dry summer wears out its welcome well before the calendar registers the change of season and, more often than not, summer conditions hang on into late October.  As it stands, our temperatures this week are projected to run a little higher than last week's but at least there are no major heatwaves in our forecast.

With colors of ripe fruit, my first vase sings of summer.

Grevilleas and zinnias shoved the dahlias to the side this week

Back view

Top view

Clockwise from the upper left: Agonis flexuosa 'Nana', Dahlia 'Labyrinth', Grevilleas 'Superb' and 'Peaches & Cream', Tanacetum parthenium, and Zinnias 'Queen Lime Orange' and 'Benary's Giant Salmon Rose'

In contrast, my second vase has a fall-like feel.

Although still relatively short in height, my first full-sized sunflower just opened

Back view: I paired the sunflower with Gloriosa daisies added to my cutting garden as plugs last month

Top view

Clockwise from the top left: Helianthus annuus 'Panache', Coprosma repens 'Plum Hussey', noID Lantana, Rudbeckia hirta 'Denver Daisy', and Pennisetum advena 'Rubrum'

Summer and fall both have something to bring to the party it seems.  For more IAVOM creations, visit our gracious host, Cathy at Rambling in the Garden.

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

Friday, August 23, 2019

August at South Coast Botanic Garden

I attended a docent brown-bag luncheon/discussion session at South Coast Botanic Garden earlier this week.  Afterwards, I made the rounds of a few of my favorite areas and snapped some photos, focusing on two areas I haven't previously featured in blog posts.

The first is the Tropical Greenhouse.  It's not fancy but I almost always haul kids through it when I conduct garden tours, enticing them with the opportunity to see carnivorous plants.  It's warm and humid inside, although I'm not sure the humidity level is high enough to keep the pitcher plants happy as they seem to dry out easily.

This photo was taken from the doorway looking to the back of the greenhouse.  There's a mix of what many people would recognize as houseplants, as well as ferns, bromeliads, orchids, succulents and sub-tropical species.  The purple plant spilling into the central path from the left is Tradescantia pallida (aka purple heart).  The silvery plants hanging from the walls are Tillandsia usneoides (aka Spanish moss).

Clockwise from the upper left, featured plants include: Adenium obsesum (aka desert rose), noID bromeliad, Vriesea, Cordyline 'Miss Andrea', Dracena 'Limelight', and Nepenthes (aka pitcher plant)

The second area is the Banyan Grove, the best place in the garden to visit on a warm day because it's always significantly cooler than the rest of the garden.  It's also a great place to allow kids to run off steam climbing over the massive roots of the Moreton Bay figs (Ficus macrophylla).

Coming down the tram road, you can't miss the Banyan Grove on the left

There are over 20 Moreton Bay fig trees here.  With canopies up to 150 feet wide, they provide dense shade and their fallen leaves blanket the ground, keeping the soil below relatively moist.  In spring, the Clivias planted below the trees are covered in orange flowers.

The tree roots are massive and can extent a foot or more above ground in places.  I've heard kids comment that sitting in the cavities between them feels like a bathtub.

The trees are native to Eastern Australia

Branches continually produce new adventitious roots, which stretch down until they reach the soil to form another leg in the tree's huge root system.  The photo on the left shows a small root stemming from the tree's trunk.  The photo on the right shows a fully-formed root, already firmly connected to the soil below.

On the other side of the road, there's another species of fig the docents fancifully call the Ghost Tree (Ficus petiolaris).

Its yellow bark is natural and it stands out dramatically from the other banyan trees surrounding it

One of the docents has devoted a lot of time and energy to cleaning up the Garden of the Senses so I stopped to check it out too.  This is also a regular stop on school tours because it gives kids an opportunity to touch and smell plants; however, some of the plants had died out and others were so overgrown they swamped everything around them.  Signs no longer matched the plants in many cases. Our industrious docent Kay is working hard to put things right.

She cleaned up one bed of herbs and planted Rudbeckia (coneflowers) to add color and interest (top photo).  She also tidied up plants like the exuberant Aloysia citrodora (lemon verbena, bottom).

I made only a few other quick stops to snap photos before heading home to construction noise.

This Opuntia in the Desert Garden was covered with prickly pears

Floral color in the Volunteer Garden is muted this time of year but, clockwise from the top, I found: Physostegia virginiana (aka obedient plant), Anemone hupehensis japonica, and 2 tree-sized hardy Hibiscus in bloom.  I'm counting the appearance of the Japanese anemones as another sign that fall may be arriving early this year.

Dahlia 'Dark Side of the Sun' is still going strong across the road from the rose garden but what really impressed me here was how well the sweet potato vine (Ipomea batatas) was doing as a groundcover

The Leucadendrons and Aeoniums at the entrance/exit area were also looking good, even in the glare of the mid-day sun

The botanic garden is relatively quiet this time of year and the cooler-than-average summer temperatures make it a great retreat from the chaos of our home remodel, although that's been stalled at several intervals and I'm getting frustrated by that.  While I long for the peace and quiet of a construction-free zone, I also want the other half of our house back before Christmas!

Best wishes for a peaceful weekend.

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

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Wednesday Vignette: Who rolled out the welcome mat?

Spiders and insects are a constant presence in our semi-rural area.  Walking through my garden in late September through October without a broom or something to sweep away the nearly invisible spider webs stretched across my path guarantees that I'll get my face wrapped in sticky, silky threads.  I'm not afraid of spiders but I don't know anyone who doesn't find that experience at least a little creepy.  I generally think of October as "spider season" as that's when spiders make their presence known, building webs to capture insects before they lay their eggs.  For some reason, our resident spiders are off to an early start this year.  We've walked into webs at regular intervals for weeks already but last week we woke up to a scene from a horror film - webs were everywhere!

Fortunately for us, the morning marine layer covered the webs in dew, making them much more visible.

This one, stretched across the flagstone path in the front garden, was perhaps 3 feet in diameter - and it wasn't the only one in that area.  Moving through the area without breaking one or more of them would have required limbo skills more advanced than those I possess.

This one in the south side garden also adjoined a path.  There's usually another one across the arbor to the left but I think my husband had already walked through that one.

This photogenic web was woven through a Leucadendron in the back garden.  Smaller webs covered portions of Acacia 'Cousin Itt' in the background.

Another Leucadendron on the other end of the backyard garden was also decorated in fine silk strands

The top of the Xylosma hedges were also covered.  I'm guessing that each of these small webs was the creation of a separate spider.

Other webs hung over the Arbutus 'Marina'

That's a very small sample of the webs we found.  I know spiders are useful insect predators and I don't go out of my way to harm them but I didn't hesitate to clear those strung across my main pathways either.  I conducted a little research in an effort to determine why the spiders have thrown themselves into massive web-building exercise on an earlier schedule this year.  I didn't find any references to our current circumstances in Southern California but comments on similar situations suggest that early web-building may signify an early fall and winter.  If true, that would be great!

Do you have a favorite spider movie?  Mine is Arachnophobia.

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

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

Monday, August 19, 2019

In a Vase on Monday: Wispy Blues & Sugary Pinks

The weekend weather carried a hint of fall.  Dare I hope that we'll get through the summer unscathed by another searing heatwave of the type we had last year?  We can't really count summer's heat out of the picture until late October but, with much of the country - and the rest of the Northern Hemisphere - experiencing severe heat at intervals, we can at least count ourselves lucky to have had a relatively pleasant summer thus far.

While the Dahlias are still the flashiest flowers I've got on hand at this time of year, the Delphiniums I planted in early spring surprised me by producing a second round of blooms.  I steered away from Delphiniums (as opposed to larkspur, Consolida ajacis) for years in the belief that they're impossible to grow here.  On a whim, I tried them in my cutting garden last year and they did okay.  This year, I put some plugs in my cutting garden and one of my backyard beds.  The backyard bed didn't get enough water to keep them happy but they've hung on in the cutting garden; however, I never expected more blooms in August.

I'm still stuck using our less-than-optimal temporary kitchen to photograph my vases.  The way things are proceeding with our remodel, my guess is that'll be true for at least a couple more months.

Back view: Along with 2 Delphinium stems, the other main ingredient is the rangy native California aster (Symphyotrichum chilensis)

Last year's heavier rain prompted the aster to spread with abandon.  I like the flowers but, even with our mild summer weather, the stems burn out and look unattractive if not cut back regularly.

Clockwise from the upper left: Delphinium 'Pacific Giant', Abelia grandiflora 'Hopley's Variegated', Aloysia citrodoa (aka lemon verbena), Symphyotrichum chilensis 'Purple Haze', and Pandorea jasminoides

Of course, I can't ignore the Dahlias while they're still plentiful and, as there are also lots of naked ladies (Amaryllis belladonna) in bloom, pairing them up was a no-brainer.

I paired Dahlia 'Otto's Thrill' and the Amaryllis 2 weeks ago but changed out the accents and the vase this time for a somewhat different look

I selected Caladium 'Tapestry' as the foliage accent this time but the leaves refuse to stand up properly

I'd hoped the dark flowers of Cosmos 'Double Cranberry' would cut the sugary sweetness of the arrangement but I think I needed more of them

Clockwise from the upper left: Amaryllis belladonna, Caladium 'Tapestry', Cosmos 'Double Cranberry', Dahlia 'Otto's Thrill', and Eustoma grandiflorum (aka lisianthus)

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

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