Monday, September 30, 2019

In a Vase on Monday: Stuffed to the gills

The dahlias in my cutting garden are still relatively plentiful but, as many of the new blooms are side shoots growing on slender stems, they tend to collapse before I'm ready to cut them.  Hence my decision to stuff my vase with the flowers of three different dahlias.

Dahlia 'Punkin Spice' got the starring role

The back of the vase was filled out with Dahlias 'Terracotta' and 'Labyrinth'

Top view

Clockwise from the upper left: Dahlia 'Punkin Spice', Duranta repens 'Gold Mound', Leucadendron salignum 'Chief', Dahlia 'Labyrinth', D. 'Terracotta', and Zinnia elegans

In search of additional flowers for that first vase, I paid my first visit to my back slope in a month or more.  It's a mess and it needed tending well before now but, after two run-ins in a row with fire ants down there, I kept finding excuses to avoid the area.  Piles of lemons are rotting under the tree, which is seriously in need of harvesting, and burned-out Centranthus and other plants are in need of pruning.  I made a start before turning to attention to the flowering crossvine that drew me down there in the first place.

Flowers of the crossvine (Bignonia capreolata) open with a tangerine color but quickly turn pinkish and I decided they'd look better with Dahlia 'Otto's Thrill' than the vivid red-orange of 'Punkin Spice'

Back view: I filled out the vase with pink zinnias and the flowers of what I think is English ivy (Hedera helix).  The ivy is an invasive pest in Southern California.  I'm constantly cutting the plants that creep across our property line on the south side, as well as the ivy on my upper slope, inherited with the garden.

Top view: The crossvine is also a pest.  While its massive trunk sits on our property, it was planted by a neighbor long before we purchased the property and it's woven through her fencing.  The flowers are pretty but the vine is a monster to control.

Clockwise from the upper left: Dahlia 'Otto's Thrill', Agonis flexuosa 'Nana', Hedera flowers, Bignonia capreolata (aka crossvine), and pink varieties of Zinnia elegans

I hope to get back to work on the back slope today or tomorrow while our temperatures are on the cool side.  The roofers will be back today and the painters are expected to be back to finish spray-lacquering my kitchen cabinets as well - facing the fire ants may well be preferable to their combined auditory assault.

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

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

Friday, September 27, 2019

Visit to Valmonte Farm & Garden

Courtesy of one of South Coast Botanic Garden's docents, my fellow docents and I were introduced  to Valmonte Farm & Garden earlier this week.  Although it's operated in its current location attached to an elementary school less than 8 miles from my home since 2012, I wasn't aware of its existence until now.  The garden had its genesis in 2001 when a local restaurateur proposed the idea of a "Seed to Plate" program to the former director of the local school district's special education program.  Soon students in the district's Transition to Independence Program began growing fresh vegetables for that restaurant in a small plot attached to a high school, eventually outgrowing the space before moving to its current 1.5 acre spot adjacent to a little league field.  Valmonte Farm now supplies produce to 3 restaurants in nearby Redondo Beach and opens the farm and garden to the community for a farmer's market once a month.

In addition to the community partnerships referenced on the the garden gate, Valmonte works in collaboration with the ICAN California Abilities Network and periodically receives assistance from a local service club and the Boy Scouts

The area inside the gates is dotted with a number of very large trees and the stark contrasts between sun and shade made it challenging to get good photographs so please bear with me.

I don't know the story behind the surfboards arranged under the tree just inside the garden gate but they're attention-grabbing

Valmonte Farm & Garden arranged an off-schedule farmer's market for the docents' visit.

The offerings included beans, squash, carrots, kale and flowers.  Just outside the range of this photo on the left was a lemonade stand, an array of fresh eggs, and a selection of baked goods.  I took home fresh eggs and can provide a testimonial in favor of the gluten-free, low-sugar pumpkin muffins, which based on taste, I wouldn't have guessed were either.

Suncatchers and market totes were also on sale.  I thought the totes were a smart way to upcycle bird seed bags and I recall reading that the proceeds from the suncatcher sales are used to fund vet visits for the farm's cats.

Nancy Lemargie, the garden manager, gave the group a brief history of the enterprise before leading the docents on a tour.

The staff's squeezed a lot into their 1.5 acres.  The sunniest areas were allocated to the farm operation.

Although we're near the end of our long dry season, there was still a lot growing in the raised planters

I ran into this fellow on my solo spin through the farm area before the majority of the docents arrived.  He was on the hunt and I don't think he appreciated my presence.

The docents on our tour

A butterfly garden and a cow also occupied the sunny space

There was more to see on the upper level of the garden.

I shot this photo from the farm area looking back at the upper level of the garden

This structure is Nancy's office, which was constructed in part from recycled windows

There's a sun porch featuring more recycled windows tacked onto the back of the office

The garden also sells a variety of plants propagated by volunteers

This deck is used for yoga practice

There's also a large chicken enclosure and a greenhouse.

The chickens are fed well in exchange for their eggs.  They also have a well-protected night enclosure to keep them safe from predators, which in this area includes coyotes.  The back side of the shed adjacent to the chicken enclosure is decorated with tools and topped with solar panels.

The garden has a greenhouse constructed from corrugated plastic

I was sufficiently impressed with the structure to wonder where my husband and I could build something like this

The docents enjoyed a wonderful lunch under the trees, courtesy of Kay, who organized our visit.  You can get more information (and better photos) on the Valmonte Farm & Garden webpage and Instagram page.

Best wishes for a great weekend.  I'm looking forward to the peace and quiet of a temporary construction-free zone.

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

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Wednesday Vignette: Collateral Damage

It seems that installing a new roof is not only noisy but also very, very messy.  I'd thought that the worst of the damage to my garden was over - until the roof work started on Monday.  On Tuesday, as I sat in my office, a steady rain of debris fell just outside my window.

Most of this mess was cleared up at the end of the day but Acacia 'Cousin Itt' is going to need a clean-up this weekend

Demolition of the existing roof isn't nearly done yet.

Because there's a slight chance of rain this week (I'm not holding my breath), the roofers decided to approach demolition of the old roof and its restoration in sections rather than addressing the entire roof at the same time

After the roofers left yesterday, I took a good look at the front garden and discovered more than debris.

Heavy rolls of tar paper had been tipped over into this planting bed, squashing Leucadendron 'Wilson's Wonder' among other things

I tried to pick the rolls up myself but was forced to call in reinforcements to set them right.  The Leucadendron was beat up but not crushed and I hope it'll recover without pruning any of the squashed bits out.

A little later the Santa Ana winds began to blow and, in addition to more debris, tarps, hats, gloves and a heavy insulated roof panel flew off the roof.  The roof panel landed right on top of one of my planting beds in the back garden.  Meanwhile, my husband made a tour of the roof and discovered that some of the uncovered, newly installed tar paper was being torn by the high winds.  He hauled two-by-fours up on the roof to hold the paper down.  Luckily, despite ongoing bouts of vertigo, he didn't become collateral damage himself.

I'm so ready for this renovation to be over and done.

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

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

Monday, September 23, 2019

In a Vase on Monday: No time for fussing

With our remodel suddenly speeding up and my husband down for the count with vertigo, I didn't have much time to fuss with flowers on Sunday.  The foliage on my dahlias is getting ugly but the plants continue to provide a nice supply of flowers so picking more of those for "In a Vase on Monday," the meme hosted by Cathy at Rambling in the Garden, was an easy choice.

I used a mix of the purple-colored dahlia varieties this week 

I threw in a few zinnias to flesh out the vase

Top view

Clockwise from the upper left: Agonis flexuosa (aka peppermint willow), Tanacetum parthenium (feverfew), Dahlia 'Enchantress', D. 'Hollyhill Karen Lee', Zinnia elegans 'Benary's Giant Wine', Dahlia 'Bluetiful' and, in the center, Dahlia 'Diva'.  (I tossed out the arrangement created using 'Diva' 2 weeks ago yesterday.  She withers beautifully.  If only I can age as gracefully.)

I also cut a few stems from the Hong Kong orchid tree (Bauhinia x blakeana) as it's finally flowering again.  It's flowers don't usually last long  so I just threw together what was handy to fill out the vase, creating something of a mish-mash.

The Japanese anemones I inherited with the garden are blooming surprisingly well this year

The back view of the vase is a mess

Top view

Clockwise from the upper left: Abelia x grandiflora 'Edward Goucher', Anemone hupensis var. japonica (possibly 'September Charm'), Cosmos 'Double Cranberry', Eustoma grandiflorum (aka lisianthus) 'Cherry Sorbet' and noID white variety, Cuphea hybrid 'Starfire Pink' and, in the center, Bauhinia x blakeana (Hong Kong orchid tree)

Photographing my vases this week was made harder this week by my cat's interest in participating.

Outtakes of Pipig persistently checking out the flowers as I tried to photograph them in a spot on the floor in the corner of my home office

Both new vases are currently in the master bedroom but, as I was keeping the light low there to allow my husband to rest, I couldn't take any decent photos.  Instead, I offer these shots of the completed vases sitting on the unfinished cabinets in our new kitchen.

Even with no electrical light operating here yet, the new kitchen space has good natural light

View of the cabinets after installation.  We still have to paint and install countertops, backsplash and flooring but installation of the new roof is first up on the docket this week. 

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

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

Friday, September 20, 2019

Can a professed flower freak ignore orchids?

The answer is probably obvious, at least in the case of this flower freak: NO.  A friend (who is not a flower freak) and I attended the annual orchid show and sale at South Coast Botanic Garden last weekend.  We arrived early, before the show area was open, so we had lots of time to check out the sale area.

I didn't attempt to identify these but, moving clockwise from the top left, I think the first 5 were all intergeneric hybrids involving Cattleyas.  The next photo was one of many Phalaenopsis displays.  I didn't look for the parentage of the next 2 plants and I won't venture a guess.  The plants in the middle are a dark-foliage variety of the zz plant (Zamioculcas zamiifolia 'Raven'), which were surprisingly expensive.

When judging was complete and the show area finally opened, I photographed only the specimens that grabbed my interest due to their color, shape or both.  The orchid family (Orchidaceae) is the world's second largest family of flowering plants (after the sunflower family, Asteraceae) and the number of  genera, species, and intergeneric hybrids is eye-boggling.  Identifying an individual specimen is frustrating at best, especially as most are identified only by an abbreviation signifying their natural or hybrid generic names.  (If you like making yourself crazy, check out the Royal Horticultural Society's 2017 list of accepted abbreviations here).

 Here are my favorites from the show:

Aerangia 'Splendida', which had flowers like soaring birds

Brassolaeliocattleya Toshie Aoki 'Pizzazz'

Simply labeled Cattleya bicolor

Cattleya 'Red Jewel'

Cattleya 'Spotted Gem' x 'Spotted Leopard'

Simply labeled "Chocolate Chip Cross"

This was my favorite.  It's Dendrobium 'Joyce Kelly'.

Epicattleya (no cultivar name)

Gongara galeata

The clips distract but the flower is interesting.  This is Habenaria medusa.  A better photo can be found here.

Labeled Oncidium harryanum, I gather it's correctly classified as Ondontogolossum harryanum

Paphiopedilum haynaldianum

Paphiopedilum 'Mount Toro'

Rhyncholaeliocattleya Chief Canyon 'Morning Call'

Rossioglossum grande

Did I leave the show without purchasing anything?  You already know the answer to that question, don't you?

My purchases were: Brassolaeliocattleya 'Lawless Romeo Cluster' (apparently a hybrid of Blc. 'Toshie Aoki' and Blc. 'American Heritage') and Phalaenopsis sogo vivieno 'Golden Leaves'

Have a good weekend.

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