Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Fall Standouts

Los Angeles County authorities have posted an "extreme" red flag (fire) warning this morning and with the wind already blowing like a banshee and humidity levels dropping by the minute, work in the garden isn't a viable option.   Time to focus on some of the pretty pictures I've taken over the past two days!

With the dahlia season clearly over, my fall garden has few standouts when it comes to flowers.  There are a few notable exceptions.

This is Barleria obtusa (aka the bush violet).  I picked up a couple of plants at one of South Coast Botanic Garden's fall plant sales years ago and they've bulked up and freely self-seeded.  After showing just a few flowers last week, they've suddenly burst into bloom in my back garden.  I imagine that the clumps in my front garden will follow suit soon.

Senna bicapsularis (aka Winter Senna) also threw out a few tentative flowers before powering up a full-fledged bloom-fest

Plectranthus ciliatus 'Zulu Wonder' is still keeping things low-key but I appreciate every graceful flower spike it produces, as well as those fragrant quilted leaves

Persimmon 'Hachiya' obviously isn't a flower but I'm impressed that I actually have some fruit this year.  I watched a greedy squirrel scamper off carrying a whole persimmon in its mouth yesterday so I don't expect them to last long.

While making a quick round of South Coast Botanic Garden on Monday in preparation for a tour I was scheduled to conduct on Tuesday, I snapped a few photos of plants that stood out there too.

 The Silk Floss trees (Ceiba speciosa) are the most dominant features of the garden at the moment

There are still some single-petaled dahlias to be found.  I believe this one is called Dahlia 'Mystic Spirit'.

This is a very interesting vine I can't remember coming across before.  It goes by the common names of orchid vine (for the yellow orchid-like blooms shown in the photo on the left) and butterfly vine (for the lime-green butterfly-like seed pods, fading to tan as they mature, as shown more clearly on the right).  The plant's botanical name is Mascagnia macropterum (syn. Callaeum macropterum).  I recently received some seed pods from a thoughtful blogger friend and will have a go at growing it.

My guess was that this is Persicaria orientalis, which goes by the fanciful common name of Kiss Me Over the Garden Gate, but I'm no longer sure of that ID.  Can anyone confirm or correct this ID?  This is Antignon leptopus, aka coral vine, a native of Mexico.  Thanks for the ID, Susan!

While I was at the botanic garden I thought I'd try to grab photos of the sculptures on loan from the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) as I'd captured only one during a prior visit.  All six of the LACMA sculptures have been placed in the "back 40" (acres) of the garden to entice visitors to wander deeper into the grounds.  That proved to be a longer hike than I had time for but I managed to photograph three more.

This is Firestone by Peter Voulkos

This is Trace by Nancy Graves, which is perhaps my favorite of the sculptures the garden has on display

This is One on One by Richard Artschwager.  It seems to be the odds-on favorite of children as I've never seen it without children climbing all over it.

The sculptures do seem to be increasing traffic in the back area of the garden, which is great.  Restoring/reconstructing the lake would also give the garden a major boost but that's a longer-term project on the botanic garden's master plan.

What's grabbing your attention in the garden as October comes to a close?

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

Monday, October 28, 2019

In a Vase on Monday: Fall colors

Last week brought another round of hot, dry winds in both Northern and Southern California.  Sadly, they triggered more fires.  The Kincade Fire in Sonoma County (Northern California) is a monster.  Only 10% contained as of yesterday morning, it led to evacuation orders affecting 180,000 people.  The Tick Fire in Los Angeles County was 70% contained as of last night but, with the Santa Ana winds blowing again today and more expected later in the week, full containment may be a struggle.  Another fire, close to The Getty, a major museum/garden complex located next to one of our major freeways started at 1:30 this morning, is a new concern.  In our immediate area, the marine layer moved in on Sunday and hung around all day, dropping temperatures dramatically.  The cooler, damper air was welcome and reassuring as my husband and I prepared for this week's remodeling activities.  Unfortunately, the marine layer is much lighter this morning and already breaking up.

I dug up all but one of my dahlias last week.  I'd hoped to have a few flowers of Dahlia 'Punkin Spice' to use as a nod to Halloween this week but the blooms dried out under the steady blast of last week's winds so I drew on other plants for this week's vases.  I used the plastic-covered top of the island in our still unfinished kitchen to take photos once again.  The natural light was good even under cloudy skies.

The flower-like bracts of Leucadendron 'Devil's Blush' have been glowing in my garden for 2 months now and I thought it was time to give them some exposure before they fade further.  They make me think of rosebuds but other people have told me they remind them of tulips.  Red zinnias provide additional pizzazz.

Back view: I added the chartreuse foliage of Coleonema and Duranta to lift the color scheme a bit.  Only afterwards did I realize that the color picked up the tones in the leaves of the Amaranthus (shown in the prior photo's front view).

Top view

Clockwise from the upper left: Amaranthis caudatus, Coleonema pulchellum 'Sunset Gold', Duranta repens 'Gold Mound', Leucadendron salignum 'Chief', seed cones of Magnolia grandiflora (used as an accent next to the vase), Zinnia elegans in a pinkish-red and pure red and, in the center, Leucadendton salignum 'Devil's Blush'

Rudbeckia hirta 'Denver Daisy' has proven surprisingly resilient in my cutting garden but I haven't used it in vases often since I planted it from plugs as I've been hard-pressed to find new companions to set off its strong colors.

Once again, I ended up pairing the Rudbeckia with the feathery plumes of Pennisetum and the red-tinged foliage of the Leptospermum in my front garden.  The only "new" element is the Copper Canyon Daisy (Tagetes lemmonii), which had just produced its first blooms of the season.

The back view looks much like the front

Top view

Clockwise from the top: Rudbeckia hirta 'Denver Daisy', Leptospermum 'Copper Glow', Pennisetum advena 'Rubrum', and Tagetes lemmonii

For more Monday vases, visit Cathy at Rambling in the Garden, our In a Vase on Monday host.

Since the interior of our house is in the process of being painted, there are even fewer spots to place flowers.  The first vase is sitting in a corner of our new kitchen, where I hope it'll be out of the way of workers when the flooring is laid later this week.  As most of my indoor plants were consigned to my shade house during the painting process, the second vase landed in an open space in my office.  We're getting closer to completion of our project - it's just a few more weeks away (I hope!).

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

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Wednesday Vignette: Pipig checks out our renovation

As work on our remodel has now extended into the part of the house we've been living in, our cat, Pipig (Swedish for "squeaky"), is no longer able to hide out in relative bliss in the back of my bedroom closet.  Yesterday, for the first time in months, she was confined to her screened catio on the south side of the house, adjacent to the living room.  Now, she loves her catio and, prior to the start of renovations, she spent lots of time out there watching what was going on in the garden.  But she expects to be able to re-enter the house whenever she choses.  That's not possible at the moment with workmen going in and out, handling materials hazardous to cats and such.

She squawked at me constantly from her catio prison and, when I entered, immediately left per perch on the cat walk to scold me and demand her release.  (I expect she doesn't register that I cleaned it from top to bottom and that it's been freshly painted.)

After the workmen left yesterday, we let her come through to check out what's happening in the area under renovation.

She wasn't impressed by the front entry, probably wondering where the rug she liked to use to sharpen her claws has gone

The living room was more interesting and she really liked the fireplace, giving it a roll of approval even in its half-finished state

She displayed disdain for the kitchen, seemingly perplexed as to why we've made all this fuss over it, and annoyed to find her food bowls were nowhere to be found.  (What she doesn't know is that we've carved out a special feeding station on one end of the island just for her.)

Pipig may not be impressed by the new kitchen but I think it's looking pretty good.  Assuming no more unexpected complications, we should be on track to be done by Thanksgiving.

The cabinets, countertops, and backsplash are in.  Now it just needs flooring, appliances, and lights.

I look forward to being able to watch the sunrise from the kitchen window.

View of the harbor from the back garden at sunrise

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

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

Monday, October 21, 2019

In a Vase on Monday: Enchantress bids adieu & Otto does too

I'd hoped to hang onto my dahlias for a few weeks more but they had other ideas.  Blooms are opening rapidly and fading fast.  As we're experiencing another bout with Santa Ana winds this week, accompanied by summer-like temperatures, I decided to let most of them go.  After all, I need to clear space in my cutting garden soon anyway to make room for the seeds and bulbs I've stockpiled to get my cool-season garden going.

The bees weren't happy when I pilfered the best of the remaining blooms Dahlia 'Enchantress' had to offer

I added one last bloom of Dahlia 'Hollyhill Karen Lee' and dark pink Zinnias to flesh out the arrangement

Top view: I took all my photos again this week in our unfinished kitchen, currently covered in drop cloths as the remodel crew has been painting that half of the house

Clockwise from the upper left: Dahlia 'Enchantress', Cuphea 'Starfire Pink', Zinnia elegans in dark pink tones (probably 'Benary's Giant Wine'), and Tanacetum parthenium  (I neglected to take a close-up photo of Dahlia 'Hollyhill Karen Lee')

After looking at the latest blooms on Dahlia 'Otto's Thrill', I decided it was time for him to go too.  The increasingly slender stems can't hold up 'Otto's' heavy head.

Dahlia 'Labyrinth' wanted to be part of this last hurrah as well

I also used Zinnias to fill out this vase

Top view

Clockwise from the upper left: Dahlia 'Otto's Thrill', Coprosma 'Fireburst', C. 'Plum Hussey', Dahlia 'Labyrinth', Leptospermum 'Copper Glow', and more Zinnia elegans

If it doesn't get too hot, I'll dig up the dahlia tubers this week.  As Dahlia 'Punkin Spice' is still producing big beautiful blooms, she gets a temporary reprieve but the rest will either be prepped for storage or jettisoned into the compost bin.   'Enchantress' is definitely a keeper, as are 'Otto's Thrill' 'Terracotta', and 'Hollyhill Karen Lee' (as well as 'Punkin Spice' when she's ready to go).  'Labyrinth' and 'Diva' may get added if I can find the storage space.  'Labyrinth' isn't the color I expected and 'Diva', while gorgeous, had a very short season.  'Bluetiful' and 'Citron du Cap' are pretty but both were poor producers so I'll give the space they occupied to new tubers next year.

For other Monday vases, created from materials on hand as contributing gardeners transition from one season to another, visit Cathy at Rambling in the Garden.

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

Friday, October 18, 2019


The title of this post pretty much sums up my current state.  As work on our ongoing home remodel speeds up, my work in the garden is subject to unexpected interruptions and complications.  Last week we discovered a badly corroded gas line on one side of the house.  As it turns out, replacing it isn't simple.  Plants have been trimmed back.  Others have been removed.  Still others, including the rose that climbed the face of our master bedroom chimney, are at risk.

North side of the house as photographed in late June 2018

I couldn't duplicate the prior shot as there's a storage pod, port-a-potty and dumpster in the way but here are some close-ups.

My husband and a member of the construction crew dug a trench around the house's northwest perimeter, ending just short of the Leucadendron 'Wilson's Wonder' (shown in the prior photo to the left of the chimney).  I'll be sad if the climbing rose and Phormium have to go but I'll be devastated if the Leucadendron I brought with me from my former garden has to be removed.

After a couple of delays, the plumber arrived on site this morning.  Upon first view, I overheard him say "this is a (profanity deleted) nightmare."  Twice!  However, he and his crew are still here so I guess they haven't thrown in the trowel yet.  In other news, the crew currently plastering our living room fireplace just spilled blue epoxy on the porous driveway...

Most of the exterior painting was completed yesterday and we've begun to move items that had been deposited in the garden back into place, freeing up some space.  There's still a lot of clean-up required but I made a small start last night.

My work bench hasn't looked this neat in years.  How long I'll keep it looking like this is an open question.

I'd like to get back to work on the bromeliad bed I started renovating a month ago using stone saved when our indoor barbecue was dismantled but there's a lot of junk I need to move back behind the garage so I can maneuver. 

Meanwhile, the area is a depository for plants I dug up when I pulled the bed apart, as well as new plants I've accumulated but have yet to find homes for

All that junk on the left in this photo needs to be tucked away or recycled to free up work space

In the meantime, I'm accumulating plants faster than I can get them in the ground.  I managed to get the last of those purchased during my trip to Ventura County 2 weeks ago planted this week but I picked up more last weekend at South Coast Botanic Garden's Fall Festival and those are still awaiting placement.  And then there are the recent deliveries...

My haul from the Fall Festival includes a Lasagna fern (Asplenium nidus), a noID Campanula, 2 Euphorbia lactea, and a xMangave 'Pineapple Express'

Gerhard Bock of Succulents & More picked up a few more xMangaves for me at University of California, Davis's fall plant sale

One of 2 recent bulb deliveries

There also may be a delivery slated to arrive today.  Time to stop blogging and start working!  Best wishes for a pleasant weekend.

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

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Bloom Day - October 2019

My summer flowers are slowly fading but my traditional autumn bloomers have been slow to make an appearance.

The newest arrivals are these:

The Anemone hupensis japonica came with the garden and aren't prolific bloomers in my climate but I love them just the same

Cuttings of this Plectranthus ciliatus 'Zulu Wonder' came with me from my former garden.  It's one of my favorite plants but needs a good bit of shade - and it doesn't much like being trod on by construction workers.

This is a Salvia leucantha 'Santa Barbara' I thought had died.  If you look carefully at the stem in the middle, you'll see a lurking crab spider.  They're suddenly everywhere in my garden.

Senna bicapsularis finally produced its first blooms this past weekend.  Despite a hard pruning earlier in the year, the stems are very tall, making the flowers hard to photograph.

The flowers of Vitex trifolia aren't especially impressive but the shrub itself, bearing leaves with purple undersides, is attractive

My cutting garden is still the source of the majority of my flowers.  If the following photos look familiar, that's probably because you saw very similar ones last month.

The dahlias are the flashiest denizens of the cutting garden
Top row: Dahlias 'Bluetiful', 'Enchantress' and 'Hollyhill Karen Lee'
Middle row: 'Citron du Cap', 'Labyrinth' and 'Terracotta'
Bottom row: 'Otto's Thrill' and 'Punkin Spice' (Only 'Diva' is a no-show right now)

I can't put names to most of the Zinnia elegans currently in bloom so I'll let them all go incognito

Other cutting garden blooms include: noID Cosmos bipinnatus (top), Amaranthis caudatus (bottom left) and Rudbeckia 'Denver Daisy' (bottom right)

Elsewhere in the garden, a few of the plants that bloomed earlier in the year are responding to our cooler nights with another flush of flowers.

From left to right: Bauhinia x blakeana, Leptospermum scoparium 'Pink Pearl' and Leonotis leonurus

Meanwhile a variety of stalwarts continue to put on a good show.

Abelia grandiflora 'Hopley's Variegated' is having a very good year

This bed, dominated to Pennisetum 'Rubrum', Lantana 'Lucky White' and Grevillea 'Peaches & Cream', has stood up really well against the construction mess associated with our ongoing remodeling project 

Although closer to the action, this bed containing Grevillea 'Superb' and Cuphea 'Vermillionaire' has also done remarkably well

Some of my Leucadendrons, 'Devil's Blush' (left) and 'Winter Red' (right), are continuing to put on good imitations of flowers

Pennisetum 'Rubrum' is such a star it deserves a second look

I'll wrap up as usual with the flowers keeping a lower profile this month.

Top row: Delphinium elatum, Eustoma grandiflorum, and noID Lantana
Middle row: Lavandula multifida, Plumbago auriculata 'Imperial Blue' and Polygala fruticosa
Bottom row: Salvia 'Mystic Spires', Trichostemma 'Midnight Magic' and Wahlenbergia 'Blue Cloud'

Top row: Aloe 'Rooikappie', Alstromeria 'Indian Summer' and Lantana camara 'Irene'
Middle row: Euryops chrysanthemum 'Sonnenschein', Correa 'Ivory Bells' and Clematis paniculata
Bottom row: Pandorea jasminoides, Phylica pubescens and Zephyranthes candida

Top row: Correa 'Wyn's Wonder', Grevillea 'Ned Kelly' and Pentas lanceolata 'Graffiti Pink'
Middle row: Hemerocallis 'Plum Perfect' (another bloom spike!) and Penstemon mexicali 'Mini-Bells Red'
Bottom row: Rosa 'Pink Meidiland' and Salvia canariensis

For more Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day posts, check in with Carol at May Dreams Gardens.

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