Friday, November 29, 2019

My renovated bromeliad bed

I finally got back to work on the bromeliad bed I've been slowly renovating over the past 2 months.  I can't say I'm completely done with it - is any garden bed ever done? - but it has a more finished look now with the changes I made earlier this week before our second rainstorm of the season moved in.  I used rock from the indoor barbecue we demolished during our home remodel in an effort to dissuade the raccoons that visit my garden all too often from digging up the entire area as they've done in the past.  I replanted the bromeliads I'd saved after their last rampage, adding a couple that had previously occupied pots elsewhere.  I also added succulents and filled in here and there with cuttings.

This is the best long shot I could manage of the renovated area.  The large shrubs on the right (Auranticarpa rhombifolium) mark the property line.  The driveway visible here belongs to my neighbor on the north side.  She's planted ornamental bananas and various succulents on the slope adjacent to her driveway. 

This is the view looking back in the opposite direction.  I filled the area between the flagstone I laid 2 years ago and the salvaged stone I installed in September with dwarf mondo grass (Ophiopogon japonicus 'Nanus'), supplementing the plugs I'd planted here previously.

As you can probably tell, the bed is narrow and it winds around a bit, making it difficult to photograph in its entirety.  It's easier to view it in sections.

The first segment contains a Mangave 'Pineapple Express', 3 Echeveria agavoides and a portion of the Dyckia 'Burgundy Ice' I divided recently, along with assorted cuttings

The middle section consists mostly of bromeliads with a few succulents used as accents

The largest bromeliads are these:

Aechmea 'Mend': it needs more sun than it's been getting to brighten its pink edging

Neoreglia 'Guinea' x 'Pepper': short in stature but among the most vigorous bromeliads I have

Vriesea ospinae var gruberi: perhaps my flashiest bromeliad

In addition to the bromeliads shown above, the bed includes Aechmea fasciata, Billbergia 'Carioca', and Quesnelia marmorata 'Tim Plowman'.  I've got other bromeliads in the adjacent succulent bed and in pots, some of which may eventually migrate to this bed once I see how it stands up to the elements, and the raccoons.

The last segment of the "bromeliad bed" is comprised exclusively of succulents.

This bed includes Euphorbia lactea cristata, assorted Aeoniums, Mangave 'Falling Waters', Mangave 'Mission to Mars' and Crassula orbicularis var rosularis, along with a mish-mash of fillers

I also moved the chiminea that formerly sat on the back patio to this area to provide a new focal point.  As our back patio shrank by 70 square feet when we extended our kitchen, I needed to reduce the paraphernalia there and this was the best alternative placement I could find for it.

The old focal point (left) was a collection of pots.  Three pots are still there but I gave the chiminea the prominent position, topping it with a large clump of noID Tillandsia.  I may add more Tillandsias in time.

While I was working in the area, I made an adjustment to the adjacent succulent bed as well.

I pulled the Leucadendron I'd had in a central spot in the succulent bed and replaced it with the Furcraea feotida 'Mediopicta' that's sat in a nursery pot since I picked it up back in July 

The Furcraea is still small enough to get somewhat lost in the bed when viewed from this angle but this photo gives you an idea of the relationship between the succulent and bromeliad beds.  The flagstone path visible to the right of the tree, an Arbutus 'Marina', partitions off the bromeliad bed.

Finally, on the other side of the driveway, I planted more succulent cuttings to fill the bare space left below the climbing rose when we had to replace a badly corroded gas line discovered in the course of our remodel.

I know the plants here look skimpy but I used cuttings of Euphorbia tirucalli 'Sticks on Fire', Aeonium arboreum, and Aeonium haworthii 'Kiwi' here previously and they quickly filled the space

There's a lot more clean-up left to do in the garden as our remodel nears its conclusion but at least the plants and cuttings I installed in these areas should be off to a good start.  With our second rainstorm of the season over the Thanksgiving holiday, we've accumulated 1.5 inches of rain thus far.

It rained off and on most of Thanksgiving Day but the clouds lifted briefly over the Port of Los Angeles in the late afternoon

A belated happy Thanksgiving to those of you in the US and I hope you enjoy the rest of the holiday weekend.

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

Monday, November 25, 2019

In a Vase on Monday: A little of this and a little of that

While my climate is far gentler on plants during the fall/winter season than many other gardeners can claim, the pickings are definitely slimmer at this time of year, especially as I was late in getting my cool-season cutting garden started this year.  A stray bloom spike on the remaining Delphinium in the cutting garden provided the starting point for my first vase.

The white daisies are a recent addition to my garden

The bush violets (Barleria obtusa) are on the wane

Top view

Clockwise from the upper left: Argyranthemum frutescens 'Everest White', Delphinium elatum, Osteospermum '4D Silver', Barleria obtusa, and Westringia fruticosa 'Morning Light'

The Rudbeckia I featured in a vase in late October are are only plants in my cutting garden still in full bloom so I used them again this week, with just a few adjustments to the mix.

Rudbeckia 'Denver Daisy' has proven to be very resilient in my cutting beds, although its stems are regrettably on the short side

The complementary yellow daisies (Tagetes lemmonii) are in full bloom now that temperatures have cooled

Top view

Clockwise from the upper left: Rudbeckia hirta 'Denver Daisy', Coprosma repens 'Plum Hussey', unripe Guavas, berries of Heteromeles arbutifolia, Leptospermum 'Copper Glow' and Pennisetum advena 'Rubrum', and Tagetes lemmonii.  I added 2 little mice painting green leaves orange under the arrangement  as a reference to our lack of fall foliage.

Last Monday, I was hopeful that our 5+-month remodel project would be complete before the end of the week; however, unexpected problems emerged on Tuesday and Wednesday and at the moment I can't definitively say when we'll be done, other than I still hope it'll be before Christmas.  Tired of focusing on the house's interior, I've turned my attention back to the garden, diving into cleaning up the collateral damage it's sustained over the last several months.  But, as I've moaned and groaned over the the remodel on numerous occasions in my IAVOM posts, you're welcome to review the results of the project here in a post I published last Friday.

For more IAVOM posts, check in with our host, Cathy at Rambling in the Garden.

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

Friday, November 22, 2019

Ready or not...

As mentioned in my last post, we'd hoped to be done with our home remodel this week.  As it turns out, we're not.  We received the wrong hearthstone and may have to wait another few weeks for delivery of the right one, delaying completion of our living room fireplace.  The kitchen's electrical panel also didn't pass muster with the city inspector so changes will have to be made there.  My husband is still cleaning up glue left on the surface of our new wood floors and we haven't hung all our pictures yet.  Nonetheless, with the arrival at last of cooler temperatures and our first rain of the season, it's time to shift my focus back to the garden.  However, as I've made many references to our home remodel over the past 5+ months, I'm not going to leave you hanging without photos of our new space.

First, let me take you back to the beginning.  My husband and I formally kicked off our project in July of 2018 when we approached the city for approval to push out our exterior kitchen wall by 5 feet.  The city required that we get a formal geological survey done first.

Our area is currently designated as an "open spaces hazard zone" (signifying a landslide risk) although the city publicly announced its intention to move that boundary line well beyond our property line in 2012.  As that still hasn't happened, we had to prove that shifting our kitchen wall wasn't going to jeopardize us or anyone else.

By Christmas last year, we finally had the city's approval to move forward.  We worked with an architect on the plan while we waited for our general contractor to clear his schedule to start our project.  In April of this year, my husband started building a temporary kitchen for our use during the remodel.

He tacked the temporary kitchen on to the north side of our house adjacent to our master bedroom

In mid-June, a paving contractor dug the required 5-foot deep foundation for the kitchen extension and, on July 1st, our existing kitchen was demolished.

Everything went!

I subsequently caved and agreed to my husband's desire to remove the funky indoor barbecue unit linked to the living room fireplace to create a more open view between the kitchen and the living room.  This photo shows it halfway through demolition.

The back of the house remained fully open from July through August, which was creepy
The new kitchen  with its taller new roof was finally framed in August

In September, things moved into higher gear as the new kitchen was finally fully enclosed and cabinetry went in.  Kitchen counters were installed in early October and we got an entirely new roof and a new HVAC system.  The house interior and exterior also got a new coat of paint.

The roof work was particularly hard on the garden

New wood flooring was installed in half the house in November (in 2 installments) and the fireplace was covered in a coat of plaster.  That brings us to where things stand today.  Here's a look at the renovated spaces.

The front door foyer hasn't changed much except for the flooring.  Unfortunately, the new HVAC vent there meant we had to find another place for our grandfather clock.  Pictures still need to be hung here, among other places.

Ta-dah, the new kitchen!  (Oops, I neglected to clear away the washed dishes before taking this photo.)

We previously had a peninsula and upper shelves dividing the kitchen from the dining area.  Now they're more clearly linked.

This is the new dining area, minus the stone barbecue unit attached to the fireplace.  My husband refers to the new rug here as my "Alice in Wonderland rug."

The living room was always a light space but the removal of the indoor barbecue structure made it feel even more so

The new wood flooring extends from the living room through the dining room and kitchen and down the hallway beyond.  The fireplace will be finished with a stone surround after the hearthstone is delivered and my husband plans to build a wood mantle for it.

As you can see, my husband mostly got the open concept he wanted.  I admit I do like how light and airy the whole space feels now.

So that's it.  Not exactly a final wrap but it'll have to do.  I need to get focused on cleaning up the collateral damage to the garden.  Best wishes for a pleasant weekend!

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

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Wednesday Vignette (Late Edition): Rain, at last

It's hard not to take rain forecasts with a grain of salt here, especially when the first 3 weeks of November were unusually hot and humidity levels were stuck in the single digits all too frequently.  Things didn't look good overnight or this morning when Mother Nature just spit at us without registering any measurable precipitation.  However, the situation turned around mid-day when we received several short bursts of rain.

View of the back garden and the Port of Los Angeles in the distance this afternoon

We recorded just a quarter inch of rain but I don't consider that bad, especially as more rain is possible overnight.  The roof poured a good amount of what we got into my rain barrels too.

My husband reconnected all my rain tanks to our roof gutters over the weekend.  Our modest rainfall filled my 50-gallon tank and I accumulated almost 70 more gallons of rain in this 160-gallon tank.  I expect I picked up something on the same order in the tank that feeds off the garage roof.

The prospect of rain got me moving earlier this week.

I filled in the bed I showed in my post of November 6th.  Although succulents may have been a better choice for the sandy soil here, I chose Argyranthemum, Violas, and Lobularia (Alyssum) because I wanted something softer, at least in the short-term.  I also cleaned up the far end of the bed, pulling our some of the elongated Aeonium arboreum and cutting out the dead undergrowth of Acacia cognata 'Cousin Itt'.

I pulled the last of my zinnias, supplemented the soil in my raised planters with compost, sowed larkspur (Consolida ajacis) seeds and, because I couldn't resist them, planted snapdragon plugs.  I also sowed California wildflower seeds on my back slope.

Meanwhile, the neighbor across the canyon continues to work on the backyard structure visible from our garden.

Realizing that the structure is probably associated with the property on the left rather than the white house on the right as I'd earlier assumed, my new theory is that the structure is intended as an art studio

Our remodel hit 2 more unexpected roadblocks this week.  The stone mason cut and delivered the wrong granite for our fireplace hearth yesterday and then the electrician's work failed to pass the city's inspection today.  With next week being Thanksgiving, we were told it could be 3 weeks before we get the replacement hearthstone, which delays completion of the living room fireplace.  Redoing the electrical wiring to meet code is likely to require tearing apart the wall in my office (again).  So, it could be Christmas by the time we're done after all...

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

Monday, November 18, 2019

In a Vase on Monday: Last Call for the Zinnias

I finally pulled the last of my zinnias on Saturday as another round of high winds and unseasonably warm temperatures moved into Southern California.  I cut and put aside the remaining presentable flowers for use in the vases I prepared on Sunday.

I couldn't decide which side of this vase should be the front but finally picked this one as I love the unusual color of the no-name zinnia with orangish-red petals touched with violet at the flower's center

Back view featuring coral-pink zinnias and my ubiquitous Grevilleas

Top view

Clockwise from the upper left: Coleonema pulchellum 'Sunset Gold', Coprosma 'Fireburst' and 'Plum Hussey', Correa pulchella 'Pink Eyre', Grevillea 'Superb', and pink and orangish-red Zinnia elegans

With our remodel mostly done (we're still waiting on delivery of the hearthstone to finish the living room fireplace, as well as the city's final inspection), we're slowly moving back into the half of the house we'd vacated 5 months ago.  We've been moving furniture around and we continue to debate the best location for our grandfather clock, which was booted out of its prior spot by requirements of the new HVAC system.  Once the dust settles, I'll pull together photos of the new space.

Foxgloves and zinnias seem an odd combination but I liked that the the dark pink zinnias picked up the burgundy spots inside the foxglove flowers

Back view

Top view

Clockwise from the top: Digitalis purpurea (aka foxglove), Gomphrena decumbens 'Itsy Bitsy', Leucadendron salignum 'Chief', and dark-pink Zinnia elegans (probably 'Benary's Giant Wine')

The remaining orange zinnias were plunked into a third vase.

I threw in a few stems of Breath of Heaven and Leucadendron to fill out the vase

Back view showing off the peachy flowers of Zinnia 'Queen Lime Orange' and/or 'Benary's Giary Salmon Rose' (as the season neared its end, I could no longer reliably tell one variety from the other)

Top view

Clockwise from the upper left: noID orange Zinnia elegans, berries of noID self-planted Cotoneaster, peachy Zinnia elegans, more Coleonema pulchellum 'Sunset Gold' (aka Breath of Heaven), and Leucadendron 'Wilson's Wonder'

For more of this week's IAVOM creations, visit Cathy at Rambling in the Garden.

I've regained use of the foyer table for vases but, with the dining room table covered by the inner workings of the grandfather clock, it wasn't available so the other vases ended up on the kitchen island (photographed from 2 directions) and the bedroom mantle

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