Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Wednesday Vignette: Accept joy where you find it

It's been really difficult to feel happy about much of anything of late.  But even the darkest days have their moments.  I thought I'd share two of those from the past week.

Late last week, when it was still too hot to do much in the garden and the air quality remained poor, I decided to spend an hour pulling up and potting several agave pups I'd spied in various locations of my garden.  When done, I labeled them and others I'd collected earlier and put them out on the curb for neighbors to take if they were so inclined.

This was the group's class picture, taken before I placed them on the curb.  The group included: Agave desmettiana 'Variegata', A. funkiana 'Blue Haze', A. 'Jaws', and A. pygmaea 'Dragon Toes'.

I'd only just put them out and grabbed my camera to take a photo when the first car pulled to a stop in front of them

About an hour and a half after I put them out, all but three were gone.  Another two went the next morning.  Poor Agave funkiana 'Blue Haze', admittedly the runt of the litter, didn't find a new home but I've put it aside in the hope it'll bulk up before my next give-away.

Yesterday, it was the birds in the backyard fountain that made me smile.  There was a steady steam of them but catching them bathing isn't always easy as they usually fly away as soon as I get close to the window.  However, one fellow was so caught up with his bath, he paid me no mind.

Most of the bathers were house finches and lesser gold finches.  I think this one was one of the former group.
I've noticed that house finches are particularly serious about their baths

He splashed about a half dozen times before deciding he was done and relinquishing the fountain to a trio of the smaller finches

I was happy to bask in his pleasure, if only for a moment

The United States reached the grim milestone of 200,000 deaths associated with COVID-19 this week.  The US accounts for 4.23% of the world's population, yet our total deaths currently represent 21% of the total attributed to COVID-19 worldwide.  That's not just sad, it's pathetic.  We're the richest country in the world and our per capita death rate from the virus is the 11th highest in the world.  The number of lies that have come directly from the horse's mouth regarding the virus are incredible.  While the occupant of the White House can't be blamed for importing the virus, he, his minions and his apologists should be held accountable for their monumental failures to manage the response to it.  Are we prepared to allow them to compound their failures and continue to lie?  VOTE. 

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

All material © 2012-2020 by Kris Peterson for Late to the Garden Party

Monday, September 21, 2020

In a Vase on Monday: In remembrance of the Notorious RBG

We received yet another blow to the gut last week when news came that the Notorious RBG, the esteemed US Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, passed away on Friday.  As the news was reported, I literally stood up and shouted "NO!" at the TV as if I could stop what had already happened.  She had a difficult climb to reach the pinnacle of the nation's judicial system, only the second woman to be appointed to that station, and she spent her 27 years there pursuing the cause of equal justice under the law.  Everyone knew she was ill as she'd fought various forms of cancer over the past decade but she was a fighter who seldom lost a day of testimony before the court throughout those battles.  Many, myself included, hoped and prayed that she'd outlast the current administration but that was not to be.  We owe her much and can only hope that we can channel some of the courage, strength, and dedication to the causes she pursued on our behalf.  Anyone unfamiliar with her history or achievements can find a summary here.  

Flowers are a traditional form of remembrance and, other than tears and a commitment to pursue the battles she fought using my vote in the coming and future elections and whatever my pocketbook can spare, flowers are the best I have to offer today.

Vase #1:

Dahlia 'Belle of Barmera', larger than the span of my hand, was the inspiration for this vase

Back view, featuring assorted Zinnias and Grevillea foliage

Top view

Top row: Alstroemeria 'Inca Sunshine', Amaranthus, Plectranthus scutellarioides 'Mocha Mint', and Zinnia elegans
Second row:Dahlias 'Belle of Barmera' and 'Labyrinth'
Third row: Grevillea foliage and Grevilleas 'Ned Kelly', 'Peaches & Cream' and 'Superb'

Vase #2:

An unplanned combination of Dahlias 'Candlelight' and 'Enchantress'

Plectranthus scutellariodies 'Florida Sun' (coleus) dresses up the back view

Top view

Clockwise from upper left: Dahlia 'Candlelight', Agonis flexuosa 'Nana', Gomphrena 'Itsy Bitsy', Dahlia 'Enchantress', Leucanthemum x superbum, and Plectranthus scutellarioides 'Florida Sun'

Vase #3:

A last minute creation for the kitchen island

Back view

Top view

Clockwise from the upper left: Cosmos bipinnatus, Leucophyllum laevigatum, Salvia leucantha, and Vitex trifolia

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

The political fight over RBG's replacement is already gearing up and it threatens to eclipse our mourning of her loss as hypocrites in the Senate (who refused former President Obama a vote on his Supreme Court candidate's nomination 7 months before the last election because the selection was "too close" to the next presidential election) now rush to fill her seat before this November's election.  I think they may underestimate the response if they pursue that goal - I believe that the backlash may cost them much more than they realize in the long run.  VOTE!!!

All material © 2012-2020 by Kris Peterson for Late to the Garden Party 

Friday, September 18, 2020

Shade Plant Successes

I began stocking my lath (shade) house shortly after my husband completed its construction in late December 2017.  I moved my small orchid collection there immediately but other additions were haphazard.  Over time, I've scrapped some plants and added others.  The space is relatively small after all so I can't load it with every pretty shade plant I see.  Much of what I added early on wasn't particularly interesting or unusual and those items, if they survived, have slowly been dropped to make room for others.  Many represent experiments and everything must prove its worth to earn its place.

Ferns were an early focus as, with the exception of the weedy western sword fern (Polystichum munitum), most ferns don't survive long in the open areas of my garden.  Several of those I tried failed quickly even in my lath house but there are two that have earned their stripes.

Asplenium nidus, aka lasagna fern

Platycerium veitchii, a variety of staghorn fern

Begonias, particularly those grown more for their foliage than their flowers, have earned a lot of space, surprising even me.  Here are just a portion of those on display in the lath house:

Begonia 'Amberley'

Begonia 'Champagne Bubbles' was neglected and got a bit crispy a couple of months ago but it seems to be recovering.  I've got it planted in a small African violet pot, which has a water reservoir.

This begonia came without a label.  I originally guessed it was 'Nautilus Lilac' but I now think it could be 'First Blush'.

This is 'Little Darling', planted in another African violet pot

I'm very pleased with how well this unidentified Begonia looks in its Muradian pot

This is 'Palomar Prince', another begonia I thought I'd killed at one point that rebounded given time and patience

There are also a few plants grown exclusively for their foliage.

Philodendron 'Prince of Orange' was a gift.  Its stay in the lath house was intended to be temporary but it's so happy there, I haven't been able to bring myself to move it into the drier conditions of our house.

I've tried growing several fuchsias in the lath house.  I suspect they don't get enough light there as they've been disappointing thus far but I still have four that occasionally flower.  The hydrangeas haven't thrilled me either, although I still have one of those.

I've had this Hydrangea macrophylla 'Shooting Star' for many years and, although I repeatedly mistreat it, it's been very forgiving

Hoyas, which I introduced more for their foliage than for their flowers are slowly growing on me (no pun intended).

I have three of these trailing plants in the lath house (as well as one on my south patio).  Two have recently started to bloom, perhaps because I've been more conscientious about watering them this year.

Based on the heart-shaped leaves, I believe this one is Hoya kerrii.  I received it as a gift last Christmas and tucked it into a pot given to me by the same friend on another occasion.  It's still a small plant and hasn't flowered yet but it's sent a stem straight up this year as if it has something planned.

This one was sold to me without a name but, based on the variegated foliage and the occasional pink leaves it produces, I think this may be Hoya carnosa tricolor.

I also bought this one without a label.  My best guess is that it's Hoya obovata 'Splash'.

Orchids have retained a good portion of the space available in the lath hours but several are facing the possibility of eviction.  Few orchids have attractive foliage in my opinion and, while many have long-lived flowers, most don't flower very often.  A few of the smaller varieties have been especially rewarding.

I've had this one for a long time and it goes by a variety of names but I currently refer to it as Oncostele 'Wildcat'

If I had a name for this one I've lost it but I believe it's a Phalaenopsis

This is another noID Phalaenopsis.  It's been blooming for at least two months already.

I recently acquired a couple of new plants for the lath house, neither of which I've ever grown before.  The first is grown as much for its foliage as its flowers while the second is known primarily for its unusual blooms.

This was sold as Ric Rac Orchid Cactus.  Its proper name was harder to nail down as I found it listed as both Epiphyllum anguliger and Cryptocereus anthonyanus.  Still another source says that plants known by the former name have recently been reclassified as Disocactus anguliger.

This somewhat sorry looking specimen is Tacca integrifolia, aka white bat flower.  Recently received in a tiny pot by mail order, it's still settling in.  When I saw its foliage, I thought I'd been sent a Spathiphyllum by mistake but the Tacca's foliage is similar.

This is by no means a complete inventory of the contents of my lath house and, like other parts of my garden, I suspect what's there will continue to turn over with some regularity as I continue to work out what thrives  and what doesn't.

Between recent bouts with hot temperatures and poor air quality, I've accomplished very little in my garden thus far this month.  I received a mail order delivery of twelve plants on Wednesday but I've done nothing with them beyond unpacking and watering them.  If conditions improve, getting them potted or planted out will be my weekend focus.

Wherever you are, I hope conditions are favorable to do something you enjoy this weekend.

All material © 2012-2020 by Kris Peterson for Late to the Garden Party

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Bloom Day - September 2020

As if the pandemic and the awful political state of affairs in the US weren't bad enough, Mother Nature threw us a couple of new challenges in September: a truly nasty heatwave and a boatload of terrible wildfires that have left us blanketed in smoke that refuses to move out of here.  Still, I recognize that my husband and I are very lucky - we have our lives, our home, and our health, ignoring the persistent throat irritation and headaches I've had since the smoke arrived.

As spending a lot of time outside is inadvisable at the moment, half the photos I'm using for this Bloom Day post were taken earlier in the month; however, with one exception, all the plants shown are still in bloom now.  I'll start with the exception.

The second (and largest) Yucca 'Bright Star' developed a bloom stalk in late August.  It was nearly at full bloom when I took this photograph on September 4th, just before the horrendous heatwave settled in.  It declined rapidly in the heat and I cut it down on September 11th.

The Yucca bloom was a short-lived surprise but let's proceed to September's floral stars, starting with the dahlias and the zinnias.

Dahlia 'Labyrinth' wins the top spot.  It has big, beautiful flowers and it's produced a steady stream of new blooms. 

Other dahlias currently in bloom include, clockwise from the upper left: 'Belle of Barmera', 'Loverboy', 'Mr Optimist', 'Iceberg', 'Enchantress' and 'Einstein''Candelight' bloomed at the end of August but the next set of blooms haven't fully opened yet and 'Rip City' is full of buds but no blooms.  'Rancho' and 'Gitts Crazy' are still keeping me waiting.

I planted two mixed packets of Zinnia seeds and four named varieties but they were also mixed together when I seeded the raised planters in my cutting garden.  I think flowers from 'Northern Lights Mix', 'Unicorn Mix', 'Benary Giant Lilac' and 'Envy' are represented in this array.

I planted plugs from 'Dreamland' and 'Profusion' Zinnia mixes here on the south side of the house

There are plenty of other blooming plants making a statement this month too.

The Hong Kong orchid tree (Bauhinia x blakeana) looked terrible for months but its twiggy branches are finally covered in both leaves and flowers

I finally got Clematis terniflora (aka sweet autumn Clematis) properly tied up against the south side arbor, encouraging it to climb but a couple of stems have also sought to weave themselves through the Coprosma 'Plum Hussey' at the plant's base

Cosmos bipinnatus is continuing its bloom-fest this month

The sunflower seeds I sowed produced disappointingly small plants but the Helianthus 'Delta Sunflower' (left) and 'Sunfinity' (right) I bought as plants are doing well

Pennisetum advena 'Rubrum' will only get better as we head into fall

Rudbeckia hirta 'Denver Daisy' lasts longer in a vase than anything else in my garden

I made repeated attempts to get a decent shot of this large Vitex trifolia purpurea in full bloom but none of my photos captured the plant's beauty well.  The leaves are olive green on top and purple on the bottom and the flowers are a delicate blue.

The dependable large-flowered Grevilleas are particularly floriferous this month.  They didn't pay our recent heatwave a speck of notice as far as I can tell.

This is Grevillea 'Peaches & Cream'

and this is Grevillea 'Superb'

I had a few surprises as well this month.

I didn't notice the blooms on this Leucophyllum laevigatum until mid-day yesterday.  Regrettably, the greatest profusion of flowers faces the hedge.

This is the first time I've ever gotten a passionflower vine to bloom in this garden and this is the only bloom I've seen thus far.  This is hybrid Passiflora 'Oakland'.

I discovered this noID Stapelia (aka starfish flower) in bloom earlier this month.  It didn't last long.  It's odor is said to attract flies but I didn't see many.

I'd also like to offer special notice to a plant that normally gets little love.

Phyla nodiflora (aka Lippia and frogfruit) has done a nice job as a groundcover below the backyard fountain.  The flowers are tiny but colorful.

With that I'll conclude as I usually do with color-coded collages featuring the best of what else is in bloom this month.

Clockwise from the upper left: self-sown Amaranthus, Gaillardia 'Arizona Sun', Grevillea 'Ned Kelly', Penstemon mexicali 'Mini-bells Red', Rudbeckia 'Cherry Brandy', Salvia lanceolata and, in the middle, Grevillea 'Scarlet Sprite'

Clockwise from the upper left: Cuphea 'Vermillionaire' , Lantana camara 'Irene', Rosa 'Medallion', and Rudbeckia 'Sahara'

Left to right: Alstroemeria 'Inca Sunshine', Lantana 'Samantha', and noID Phalaenopsis

Clockwise from upper left: Allium tuberosum, Asparagus fern, noID Hoya, Gaura lindheimeri, self-sown Osteospermum, Pandorea jasminoides, and Coriandrum sativum

Clockwise from upper left: Cuphea 'Honeybells', C. 'Starfire Pink', Rosa 'Pink Meidiland', Eustoma grandiflorum, Osteospermum 'Berry White', Pentas lanceolata, and Echinacea 'Cheyenne Spirit' (with 'Pow-wow Berry')

Top row: Erigeron glacus 'Wayne Roderick', Liriope muscari, and Melaleuca thymifolia
Middle row: noID Phalaenopsis, Plectranthus neochilus, and Plumbago 'Imperial Blue'
Bottom row: Polygala fruticosa, Symphyotrichcum chilense, and Trichostemma 'Midnight Magic'

For more Gardeners' Bloom Day posts, visit our host, Carol at May Dreams Gardens.

All material © 2012-2020 by Kris Peterson for Late to the Garden Party