Friday, February 21, 2020

A look at foliage before flowers entirely take over

We're clearly on the cusp of spring here and flowers will be demanding more and more attention as the weeks go by - it's hard to ignore them when something new seems to pop into bloom every time I glance at the garden.  I decided that, if I was going to do a survey of the foliage that contributes so much to my garden but rarely gets the attention it deserves, the time was now.  At the outset, I also set myself a challenge, which was to skip all the usual suspects.  That means: no succulents, no Leucadendrons , no grasses, and no trees or tree-like shrubs.  When the list still got long, I also cut out bromeliads, the begonias and other foliage plants in my shade house, and even that attention-hog, Acacia 'Cousin Itt'.

So here's what I decided to share:

Artichokes are one of the few plants that have held up against the challenges presented by my back slope.  Even when they die back in late summer, they come back with our winter rain.

The small-leafed Coprosmas are often disappointing over the long haul but Coprosma repens 'Plum Hussey' has held up well for me.  I have 3 of these plants in different spots of the garden.  All are resilient and hold their color.

I'm not overly fond of the trunk-forming Cordylines but there are some trunk-less varieties I like.  Clockwise from the left are: Cordyline 'Can-Can', C. 'Design-a-Line', and C. 'Renegade'.

Phormiums look similar to Cordylines in many respects, although they're in a different family.  Many, like the 2 shown here, 'Apricot Queen' on the left and 'Maori Queen' on the right, can get big.

Grass-like Lomandra presents a similar silhouette.  It's in the same family as Cordyline.  Clockwise from the upper left are: Lomandra 'Breeze', L. hystrix 'Tropic Belle', and L. 'Platinum Beauty'.

Corokia virgata 'Sunsplash' is best appreciated close-up

Like other Hebes, 'Purple Shamrock' flowers but its foliage is the real draw

I'm featuring Helichrysum 'Icicles' largely because I thought I'd killed 3 of my plants with aggressive pruning but it's proven more resilient than I gave it credit for.  The plants on the left were lightly pruned and the one on the right was pruned down to to sticks.

I've mostly ignored this Ruscus hypoglossum (aka butcher's broom) since I planted it in 2014.  I think of it as a foliage plant but it produces tiny flowers in the middle of its leaves.  I'm not sure I've ever examined the flowers until now.  They look like alien insects, don't they?

Our Xylosma congestum hedges are at their best and brightest when the new foliage comes in following pruning.  The 3 plants we added to extend the hedge on its southwest end (right) are finally looking like they'll catch up with the rest of the hedge one day.

I'll end with the Yuccas scattered through the garden.  From left to right are: Yucca 'Blue Boy', Y. 'Bright Star', and Y. gloriosa 'Variegata'.

What foliage in your garden manages to compete with the flashy flowers of early Spring?

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

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

So the back patio shrank...

When we enlarged our kitchen last year, the back patio shrank.  The 70 square feet we added to the kitchen had to come from somewhere.  We moved our patio bench, chairs, coffee and side tables, and outdoor rug back into place soon after we reoccupied the renovated portions of the house in December.  The outdoor dining table remained in my husband's workshop for repairs required after someone dragged it out of the way, damaging the base.  He got around to fixing and refinishing it last week and moved it back onto the patio, along with the not-so-pretty support system we'd previously had in place for the large umbrella we seldom used.  Even though we'd already moved some things elsewhere, I thought the area was much too congested.  I suggested an "adjustment."

I couldn't find many "before" photos as of course I didn't take any prior to our renovations.

This photo was taken near year-end in 2017.  I wasn't able to precisely replicate the angle for  an "after" shot as that Echium in the foreground on the left side of this photo is much larger than it was 2+ years ago.

The chiminea on the right was moved to the bromeliad/succulent area near the garage at the front of the house in December.  The shelf and pots below the old kitchen window (not readily visible here) were moved prior to renovation with no intent to bring them back.  The huge umbrella stand on the left was the major bone of contention between me and my husband.

When I noticed that the new roofline shades a bigger section of the patio than the old one did, I suggested swapping out the dining table and bench arrangements.  In its new spot, the dining table is in full shade before 2pm so it looks as though we may be fine without the cumbersome umbrella or its stand.

This is the revised layout, photographed in early morning

View of the same area from the back.  A side benefit of the new arrangement is that the 3 pots of blueberry shrubs behind the bench get more sun.

Most visitors automatically seat themselves on the bench or the cushioned chairs.  Now there's no furniture between them and the ocean view beyond the garden.

They can also see Buddha and his cat

Mr. Frog approves

Here's a wide shot of the area.

When I viewed this photo, I realized the cushions that belong to the table chairs were missing

I dug them out of the linen closet

The circle pot was hunted down and replanted last week

The interior dining room and kitchen spaces now mesh well with the colors used on the back patio.  I'd like to say that was the result of careful consideration on my part but it was actually pure serendipity.  The throw pillows on the outdoor bench are temporary stand-ins for pillows now on order to replace those I tossed out last year.  Now, if I could only find plants to fill in the empty spaces left when that huge trench was dug to replace the corroded gas line last November...

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

Monday, February 17, 2020

In a Vase On Monday: Prelude to Spring

With plenty of sunny days and warmer temperatures, my garden is waking up.  Gardens in coastal Southern California never entirely shut down but they take the equivalent of a cat nap.

They appear to be asleep but they're ready to jump into action in response to any change in the environment

Yesterday morning we awoke to a blanket of fog but it quickly cleared out and, walking through the garden, it felt as though we were on the cusp of Spring.  The birds were singing and, if I could carry a tune, I'd have joined them.  Bulbs I planted  in early November and others planted years ago are gradually revealing their blooms.  Those blooms kicked off my search for plant material to fill this week's vases.

I headed down the slope to check the bearded Iris I've been eyeing for the last 2 weeks, intending to make it the centerpiece  of an arrangement of blue and purple flowers; however, it wasn't quite ready to be cut.  I cut 2 stems of Ceanothus while I was down there anyway and substituted the first of the blue Anemones as my focal point.

For a change, I managed to keep this arrangement relatively simple

Top view: Could that Anemone be more perfect?  It's the product of a group of Italian hybrid tubers I planted in early November.

Clockwise from the top: Anemone 'Mistral Azzurro', Ceanothus arboreous 'Clif Schmidt', noID Freesia, and Osteospermum 'Violet Ice'

Another Anemone provided the starting point for my second vase.

I started with very few ideas as to what I could pair with the subtle white, mauve and blue shades in the Anemone's petals.  As usual, I got carried away in adding new elements.

The foxglove stems were recycled from one of last week's vases

Top view: The Anemone in this arrangement was more mature than the one in the prior arrangement.  Interestingly, it turned out to have a 2-headed bloom (shown more clearly in the photo below).

Top row: Anemone 'Mistral Rarity', Coleonema pulchellum 'Sunset Gold', and Digitalis purpurea
Second row: Grevillea sericea and Hebe 'Purple Shamrock'
Third row: Osteospermum 'Berry White', Pyrethropsis hosmariense, and Helleborus 'Blue Lady'
Bottom row: Nemesia 'Snow Angel', Leptospermum 'Copper Glow', and Helleborus 'Phoebe'

I'm willing to bet that, if I hike down to the bottom of the slope this afternoon, that Iris I'd originally targeted as the centerpiece of my first vase will be in full bloom.  Usually the first Iris to bloom, it always seems to elude inclusion in a vase.

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

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

Saturday, February 15, 2020

Bloom Day - February 2020

Coastal Southern California really only has two seasons - a cool season during which we get rain (if we're lucky) and a warm-to-hot season, which seems to be getting longer with each passing year.  While our nights are still definitely on the chilly side, we're getting more and more days with temperatures in the upper 60s and lower 70s (Fahrenheit).  I can't say Spring has exploded into being yet but it's slowly creeping in.  More rain might push floral production along more quickly but it's not clear we're going to get much more of that.  In fact, yesterday I heard that California's snowpack is currently sitting at 59% of average with no rain or snow in sight, which doesn't bode well.

Despite the lower than desired rainfall, my usual February blooms appear to be right on schedule.

Ceanothus arboreous 'Cliff Schmidt' on my back slope is putting on its best display yet

Echium handiense 'Pride of Fuerteventura', a native of the Canary Islands and always the first of my Echiums to bloom, is putting on a good show

Euryops chrysanthemoides 'Sonnenschein' (left) and Euryops x virgineus 'Tali' (right) are pumping out blooms in the same color but different sizes

Pyrethropsis hosmariense (aka Moroccan daisy) is pretty in both bud and bloom

Pyrus calleryana (aka ornamental pear) is a messy tree with funky smelling flowers but it stands out at this time of year

The flowers of Ribes viburnifolium 'Catalina Perfume' are tiny but plentiful

My prostrate rosemary have been blooming for some time but the flowers are now too profuse to ignore

Cooler temperatures have given the African daisies their usual seasonal boost.

The photos on the left and the top right are Arctotis 'Opera Pink' and the one on the lower right is my favorite Arctotis 'Pink Sugar'.  I went overboard this fall pulling up scruffy 'Pink Sugar', assuming that I could get more with little problem but, despite the fact that my remaining plants are blooming, I've yet to be able to find more in my local garden centers (even though I've submitted 2 special orders for them).

Gazanias are popping up all over, although the progeny of many of the self-seeded plants haven't replicated their parental stock

Osteospermums definitely prefer temperatures on the cooler side

I was particularly delighted by the appearance of a couple of early blooms.

Anemones don't do well here, seldom surviving more than one season, and I don't plant them every year but this year I ordered some special tubers and planted them in my cutting garden in early November.  This is Anemone 'Mistral Rarity', the first to bloom.  

I often complain that hellebores are slow to bloom here.  This year Helleborus 'Blue Lady (left) and 'Phoebe' (right) are a month or so ahead of schedule.  'Phoebe's' foliage also seems to have taken on some variegation.

Certain plants can always be depended on to show up.

Bauhinia x blakeana (aka Hong Kong orchid tree) has been blooming for months

Camellia williamsii 'Taylor's Perfection' produced its first blooms before Bloom Day last month, peaked in late January, and is now on the decline

Coleonema pulchellum 'Sunset Gold' has also been blooming for months but the flowers blanket the shrubs now 

Gomphreana decumbens 'Itsy Bitsy' has recovered from the hard pruning it received in November

The large-flowered Grevilleas bloom year-round.  Clockwise from the left: Grevillea 'Peaches & Cream' in a wide shot and a close-up, 'Ned Kelly', and 'Superb'

The small-flowered  Grevilleas join in at this time of year to produce a profusion of blooms.  Clockwise from the upper left: Grevillea 'Scarlet Sprite', G. lavandulacea 'Penola', G. alpina x rosmarinifolious, G. sericea, and G. rosmarinifolious.

Leucadendrons (aka conebush) don't have flowers in the conventional sense but their bracts take on the appearance of flowers this time of year.  Clockwise from the upper left: Leucadendron 'Safari Goldstrike' in a wide shot and close-up, 'Wilson's Wonder', 'Blush', and 'Safari Sunset'.

I picked up a couple of new flowering plants this month.

In pots by the front door: Boronia crenulata 'Sharks Bay' (left) and hybrid Pericallis 'Magic Salmon' (right)

I've organized the best of the rest of the blooming plants by color for the record.

Top row: Brachyscome angustifolia 'Brasco Violet', Campanula poscharskyana, Felicia aethiopica, and Freesia
Middle row: Iris germanica in bud, Lepechinia bella, noID Muscari, and noID Violas
Bottom row: trailing Lantana and Polygala fruticosa

Clockwise from the upper left: Cyclamen, Cuphea ignea 'Starfire Pink', Eustoma grandiflorum, Leptospermum scoparium 'Pink Pearl', and Lotus jacobaeus

Clockwise from the upper left: Argyranthemum fruticosa 'Everest', Cymbidium Sussex Court 'Not Peace', Hippeastrum 'Moon Scene', Digitalis purpurea 'Dalmatian White', and Westringia 'Morning Light'

Clockwise from the upper left: Alstroemeria 'Indian Summer', Euphorbia rigida, Phylica pubescens, noID Narcissus, and Rudbeckia hirta 'Denver Daisy'

Succulent blooms, top row: Aeonium arbroeum, Aloe 'Johnson's Hybrid', and A. 'Safari Rose'
Bottom row: Crassula multicava 'Red', C. orbicularis var rosularis, and C. rupestris 'Springtime'

That's a wrap until next month.  To see what's blooming in other parts of the US and elsewhere in the world, visit the host of Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day, Carol at May Dreams Gardens.

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