Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Let's visit the hidden bromeliad bed!

Inspired by the Coronavirus Tourism posters created by Jennifer Baer, this is the third of my virtual tours of areas of my garden that get relatively little attention.  (You can find the first two posts here and here.)  Today's focus is the narrow bromeliad bed I created in November 2017 and renovated in November 2019 after raccoons tore it apart.  I haven't done much to it since but it's settling in well and, to date, the rocks I added when it was renovated seem to have done the job at holding off the raccoons, as well as the other critters currently plaguing different areas of my garden.

The bromeliad bed is sandwiched between a succulent bed on the left and a neighbor's property on the right.  (That's her driveway.)

A flagstone path borders the narrow bed.  I used mondo grass (Ophiopogon japonicus) to fill the space between and around the flagstones.  The stone along the perimeter of the bed was saved when we took down the indoor barbecue during our home renovation last year.


Let's take a closer look section by section.

This first segment consists solely of succulents, the most prominent of which are Mangave 'Pineapple Express' on the left and the 3 Echeveria agavoides in the middle.

This central area contains the bromeliads that gave the bed its name.  It includes Vriesea ospinae var gruberi, Quesnelia 'Tim Plowman', Billbergia 'Carioca', Aechmea fasciata, Aechmea 'Mend', and Neoregelia 'Guinea x Pepper'.

The main features of this bed are the 2 Mangaves, 'Falling Waters' and 'Mission to Mars', both of which are still relatively small.  An assortment of other succulents serve as fillers.

A succulent bedecked piece of driftwood sits on the other side of the path under a peppermint willow (Agonis flexuosa).  I recently added a bird's nest abandoned after the baby California towhees fledged.

I moved the chiminea that formerly sat on the back patio here following our renovation.  It's topped with a piece of driftwood and a noID clump of Tillandsia.


Although it's called a bromeliad bed, it's obviously dominated by succulents, including the Mangaves added late last year.  Mangaves are my most recent plant crush.  More and more of these intergeneric hybrids have been released for sale over the last few years.  The bromeliad bed has just three at present, in addition to a Manfreda, which played a significant role in the breeding of Mangaves.

This Manfreda maculosa is looking particularly good this year

The Mangaves included in the bromeliad bed are, left to right: 'Falling Waters', 'Mission to Mars' and 'Pineapple Express'


I've got Mangaves tucked elsewhere in the garden as well.

There are more here in the succulent bed that fronts the bromeliad bed, largely hiding it from view

Clockwise from the upper left, these include: Mangaves 'Jaguar', 'Snow Leopard' (looking decidedly pink at the moment), 'Bad Hair Day' (which the ants are trying to take over), 'Kaleidoscope' (which pups freely), and 'Spotty Dotty' (which is doing a nice job of mimicking Agave attenuata)

My first Mangaves were planted in this bed on the northeast side of the house

Clockwise from the upper left, they include: Mangaves 'Bloodspot', 'Lavender Lady' (possibly the most elegant of them all), 'Purple People Eater', and Silver Fox' (another avid pupper)

And then there are Mangaves in pots, including clockwise from the upper left: Mangaves 'Red Wing', 'Blazing Saddles', 'Jaguar' pups, 'Moonglow', another 'Kaleidoscope' (a recent birthday gift from a friend), and 'Tooth Fairy' (a slow grower but one of my favorites)


I decided I had room for more and ordered four additional Mangaves yesterday.  They should be delivered in about a week.

Have a good Wednesday.


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

Monday, June 29, 2020

In a Vase on Monday: Picking flowers in the rain

It rained on Sunday morning.  If you've read my blog for any length of time, you know I get very excited about rain.  We get a lot less of it than many of you do, and rain in summer is particularly surprising.  I saw the forecast that said we had a 30% chance of precipitation but, unless I see predictions of 80% or higher, I don't put much stock in them so I was delighted.  Our rooftop weather system registered 0.07/inch, not a lot by any means but enough to fill my empty 50-gallon rain tank.  It drizzled as I rounded the garden picking flowers.  It was wonderful!  It provided a much nicer start to the day than walking out the back door straight into the path of a coyote as I did last Tuesday.

This week I had in mind exactly what I wanted to cut for today's vases and I actually stuck to my plan, more or less.  The flower-like bracts of the Leucadendron 'Safari Sunset' in my back garden was the inspiration for my first vase.

There are actually two Leucadendron here.  The cones and bracts of 'Safari Sunset' on the right are larger than those of 'Devil's Blush' on the left but about the same color.

I was happier with this mix of plants when they were in the jar I used while collecting the stems than I am with the finished product shown here.  Do you ever have that experience?

Back view: I cut the glossy green foliage of the cherry laurels (Prunis ilicifolia) grown as a hedge along one property line as I felt I needed a sharp contrast with the deep red of the Leucadendron.  The cherry laurels are in the process of developing their fruit but it's still green.  Stems with red fruit would've made a nice color echo.

Top view

Clockwise from the upper left: Leucadendron 'Safari Sunset', Abelia grandiflora 'Edward Goucher', Ammi majus 'Dara', Leptospermum 'Copper Glow', shaggy Leucanthemum x superbum, Prunus ilicifolia, and Scabiosa columbaria 'Flutter Rose Pink' 


My blue Lisianthus (Eustoma grandiflorum) are full of flowers at the moment but I was challenged to find something different to pair with them until I decided to cut stems of Cuphea ignea 'Starfire Pink'.  I'm not sure I've cut any of the latter this year even though I have ten of these shrubs in full bloom at the moment.  Hummingbirds and bees adore these shrubs.

It's hard to compete with Lisianthus but Monarda 'Peter's Purple' is giving it a good try.  This Monarda is the only one I've ever managed to grow in my garden.

Back view: The white Pandorea jasminoides (aka bower vine) was a last minute addition.  I had the stems arranged at the front of the vase at first but they didn't complement the Lisanthus as well as they do the Cuphea so I moved them to the back, where they look a little like the flounce on a skirt.

Top view

Clockwise from the upper left: Eustoma grandiflorum, Pandorea jasminoides, Monarda 'Peter's Purple', Cuphea ignea 'Starfire Pink', and Salvia leucophylla x clevelandii 'Pozo Blue'


As I had leftover stems, I threw together a third vase, which may be my personal favorite this week.  It's not as fussy as the other two arrangements, which makes it perfect for the kitchen island.

I used the extra stems of Abelia, Ammi majus, and Scabiosa here and tucked a few stems on Origanum 'Monterey Bay' in the back


The other arrangements took their places on the dining and front entry tables respectively.



For more arrangements created from floral and foliage materials found in the creators' own gardens, visit our IAVOM host, Cathy at Rambling in the Garden.


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

Friday, June 26, 2020

After three months away...

Back in March I was still actively serving as a docent at South Coast Botanic Garden and involved, along with two other docents, in a project to resurrect the dahlia garden there.  When all volunteers were furloughed in mid-March as part of the garden's response to the coronavirus pandemic those activities came to a relatively abrupt halt, although the garden itself remained open to visitors (with advance reservations, masks, and physical distancing).  I finally decided to pay a visit on my own this week.  I reserved an early morning slot, grabbed my face mask and camera, and headed on over.

Even following all the safety guidelines, I still felt as if I was engaged in some transgression, like trespassing or playing hooky from school, but then I feel much the same way every time I go to the supermarket.  There were other visitors but the garden is 87 acres so it wasn't hard to keep my distance.  Still, I spun through my visit in about an hour, clicking photos as I went.  This post covers what I thought worth sharing.  I should mention that the garden employs only four gardeners and a lot of maintenance is normally performed by volunteers.  After an absence of over three months, it's showing the impact of their absence in many areas but I've generally focused on the positives.

This is the courtyard at the entrance of the garden.  In the past, plants offered for sale filled the area showed in the central photo.

This is the only decent photo of the Japanese Garden but it and the Fuchsia Garden beyond looked pretty good

Shortly before the lockdown, SCBG had leveled this large section of the Volunteer Garden to prepare a new formal garden (if I remember the plan correctly).  Now it's a dust bowl.

This is the Dahlia Garden.  Another docent and I dug up the beds to clear weeds and add planting mix before the lockdown.  We delivered 49 dahlia tubers and labels and a suggested planting plan to garden staff in early April, leaving the garden's staff to plant and tend the dahlias.

We don't know when the tubers were planted or whether they were all planted at the same time but I counted just 24 sprouted tubers when I was there.  I'm not sure what the large-leafed plants in the central bed are but they're not dahlias.  The garden installed a drip system but I'm not sure they've done any pinching to encourage the plants to bush out.  Nothing is in place to support the larger plants yet but they may be waiting to see what else sprouts before placing these.

The remaining sections of the Volunteer Garden are very weedy but the tree-sized Tithonia diversifolia (aka Mexican sunflower tree) was good to see

With the exception of this nice seating area, the Vegetable Garden was also a little sad but, with only 4 gardeners, I'm sure they have to set priorities

The Living Wall, comprised of a combination of succulents and ferns, has held up remarkably well

Sadly, the Desert Garden was very weedy.  This was the nicest shot I got.

This area of the Desert Garden was one of the worst I saw.  I'm not even sure what those tall weeds are but they're obscuring the succulents here.  Clearing weeds around spiky succulents is never easy but I shuddered at the effort required to clean this up.

The newer succulent area is still relatively bare but it had fewer weeds!  Shown from left to right: a noID Aloe, Cussonia paniculata (aka mountain cabbage tree), and Pseudobombax x elliptica (aka shaving brush tree).

This is the garden's amphitheater, which I don't think I've ever featured before.  The white Brugmansia (aka angel trumpets) are in full bloom and, even after 9am in the morning, their scent was strong.

The Rose Garden offered plenty of color, even if a lot of shrubs are in serious need of deadheading

I was pleased to see a lot of parents with children in the garden

Top row: Rosa 'Julia Child' and 'Sparkle and Shine'
Middle row: 'Lady Emma Hamilton', noID, and 'Oh My!'
Bottom row: 'Love Song' and 'Twilight Zone'

Non-roses in the Rose Garden included: Agave attenuata (perhaps 'Kara's Stripes'), white-flowered Lagerostroemia indica (crape myrtle), and a bloomed out Salvia clevelandii

Just beyond the Rose Garden is the Garden for the Senses, which my friend Kay had taken on as a major project when she joined the volunteers.  Someone has been keeping it up nicely in her absence!



The Aloysia citrodora (lemon verbena, top) was most done blooming but still looking good.
The photos below highlight Pelargonium 'Copthorne' and 2 kinds of chocolate daisies (Cosmos atrosanguineus and Berlandiera lyrata), most of which Kay grew from seed.

This bed, also in the Garden of the Senses, looked spectacular!

The bed shown above features, clockwise from the upper left: Rudbeckia hirta 'Irish Spring', 3 Echinacea, Helichrysum italicum (aka curry plant), Melissa officinalis (I think, aka lemon balm) and Tanacetum parthenium (aka feverfew)

Moving beyond the Garden for the Senses, I entered the Lavender Fields, in full flower and looking better than I think they ever have before

I think that's another crape myrtle in the center and beyond that you get a glimpse of a sculpture positioned in the Mediterranean Garden, which is never at its best in mid-summer

This end of the Lavender Fields is bordered by 2 desert willows (hybrids of Chilopsis I think)

If they weren't so absolutely huge, I'd want a desert willow in my own garden

I took a quick peek at the Banyan Forest, one of my favorite parts of the garden but I didn't venture more deeply into SCBG than this, which means I covered less than half the property during my visit.  I think the white flowers you can make out in the photo on the left are those of a Eucalyptus positioned just outside the banyan area.  The photo on the right shows the roots of the Moreton Bay figs (Ficus macrophylla).


As I wrap up this post, here are a few other random shots I took in different spots of the garden.

This is a neat flower-covered tunnel, which as I recall leads back to the Garden of the Senses.    I believe the yellow flowers belong to Cassia leptophylla, a flowering tree.  I can't identify the blue flowers off-hand but the orange ones belong to Leonotis leonurus (aka lion's tail).

The little boy on the left is taking photos of the giant Dahlia 'Mystic Spirit' plants grown in a bed opposite the Rose Garden

The lovely purple-flowered plants here are Lycianthes rantonnetii (aka blue potato bush) and a smallish Jacaranda

One of the Fuchsias blooming in the Fuchsia Garden (noID)

Pink-flowered blooms include, top, mimosa trees (Albizia julibrissin), looking MUCH better than my own specimen.  On the bottom row are: Osteospermum 'Berry White', Rehmannia elata (aka Chinese foxglove), and a mix of other flowers I can't identify (one of which may be Phygelius).


As I headed out, I noticed that the garden has made arrangements to sell sandwiches and other food since I was last there.

Frankie & Elaine's had a coffee/drink stand open near the front entrance before the lockdown but I don't remember this booth featuring salads, sandwiches and other finger foods


Other than a brief exchange with a staff member who recognized me shortly after I arrived, the only one I spoke to before I left was this fellow.

He actually didn't say much - he just wanted me to move along and leave him to his digging


I went home and pulled some weeds.

That's it from me this week.  I hope you enjoy a pleasant weekend.  Stay safe.  The virus is still present and running wild, at least in the US, and it isn't time to let down your guard - or stop wearing masks to protect others.


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