Monday, April 6, 2020

In a Vase on Monday: Fruit Sherbet

We had beautiful weather this past weekend and I spent a lot of my time in the garden, at intervals even managing to forget the circumstances currently facing everyone everywhere to one degree or another.  When it came time to pick flowers for "In a Vase on Monday," I targeted two tall stems of peach foxglove that had finally opened after keeping me waiting impatiently for weeks.  With a glance at the one snapdragon still left in my cutting garden, my fruit sherbet color scheme was set.

The relatively short stems of Antirrhinum majus 'Peachy Dragon' pulled all these colors together and gave me an excuse for recycling two stems of Leucospermum 'Spider' I'd cut last week and cutting a third to fill out the vase

In retrospect, I can't say why I didn't put the 2 foxglove stems together rather than separating them like this.  Maybe I was unconsciously thinking of Easter bunnies?

This was the best I could do in way of an overhead shot

Clockwise from the upper left: Agonis flexuosa 'Nana', Arbutus 'Marina', Digitalis 'Dalmatian Peach', Leucospermum 'Spider', Narcissus 'Geranium', noID Ixia, pink Ranunculus and, in the middle, Antirrhinum majus 'Peachy Dragon'


Remembering that a purple bearded Iris at the bottom of my back slope has been blooming off and on, I trooped down there to see if my timing was right to get a flowering stem for a vase, and I was gratified to find that it was.  It determined the color scheme for my second vase.

The blue Anemones stole the show from the noID Iris.  I did some sleuthing online and determined that the dwarf Iris might be 'Darth Vader'.

Once again, I got carried away, stuffing the vase with a lot of other plant material, including a few bedraggled stems of the unusual noID purple Abelia growing on my back slope.  Purchased several years ago labeled simply Abelia species I've been unable to find a proper name for it and I've never seen it anywhere else.

Top view

Top row: Abelia sp., Agrostemma 'Ocean Pearls', Anemone 'Mistral Azzurro', and Babiana rubrocyanea
Middle row: Coloenema album, Freesia, noID Iris germanica, and Lavandula multifida
Bottom row: Pelargonium 'White Lady', noID Pericallis, Salvia lyrata 'Purple Volcano', and Verbena lilacina 'De La Mina'


We had rain overnight and more is expected today and possibly at intervals through Thursday.  As our season-to-date total is still well below the average for Los Angeles and as our rainy season generally ends in early April, the storm system is welcome.  And it's not as if I need to drive anywhere...

I hope you are doing well.  To see more IAVOM creations, visit Cathy at Rambling in the Garden.



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

Friday, April 3, 2020

Wide Shots - April 2020

It's April and time for one of my quarterly wide shots posts.  After seeing what a great job another blogger, Cathy of Rambling in the Garden, did in conducting a full-blown video tour of her garden I - very briefly - considered doing one of these but I fear that both my camera skills and my narration would be seriously lacking.  So here's another round of still photos, starting with my back garden:

While air pollution is down here, clouds have dominated the sky during the morning hours.  They improved the quality of my photos, though.

I took this shot looking back at the house from the dirt path than runs between my back garden border and the hedge

This is a view looking north from a midway point in the back garden.  Leucadendron 'Pisa' on the left produced its first luminescent flower-like "blooms" this week.  Orange Leucospermum 'Brandi' is blooming too.

This is a view from the north end of the back garden looking back toward the patio area.  I wasn't sure about planting the white Argyranthemum 'Everest' months ago but the shrubs have added a fresh touch to this end of the garden.

This is the view from the patio looking south.  Most of the yellow Gazanias you see in the foreground were self-planted.  The shrub on the right alongside the house is Calliandra haematocephala (aka pink powder puff bush).  It's new foliage is fabulous when its not shorn into submission.

We're looking north in the direction of the mimosa tree (Albizia julibrissin) from the south end of the back garden.  The mimosa hasn't begun to leaf out yet.


Next up is the garden on the south side of the house.

We're looking west here.  The 'Blue Glow' and 'Blue Flame' Agaves on the left are living up to their names.  Leucospermum 'Goldie' is blooming on the right.

Here's another view of the same area from a different angle (once again taken from the dirt path between the borders and the hedge that surrounds them)

This view looking east shows off the California poppies and the fresh red foliage of the dwarf peppermint willow shrubs (Agonis flexuosa 'Nana') I pruned back hard in January

This and the following photo show segments of the south side garden that I often overlook.  Cistus x skanbergii is blooming on the right.  The succulents lining the path are mostly Graptoveria 'Fred Ives'.

This is the other side of the bed shown on the right in the prior photo.  The Cotinus coggyygria I cut nearly to the ground is rebounding but the ornamental grasses (Pennisetum 'Fireworks') have not done so yet.


Taking the path to the right of the cement wall shown in the prior photo brings us down to the lower level of the front garden.

This is where my lath (shade) house sits.  This view looking east hides a gopher burrow!


The lath house area borders the street.  Here's a view of the succulent bed planted there:

I've done very little with this area since I took down the remains of the 2 Agave desmettiana that bloomed last year.  The Xylosma congestum shrubs we added 3 (or more?) years ago to extend the hedge on the left that came with the house are finally beefing up, which may require that I edit this area sometime this year.


Walking along the street brings us to the driveway and the main level of the front garden.

Path to the front door

This is the bed to the left of the path, dominated by the Hong Kong orchid tree (Bauhinia x blakeana) and Leptospermum 'Copper Glow'.  Arctotis 'Pink Sugar' is currently in full bloom here.  I still haven't planted anything to screen the new air conditioning unit we installed last year.

Three different views of the large south end area of the front garden are shown here

These are 2 more views of the south side of the front garden.  The gardeners that maintain our hedges got carried away cutting things back alongside the house as can be seen in the photo on the left.  They meant well but I've asked them to leave that area alone in the future as they hacked up 3 clumps of Lomandra 'Breeze' and cut back my mature Grevillea 'Superb'.  The view on the right looking at the same area from the other direction isn't quire as painful.

This is the area on the other side of the driveway alongside the garage

The pathway shown in the prior photo leads to this succulent garden.  My husband is currently at work replacing the gravel path with one using the pavers you see stacked up near the fence, saved during last year's home remodel.  That spot currently occupied by the pavers will house the new compost bins he's building for me.

A last view of the front garden looking southwest


From the driveway, we head into the cutting garden on the north end of the house.

I was pleased with the Anemones in my cool-season cutting garden this year but the Ranunculus have been very disappointing.  The sweet peas are only just beginning to reach bloom stage.  The same is true of the larkspur (Consolida ajacis).


The gate shown in the prior photo leads into another garden area, featuring a mix of succulents and other drought-tolerant plants.

This part of the garden is getting a little wild and woolly in spots

View of the same area looking in the opposite direction


I'll end this quarter's tour with the back slope.

Looking down from the top of the concrete block stairway

The congested view along the property line.  I should have removed the Matilija poppy (Romneya coulteri) behind the Ceanothus as I'd planned but somehow never got around to it.  I'll give it another chance to bloom before I tackle that chore.

The  area to the right of the stairway should show a lot more color when the Centranthus and Echium bloom


The slope is a few weeks from exploding into bloom.  I may give it its own post when that happens as Spring is the only time of the year its worth a closer look.

That's it from me this week.  Things are scarier here as the number of diagnosed COVID-19 cases has jumped in Los Angeles County.  My husband and I hope to avoid even grocery shopping for awhile.  My cat has another chemotherapy treatment coming up so that may be my only outing next week.

My best wishes to you.  Take care and stay safe!


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

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

What needs doing

Although I've theoretically had more free time since our shelter-at-home order went into effect on March 20th, hunting down supplies, touching base with friends and family, and a project I felt committed to move along have kept me from doing much more in the garden than watering and deadheading.  I'm now looking forward to tackling the garden projects that need doing.  I conducted an inventory of sorts with my camera yesterday, starting with the projects at the top of my personal priority list.

There are 3 'Bright Star' Yuccas in this photo.  Did you notice the small one between the 2 larger plants?  All of these were planted at the same time and started out the same size.  I'm assuming that the growth of the one in the middle has been stunted by root competition.  It's also being overrun by surrounding plants.  I've been planning to dig it up and move it.

I've even got the perfect spot to put it, relatively close to the larger two plants.  It means moving these bearded Iris.  They didn't bloom last year and they're not looking very promising this year either.  They want more water I think.

This border in my back garden has needed fleshing out since I removed a cluster of woody Santolina.  Although I added a few plants (Astelia, Lupinus, and Scleranthus) before the pandemic got serious, this spot needs more.  I'm thinking of mail ordering a few annuals to serve as a temporary filler until I can shop in person for something more permanent.

One of the front garden borders was torn up when the discovery of a corroded gas line during our remodel required digging a large trench along 2 stretches of the house's foundation last year.  As the stepping stones introduced in this area by a prior owner are no longer needed, my plan is to remove them and replant.  I'll need more planting mix - and plants - to achieve what I'd like here but my local garden center, not open for normal shopping, has advertised online orders and deliveries so I'll be looking into that.


So those were my top priorities.  However, the day before yesterday my husband started one of the projects on his list.  It's a project that benefits me, a new compost bin to replace the compost tumbler that had literally disintegrated over time, discarded during last year's home remodel.  While I'm very appreciative, the issue is that the compost bin is slated to go next to my garden workbench.

And that spot is currently occupied by a pile of cement pavers removed from the back patio when our kitchen was extended.  They have to be moved and my husband wants to store them behind the garage, already occupied with other stuff.


My husband started to move the stone we'd saved when our indoor barbeque was demolished last year so he could put the pavers behind the garage for the time being.  That meant finding new homes for the stone, which isn't something I'd made much progress doing.

I'd laid several of the flatter stones in a muddy spot along this path with the intent of digging them into place but I hadn't gotten to that yet.  My husband decided to extend my little patch of stone (without prior discussion).

The problem with that is that it covers a nice mossy stretch of path, which I'd prefer not to do.  So now I need to find someplace else to move all the small flat stones he'd added.

Some of the larger stones will go into the moderate front slope to allow a degree of terracing.  I have to clean up and clear out some plants, including the poorly performing roses and a mass of horrid asparagus fern before we take that plan too far.

Some stone will go on the back slope too but first I need to clean out another mass of Centranthus seedlings that have spilled into the pathway here


The tasks related to shifting the stone now have priority over my original plans, although I'm still hoping to work in a few mail orders for new plants along the way.  My inventory of what needs doing yesterday also reminded me that I have other no-fun tasks I need to tackle sooner rather than later.

For some reason, Stipa tenuissima (Mexican feather grass) seedlings exploded in the areas between the stone pavers in my south side garden this Spring.  They're much more difficult to pull than the seedlings that pop up in open areas!

The Centaurea 'Silver Feathers' I planted at the base of our mimosa tree last year after digging out a large area of rampant asparagus fern has grown beyond its expected size, blocking the path.  I plan to pull out at least half of it but, as it's already producing bloom stalks, I may hold off a little while yet.

And then there's the gopher problem...I pushed dryer sheets into its burrow (visible on the right below the Aeonium arboreum) and I've seen no further activity but I've no idea if he moved out, or simply moved elsewhere.


I hope you're finding ways to stay productive in some capacity during this most unusual of times.  And I hope at least some your projects are fun!  Take care all!


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


Monday, March 30, 2020

In a Vase on Monday: Garden Magic

I felt utterly uninspired when I walked into my garden on Sunday to pick material to use in a vase.  It wasn't that the garden had nothing to offer - it's Spring after all.  The problem was that the situation facing my community, my city, my state, my country and the rest of the world just felt overwhelming.  I brought my clippers and a water-filled jar outside with me anyway and snipped a few blooms from my cutting garden, telling myself I should be able to focus long enough to cobble together one vase.  But then the garden worked its magic and I focused on my plants, shoving the world's woes into a closet at the back of my mind, at least for a time.

The Anemones in my cutting garden have peaked but there were still a few vase-worthy blooms

Back view: I gathered other flowers in shades of pink and blue to play off the colors of the Anemone's petals

Top view

Clockwise from the upper left: Cistus x skanbergii, lavender and blue Freesia, Osteospermum 'Berry White', Hebe 'Wiri Blush', Trichostemma 'Midnight Magic', Osteospermum 'Violet Ice' and, in the middle, hybrid Anemone 'Mistral Rarity'


Energized by my first collection effort, I tackled a second, centered around the first blooms of Leucospermum 'Spider' I'd originally eyed for one of last week's vases.

'Spider's' flower sepals are an amethyst color, which prompted me to add touches of pale blue to the arrangement

Back view: I added 2 Narcissus varieties to the mix to echo up the peach color of the Leucospermum

Top view

Clockwise from the upper left: Campanula portenschlagiana, Corokia x virgata 'Sunsplash' (recycled from one of last week's vases), Freesia, Narcissus 'British Gamble', Correa 'Wyn's Wonder', Xylosma congestum (also recycled from one of last week's vases), Narcissus 'Geranium' and, in the middle, hybrid Leucospermum 'Spider'


I cut more than I needed for the first arrangement so the leftovers went into a tiny vase for the kitchen island.

The contents are noID Pericallis  (aka Florist's Cineraria) and Persicaria capitata


I hope you're able to escape current circumstances at times.  Born well after the travails of World War II, this is the first time I can think of in which people all over the world are facing the same concerns, even if in varying degrees of intensity.  Here in Southern California, we got a little extra help on Friday.

This isn't a great photo but that's the US Navy Hospital Ship Mercy docked at the Port of Los Angeles, visible from our backyard.  Although half of it's hidden behind the cruise ship terminal, if you look closely you can see the red cross on its side.  It won't be taking in people infected by COVID-19 but it's available to accept other hospital patients to free up beds for those with the virus in Southern California hospitals.


Visit Cathy at Rambling in the Garden to see what other IAVOM contributors have pulled from their gardens to lift their spirits this week.  Best wishes to all!



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