Friday, January 31, 2020

Winter Visit to Sherman Gardens

Early this week, 20+ of my fellow South Coast Botanic Garden docents and I toured Sherman Gardens in Corona Del Mar.  I've been there several times before but it appears this is the first time I've visited during winter.  It's also the first time I was treated to a docent-led tour.

We broke into small groups.  Mine started out in the Succulent Garden.

The huge California pepper tree just inside the Succulent Garden was serving a dual purpose as a wishing tree.  In December, children touring the garden wrote wishes on red paper that were then affixed to the tree.

The last time I visited the huge variegated Furcraea foetida mediopicta that dominated this corner of the Succulent Garden was in bloom.  Like its relative, the Agave, its monocarpic so, when the bloom cycle was complete, it died.  A new Furcraea has been planted there - you can just see it poking over the top of the burgundy bromeliads on the left side of this photo.

The succulent display in this area is highly stylized and absolutely captivating

Rock and colored stone is mixed with succulents to create a garden mosaic of sorts

I've never seen this garden is less than pristine condition

The plants on the other side of the Succulent Garden are arranged in a more natural layout but far more densely planted than you'd see in nature

This fellow is Julius (Caesar), the garden cat, who followed our group for a portion of the tour.  He had no trouble whatsoever maneuvering among spiky plants

We checked the borders on the other side of the Succulent Garden before moving into the Fern Grotto.

This area contained a papaya tree, a banana tree, and a huge Buddha's Hand (Citrus medica var. sarcodactylis)

I'm not sure of the identity of the fern in the upper left.  The fern on the upper right was described as a "moose-horn" fern.  The gorgeous fern in the bottom 2 photos is Microsorum musafolium, aka the crocodile fern.

Then we headed back across the garden toward the Tropical Conservatory.

We passed the fountain near the south entrance to the gardens, and another group of fellow docents.  The plants around the fountain are changed out several times a year.

This was the best photo I managed to get of Caryota obtusa, aka the fishtail palm

This border area outside the Tropical Conservatory got a lot of attention, mostly focused of the ruffled silver-gray foliage of the plant in the middle of the photo and the other one to its left rear.  The docent wasn't able to identify it for us but I guessed it was an Echium.  Although I've never grown this one, I'm fairly certain it's Echium wildpretii.  Now that I've seen it in person, I'm going to have to get hold of one for my own garden.

Unfortunately, the Tropical Conservatory was closed during our tour as work was being done there.  We just got a chance to stick our heads in for a quick photo of the Koi pond.

The area around the exterior of the conservatory featured carnivorous plants, bromeliads, and orchids

As we rounded the exterior of the Tropical Conservatory, I was surprised to discover that the Rose Garden was missing!

Apparently, the roses are all moved out during the winter months when they're not at their best.  Pretty ornamentals like Cordyline, bedding plants such as Cyclamen, and even edibles like kale fill the area during the off-season.

The area beyond the Rose Garden is officially called the Sun Garden but I like the think of it as "Sherman's Garden" as the botanic garden's mascot holds court there.

A statue of an otter holding a hose stands at the edge of the pond.  I once asked if he had a name and I was told it was Sherman (of course!).  Silver plants, including the popular Senecio 'Angel Wings', featured heavily in the area on this visit.

As we were concluding our tour I noticed a striking vine dangling from the roof of the gift shop.

I wasn't even sure this vine was real at first.  A woman popped out of the front guest entrance to identify it for me as a flame vine from Brazil.  Apparently, it only blooms during the winter months.  I looked it up when I got home - its Latin name is Pyrostegia venusta.  Isn't it spectacular?

Fabulous plants are everywhere in this garden.  This Begonia was planted in a narrow border next to the gift shop.  I was told its name but I'm afraid I've already forgotten it.

Even small areas in the middle of paths surrounding posts were planted with colorful specimens, in this case Heucheras of various kinds

Sherman Gardens is small, less than 3 acres in size, but as you can see from this post, every square inch contains something interesting.  It's definitely worth a visit if you find yourself in the area of Newport Beach.  The fact that it's also only a mile or so from Roger's Gardens, a wonderful garden center, is an added bonus in my view.

Have a great weekend!

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

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Wednesday Vignette: Getting an early start

On a visit to Sherman Gardens in Corona Del Mar earlier this week, I discovered that a hummingbird was already nesting in a quiet corner of the garden.  A sign mounted by the garden staff warned visitors to keep their distance while she did her best to ignore the presence of an admiring public.

She was all business

and the very picture of patience

Does this mean Spring is just around the corner?  It feels like it here.  Our temperatures have climbed and other than some very light precipitation associated with heavy fog, we had no rain in January and currently the prospects for February aren't looking any better.

For more Wednesday Vignettes, visit Anna at Flutter & Hum.  I hope to be back with more photos from my trip to Sherman Gardens by the end of the week.

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

Monday, January 27, 2020

In a Vase on Monday: The Stars of my January Garden

I focused on two of the stars of my January garden this week.  One is close to reaching its peak and the other is nearly past it and both deserve a little time on the center stage.

This is Camellia williamsii 'Taylor's Perfection'.  I think it was the first plant I bought for my garden here after we moved in.  I had several Camellias in my former tiny garden but, due to our persistent problem with drought, this is the only one I've planted here.  Luckily, I also inherited a few well-established Camellia sasanqua with the garden.

Camellias generally don't last long in a vase but I enjoy having them in the house, if only briefly, so I can enjoy their beauty up close.

I chose an asymmetrical glass vase and plants with subtle pink touches to let the Camellias shine

Back view: The yellow at the throat of the Nemesia picks up the color at the center of the Camellia in a subtle echo

Top view

Clockwise from the left: Camellia williamsii 'Taylor's Perfection', Coleonema pulchellum 'Sunset Gold', Leptospermum scoparium 'Pink Pearl', and Nemesia 'Snow Angel'

I usually feature the flower-like bracts of Leucadendron 'Wilson's Wonder' in a vase earlier in January.

These plants get big!  I brought the one on the left with me from my old house in a pot and it exploded in size once planted in the ground.  The one on the right has only been in the ground 3 years but it's already giving me reason for concern that it might outgrow its spot.  I cut both down by about half once their winter "bloom" cycle is cover.

Some of the yellow bracts of the Leucadendron are already developing the reddish color they get as they age and the central cones are gradually shifting from yellow to brown so the window to share them in a vase was narrowing.

The only floral accents I included were a few stems of paperwhite Narcissus

Back view

Top view

Clockwise from the upper left: Leucadendron 'Wilson's Wonder', Corokia x virgata 'Sunsplash', Leptospermum 'Copper Glow', noID Narcissus, and Phormium 'Maori Queen'

We had a few warm days last week and expect to have even higher temperatures in the mid-to-upper 70sF this week.  Sadly, there's no rain in the forecast for the next couple of weeks but, if we can't have rain, maybe I'll at least have some new blooms to share next week.

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

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

Friday, January 24, 2020

My Expanding xMangave Collection

xMangaves are intergeneric hybrids created by breeding Manfredas with various species of Agaves.  I didn't know much about them when I got my first one, 'Blood Spot', in 2015.  Sometime after that they exploded in popularity as more and more hybrids were created.  Unfortunately, few garden centers or nurseries in my own area offered them.  A few crept into the local trade in 2019 but the majority of those I've collected since 2015 have come via mail order nurseries and as gifts.  This week following a meeting, the South Coast Botanic Garden docents had an opportunity to tour the garden's propagation unit and I was pleased to see that volunteer propagators have created their own hybrid.

The plant on the left and its siblings in the next 2 photos are hybrids of a Manfreda and Agave potatorum.  The new creation reminds me a bit of 'Spotty Dotty' but this one has nicely curving leaves along the lines of 'Falling Waters'.

I'm hoping that one will show up at the garden's Spring Festival and Plant Sale in April.  In the meantime, I decided it was a good time to take an inventory of what I already have.

My newest and generally smallest specimens are tucked into what I call my bromeliad bed (even though there are now more succulents than bromeliads there).

This is 'Falling Waters', which I got by mail order from Mountain Crest Gardens

'Mission to Mars', one of 3 Mangaves Gerhard Bock of Succulents & More kindly picked up for me at a US Davis Arboretum sale.  I'm hoping it'll get enough sun in this spot to develop the red leaves it's known for.

'Pineapple Express' was purchased at South Coast Botanic Garden's Fall Plant Sale

There are larger and more well-established specimens in the adjacent succulent bed in my front garden.

'Bed Head', purchased by mail order from Plant Delights, is one of my favorites, although it's looked a little beaten down by the rain it received last year and again this year

My husband purchased 'Jaguar' and other Mangaves by mail order from Plant Delights for my birthday last year.  One of the larger Mangaves, expected to reach 2 feet in height at maturity, it's already looking great.

I moved 'Spotty Dotty' last year and she's been happier since

'Snow Leopard' was also a birthday gift from my husband.  With the return of cooler temperatures this winter, these 2 plants have taken on a decidedly pink tinge.

The same is true of 'Kaleidoscope'.  This one is the most prolific pupper among my Mangaves.

The dry garden on the northeast side of the house has some of my oldest specimens, including 'Blood Spot'.

A group shot of the collection in this area

'Blood Spot', the Mangave that started this particular collecting obsession.  This is the one and only Mangave I've obtained from a local garden center thus far.

I got 'Lavender Lady' by  mail order in 2017 but she's shown up recently in SoCal garden centers

'Purple People Eater' was part of my birthday haul.  It's looking a little scruffy at the moment.

The discoloration on a few leaves of 'Silver Fox' has me concerned about rot but the problem hasn't progressed so I'm hopeful

Other than another couple of 'Kaleidoscope' Mangaves on the front slope, the rest of my plants are in pots.

'Blazing Saddles' was a Christmas gift from a friend in 2018.  It's supposed to remain relatively small and seems perfectly happy in this container planted by my friend.

'Moonglow', part of Gerhard's shipment

'Red Wing' was another of the plants Gerhard secured for me.  It's supposed to tolerate a bit of shade.

I got 'Tooth Fairy', another of my favorites, from Mountain Crest.  It's reputed to be a slow grower so I've surrounded it with other succulents in this rusted steel wok.

I may have gotten off to a slow start with this particular collection but I'm catching up - maybe.  Breeders seem to be hybridizing new varieties every week.

Have a pleasant weekend!

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