Friday, February 28, 2020

Wide Shots - Early Spring 2020

I started taking wide shots of my garden in September 2013, initially posting them monthly.  As my garden matured, I transitioned to a quarterly schedule in 2016 but last year, during our remodel, I skipped some of these.  I'd planned to put myself back on a quarterly schedule this year but Spring fever had me snapping photos here and there over the past week until I ended up with  what I thought provided a nice round-up to post today.

This is the photo that got me started:

This is the garden on the northeast side of the house, my original "dry garden."  I took it last Sunday as the last storm front moved through our area.  We got no measurable rain but the pavement got damp.  The bright red color on the right is provided by Grevillea 'Scarlet Sprite'.

I didn't take pictures of the entire garden but I covered a good portion of it so lets continue rounding the house in a clockwise fashion.

This is the view from our back door looking out at the harbor yesterday morning, after I'd cut down a mass of Artemisia californica just inside the hedge

This is the view from the narrow dirt path between that hedge and the wide border in front of it, looking back at the house.  I pulled out the woody Santolina from the area in the middle of the shot, filling in with annual seedlings as a stopgap pending inspiration.

A shot of the same area from a different angle, looking south

This is the garden on the south side, looking east toward the harbor.  The shrubs on the left (Agonis flexuosa 'Nana'), cut back hard in January, are slowly recovering.

I recently pulled out several succulents in the area just outside the lower left frame of this photo.  I'd like to replace them with something softer along the path leading to the lath (shade) house, possibly more Lomandra 'Platinum Beauty'.

This is the main level of the front garden looking south toward the path leading to the lath house.  I need to prune the Leucadendron 'Wilson's Wonder' on the left but I'm trying to pace myself as the ganglion cyst in my right wrist is still acting up.

I finished cutting back the last of my Pennisetum this week, including the one that obscured the Yucca gloriosa 'Variegata' and Leucospermum 'Spider' on this moderate front garden slope

View looking at the front door from the far side of the driveway.  The Hong Kong orchid tree (Bauhinia x blakeana) is still blooming!  The pink Breath of Heaven (Coleonema pulchellum 'Sunset Gold') on the right is a mass of pale pink flowers.

I took advantage of my husband's absence to take a photo of the area on the north end of the house, where his truck is parked much of the time.  I cut back the Leucadendron 'Wilson's Wonder' to the left of the chimney last weekend.  It had grown well above the roof line.

I'll close with this shot taken from the north end of the house looking across the front garden on the east side of the driveway

The garden's looking pretty good at the moment despite the fact that we've received only 6.6 inches of rain this season (i.e. since October 1st).  We warmed up dramatically this week, although we didn't hit a record temperature for February yesterday as some forecasters had suggested we could.  We have another very, very slim chance of rain on Sunday.  I'm not holding my breath but I am praying for another March miracle.

Enjoy your weekend!

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

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Late February Blooms

Inevitably, as soon as I publish my monthly Bloom Day post, something else pops up in the garden.  That's especially true in early Spring and, with temperatures close to 80F yesterday, it certainly feels like Spring now.  Some of the flowers making a late February appearance may still be around in mid-March but I'm going to go ahead and celebrate their arrival now, starting with the 2 biggest surprises.

I almost missed the Majorcan peony bloom entirely, catching it out of the corner of my eye mostly hidden by plants I hadn't gotten round to cutting back.  I cut back the Pennisetum and Lobelia laxiflora the very next morning to reveal a single bloom of the Paeonia cambessedesii I planted in March 2014.  As best I can remember, it's never produced more than a single bloom in any given year, perhaps because I allow it to be engulfed by other plants year-after-year.

I planted  2 varieties of species tulips in early December but only half-expected blooms.  Seeing Tulipa clusiana 'Lady Jane'  suddenly appear all at once was a delightful discovery.  I'm still waiting on T. clusiana 'Cynthia'.

Other bulb blooms were more predictable.

This noID bearded Iris on my back slope was in bud for weeks but didn't open until last week

Italian hybrid Anemone 'Mistral Rarity' had a single bloom prior to Bloom Day this month but is now unfurling one bloom after another

Another hybrid, Anemone 'Mistral Azzurro', followed on 'Rarity's' heels.  The stems on this one are longer.

A few blue Freesias have been in bloom for almost a month but this week Freesias in all sorts of colors are making an appearance

I planted Ipheion uniflorum in my garden a year or two after we moved in, along the edge of borders than were subsequently expanded twice as we slowly removed the lawn in the back garden.  They now appear in the middle of beds, steadily multiplying each year.

Some of the larger-cupped daffodils showed up this week, scattered in various corners of the back garden.  I don't have names for most of them. 

Sparaxis tricolor showed up this week too.  The vast majority of mine are orange but there are a few whites and pinks.

Calla lilies (Zantedeschia aethiopica) planted by some prior gardener on the back slope reappear every year, aided by rain.  The plants completely disappear during out hot, dry summers.

A couple of other plants caught me by surprise too.

Daphne odora 'Leucanthe', purchased on a whim back in October, bloomed.  I'd given it a 50-50 chance here.

I'd forgotten pretty Osteospermum ' Spring Day', planted 2 years ago, before it was suddenly covered in blooms.  The petals are pale pink on top and a sunny yellow underneath.

That's my late February line-up but, with 3 days left in the month, who's to say there won't be more?  I'll be watching the garden closely!

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

Monday, February 24, 2020

In a Vase on Monday: The new and the old

At this time of year the garden seems to produce something new nearly every day.  Last week, I saw something I'd never seen before and it took me a minute to realize that the first of the species tulips I'd planted as bulbs in early December were blooming.  Conveniently, I also discovered some pink Freesias to complement them.  Those two elements kicked off my first vase this week.

The 'Lady Jane' tulips are new to this garden, although I tried species tulips more than a decade ago in my former garden.  The lower light inside the house keeps them from opening fully but allows the bight pink on the reverse of the petals to shine.  I'm hoping the tulips will return for another show next year but our exceptionally mild winters may not support that aim.

The Freesias provide a light perfume to the air

Rosy-hued Grevillea 'Penola' picked up the pinks in the bulb blooms

Clockwise from the upper left: Tulipa clusiana 'Lady Jane', Grevillea lavandulacea 'Penola', white and pink Freesias, and Pyrethropsis hosmariense

The large-flowered Grevilleas bloom year-round but they're flowering especially heavily at the moment.  The arrival of the first yellow Freesias clinched their selection for another vase this week.

Grevilleas 'Ned Kelly' and 'Superb' were both in need of pruning, as was Leucadendron 'Jester', so this vase was an opportunity to use some of what I planned to cut anyway

The back view looks relatively similar to the front view in this case

Top view

Clockwise from the upper left: Grevillea 'Superb', G. 'Ned Kelly', Euryops virgineus 'Tali', yellow Freesia, Leucadendron 'Devil's Blush', Leucadendron 'Jester', and Xylosma congestum

I hadn't planned a third vase (really!) but my cutting garden is producing a steady supply of hybrid Anemone blooms and they're only going to last so long.  I couldn't ignore them, could I?

I kept this arrangement fairly simple

Back view: The Limonium perezii (aka sea lavender) on the right is another plant that has just begun its bloom cycle

Top view

Clockwise from the top: Two hybrid Anemone 'Mistral Azzurro', Limonium perezii, Osteospermum 'Violet Ice', and Salvia 'Mystic Spires'

For more "In a Vase on Monday posts," visit Cathy at Rambling in the Garden.

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

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