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

Friday, March 27, 2020

Focusing on foliage

Despite my flower fixation, I've been making an effort to focus more attention on foliage over the last few years.  In Spring, it's easy to ignore foliage altogether as there's always another flower making an appearance but during the last couple of weeks (when I've had so much unexpected time at home!) I've paid more attention to the foliage in my garden.  Here are some of the plants that have stood out:

I featured the Cordyline 'Can Can' shown in the background here in my February foliage post but the focal point of this photo is Abelia x grandiflora 'Kaleidoscope'.  I cut this particular specimen back harder than I usually do and it's responded by coming back as a very tidy mound.

I have 3 Japanese maples but this dwarf variety, Acer palmatium "Mikawa Yatsubusa', is the first of these to leaf out

This Aeonium arboreum 'Velour' forms large ruby-tipped rosettes

I added 2 drought-tolerant Astelia 'Silver Shadow' to my back garden in February in the hope that they'll survive in this particularly dry area

I seem to have become a Begonia collector.  From left to right in my shade house I have: Begonia 'Champagne Bubbles', 'B. Escargot', and what I think may be B. rhizomatous 'Nautilus Lilac'.

Several specimens of Calliandra haematocephala (aka pink powder puff bush) came with the garden as foundation plants.  As such, they get sheared several times a year to keep them from spilling into walkways.  However, as you can see here, their fresh new foliage is very attractive when the plant's actually allowed to do its thing.

This isn't the flashiest Hebe in my collection and I value it mostly for the flowers but Hebe 'Wiri Blush' holds up better than most members of this genus in my garden and flaunts touches of red in the undersides of its glossy leaves

I've allowed this grass to spread in one area of my garden in the hope that I've correctly identified the seedlings as Lagurus ovatus (aka bunny tail grass).  If I'm wrong I'm going to be very unhappy in a couple of months.

This small shrub is one I routinely forget about because it's grown so slowly and tends to get hidden underneath surrounding plants when they flush out.  It's Ochna serrulata, a South African shrub commonly known as the Mickey Mouse plant because its black berries and red sepals are said to resemble Mickey's face.  Although the plant's been in my garden for 5 years, I've yet to see its flowers or its berries.

This is the foliage of Itoh peony 'Keiko'.  Planted in 2013, its foliage appears regularly but it has yet to flower for me.

This moss-like plant is Scleranthus biflorus, aka Australian astroturf.  I planted 3 of these clumps near the Astelia shown earlier because it's supposed to get by with little water once established and spread as much as 3 feet while maintaining a very low profile.  We shall see if it lives up to its reputation.

That's my wrap-up for this week's blog posts.  Be sure to give your foliage some attention while you're admiring your Spring flowers!

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

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Wednesday Vignette: My happy place

I share photos of the south end of my garden all too often it seems and here it is again.  But it's looking really good!  The rain we've enjoyed off and on for most of this month has washed the succulents clean and encouraged the California poppies to bloom.  Leucospermum 'Goldie' is blooming too.

The dwarf peppermint willow shrubs (Agonis flexuosa 'Nana') I cut back by more than half in January are filling out and flaunting their fresh red foliage in the bed adjacent to the small south-end patio.  Even the house's windows look clean from here.  (They aren't.)
Agave 'Blue Flame' is getting cozy with Agave medio-picta 'Alba' but at this stage they're still co-existing in harmony.  The Mexican grass tree (Dasylirion longissimum) hasn't tried to push them both out of the way yet either.

Leucospermum 'Goldie' has settled in comfortably with self-seeded Gazanias

Rain and fewer cars on the road have combined to reduce smog levels and keep the air clean

All is not right with the world at the moment but in this tiny little piece of it, just for a moment, it's possible to enjoy what's in front of me.  This is my happy place.

For more Wednesday Vignettes, visit Anna at Flutter & Hum.

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

Monday, March 23, 2020

In a Vase on Monday: Finding peace in arranging flowers

Officially, Californians (and residents of New York and a few other states) have been under orders to shelter at home since Friday but, from a practical standpoint, our movements came to an abrupt halt a week ago as group events and activities were cancelled right and left in response to new guidelines from the US Centers for Disease Control & Prevention.  Under the current order governing California residents and a second order governing Los Angeles County residents, "non-essential businesses" have been shut down and those of us not performing "essential services" (health care services, grocery and pharmacy operations, delivery services, garbage pick-up, and the like) have been asked to remain at home except to shop for groceries, obtain medical care, and perform functions in a similar vein.  It feels weird but at a time like this having a garden to work in is a very real sanity-saver.

It was a special pleasure to putter about my garden yesterday, selecting flowers and foliage to fill my vases, because the rhythm of that activity felt so normal.  You probably won't be at all surprised to see I've created more than one vase this week.

A rose was meant to occupy the front of this vase but it somehow got jockeyed to the side

Back view: Instead of cutting new Leucospermums to fill this vase as I'd intended to do, I chose to recycle the one I cut last week to serve a second term

Top view: I think the calla lilies (Zantedeschia aethiopica) ended up stealing center stage in this vase

Clockwise from the upper left: Alstroemeria 'Indian Summer', Freesia, Leucospermum 'Goldie', Grevillea 'Peaches & Cream', Rosa 'Joseph's Coat', Xylosma congestum, Grevillea 'Superb' and, in the middle, Zantedeschia aethiopica

My second vase was constructed around the Hippeastrum papilio (aka Butterfly Amaryllis) I discovered mostly by accident.  I grew 3 of these bulbs in a basket 2 years ago, then planted them in a bed outside our living room window in the hope they'd naturalize.  They didn't bloom last year and I wasn't expecting them to do anything this year when one bulb produced a single short stalk with a flower this past week.

Once again, I had less trouble than I'd anticipated finding suitable companions for the floral centerpiece

Back view: I reused 2 stems of Euphorbia 'Ascot Rainbow' (as well as 2 freshly cut stems of the same plant), an Alstroemeria I'd entirely forgotten I'd planted years ago and some humble clover flowers as accents

Top view: There's a stem of Corokia in there too and, if you look closely, you'll see it has a scattering of tiny yellow daisies

Clockwise from the upper left: Hippeastrum papilio, Alstroemeria 'Inca Husky', Coprosma repens 'Plum Hussey', Trifolium repens (white clover), Corokia x virgata 'Sunsplash', and Euphorbia 'Ascot Rainbow'

My third vase is a variation on the one I created last week using Dutch Irises as a centerpiece.

I selected different companions for the Irises this week, including 3 stems of Narcissus 'White Lion' and 2 stems of flowering Dianella I tripped across during my spin around the garden

Back view: I used Limonium perezii (sea lavender) as a filler

Top view

Clockwise from the upper left: Iris hollandica 'Sapphire Beauty', Dianella tasmanica 'Tasred', yellow Freesia, blue Freesia with Campanula portenschlagiana, Limonium perezii, and Narcissus 'White Lion'

I count myself very lucky that my husband and I are in reasonably good shape to manage through the challenges that face us with COVID-19, at least for now.  Wherever you are, I hope you're taking care of yourself and your loved ones as best you can during this trying time in world history.

For more pretty diversions, visit Cathy at Rambling in the Garden, our "In a Vase on Monday" host.

I had some leftover daisies (Argyranthemum 'Everest') that ended up in my small cactus vase behind the kitchen sink

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

Friday, March 20, 2020

Spring Blooms to the Rescue!

It's been a surreal and very turbulent week.  Trying to fill gaps in the pantry as grocery store shelves go bare.  One activity after another abruptly cancelled.  Limited to talking to friends by phone or text rather than seeing them in person.  Required to sit a the parking lot while my cat is unloaded from my car and taken inside the veterinary clinic for chemotherapy.  Then, last night, receiving notice from California State and Los Angeles County government officials directing the majority of residents to stay home, leaving only for essential tasks like grocery shopping and medical services.

My garden provides the only real sense of normalcy at the moment.  I collected another round of photos to share with those of you who are also seeking distraction.  I'll start with the blooms I missed when I put together my mid-month Bloom Day post less than a week ago.

How did I forget to show you a view of my California poppies?

The bed adjacent to the small patio on the south side of our house contains not only orange California poppies (Eschscholzia californica, top row), but also Leucospermum 'Goldie' and Sparaxis tricolor (bottom row).  Hard pruning the  Agonis flexuosa 'Nana' shrubs that had dominated this bed provided the space and the sun that allowed the poppies to bloom here.

Euphorbia x martinii 'Ascot Rainbow' echoes the colors of the in Yucca 'Bright Star' behind it

Narcissus tazetta 'Geranium' is making a statement in the front garden

Pelargonium hybrid 'White Lady' gets around on the back slope

Clockwise from the upper left, other flowers that were left out of my Bloom Day post include: Cuphea hybrid 'Starfire Pink', white and pink Ranunculus, a noID Antirrhinum majus, a noID spoon-petaled Osteospermum, Ajuga 'Mint Chip', and Veronica 'Waterperry Blue'.  I pruned most of my Cuphea back hard 2 months ago but I left one mostly intact because I didn't want to disappoint the hummingbirds.  The Ranunculus, planted as tubers in late November, have been disappointing thus far but perhaps conditions have been too cool and water too limited to allow them to do their best.

All sorts of flowers made their first appearance this week.

Iris douglasiana 'Santa Lucia' unfolds new blooms daily

Two more Leucospermums, 'Brandi' (left) and 'Spider' (right) are on their way

My first rose of the season bloomed!  It came with the garden and has a beautiful scent but I've no ID for it.

Clockwise from the upper left, the other new arrivals include: Alyogyne huegelii (aka blue hibiscus), Hyacinthoides hispanica (Spanish bluebells), Lotus berthelotii 'Amazon Sunset', Linum grandiflorum (red flax), and Centranthus ruber.  I sowed red and blue flax seeds in November and this is the very first flower.

I even had a couple of pleasant surprises.

I purchased this plant by mail order in 2012.  It was simply labeled Abelia species.  The seller no longer grows it and I've never found a species name for it.  The shape of the flowers is like that of other Abelias I grow but but it doesn't have the glossy foliage common to the Abelias commonly sold by garden centers.  It blooms every year but is partially hidden under an unruly trailing Lantana on the back slope.

I planted 3 Hippeastrum papilio in a mostly shade bed next to our living room window a couple of years ago after they completed their first bloom cycle in a basket.  They didn't bloom last year and I was afraid they weren't going to do so this year but one plant has produced a flower now, albeit on a very short stem.  I'll probably move all 3 bulbs in late spring to a spot where they can get more light in an effort to encourage more blooms next year.

Our shelter-in-place order remains in effect until at least April 19th so I guess I'll have time to tackle the variety of garden projects, big and small, that I've been putting off.  If you've found yourself suddenly at loose ends, I hope you're finding positive ways to occupy yourself too.  I'll close with another shot of the Scilla peruviana in my back garden, not because you didn't see it in my Bloom Day post, but only because I think it's very pretty.

Best wishes for a stress-free weekend.

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