Friday, July 10, 2020

Pandemic Planting

I try to avoid planting during the summer.  Even with careful watering, plants get stressed by the heat and the drying winds that blow most afternoons.  Some time ago, I amended my rule against summer planting to allow planting of succulents but I've still broken it routinely.  This year, confined to home most of the time, I've thrown the rule out entirely.  Puttering in my garden, even as temperatures rise, is my greatest source of stress relief.

I've paid a few visits to my local garden center since it reopened, the most recent this past Monday.  I went in search of fertilizer and a flat of 'Elfin' thyme to fill in bare spots between my flagstone steps.  The garden center wasn't as well-stocked as it's previously been due to delivery delays and I couldn't get the flat of thyme but of course I didn't go home with just fertilizer.  When I caught sight of several nice Alstroemeria in one-gallon pots, I couldn't help myself, even through I had no great place to put them.  So I bought a couple of new pots too!

This is the front entry with the addition of the new pots, some recently purchased and others scavenged from elsewhere in my garden

Alstroemeria 'Inca Vienna', accented with plugs of Muehlenbeckia axillaris, went into a new pot on the left

While Alstroemeria 'Inca Sundance' went into the new pot of the right


On Wednesday, my mail order from Mountain Crest Gardens arrived, containing five succulents.

It was beautifully packaged and almost all the packing material was recyclable.  It also included a nice instruction guide.

Three of the plants I ordered were 'Red Wing' Mangaves.  One of the new plugs is shown on the upper left.  The plant on the upper right is one I've had for more than a year, included to show the deep red color it develops.  I planted the three new plugs as a cluster to fill the empty spot left in the front garden succulent bed when I removed a large self-seeded sweet pea bush.  The Mangaves' red color should complement the bromeliad behind them.

I also bought myself another Mangave 'Bad Hair Day'.  I think this plant is better suited to a pot than it is planted in the ground.

The fifth succulent included in the Mountain Crest order was a Haworthiopsis 'Concolor', one of a group of succulents known collectively as zebra plants.  I have three Haworthiopsis fasciata planted in the ground (see photo on the lower left) but, like 'Bad Hair Day', I think these plants are better displayed in pots.


Then yesterday the first of two orders I'd placed with Annie's Annuals & Perennials arrived.

It arrived just after noon, neatly packed as always

Although our temperature was already in the low 80s, I went ahead and planted the 'African Blue' Basil (upper left) and the Helianthus anuus 'Delta Sunflower' (upper right) yesterday.  Both were positioned in my cutting garden.  Even though I cringed doing it, I cut back the sunflower's main stem to encourage branching,  The Rudbeckia 'Sahara' (lower right) and Salvia jamensis 'Ignition Purple' along with the Verbascum phoeniceum (lower left) all have spots identified but I'm giving them time to adjust to our warm temperature before planting.


My second Annie's order is due late next week!  Meanwhile, I can probably depend on the local critters to provide a source of distraction too.

These photos are poor as they were taken through glass from inside the house Wednesday night.  This is a mama raccoon and her baby in our back fountain.  Why all the raccoons insist on rummaging through the shells in the top tier of the fountain I'll never understand but it's clear they pick up the habit from their parents.

Mama was fierce!  She wouldn't leave until her baby safely extricated itself from the fountain, which took awhile.


I hope you enjoy a low-stress weekend.


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

24 comments:

  1. I ordered a R. 'Sahara' from Annies too. I got it about 3 weeks ago and it's budding up. I'll post a photo on IG when it blooms. It's been such a hot summer here so far-I just hate it. Spring was hot too, and June Gloom was pretty much a non-event. I dream of moving to the coast. Wonder where I can pick up a spare million bucks ??

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    1. We're still getting a bit of June gloom but it's burning off by 9am most days. We hit 92 today but I know many areas of the country are getting far worse and I'm not complaining. I'm considering 3 different areas for the Rudbeckia, the principal consideration now being which is the most likely to be safest from the gopher.

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  2. You certainly have been treating yourself to some very nice plants. Why not? We need to do this to get us through the horrors of this pandemic although I know it is much more difficult for many people who have no garden. Impossible to do much here now it is so hot. I hope you get to sit on the bench and enjoy your lovely new acquisitions. Have great weekend.

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    1. Thanks Jenny. Gardens are a sanity-saver to be sure. It's still comfortable enough to garden in the early morning and late afternoon without risking sunstroke here.

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  3. Oh, those are my kind of pots (and plants)! I'm having a strangely busier-than-normal summer, but if not for that I'd be adding a few plants here and there, too. I hope the raccoons won't cause too much damage to your beautiful garden!

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    1. The resident gopher's activities have put the raccoons' high-jinks into perspective for me, Beth. And that baby raccoon was awfully cute...

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  4. I need to give that Mountain Crest catalogue a browse! I've been planting and sowing seeds too. The June Gloom was amazing this year, and now the heat of July is finally kicking these summer annuals into gear. That is a charming pair of raccoons. Can you imagine the party if you left some oysters one night in the fountain?

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    1. I don't think the raccoons need any more encouragement to visit the fountain, Denise! Two siblings have been visiting for years now. This is the first time I've seen a baby, though.

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  5. "...So I bought a couple of new pots too!"
    I started laughing reading this confession because I recognize this thought pattern in myself. Mountain Crest Gardens instruction guide looks impressive and fun. I'm assuming Annie's Annuals will fill your IAVOM in the fall!

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    1. Well, my first thought was that I didn't need any more Alstroemerias; followed by but they're so pretty and not badly priced; followed by where can I put them; which of course led to in a pot and from there to I'll need some new pots! A natural progression, don't you think?!

      Hopefully, my dahlias will show up in the not too distant future to fill vases from late summer into fall. I planted my tubers in the cutting garden more than a month later than I did in 2019, when the first of those bloomed in June. I'm already frustrated by the gap in bloom material.

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  6. Yay for new plants! My order from Bird Rock Tropicals came yesterday, that was fun. As for those raccoons...damn.

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    1. I have to take another look at Big Rock Tropicals. I tried to get bromeliads for a friend's birthday there but they weren't committing to any specified shipping schedule at the time.

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  7. My weekend is going to be very stress free if you don't count the heat. So far I am keeping myself busy inside. When I see all of these lovely plants you have planted it makes me want to head out and at least shuffle around some pots. I will be out watering tomorrow no doubt. I had one of those zebra plants for two years then it just couldn't take my low light levels during winter the second year. I do like them. I might try again.

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    1. We're up to 93F here this afternoon, Lisa. That's not unbearable but it's no inducement to garden mid-day either. Luckily, I got in a couple of hours to provide selected areas extra water early this morning. If it gets a bit cooler within the next 2 hours, I may go check on the plants in my shade house but that'll be it for today. I imagine it's hotter where you are. The weather gets crazier with every passing year!

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    1. Sort of, except that I was buying my own presents!

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  9. New plants, what fun! I like those small Alstroemerias; have a few. They have stayed small so far. I managed to garden until about 10:30 this morning then the heat drove me indoors.

    Have been watching the Flycatcher activity through the window since. The chicks are starting to exercise their wings. Mama F. is not near so scary as Mama Racoon. Wow she looks intimidating.

    A mail-ordered Magnolia laevifolia is due to arrive this week--I hope it survives its journey...

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    1. So I'm not the only one ordering plants during the summer months! I look forward to seeing where you put your new Magnolia. I think my Tithonia sunflower tree is going to go into a pot to bulk up before I plant it in the ground - Annie's plants all come in 4-inch pots and I don't think it'll survive the very dry spot along the street until it has deeper roots and the support of winter rain.

      Mama raccoon was fierce. She stood on her hind legs and faced me from 6 feet or so away when I sought to drive her off. At that point I thought the baby had already moved out only to realize it was still caught up in the bottom tier of the fountain. I backed off, baby got out and mama and baby left.

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  10. Wonderful plants. I have to laugh at some plant names and Mangave 'Bad Hair Day' is on of those funny ones. Interesting visitors!

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    1. In this case, Nikki, that name is actually rather apt, although you have to see the mature plant to realize that. As to my visitors, I seem to be up to my eyeballs in "interesting" critters this year. There was a peacock on my roof 2 days ago...

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  11. Oh it's definitely the time to indulge in some horticultural plant therapy Kris. Your front entry looks so inviting and I see that we share a penchant for blue pots. I've recently bought some 'African Blue' basil too by mail order but I'm sure that yours will grow much more vigorously. The flowers are beautiful as well as the foliage. My rudbeckia 'Sahara' grown from seed sown in February is about to flower 😃

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    1. I'll have to try growing Rudbeckia from seed next year, Anna. The African blue basil is indeed a vigorous grower here. I had my last plant for well over 2 years and only removed it because I needed more room in my cutting garden at the time.

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  12. Isn't it fun to get packages in the mail. Trying not to spend money, I don't look online, but I've noticed an increase of boxes arriving at my neighbors. Not used to getting plants in the mail, that would be a real treat. Are your garden centers shut down again now? Ours never did shut down, so I am always able to go whenever I want something or just to browse for awhile. But like you, I try not to plant or transplant in this 90 degree heat. Never fails, I forget about a new plant until I find it withered and dead.
    Sorry it takes me so long to comment. My Apple computer won't accept my comments on your blog and sometimes I'm to lazy to transfer to my desk top. Fortunately my work lap top is a PC, so eventually I find your posts I miss. Stay cool and stay sane. It's getting harder to do so.

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    1. Our garden centers weren't required to shut down but the one closest to me did for a time, only permitting orders by phone for curb-side pickup. It reopened in April and will remain open as far as I know under California's latest guidelines but it wasn't well stocked the last time I was there. Apparently, they're having trouble getting deliveries from their suppliers. The pandemic is affecting a vast range of businesses and each disruption has its ripple effects. I've been reluctant to travel the distances I normally do to shop other garden centers, partly because stores and municipalities vary in their safety practices. The people who oppose wearing masks are endangering public confidence and may ultimately be a chief factor in our inability to keep business enterprises afloat.

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