The heat switch has been stuck in the "on" position for over a week but we're expecting to move back into the 80s starting today. I haven't been doing much more than watering the garden during the past week but, as I wandered about in the morning hours checking for evidence of heat stress, I took my camera with me. After a Bloom Day glut of flowers, I focused most of my attention on foliage. I thought I'd share some of what looks good, as well as a few recent losses.
|After focusing my camera on the Leucadendron 'Wilson's Wonder' in the center of this shot, I pulled back for a wider view of the area, which may be the greenest section of my garden at present|
When it's really hot I pay more attention to the plants that provide shade. My initial focus was the peppermint willows, Agonis flexuosa. There are six of these trees in the garden, four of which filter the sun on the west side, providing a lacy curtain.
|I was trying to get a good shot of the wispy Agonis leaves here but the trunk of the strawberry tree, Arbutus 'Marina', ended up front and center|
|I couldn't ignore that flashy bark even though I showed the bark of another Arbutus in a July post|
|I had the peppermint willows in the front garden cut back last year. I may leave them alone during this fall's pruning cycle to get a better curtain next year.|
|The only annoying thing about these trees is that two of them are planted in the middle of the path that leads from the lower level of the front garden to the driveway|
|I have to squeeze along the path but, combined with the Xylosma hedge, the trees do a good job of screening us from the street|
|This peppermint willow stands on the northwest side of the property. It was thinned last year too but I'll leave it alone this year as well.|
Relatives of the peppermint willow trees, Agonis flexuosa 'Nana' provides some privacy on the south side of the house, although the dwarf shrubs offer little in the way of shade. However, an overgrown Coprosma adjacent to the patio has helped out a bit in that regard.
|I cut the three shrubs down to nearly a foot tall this past winter. They're less than half the height they once more but they recovered well.|
|Pulling down the shades in our living room (in an effort to keep the house from heating up) allowed me to get a halfway decent shot of this Coprosma repens 'Plum Hussey'. It's an exceptionally pretty mirror plant with glossy leaves that range from lime green to burgundy. I frequently use the stems in floral arrangements.|
Grasses and grass-like plants also caught my attention.
|I love this Pennistum advena 'Rubrum' combined with Centaurea 'Silver Feathers', especially when the grass sports its graceful plumes as it's doing now|
|This is Lomandra 'Platinum Beauty', shown in two different areas of my garden. Lomandra isn't a true grass but it creates the effect of one.|
I admire foliage that adds color to the garden when my flowering plants start to take a step back.
|I've previously grown Caladium in pots here but this year I planted the bulbs in the ground in semi-shaded areas by the front door. The plant on the left is 'Creamsicle' and the one on the right is 'Debutante'.|
|This plant goes by the cumbersome name of Pseuderanthemum 'Texas Tri-star'. It develops a tall, woody stem as it ages, even when periodically cut back. I usually replace it when it gets this tall but my nursery rounds have been drastically curtailed this year and I haven't found starter plants. When it's cooler, I'll try taking cuttings.|
Other foliage stood out on account of its sheer resilience against the heat.
|I've actively worked at ridding my garden of Asparagus densiflorus 'Myers' and its thick masses of bulbous roots but I'm somewhat more favorably disposed to this 'Sprengeri'. The stems have an attractive foxtail form and it doesn't seem quite as invasive as 'Myers'. It's also the only plant that's survived in this extremely dry spot, where even succulents struggle.|
|This is Phormium 'Tom Thumb', shown here mingling with Acacia cognata 'Cousin Itt' on the left and Cordyline 'Renegade' on the right.|
Of course, not all is well. Late yesterday afternoon, I noticed that one of my Helichysum 'Icicles' has suddenly turned a sickly beige, although the others look fine. Heat contributed to the demise of a couple other plants as well.
|This was Echium wildpretii. I planted it in early February and it was looking good until about 2 weeks ago. It was probably too dry for it here even though I made an extra effort to give it extra water.|
|Phylica pubescens (aka featherhead) has been in this bed for two and a half years, although I can't say it ever really thrived |
I don't think the heat had anything to do with the loss of the tree-sized Toyon, Heteromeles artbutifolia, on the south end of the garden but there's no longer any denying that it's dead. The only question is whether I can continue to put off dealing with it until the fall when I usually have a tree-trimming service in for our annual pruning exercise.
|It turns out that Toyons are sensitive to the same pathogen that causes sudden oak death. It was a rapid transition from first notice that it was in trouble to this state of red-leafed suspended animation.|
To conclude on a more positive note, I'm including a photo of my Yucca 'Bright Star'. These plants get a lot of coverage in this blog and I hadn't planned to share another photo this month, until I noticed a new development.
|The Yucca on the right bloomed months ago and now the largest of the trio planted in this area has a flower spike too|
And, even though I intended to focus this post on foliage, I'm closing with photos of the latest dahlias to make an appearance in my cutting garden because I simply can't stop myself from doing so.
|Clockwise from the top are Dahlias 'Labyrinth', 'Loverboy' and 'Enchantress'|
I'm looking forward to cooler temperatures but poor air quality, the product of the mass of wildfires that have sprung up all over California, may still limit my time outside. It looks like we're in store for another difficult summer season after all.
Best wishes for a safe and peaceful weekend.
All material © 2012-2020 by Kris Peterson for Late to the Garden Party