Friday, September 25, 2020

Putting a positive spin on my late summer garden

Okay, I know that, technically speaking, it's now fall in the Northern Hemisphere; however, summer probably won't really come to an end for another 5-6 weeks in my area of Southern California.  In fact, aided by our devilish Santa Ana winds, we're expecting high temperatures in the 90s next week.  My garden is generally at its lowest ebb at this time of year.  After the last severe heatwave some areas look downright sad but the extra hand-watering I did in advance of that nasty heatwave did help and there are a few things to crow about.

This hybrid Callistemon 'Hot Pink' surprised me with a flush of blooms.  I think it's the first time it's flowered this year.

Despite the fact that the heatwave singed all the buds on Dahlia 'Iceberg', it produced another gigantic bloom.  The stem was very short and I couldn't cut it without sacrificing the two side buds so I decided to enjoy it where it was in my cutting garden.

Dahlia 'Rip City' produced its first blooms.  The first dahlia tuber I planted this year, it was nearly the last to bloom but it currently has more than two dozen buds,

'Rip City' (left) is nearly black.  The contrast with 'Loverboy' (right) emphasizes just how dark it is.

Helianthus annuus 'Delta Sunflower' is very happy in my cutting garden.  Both the bees and the birds are all over it.

This isn't the most impressive photo but I was thrilled when I noticed a bud on this Iris germanica 'Autumn Circus'.  The plant was a gift from a friend in late May.  It's a reblooming variety and this will be its first bloom.

Even though I threw out my rule against planting anything other than succulents during the summer months, I also managed to hang onto most of what I've recently planted.  Last Friday, I posted a photo of a new delivery of mail order plants. 

This was last week's delivery from Annie's Annuals & Perennials in Northern California

After unpacking the box, I held off on planting those new arrivals until early this week but I took care of all of them early this week.  Here's a closer look at the newly installed plants:

This is Agave vilmoriniana 'Stained Glass'.  I've wanted one for a long time but large specimens are pricey, if you can even find them.  I'm giving this one an opportunity to bulk up a bit in a pot before it gets a permanent placement in the garden.

This is one of three new Arctotis 'Pink Sugar' plants.  I admittedly have a lot of these already but I couldn't pass up the opportunity to plant a few more in 4-inch pots as the fall and winter-planted specimens have always done the best in my garden.

Ceanothus x pallidus 'Marie Simon', a pink-flowered variety, was my biggest splurge.  I plan to plant it in my back border but I'm going to let it spread its roots in this temporary pot until I'm comfortably certain that our hot weather is behind us.

This drought-tolerant white-flowering groundcover, Falkia repens, was an impulse purchase.  I divided it in two before planting it out.

I have a checkered past with Penstemon in this garden but Penstemon x gloxiniodes 'Midnight' is supposed to be tough.  I planted three in an area that already contains pink and blue Eustoma grandiflorum (aka Lisianthus), Salvia 'Mystic Spires' and Cuphea 'Starfire Pink'.

Sideritis cypria is a plant I've grown before that has very interesting flowers.  This is a new location for these plants.

Pleased at having everything taken care of, I treated myself to another trip to my local garden center.  I was in the area to get my flu shot, so why not stop?  New plants are a better reward for taking care of that chore than a lollipop. 

The three grass-like plants in the 1-gallon pots are Lomandra.  The green one is a replacement for one than died (the first and only loss of these plants I've had).  I'd been looking for additional pots of the variegated variety, 'Platinum Beauty' and I found these at a reasonable price, so I couldn't pass them up (and I've already planted both).  The rest consists of three 4-inch pots of Santolinas and 6-packs of Digitalis purpurea and Limonium perezii, all best purchased in small sizes.

I can't help it.  Even though it still feels like summer here, I can feel fall's siren call and fall is prime planting season in this part of the country.  I've got several significant projects in the offing but must hold off on some of these until the tree service pays its annual visit, probably next month.  The arborist dropped by this week to discuss what I want done and, in addition to the annual trimming, I'm having two trees taken out.  Their removal makes me very sad but there really isn't any alternative as one is dead and the other is nearly so.

I think the Heteromeles arbutifolia (aka Toyon) was felled by the pathogen that causes sudden oak death.  This tree-sized shrub is one of many plants sensitive to the pathogen.  Once I noticed the leaves turning red, it was already too late.  As it sits on the top of a steep slope overlooking a neighbor's driveway and next to a huge tree stump, I'm not going to be able to plant another tree in that spot but I may try making room for one nearby.

We had emergency surgery performed on this Albizia julibrissin (aka mimosa) two years ago in an effort to stop or slow the spread of damage caused by shot-hole borers but the tree's decline continued.  It produced unsightly adventitious growth and the bark of its trunk is now decaying.  Despite the fact that it also sits atop a steep slope, the arborist believes we can safely grind the stump on the inside of the hedge behind it.  I'm hoping I can plant a small tree in that area but that idea requires further evaluation.

Time to get to work on planting the rest of what I picked up at the garden center this week and planning for the future.  Happy gardening!


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



24 comments:

  1. I'm sorry to read about the decline of your tree and its upcoming removal. I know you'll miss it. Decline among garden plants is often disappointing but all part of the cycle of life and our gardens are not immune to it.

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    1. I've had a long love-hate relationship with the mimosa. It was admittedly spectacular in the early days when it was in flower but it was also always an exceptionally messy tree in terms of litter. The arborist confirmed that it's decline is unstoppable at this point.

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  2. No rain for months and probably none to speak of until closer to T-Day... I know that feeling. Dahlia's look great tho so I guess your strategic hand watering has paid off! Have you had many plant fatalities this summer? I had a Leucospermum turn almost completely brown over the course of a few days while I was away on vacation.

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    1. Ouch, losing a Leucospermum would be tough! I've mostly had damage rather than outright losses, although with some of the smaller flowering plants, that was enough to have me pull them out. The creeping thyme I planted from a flat this year to fill in empty spots mostly failed - bad timing but I couldn't get hold of the thyme until summer. One large well-established Lomandra just upped and died, which I can't explain. And then there was the Toyon but that probably wasn't weather-related.

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  3. I’m sorry about the needed removal of your two trees. We do mourn the loss of certain plants, especially our trees.
    I was pleased to see the follow-up on your recent Annie’s purchase. I enjoy the Arctotis ‘Pink Sugar’ in my garden. This was probably the first plant I purchased after following your blog. Limonium perezii self sows in my garden and was another plant that I transplanted from my prior home. One of mine is getting so large, I’m considering removing it and replacing it with one of its seedlings.
    I also thank you for introducing me to Annie’s Annuals & Perennials. I submitted my 4th order last night, and it includes 2 Cuphea ‘Starfire Pink’ because I have loved seeing yours. I plan to pot mine and use them to replace the Begonias at the entrance of the front patio. I hope they are long blooming and I hope they will thrive in pots. If not, I can transplant them into the Parkway Garden! Have a great weekend! I’m afraid what the Santa Ana winds may bring.

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    1. Cuphea 'Starfire Pink' literally blooms year round in my garden, Kay. It does get ratty-looking, though, and I cut mine back pretty hard annually (usually in stages so as not to upset the hummingbirds!). I've also found that the Limonium gets ratty after 2-3 years so I usually replace mine with plugs. I've never noticed it reseeding in my garden so maybe I'm cutting the flowers back too soon.

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  4. It's always so exciting, planting new things in the garden and the anticipation as they grow and settle in! Having removed several trees myself, the most recent a huge ash that was half gone due to the emerald ash borer, I feel your pain. But it's also an opportunity to try things & I'm sure you will take full advantage of that!

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    1. The most immediate impact of removing the two trees, especially the mimosa, will be on the birds as I'll be taking away their favorite roosting spots. I'm already strategizing on how to fit another tree in the same area as the mimosa without completely changing the traffic flow.

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  5. I expected the Toyon was coming out but thought the Albizia julibrissin has responded well enough to put off its removal for at least awhile. I am so sorry to learn it's coming out, but certainly understand why. I was told that cutting the tree back hard (as in coppicing) was a great way to rejuvenate it and have held that in my bag of tricks as an option for when my chocolate mimosa's dropping of trash irritates me to the point I want to remove it.

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    1. I'd hoped to get at least a few more years out of the mimosa, Loree, even if it didn't look anything like its former self. The decline of the remaining lower trunk area, obvious when the arborist pointed it out to me, sealed the deal. As it was, several of the remaining large limbs never leafed out this year at all. It IS trying to reproduce itself, though! I'm finding seedlings all over the place.

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  6. Ordering, and buying, new plants is such a fun and rewarding addiction! I just returned home with a trunk full of pansies and snapdragons. And last night I mail ordered 150 tulips. Well THAT was fun! I spoke to the folks at Brent&Beckys (one of my favorite bulb sources) who said their bulb sales were up something like 1K%. Yes, really. They have shut down on line ordering until Oct. 6 to have time to catch up and fill orders. Amazing.

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    1. I've been ordering bulbs too, Libby, but not in the same quantity you have! I wish I could grow tulips; however, even when pre-chilled, they're a dicey investment here. I've received just one bulb delivery so far and got half of it, 45 Freesias, planted last yesterday afternoon.

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  7. Oh yes, those mimosa seedlings - the tree just keeps on giving. I have to get busy and cut them down around my property. Here in Alabama it is way too invasive but I know that you will miss yours. My property had lots of dogwoods when I moved here but they are dying - some faster than others - so I understand the pain of losing trees that provide shade, bird stopover spots and just plain beauty. Change - gardens keep us cognizant of this unending cycle of life, don't they?

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    1. True, like it or not, change in the garden is something we all have to deal with. I've long had mixed feelings about the messy mimosa but the birds will miss it and that's a big issue for me. As for those blankety-blank mimosa seedlings, I live in fear of missing some only to discover one day that I have a mimosa forest on the back slope.

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  8. Losing trees is tough as they take up a big part of the landscape. Loss is one of the things that I still struggle with even though I know departing is the flip side of arriving. Tenacity is a human tendency, ha!

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    1. Yes, I'm already thinking that maybe I can change the way the flagstone path moves through the garden a bit to create a spot for a tree somewhat closer to the back patio. Selecting the right tree and its position is important as, while more shade for the patio would be a plus, a big increase in bird droppings on the patio seating areas would be a major negative.

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  9. I love those deeply dark rich looking dahlias. Don't you hate losing a tree!! You fought valiantly for it so I hope you don't take losing it too hard. Nice plant haul. If it wasn't so dry here I would be tempted to go shopping for plants too.

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    1. I still mourn the two trees I lost in a vain effort to placate a difficult neighbor who complained about my garden's impact on her view of the harbor, Lisa. The loss of the toyon and the mimosa at least aren't unforced errors on my part.

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  10. The 'Rip City' dahlia color is gorgeous. Must look for that one.

    Fun to have new plants to play with, enjoy! Have not plant-shopped at all.

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    1. I've literally gone nuts buying plants this summer, HB. But then I might have been crazier yet if I didn't have them to divert my attention from the political craziness that surrounds us. A Logee's order just arrived...

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  11. So sorry about the loss of your mimosa. They are very special trees, one I love and miss living here in Ohio. I know how it hurts to lose one.
    To me, your gardens look really good for this time of year and struggles with heat. We continue to have nearly no rain. But it is turning decidedly colder tomorrow with some hope of rain, so the plants although on the decline, will like the drink and cooler temps. Slipping into fall a little early here. Other than this last week, it's been a cool and cold September.

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    1. I'm sorry to hear that conditions in your area are still dry, Cindy. While that's normal for us, I know it isn't expected in your area of the country and I imagine your plants have struggled to cope. I hope you get that rain this week! I've been watering a LOT more here myself as it does help the plants here deal with heat-related stress and we've got another heatwave on the horizon next week.

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  12. So jealous: I'd take your winter over mine any time (well, I like a little winter, but I'd definitely swap you February, which is just one month too many of winter here). I looked up that 'Marie Simon' Ceanothus--wow, that's a stunner! I'll look forward to your coverage about that plant as time goes on. Enjoy your new treasurers!

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    1. I'll definitely report on how 'Marie Simon' performs in my back garden next year, Beth. I have high hopes for her!

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