Friday, September 17, 2021

Foliage Follow-up - September 2021

Although we haven't had any truly horrific heatwaves this summer, the very dry conditions have been hard on my garden.  There are several areas in serious need of rehabilitation.  When the temperatures have been tolerable outside, I've started chipping away at cleanup activities.  I've got a lot more to do, especially in my back garden, but as I begin to contemplate what I should plant this fall to replace the dead and the dreadful, I thought it would be a good idea to supplement my Bloom Day assessment with a survey of my foliage plants.

Starting with the area facing the street, I identified a few standouts.

Agave 'Blue Flame', cut back last year when it started spilling over into the street, has recovered from surgery and is actively producing new pups

The Agave colorata pup I planted last year took on a pretty pink blush (although one leaf, not visible from this angle, bears a scorch mark)

I had to include a photo of this dragonfly which remained perched on the tip of the Agave colorata for a long period, even as I bent in to snap photos.  My best guess is that it's a Mexican amberwing but I'm by no means sure of that identification.

It may look like much but I'm very proud of my success with this Echium handiense.  I took cuttings of the plant in my back garden in June 2020 but had low expectations about the prospects for propagating it by that method.  Nonetheless, the cuttings produced roots and I planted two of them out this spring.  Both survived but this one in particular is thriving despite very, very little water.

The two Agonis flexuosa (peppermint willows) flanking the street provide much needed shade for the front garden, although they could use a bit of trimming

In the south end garden, I took note of the following:

With the death and removal of the native Toyon (Heteromeles arbutifolia) on the southern perimeter of the garden last October, this Aurunticarpa rhombifolium is thriving, providing at least partial screening of neighbors in the distance

I haven't quite decided whether I like the Dasylirion longissimum here but, as it'd be very hard to remove, it's likely to remain in place

I liked Graptopetalum 'Fred Ives' so much in this area, I ended up using it as edging all along the flagstone path in this area

In contrast to many of my Leucadendrons, 'Summer Red' has remained relatively compact

After over 4 years in the ground, Metrosideros collina 'Springfire' still appears fairly small but it has put on an asymmetrical growth spurt  of late.  The foliage seems too pale to my eyes.  Let me know if you have any recommendations regarding fertilizer for these plants.  Compost alone didn't do much.

The front garden is holding up fairly well.  Although there's room for improvement here and there, here's what stood out as looking good:

When I planted Leucadendron 'Wilson's Wonder' here, I envisioned creating a screen dividing the main level of the front garden into 2 sections.  'Wilson's Wonder' may be overachieving in that regard.  The plant on the right is Centaurea 'Silver Feather'.

I went a crazy with coleus (Plectranthus scutellarioides this year.  I've always thought of them as shade plants that require a lot of water but, while they may prefer conditions that provide those things, they seem to be able to tolerate both sun and dry soil.

Tradescantia spathacea (aka Rhoeo ticolor or oyster plant) is new to me.  I've found that it too can handle dry conditions, as well as both sun and shade.  I'm considering using it more extensively as a ground cover in one dry shade area.

The garden areas on the north side of the house are also doing well overall.

Dahlia foliage isn't generally worth mentioning but I find the dark foliage of 'Waltzing Mathilda' particularly attractive

One of my oldest Mangaves, 'Lavender Lady' deserved mention

After severely pruning Psoralea pinnata in early summer, I worried that I'd butchered the tree-like shrub but it's recovered well

My biggest issues of concern are in the back garden but of course there are foliage standouts there too.

The Ginkgo tree had a difficult spell with the heat earlier this summer and it lost a lot of leaves at one point.  I stepped up the water and the leaf drop stopped but it appears to be preparing for an early fall.

I'm preparing to dig out a lot of what's in the middle of the garden and considered removing this dwarf Jacaranda 'Bonsai Blue' in the process.  It didn't bloom much last year and it didn't bloom at all this year but it has bushed out since I cut it back in late winter,  I think its lacy foliage has earned it a reprieve.

I cut back the two Leucadendrons shown here, 'Safari Sunset' and 'Devil's Blush', later than I should have this year but they've finally sprung back

There are many issues to be addressed in the back garden.  Here are two of them:

Albizia julibrissin (aka mimosa tree) is once again attempting a comeback.  I think I need to pull up part of the flagstone path to ensure I get the entire root out this time.  This area is exceptionally dry (as indicated by the sad succulents behind the foot tall seedling) but apparently that's just fine with the Albizia.

A gardener, trying to be helpful, decided that the largest of my 'Bright Star' Yuccas needed a drastic trim and left it looking like this

I sought input from a blogger friend as well as soliciting comments from other gardeners on Instagram.  The consensus was that the original plant may regenerate once cut to the ground, and that it might also be possible to grow from a cutting.  I watched a few YouTube videos on Yucca propagation and moved ahead yesterday.  The video sources suggested giving the cutting a day of two to dry out before potting it up.

That's it for my foliage review.  I'm looking forward to getting my hands dirty in the garden this weekend.  Our temperatures are expected to remain on the cooler end of the summer spectrum through Sunday, before soaring again with the return of our Santa Ana winds on Monday.  I hope you're able to enjoy pleasant weather this weekend too.

All material © 2012-2021 by Kris Peterson for Late to the Garden Party

Wednesday, September 15, 2021

Bloom Day - September 2021

It's hard for me to get excited about my garden in late summer, especially this year when the garden never got the boost normally provided by our winter rainy season.  The downside of sandy, well-drained soil is that it doesn't hold onto moisture long enough.  I'd like to give everything a really good soak but I feel guilty about providing extra water when our drought is so serious.  Even when I find something new in bloom, I can't avoid seeing what's dead or dying out of the corner of my eye.  However, my Bloom Day survey helped put things in perspective!  I may not have as many flowers in bloom as I did last year or the year before but I've still got a good supply to share this September.

I haven't watered my cutting garden as much as I usually do during the hot summer months but it's still watered much more liberally than the rest of my garden.  The dahlias and zinnias are once again playing starring roles.

Dahlia 'Akita', which I'm growing for the first time this year, is my favorite.  These are three views of the same flower as it aged.

Other Dahlias blooming at the moment include, clockwise from the upper left: 'Cafe au Lait', 'Cafe au Lait Royal', 'Enchantress', 'Gitt's Crazy', 'Summer's End', and 'Waltzing Mathilda''Loverboy' and 'Breakout' have buds but haven't yet bloomed.  'Iceberg', 'Kogane Fabuki', and 'Magic Moment' look like they're nearing bud stage but that may be wishful thinking on my part.

Like my Dahlias, the Zinnias got a late start.  The top row features 3 varieties in the 'Profusion' series, purchased as plugs.
Second row: seed-sown 'Benary's Giant Wine' (first 2 photos) and 'Benary's Giant Salmon Rose'
Third row: seed-sown 'Queen Red Lime' and 'Queen Lime Orange'

Several plants surprised me by putting on strong showings in defiance of summer's heat.

Euryops chrysanthemoides 'Sonnenschein', a common plant putting on an uncommon performance in partial shade with relatively little water

The #1 bee magnet in my garden this summer is this African blue basil (Ocimum hybrid)

All my Phalaenopsis (moth orchids) are blooming in my shaded lath house.  I don't have proper names for any of them.

However, the most unexpected blooms were these:

This Plumeria was a gift from a neighbor who found this cutting and others in a trash can.  I've had another, larger Plumeria in a bigger pot for years and it's never bloomed.

 As many of the summer bloomers begin to shut down, others are just getting started:

This twiggy Bauhinia x blakeana (aka Hong Kong orchid tree) needs a good trim, which will have to wait as it's full of flowers (most well above my head)

This year, I managed to get Clematis terniflora (aka sweet autumn clematis) to climb to the very top of its arbor, also putting the flowers above my head (and making them difficult to photograph in the process)

Correa 'Ivory Bells' (aka Australian fuchsia)

The Japanese anemones have apparently been reclassified as Eriocapitella hupehensis

I thought this hybrid Nepeta 'Blue Prelude' had given up last month but it came back to life this month.  Even more miraculous, the neighborhood cat that spends a lot of time here hasn't eaten it to the ground as he's done with every other catmint I've planted.

I was late in cutting back the ornamental grasses this year but Pennisetum advena 'Rubrum' is getting its bloom on now

I've tried growing Plectranthus ecklonii twice before without success but it looks as though I finally found a spot it likes.  Planted in March, it's still well shy of the 6 foot plant it's supposed to become but it's alive and flowering.

Vitex trifolia 'Purpurea' (aka Arabian lilac) is also difficult to photograph but it produces a lot of these delicate flowers and the leaves are also attractive

As usual, the dependable Grevilleas continue to deliver.

Grevillea 'Superb' (left and top right) and G. 'Peaches & Cream' flower year round in my climate and both bees and hummingbirds love them as much as I do

I'll close with my usual color collages showing blooms found here and there in my garden.

Top row: Centranthus ruber, Cuphea 'Starfire Pink', and Eustoma grandiflorum
Second row: noID Gladiolus, Rosa 'Pink Meidiland', and Pentas lanceolata
Third row: Scabiosa columbaria 'Flutter Rose Pink', Daucus carota 'Dara', and Gomphrena decumbens 'Itsy Bitsy'

Top row: Duranta repens, Leucophyllum laevigatum, and Lycianthes ratonnetii
Second row: Pelargonium peltatum, noID Scaevola, and Symphyotrichum chilense
Third row: Trichostemma 'Midnight Magic', Verbena bonariensis 'Lollipop', and Wahlenbergia 'Blue Cloud'

Top row: Amaryllis belladonna, Angelonia 'Archangel White', and Cosmos bipinnatus
Second row: Crassula pubescens radicans 'Large Red', noID Gazania, and Globularia x indubia
Third row: Lantana 'Lucky White', Pandorea jasminoides, and Zephyranthes candida

Top row: Achillea 'Moonshine' Helianthus 'Lemon Queen', and Lantana 'Lucky Yellow'
Second row: Gazania 'Red Stripe' and Lantana 'Irene'
Third row: Xerochrysum bracteatum in red and orange

To see what's blooming elsewhere in the country and the world, visit Carol at May Dreams Gardens.

All material © 2012-2021 by Kris Peterson for Late to the Garden Party

Monday, September 13, 2021

In a Vase on Monday: A few more dahlias

The dahlias are oh so slowly making an appearance.  There are more buds each week, although the plants still haven't delivered an overwhelming number of blooms and, at this point in the season, it's unlikely that I'm going to see an end-of-season extravaganza but I can hope...

My first arrangement features a single bloom of Dahlia 'Summer's End'.  I'd initially planned to combine it with other dahlias but in the end I decided it had more impact with a collection of supporting players in harmonious colors. 

'Summer's End' is called a water lily dahlia because it resembles a water lily in form.  I complemented its soft peach color with other plants that echoed that color.

Back view: I just happened to notice that the berries of Auranticarpa rhombifolium were ripening.  Including stems of Zinnia 'Queen Lime Orange' as a filler was a no-brainer.

Top view

Clockwise from the upper left: Agonis flexuosa 'Nana', Auranticarpa rhombifolium, Leucadendron salignum 'Summer Red', Dahlia 'Summer's End', Eriocapitella hupehensis (aka Japanese anemone), Grevillea 'Peaches & Cream, and Zinnia elegans 'Queen Lime Orange'

I collected flowers of two dahlias in the 'Cafe au Lait' series, thinking to combine them but, the more flowers and foliage I collected to accent them, the more I disliked the pairing.  So I ended up with two separate arrangements, the first of which stars the creamy blooms of Dahlia 'Cafe au Lait'.

The Dahlia 'Cafe au Lait' blooms, especially the one on the lower right, are somewhat distorted.  The upper part of the lower bloom didn't fully open.  Both dahlias were full of ants, which I spent time carefully flushing out with water.  I checked online and found that, while ants won't cause any damage to dahlia blooms, their presence suggests that there may be an aphid problem and aphids can damage dahlia plants.

I dressed up the back of the arrangement with colorful coleus foliage (Plectranthus scutellarioides 'Dragon Heart')

Top view
Clockwise from the upper left: Correa 'Ivory Bells' (aka Australian fuchsia), Dahlia 'Care au Lait', noID Gladiolus, Leptospermum 'Copper Glow', Plectranthus scutellarioides 'Dragon Heart', and Zinnia elegans 'Queen Red Lime'

The two blooms of Dahlia 'Cafe au Lait Royal' I'd already cut ended up in a third arrangement, with a few stems of Dahlia 'Enchantress' thrown into the mix to flesh it out.  Once 'Enchantress' starts blooming, she never hits the pause button.

Dahlia 'Cafe au Lait Royal' changes a lot as the flower matures, starting off a dark purple infused with pink and fading to a much paler pink

Back view, showing the splashier Dahlia 'Enchantress'

Top view

Top row: Angelonia 'Archangel White', Cosmos bipinnatus, and Gomphrena decumbens 'Itsy Bitsy'
Middle row: Dahlia 'Cafe au Lait Royal' in its later and earlier colors
Bottom row: Dahlia 'Enchantress' and Prostanthera ovalifolia 'Variegata'

For  more IAVOM creations, visit Cathy at Rambling in the Garden.

All material © 2012-2021 by Kris Peterson for Late to the Garden Party