Monday, March 8, 2021

In a Vase on Monday: The triplets get a new look

The unbroken blooms of Hippeaestrum 'Aphrodite' I used in my first arrangement last week did indeed open gradually over the course of the week.  The broken stem I placed in a tiny bowl of water also survived the week in remarkably good shape.  As I have two other 'Aphrodites' in the process of maturing, I decided to reuse the original flowers in a new arrangement featuring the triplets I introduced back in early February. 

The triplets are now celebrating spring

The first triplet paired one of the newer Hippeastrum blooms with 2 Freesia stems while the second triplet is sporting the original broken Hippeastrum bloom, a recycled stem of pink Alstroemeria, and a couple of Narcissus stems.  The third triplet, not shown in closeup, is making do with a simple arrangement of 2 of the newer Hippeastrum blooms.

I created a more conventional arrangement using the first Scilla peruviana (aka Portuguese squill) as my focal point.

The blue Anemones are still producing a bounty of fresh flowers

Back view: I used blue and white Freesias to add scent

Top view: Glass marbles added to the vase helped to keep the stems from flopping over on one another

Clockwise from the upper left: Anemone coronaria 'Lord Lieutenant', Ceanothus arboreus 'Cliff Schmidt', blue Freesia, Limonium perezii, white Freesia, Osteospermum 'Violet Ice', and Scilla peruviana

Unable to stop there, I took advantage of new snapdragon blooms to create a third arrangement.  I love snapdragons but they generally don't do well here.  Within just a few weeks of planting, the foliage is usually covered in rust.  Periods of high humidity followed by high temperatures promote rust, conditions that are prevalent as what passes for winter here transitions into early spring.  Our abnormally dry winter, as well as my scrupulous attention to avoiding splashing any water on their foliage, seems to have prevented (or at least delayed) the rust problem this year.

I selected the only stem of Anemone coronaria 'Bi-color' currently available in my cutting garden as the focal point to play off the velvety red snapdragons and I recycled the stem of Helleborus 'Anna's Red' I used last week.  The dainty pink flowers trailing down are Crassula multicava 'Red'.  In addition to its pretty flowers, the underside of the succulent's leaves are red.

I clipped a few stems of a pink-flowered Sparaxis tricolor to dress up the back view, after complaining just last Friday that all my Sparaxis were blooming in shades of orange

Top view

Clockwise from the upper left: Anemone coronaria 'Bi-color', Antirrhinum majus, Coleonema 'Album', Crassula multicava 'Red', white Freesia, Helleborus 'Anna's Red', Leptospermum 'Copper Glow' and, in the middle, Sparaxis tricolor

We have a good chance of rain later this week.  It's not expected to amount to much but at least it should bring our total rain for the "water year" (counted from October 1st) above the three inch mark at last.

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



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

Friday, March 5, 2021

Gearing up for spring

Spring starts early in my part of the world, where winter freezes are a purely theoretical concept.  This year, rain has also seemed an abstract notion, although we did get a little bit of it this week.

This was the view from our back garden on Wednesday morning.  We got a total of 0.14/inch of rain from the storm system that passed through, which was less than I'd hoped for but better than nothing.  At present, our total to date for the rain year starting October 1st is 2.95 inches, which is very, very low. 

Despite the low rainfall, parts of my garden are already showing off spring blooms.

Coleonema 'Sunset Gold' (aka breath of heaven), Lavandula multifida, Gomphrena 'Itsy Bitsy', and Grevillea 'Peaches & Cream' provide the biggest splashes of color in the front garden

Freesias have appeared all over the garden. In September, I planted more of these bulbs in the south side garden area behind the Aeonium 'Kiwi' shown on the left.  They were supposed to be a "tropical sunset" mix of red, yellow and pink but instead of the pink I got a lot of blue flowers so it hasn't created the effect I was going for.

Freesia blooms are beautiful and wonderfully scented but they do tend to flop

They come in a range of colors as well

While Freesias are the most prevalent bulb blooms at present there are other bulbs in flower too.

Anemone coronaria 'Lord Lieutenant' has been the most satisfying cultivar in this category this year  

Anemone coronaria 'Mistral Bi-color' isn't as prolific but it is beautiful.  'The Bride', on the other hand,  has been disappointing with few flowers and extremely short stems.

Ipheion uniflorum (aka springstar) returns with more flowers every year

Narcissus 'Katie Heath' and an unknown cultivar are also popping up in spots throughout the garden

This is the first Scilla peruviana to make an appearance but there are others close behind

Despite planting mixed colors of Sparaxis tricolor, so far all of mine are coming up orange

Camellia 'Taylor's Perfection' is looking far better this month than it did last month.

When the temperatures warmed up and the humidity level dropped, 'Taylor's Perfection' produced more flowers but it's been less bountiful than in prior years

I've been surprised by how well the snapdragons I planted as plugs are doing this year.

Snapdragons (Antirrhinum majus) are usually covered in rust within weeks of my planting them but this year, perhaps because it's been so dry, rust hasn't been a problem.  I water them by hand and I've avoided getting any water on the foliage.


In contrast, the Iceland poppy (Papaver nudicuale) plugs I planted have done absolutely nothing thus far.

They've previously bloomed for me as early as January.  I even gave them a bloom booster fertilizer this year without any result thus far.

The biggest impact the rain had this week was to scrub the foliage clean.

All five Drimia maritima (sea squill) bulbs planted on my back slope have produced foliage despite receiving little water.  The foliage will die back when temperatures rise before the plants bloom in summer.

This is a another gratuitous photo of my south side garden.  There aren't many flowers in this area but the succulents and other foliage plants are looking great.

I'm expecting a mail order delivery of plants today on top of two smaller orders delivered earlier this week.  Conditions here are expected to be sunny and warm this weekend so I'll be keeping myself busy in the garden.  I hope conditions in your part of the world allow you an opportunity to putter outside as well.  Enjoy your weekend.


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


Wednesday, March 3, 2021

Wednesday Vignette: A sprinkle of stardust

At last week's visit to South Coast Botanic Garden, the floral display that most impressed me wasn't that created by the tulips or daffodils but rather two apricot trumpet trees located in the garden's upper meadow (Handroanthus chrysostricha x impetiginosus, formerly classified as a hybrid Tabebuia).

I was on my way to the exit, passing the Fuller sculpture in the Mediterranean garden, when I saw the trees peaking up above the foliage, reminding me that I'd intended to swing by there

Two little girls, with their mother or caretaker seated on a bench in the shade nearby, were playing under the flowering trees

Wearing princess dresses, they looked like fairy sprites, enjoying a world that only they could see.  I decided to keep my distance so as not to disturb their play.

There was a group of people in the meadow with a large box that I guessed might be camera equipment but, if that was the case, they'd completed their lesson or, like me, chose not to interrupt the little group under the tree

In my own garden, I felt a tiny touch of stardust on Monday when I discovered a species tulip blooming in my back border, the first of many I hope.

I planted a handful of Tulipa clusiana 'Lady Jane' in late 2019, as well as another handful of Tulipa clusiana 'Cynthia'.  They bloomed in 2020 but I wasn't sure they'd come back as my climate isn't particularly hospitable to tulips of any kind.  Despite our low rainfall, I found foliage for both cultivars, which is promising.

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


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

Monday, March 1, 2021

In a Vase on Monday: Beware of Wind Gusts

It seems as though the wind blew more often than not through the entire month of February.  In my location, the air is usually at its stillest in the morning hours, picking up in the afternoon.  I didn't listen to the weather forecast before I went out on Sunday morning to cut flowers for In a Vase on Monday so I wasn't prepared for the gusts up to 50 mph.  I'd cut most of the flowers for my first arrangement when one gust tipped over the top-heavy jar of flowers I'd set down on the patio table.  I caught it in mid-plunge but, in the process, I broke off the huge bloom on Hippeastrum 'Aphrodite' I'd cut to serve as my centerpiece.  After cursing a blue streak, I got back to business, albeit in a less cheerful mood.

I set the broken flower in a tiny glass bowl in front of the arrangement.  The Hippeastrum has three more buds, which I hope will open quickly in the warmth of the house.

Back view

Top view:  I filled out the arrangement using a range of flowers in varied shades of pink and pinkish red to accent the blush of color in the Hippeastrum's petals, along with a few yellow notes drawn from the touch of yellow at the center of the flower's throat

Clockwise from the upper left: Agonis flexuosa 'Nana', noID Alstroemeria, Anemone coronaria 'Mistral Rose Chiaro', Auranticarpa rhombifolia, Calliandra haematocephala, yellow Freesia with noID Narcissus, dwarf Grevillea rosmarinifolia, and Hippeastrum 'Aphrodite'

The Anemones and Freesias are pumping out flowers like there's no tomorrow so I felt compelled to create a second arrangement.

The inspiration for this arrangement was the vibrant dark pink Freesia and the matching blooms of Hebe 'Wiri Blush' flowering next to it.  Last year, a gopher built a den underneath that Hebe.  After the gopher moved out, the plant looked shabby but it appears to be making a comeback.

Back view: The tall hellebore stem was a last minute addition


Top view

Clockwise from the upper left:  Anemone coronaria 'Mistral Azzurro'; Anemone 'Lord Lieutenant'; Coleonema 'Album'; blue, purple, pink and white Freesias; Hebe 'Wiri Blush'; and, in the center, Helleborus 'Anna's Red'

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



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

Friday, February 26, 2021

Early Spring Blooms at South Coast Botanic Garden

Yesterday, I paid my first visit to South Coast Botanic Garden after an absence of four months.  They've been advertising a "superbloom" event but it's not a superbloom in the conventional sense of the term, which describes a broad-scale wildflower display in desert areas following an unusually wet rainy season.  Our rainy season has been anything but wet this year and this particular bloom fest focused not on wildflowers but on flowering bulbs planted en masse last fall to provide visitors a welcome jolt of color as spring approaches.

The unusual bed arrangement shown here featuring tulips was designed to mirror the shape of the metal sculpture in the background on the left, which is known as Soller 1

Tulip beds viewed from the other direction

The red tulips are the most prominent

but the mix contains flowers in shades of purplish-pink, pink, and orange





While I couldn't miss the tulips upon entering the garden, I wandered a bit before I found the daffodils (Narcissi).

This was my first view of them, visible in the distance

These two beds consisted mainly of daffodils with a few tulips mixed in

The lawn adjacent to the garden's amphitheater also offered a mix of flowering bulbs but I failed to get a closeup photo of the area

 Other flowers could be found in spots throughout the garden.  I photographed only a few.

Top row: Arctotis, Bryophyllum fedtschenkoi, and Crocosmia
Second row: Eschscholzia (California poppy), Osteospermum, and Salvia lutea
bottom row: noID Salvia, Strelizia nicolai, and noID flowering succulent

There were a variety of trees in flower too, including Erythrina caffra (coral tree), Handroanthus heptaphyllus (pink trumpet tree), and Magnolia x Randy

The garden is in the process of constructing a new event space that will feature a butterfly pavilion, scheduled to open in April, so a large area was cordoned off.


I had time to visit only the front half of the garden on this occasion.  Weather and circumstances permitting, I hope to wander further afield on my next visit.

Best wishes for a colorful weekend.


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