Friday, January 29, 2021

Floral Forecast

One of the many challenges posed by the pandemic, especially during the current surge, is that I don't get out much.  Basically, my only trips since mid-December have involved shopping for groceries every two weeks.  I haven't visited my local botanic garden or my local garden centers.  I also haven't done much planting, even though our cool season is generally the best time for that here.  Bulbs and tiny succulents ordered by mail, and cuttings from my own garden, have been most of what I've had to work with.  That means that material for my blog posts is limited, requiring me to pay closer attention to little developments I might've ignored in the past.  This week, I focused on emerging bulb foliage, buds, and seedlings, the prelude of the burst of color that comes in late winter/early spring here.

I planted several Hippeastrum bulbs in pots this year (one of which appears to be a dud).  They were all slower than usual to develop, perhaps because our temperatures vacillated wildly.  One 'Aphrodite' (left) has produced a bud on a short stalk while 'Lemon-Lime' (right) opened its first blooms this week.  My other Hippeastrums are planted in the ground and won't bloom for months yet (if at all).

Hippeastrum's cousin, Amaryllis belladonna, has put up foliage in multiple locations,  I moved several bulbs to a very dry corner in late December (left) and even they've sprouted.  The largest group (middle) is fighting an artichoke and other plants for space this year, while another bulb (right), planted years ago, has produced foliage for the first time on the front slope I replanted in November.  The flower stalks won'd appear until mid-summer, well after the foliage has died back.

I planted lots of Anemone coronaria corms in my cutting garden in November.  The first to emerge are those of 'Lord Lieutenant'.

The well-established Freesia next to the fountain (left) are covered in buds while those I planted this fall (right) are just a little behind.  Freesia generally blooms February through at least March here.

Ipheion uniflorum and Scilla peruviana come back every year.  The first should produce its tiny star-shaped blooms in February with the Scilla producing its much larger flowers in March.

The foliage of Dutch Iris is ungainly but the flowers are so wonderful I'm able to overlook that.  These Iris usually bloom from March through April here.

Leucospermum 'Goldie' is the first of its genus to bloom in my garden each year.  I hope to see the flowers in March through April.

Narcissi foliage is popping up all over my garden and I've already had a few blooms

I sowed several varieties of seed in the cutting garden, as well as a few spots in the larger garden.  They've progressed more slowly than I'd anticipated but some, like these of Orlaya grandiflora, are looking promising.  I didn't have Orlaya flowers until summer last year.

The Sparaxis bulb foliage is up.  Last year, most of the plants in these 2 areas produced orange flowers.  I added more bulbs this year to see if I can get more variety in the color mix.

This fall, I added 4 more Drimia maritima (aka sea squill) bulbs to the one I had on the very dry back slope.  Their foliage is already developing.  All but the original bulb have wire cages over them to prevent the raccoons from pulling them up.  The foliage of the nearby calla lilies (Zantedeschia aethiopica) has been slow to emerge, probably due to our low rainfall but a few plants are getting started at last.  I sowed California poppy seeds just before the current round of rain began - they're covered by flats to provide protection against critters.  A mass of alyssum seedlings has already emerged, which I've already thinned once.

This isn't a pretty picture but it reflects a success story of sorts.  I planted a Salvia barrelieria and 3 Verbascum chaixii purchased by mail order in December, only to have the plants eaten down to nubs overnight by a rabbit.  I covered them with upturned flats afterward and they've come back, although they still look sad.  I recovered them immediately after taking this photo.

I'll end with a photo of a very small bulb flower that made an appearance at the edge of my south side garden.

I planted a handful or Muscari armeniacum at the edge of my south side garden in January 2014.  It never thrived but each year I get one or two tiny flowers there.  You can judge how small it is by comparison to the alyssum seedlings looming above it,

That's it from me this week.  I spent several hours between rainstorms yesterday working on my street-side succulent garden.  It's raining again here (yay!) so I'll get photos of that area to share next week.  In the meantime, enjoy your weekend!

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

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Wednesday Vignette: Moody harbor views

We've been riding a weather roller-coaster of late so I've been taking plenty of wide shot photos of the Los Angeles harbor area visible from our back garden to capture the shifts.  For today's Wednesday Vignette, I'm sharing shots taken over five different days during the latter part of January.

My husband and I trade off on grocery shopping.  I was up well before sunrise on January 11th to get to the market before customer traffic got heavy.  I captured this scene just before sunrise as I headed out the door.

This photo was taken late last Friday afternoon as rain clouds began to move in

This was the scene at sunset Saturday after a day of rain

That same evening, as night fell, clouds were still moving in as shown in this photo pointed in the direction of the mountains to the northeast (barely visible due to the cloud cover).  We received more rain overnight.

Monday, January 25th, we had ferocious wind almost continuously during the day.  At sunset, clouds moved in again, creating this odd ribbon of colors.

On Tuesday, I was once again up early to do the grocery shopping.  I caught this photo just before sunrise.

And, this time, I tarried long enough to actually capture the sun's emergence on the horizon

We're expecting more rain tomorrow night into Friday.  Warnings about possible mudslides are already being sounded.  Hopefully, we'll have none of that here, just lovely rain to fill my remaining collection tank.

For more Wednesday Vignettes, visit Anna at The Creative Flux.

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

Monday, January 25, 2021

In a Vase on Monday: More than I expected!

When I stepped into the garden on Sunday morning, I really had no idea what I could put in a vase this week that I hadn't already used recently.  I made an entire circuit of my garden ruling out possibilities until I saw the white snapdragons in my cutting garden.  They'd been beaten down by rain on Saturday (one-third of an inch) and their stems were lying on their sides as if to say "save me" so I cut them.  That started me on a roll collecting bits of this and that in white and blue.

Anemone 'Lord Lieutenant', also in my cutting garden, had one small bloom and another bud just opening

Back view: the Osteospermums have responded quickly to the shift back to cooler temperatures and sea lavender (Limonium perezii) is beginning its annual flush

The top view highlights the bloom of a noID tazetta Narcissus that was supposed to be Narcissus 'Geranium'

Top: Anemone coronaria 'Lord Lieutenant', Antirrhinum majus, and noID Ceanothus
Middle: Echium handiense (recycled from last week), Lavandula multifida, and Limonium perezii
Bottom: noID Narcissus, Osteospermum 'Violet Ice', and Westringia fruticosa 'Morning Light'

As I was assembling my varied collection for that vase, I suddenly remembered that I'd seen buds on a bearded Iris by my shade house the week before.  I'd planted all blue and white varieties in that area - or so I'd thought.  The Iris in question was indeed blooming but it wasn't blue or white.  I cut it anyway and then did another round of the garden looking for suitable companions for it.  I checked my records, which showed no Iris in a mauve and burgundy color, leading me to conclude that the rhizome I planted had been mislabeled.

I played off the yellow beard of the Iris and the flower's petal colors in selecting the plants to accompany it in a vase

Back view: as usual, Gomphrena 'Itsy Bitsy' came in handy

Top view

Clockwise from the upper left: Coleonema pulchellum 'Sunset Gold', Coprosma repens 'Plum Hussey', Gomphrena decumbens 'Itsy Bitsy', Hebe 'Purple Shamrock', noID Iris germanica (possibly 'Prince of Burgundy' or 'Right Already'), Narcissus 'Geranium', and Hebe 'Grace Kelly' (in bud)

Buds are forming throughout my garden.  I could swear that the Freesias next to my backyard fountain covered themselves in buds in response to Saturday's rain.  More rain is expected this week and I hope I'll be tripping over new blooms in the weeks to come.  Spring does come early in coastal Southern California!

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, January 22, 2021

Another renovation of the garage front succulent bed

I seem to renovate the succulent bed in front of the garage all too often.  When we moved in 10 years ago, the area had a well-established clump of Agave attenuata, a lovely Arbutus 'Marina', grass and weeds.  

This clump has been the source for all the Agave attenuata in my garden save one

We removed the lawn early on and I planted a host of other succulents, mostly small specimens.  I've tweaked and renovated the area before but it has never really pleased me.  Although I supplemented and raised the soil level, it's still not the best medium to grow succulents, or anything else.  It's also a very dry area, even though it receives some irrigation but I've probably been less attentive to my new plants there than I should've been.

This is my "before" shot

I tackled the three things that bothered me most last week.  They were the Furcraea foetida 'Mediopicta' I'd selected in 2019 to provide a focal point and two Crassulas I'd used extensively as fillers. 

This is the sad Furcraea before I dug it up

Both problem Crassulas can be seen here.  The sickly-looking yellow plants in front are Crassula lycopodioides and the spindly plants behind them are Crassula tetragona.

These are all nice plants - in other settings.  I grew a variegated Furcraea in a partially shaded area of my back garden years ago and it did well until I decided it was clearly too large for its spot and had to move.  It didn't take the move well and quickly died.  I think the spot in the garage front succulent bed was both too sunny and too dry for this one.  The same probably could be said for Crassula lycopodioides.  The Crassula tetragona (aka pine tree succulent) simply got too tall and lanky and ended up looking out of proportion with the surrounding plants.

Crassula lycopodioides is much happier here in a shadier area of my garden, mixed in with two species of Aeoniums

I potted a Furcraea offset, which may or may not survive.  I pulled out all of the Crassula lycopodioides and I took a mass of cuttings of the Crassula tetragona, which I've yet to decide what to do with.  On my first pass, I filled in some of the vacancies with a potted plant and cuttings from elsewhere in the garden.

The Agave vilmoriniana 'Stained Glass' (top) was in a pot and it's still very small but, if I'm lucky, it'll grow to become a wonderful focal point.  Aeonium haworthii 'Kiwi Verde' (bottom left) has done well everywhere I've planted it so I'm trying it out to replace Crassula lycopodioides as a filler.  I added a handful of my other standby, Aeonium arboreum (bottom right), in a shadier spot.

This was the bed after those changes, not looking all that different.  I stared at it off and on for quite awhile before I figured out what was bothering me.

I had a stockpile of plants in pots and tiny plants obtained by mail order to add to the area but I had a hard time deciding how to proceed.  I finally realized that I needed to pull the under-performing Aeonium haworthii 'Kiwi' ('Kiwi Verde's' flashier cousin), which I'd used throughout the bed as another filler.  I've previously described this plant as my "gateway" succulent.  It was the first succulent I ever grew and it was one of the few plants I brought with me from my former garden.  Aeonium 'Kiwi' and Aeonium arborescens are my go-to plants to fill bare spots.  I've used 'Kiwi' extensively to line the edge of beds and, up to this point, I've always been pleased with it.

These photos show two of the areas in which I've used 'Kiwi'

Well, 'Kiwi' didn't come through for me in this spot on the north west side of the house so I yanked the bulk of it.

This photo shows the bed after I'd removed most of the Aeonium 'Kiwi'.  A few pots were laid out as I considered possible placements.

With that change, I felt free to move other plants within this bed and transplant other things I had in the wings in pots and elsewhere in the garden.

Top: Agave 'Cornelius', which mimics the color of Agave 'Stained Glass', and a pup of Agave 'Jaws'
Middle: Three Aloes, none of which I can identify.
Bottom: Aeonium nobile (the green one rescued from between 2 large Agaves) and Echeveria agavoides

With rain in the forecast, I also decided to get my tiny new mail-order purchases planted and even sow some seeds.

Top: Crassula ovata 'Money Maker' (3), Echeveria amoena (3), and Echeveria rusbyi (3)
Middle: Graptopetalum paraguayense (3), Graptosedum 'Vera Higgins' (5), and Mangave 'Barney' (1)
Bottom: Sedeveria 'Blue Elf' (5), Senecio cephalophorus (1), and Senecio kleiniformis (3)

I also sowed seeds of Calendula 'Bronze Beauty' in the space between the rocks and the pathway, which may have been a mistake as the soil really isn't good but we'll see 

I still have loads of cuttings but I'll wait out the three rainstorms reportedly in the offing before I make decisions about which, if any, should be planted in this area.  Worst case, I'll offer another succulent cutting giveaway to neighbors.

Here are the photos of the bed in its current state I forgot to include when I published the post last night:

Further changes are likely!

Best wishes for a pleasant weekend.

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

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Garden workout

I spent most of the day working in my garden on Monday, starting in late morning and continuing past sundown, with just an hour break for lunch.  It felt a little like boot camp at times and most of what I accomplished doesn't translate into photographs, pretty or otherwise.  I started with two solid hours on my back slope just cutting back dead growth and watering, wearing boots to stave off any of the fire ants that might still be down there somewhere.  I ended the day literally crawling on my hands and knees beneath my Echium 'Star of Madiera' to cut back several clumps of ornamental grass.  In between, I tackled moving a mid-sized Agave gypsophila located way too close to a path I use regularly.

This is the Agave in question in its original spot off the south side of the house.  The Cistus shrubs on two sides were constantly threatening to envelope it and its lower leaves were already encroaching on the adjacent flagstone path.

I decided the Agave would be much happier in the long run on the moderate front slope I cleared and replanted in November.  Moving it there necessitated a small game of musical chairs.

In order to move the Agave to the spot I'd selected, I had to move an Aloe striata x maculata pup but before moving the Aloe I had to move a large Aeonium rosette I'd planted in the new spot intended for the Aloe.  When I was done with those moves, I then filled in the spot vacated by the Agave with cuttings of Graptoveria 'Fred Ives'.

I was a little nervous about damaging the Agave either in the process of digging it up or transplanting it on the top level of the front slope.  The latter required a degree of dexterity, difficult to manage given that my right knee isn't entirely reliable on level ground much less a slope.  A couple of times I reminded myself that now would not be the time to fall and crack my head as getting into an emergency room presents a serious problem in Los Angeles County at the moment.  However, I worked slowly and carefully and neither the Agave nor I were injured.

This is Agave gypsophila photographed from the path that leads down to my lath house

This is the view from outside the lath house looking up

Close-up of the Agave in its new spot

I'm glad I spent Monday gardening as high winds from noon on yesterday prevented me from doing much more outside than battening down what the wind sent flying.  We got a tiny bit of rain (0.02/inch) after nightfall, which barely dampened the pavement while liberally spattering the windows.  Wind gusts, some exceeding 40mph, continued overnight and it's still windy today.  Still, we were far luckier than some areas that saw toppled trees, widespread power outages, and, yes, more wildfires.

I'm hoping conditions later today will allow me to spend some time working on the front garden succulent bed.  I've been slowly working on renovating it, transferring plants from pots and other parts of the garden and generally moving things about.  I also purchased a "few" new plants by mail order that I'd like to get in the ground.

My mail order haul of tiny succulents, some from Mountain Crest Gardens and the rest from Little Prince of Oregon

For those of you in the US, happy Inauguration Day!  May the next four years be far better than the last four!

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

Monday, January 18, 2021

In a Vase on Monday: A few new blooms

I didn't discover many new flowers during my Bloom Day scavenger hunt but, after a few days of unseasonably warm-hot weather, more flowers made an appearance.  Friday's temperature hit 88F (31C) and Saturday and Sunday were only nominally cooler.  The forecast calls for steadily cooler conditions as the week progresses and there's even a chance of rain next week.  While I remain hopeful, I'm not going to get too invested in the possibility of rain yet as that prospect already appears to be drifting away.

The new floral addition, Senna artemisioides, has wispy foliage and small yellow flowers, which are barely visible here

Back view: I tried copying Amelia, The Shrub Queen, this week by curling Phormium leaves (a trick she performed using bromeliad leaves) but they quickly started uncurling themselves.  Next time, I'll try dampening the leaves and leaving them tightly curled at least overnight.

Top view

Clockwise from the upper left: Agonis flexuosa 'Nana', Phormium 'Ed Carman', Senna artemisioides, Grevillea 'Scarlet Sprite', and Leucadendron 'Safari Sunset'

The second arrangement has two floral elements that didn't appear in my Bloom Day post.

The new blooms here were provided by Echium handiense and Grevillea sericea.  Both are a couple of weeks ahead of their usual bloom schedules.

Back view: I selected the foliage of Pittosporum 'Silver Magic' as my foliage filler as it has a tinge of pink

Top view

Clockwise from the left: Echium handiense, Grevillea sericea, Leptospermum scoparium 'Pink Pearl', and Pittosporum tenuifolium 'Silver Magic'

To be truthful, I'm not enamored with either of this week's arrangements but finding new blooms in the garden cheered me up considerably nonetheless.  Fingers are crossed that this week goes well for our nation.

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

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