Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Wednesday Vignette: A visit from the Easter bunny?

In the flurry of post-vaccination activities - my first dental visit in over a year, my first eye examination in two years, and my first haircut in over six months among other things - I'd nearly lost track of the upcoming Easter holiday.  I'm not inclined to decorate the house with Easter bunnies, color eggs or load up on fanciful chocolate candy but, prompted by the holiday, I do sometimes indulge in purchases of spring plants, not that I really need much of an excuse to do that.  In between appointments, I stopped by my local garden center this week and picked up a few things, along with dozens of other people; however, after viewing my front garden yesterday, I decided I needn't have bothered: it looked like the Easter bunny had already paid me a visit.

I'm not sure I could've designed a more appropriate color palette if I'd consciously applied myself to that task

Fabergé eggs don't have anything on the flowers of Leucospermum 'Spider Hybrid'  

Many of the other plants in the area picked up on the color theme, clockwise from the upper left: Euphorbia tirucalli 'Sticks on Fire', Grevillea 'Peaches & Cream', Lantana 'Lucky Yellow', Leucadendron 'Cloudbank Ginny', Narcissus 'Geranium', and variegated Yucca gloriosa

I actually do have bunnies in the garden but they're not the giving kind.  I have Mother Nature to thank for the spring display on my front slope.  For the record, here's what I picked up as I hopped through the garden center this week.

My biggest indulgence was another Helleborus 'Anna's Red'.  I also picked up Nemesia 'Banana Swirl', Salvia microphylla x greggii 'Glare', and Lithodora diffusa 'Heavenly Blue'.

I added to my Aeonium collection as well with Aeonium hybrid 'Jolly Green', A. 'Suncap', and and Aeonium labeled "Kiwi Stripe" (which I think is actually A. leucoblepharum)

Do you decorate to celebrate spring, or do you let your garden do the work for you?

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

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

Monday, March 29, 2021

In a Vase on Monday: A snappy parade

I've always had trouble growing snapdragons, which is sad because I love the flowers.  But our morning marine layer; the fact that most, if not all, of the rain we get comes in winter when the plants are commonly offered by local garden centers; and the frequency with which moisture-laden mornings are followed by stretches of warm, dry days creates an incubator for rust.  Within a couple of weeks of planting the plugs or four-inch pots I buy, their foliage is covered in rust and I end up pulling them up.  The one upside of the exceptionally dry winter we've had is that my snapdragons look great.   I've used snapdragons in both arrangements I created this week.

While snapdragons set the course for this week's floral parade, it can be argued that Leucospermum 'Brandi' stole the show

Back view: The Freesias are fading fast as our daytime temperature climbed to 87F (30C) yesterday so I threw in some of those too

Top view

Clockwise from the upper left: Agonis flexuosa 'Nana', Freesia, Lotus berthelotii 'Amazon Sunset', orange Anthirrhinum majus, and Leucospermum 'Brandi'

I used two colors of snapdragons in the second arrangement.

Once again, although the snapdragons dictated the color palette, another flower, this time an Anemone, grabbed center stage.  The Anemone coronaria 'Bi-color' may not be the one I ordered but in this case I'm not unhappy with the substitution.

Back view

Top view

Top row: Anemone coronaria 'Bi-color' and Helleborus 'Anna's Red'
Middle row: red and white Antirrhinum majus
Bottom row: Leptospermum 'Copper Glow', white Freesia, and Coleonema 'Album'

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, March 26, 2021

Clean up on aisle five

On Monday afternoon, I headed down to the succulent bed on the front slope I partially replanted last year to tuck in three small plants I'd picked up during my last spin through my local garden center.  As I rounded the corner, I immediately noticed that something was off.  On closer examination, a task I thought would take a few minutes turned into something much more time-consuming.

Here's a look at the area of concern shown in a photo taken earlier this year:

I featured this combination of Aeonium arboreum, Aeonium 'Kiwi' and Crassula lycopodioides in a February post.  I liked it because the plants had knitted together so well.

Here's a photo taken shortly after I realized something had happened:

The sharp contrast of sun and shade makes this a poor photograph but it's the best I can offer to show what I saw when I first noticed the damaged Aeonium stems

As I pulled out broken Aeoniums, I recognized the damage couldn't be put right with a few well-placed pruning cuts.  I don't know what happened.  Maybe a raccoon jumped or fell out of the tree above?  Maybe a coyote chased a cat or a rabbit through the succulent bed?  I was just grateful there was no blood in evidence, nor any furry bodies to bury.

I'd cleared up this much before taking a break for lunch, already recognizing that I was going to need to take out more

This is just a sample of the broken stems.  I filled 5 plastic trugs with debris before I was done..

I took cuttings of the rosettes and stems that still looked presentable

By the time I got around to replanting, I'd pulled about half the succulents in the corner area.

This is the area after I was done cleaning it up.  I removed Aeoniums growing under the self-seeded white-flowered Osteospermum, as well as some that had obscured the Lomandra 'Platinum Beauty' on the upper right.

I replanted the area, using some of what I'd saved during the cleanup process, as well as fresh cuttings from other areas of the garden

Perhaps I should've pulled all the Aeoniums and started from scratch but even Aeoniums take awhile to bulk up so I left what still looked good and crossed my fingers that the new cuttings will fill out quickly to blend with the older plants. 

The photo on the left shows the front slope area I replanted in November.  The photo on the right shows the area as it looked on Wednesday evening after rehab of the corner area on the right. 

I've noticed that most of the cuttings I used when replanting this south end area of the front slope late last year are growing more quickly than the tiny succulents I purchased to flesh out the bed.  One notable exception is what I think is Sedeveria 'Fanfare'.

The growth of this Sedeveria has outpaced its cohorts.  I love its semi-spiraled shape too.

Other projects this past week included finishing up the interface between the back patio and the flagstone path.

I dug in the additional flagstones, removing more of the awful asparagus fern roots in the process.  This photo reveals the problem I have with self-seeded alyssum (Lobularia maritima) but I'm not going to do anything about that until the Ginkgo tree I've ordered is in place, at which time I can make a decision about what I want to grow beneath it.

I cleaned up this area, adding another Yucca 'Blue Boy' in the process.  I'll probably pull out the Aeonium 'Kiwi Verde' behind the new Yucca after that succulent finishes blooming, replanting from cuttings to give it a fresh start. 

I've already replanted the Aeonium 'Kiwi Verde' on the this side of the flagstone path using cuttings.  I also added plugs of creeping thyme (Thymus serpyllum 'Elfin') between and around the newly laid flagstones.

I gave myself the gift of another Japanese maple last week and got that in the ground this week.  It seems happy thus far.

I've learned the hard way that Japanese maples require protection from the strong winds we routinely experience here.  I think this coral bark maple (Acer palmatum 'Sango Kaku') should be well protected behind the hedge.  I have another of the same variety planted alongside the garage in my cutting garden area, which offers a similar exposure.

I have two more plant orders due to arrive within the next couple of days, which should keep me busy this weekend (if they actually arrive on schedule).  As I'm now considered fully immunized, I may put future mail orders on hold while I reacquaint myself with the garden centers I haven't visited in over a year.  I'm looking forward to a little retail plant shopping therapy.

Best wishes for a pleasant weekend.

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

Wednesday, March 24, 2021

Wednesday Vignette: Creeping fog or creepy fog?

I wasn't sure how to describe the fog I noticed early last Friday evening as I was finishing up my garden chores.  The way it crept along the edges of the harbor, surrounding but not engulfing it, made me think of an episode of Twilight Zone.  It was sunny and clear where I was standing and I could see blue sky above and beyond the fog, which moved in more like a wave than a blanket.

This is what I saw just after 6pm on Friday evening

Usually, when fog rolls in it envelops the entire harbor.  The lights in the harbor and the city beyond are "turned off" and after the sun goes down all you can see, if anything, are a few of the closest homes.  That never happened on Friday night.  The mass that surrounded the harbor looked more like clouds sitting on the surface of the water.  By the following morning it had retreated a ways but it still created the appearance of a low wall surrounding the harbor.
This is the view after sunrise the next morning

I did a little online surfing and the best explanation I could find suggests that what I saw wasn't fog at all but clouds, perhaps Arcus clouds, possibly of the roll cloud type.  Interesting but not Twilight Zone material.  If you've seen something similar or can offer a better explanation, let me know.

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

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

Monday, March 22, 2021

In a Vase on Monday: Spring Bounty

At this time of year, with new flowers appearing every time I turn around, it isn't easy to hone in on choices for inclusion in a vase.  I generally pick one thing to serve as a centerpiece and then wander my garden without any larger plan in mind in search of suitable companions.  This week, I started by clipping the stem of the last of the three Hippeastrum 'Aphrodite' I planted as bulbs in November.  Wind has been a persistent companion in my garden for weeks now and it prematurely withered the blooms of my second 'Aphrodite' and I didn't want to see the third plant experience the same fate.

In contrast with the other two 'Aphrodite' stems this one was surprisingly short

Back view: I'm not sure how well the flowers of Arbutus 'Marina', shown here dangling down the sides of the vase, will hold up in an arrangement but we shall see.  Arbutus is known as the strawberry tree because the flowers form red berries that look a little like that fruit.

Top view

Clockwise from the upper left: Agonis flexuosa 'Nana', Anemone 'Mistral Rosa Chiaro', Arbutus 'Marina', Hippeastrum 'Aphrodite', Sparaxis tricolor, and Tulipa 'Lady Jane'

The soft tones of Leucospermum 'Spider Hybrid' have been calling me for a couple of weeks now and I couldn't stop myself from cutting the one flower in full bloom; however, to avoid cutting off other buds, the stem ended up shorter than I'd have liked, just like the Hippeastrum in the first arrangement.

I stuck with a soft peachy-orange palette to complement the Leucospermum

Back view

Top view

Clockwise from the upper left: Agonis flexuosa 'Nana', Grevillea alpina x rosmarinifolia, Leucospermum 'Spider Hybrid', Narcissus 'Geranium', N. 'Sunny Girlfriend', and Sparaxis tricolor

I had leftovers from one of last week's arrangements, as well as a fistful of Leucadendron stems I'd held onto after pruning those shrubs last week, which I used for two other simple vases.

The vase on the kitchen island (left) contains two Leucospermum 'Goldie' stems saved from last week's blue and yellow arrangement.  The vase on the living room mantle (right) contains stems of Leucadendron 'Safari Sunset' and L. 'Jester', stripped of their lower leaves to look more like flowers.

The other two vases took pride of place on the dining room table and the front entry table respectively.

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, March 19, 2021

Spring garden frenzy

Time is zipping by.  As we officially welcome spring, I'm hustling to finish some of the pruning I should've  completed in late winter.  But every time I walk through the garden, I'm distracted from the tasks at hand by one or another pretty new bloom.  And yet I'm also feeling the need to prepare for summer as new bulbs arrive every other day.  My head is spinning!

This week, I decided it was time to prune the rest of my Leucadendrons.  Cutting back Leucadendron 'Safari Sunset' was almost painful.

This image was taken in mid-January

This one, captured from the opposite direction, was taken in mid-February

Here are 'Safari Sunset' and 'Blush' after pruning.  The best things I can say is that the pruning makes the plants surrounding the Leucadendrons more noticeable - and, with a little time, the Leucadendrons will be back, looking as flashy as ever.

As I was pruning, I put aside stems for a vase.  Then to further assuage my sadness about the massive pruning, I spent another hour or more stripping stems of leaves to offer as a giveaway to neighbors.  They didn't disappear as fast as most of what I put out on the curb and I even threw some of these away.  My husband says that may be because the cut stems blended in with the fresh flush of foliage on the Xylosma hedge.

There are still a few more Leucadendrons to prune, as well as a couple more Pennisetum grasses I'd lost track of but I also started work on cleaning up the area that will front the Ginkgo tree when it arrives.

I decided to widen the flagstone path where it intersects with the back patio, which meant cutting back succulents on either side.  I rounded up a couple of flagstones from other areas of the garden, which I still need to dig into place.

I'll replant a portion of these Aeonium 'Kiwi Verde' cuttings but I expect I'll be giving away a lot of them away

Meanwhile, the dahlia tubers I ordered last year started to arrive, which of course meant that I should pull the tubers I'd dug up and divided at the end of the last season out of the garage.  With three more new tubers still in the mail, I've got more dahlias than my cutting garden can handle.

I'll move the dahlias from these temporary pots into the raised planters once the spring blooms are gone.  I'd conveniently forgotten how many tubers I'd saved last season when I ordered more.  I wonder how many people in the neighborhood might be interested in dahlia tubers?

To complicate matters, another shipment of summer bulbs arrived yesterday.

Just where I'd planned to put these, I can't say off-hand

Despite the start of daylight savings time, there just aren't enough hours in the day to do everything that needs to be done right now.  Even so, it's important to stop and appreciate the new wonders each day brings.

Including the almost fluorescent flowers of Arctotis 'Large Marge'

And don't the white Freesias look nice with the variegated Helichrysum petiolare hiding their flopping stems?  I'd forgotten I'd planted any Freesias there.

A minute or two is necessary to ponder whether this will be the year Leucospermum 'Sunrise' decides to bloom for the first time.  Are those leaf buds or infant blooms?

I hope you're seeing more signs of spring too - and that you're taking time to enjoy them.  Have a great weekend!

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