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


22 comments:

  1. Looking beautiful, Kris. I can just imagine how fragrant the freesias are... feeling envious of that and your warm temps. However, my jasmine plants from TJs are filling the sunspace with delightful fragrance, so I'm grateful for that. We've had a drop in temps again with gusty winds, making forays outside very short! But an upward trend for a few days is expected Tues. with temps in the 50s... of course, we're thrilled! Maybe some of that snow and ice will melt at last. Enjoy your puttering this weekend, I'll be thinking of you. :)

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    1. Well, I hope you get those "warmer" temperatures in the 50s, Eliza (but brrr...). It was in the mid-70s here today and the wind didn't come up until late afternoon. I dealt with boring but necessary jobs like pruning as my latest mail order plant delivery didn't arrive until nearly 5pm. I'm hoping to get all my new plants (12) in the ground tomorrow. We have another chance of light rain on Wednesday.

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  2. 2.95, wow that is just crappy Kris. We have about 6 (normal being 25ish) and the rain coming in tonight will be one of those 1/10" to 1/4" events. If I think about it (and often I don't)I like to use small twiggy branches from my Crape Myrtles to prop up the Freesias. If you get them in early they are discreet and do the job well. I failed this year so mine are soon to be flopping.

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    1. Our "normal" rain total is just under 15 inches, Kathy, but last year we had nearly 24 inches. Apparently, Mother Nature is seeking to balance things out this year. (As I recall, the year before last was the second worst in my memory - this one being the worst - when we received just 3.84 inches of rain over the entire 12 month period.)

      I spent much of my time today pruning selected trees and shrubs so maybe I'll follow your example and retrieve some of the twigs I threw into my green bin for use in propping up some of those Freesias.

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    2. or the true species, which is smaller, shorter, and then not floppy.

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    3. Those are VERY hard to find here, Diana.

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  3. Your garden looks good to me. So many things blooming. I have been puttering in the garden the last three days. The first day was 63 then it went back into the 50's. A little cool for just sitting out but good for actual work days, especially with the sun shining. Plus we have some crocus blooming! It is always fun to walk about the garden and find a spot of color here and there.

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    1. I'm glad you're getting at least some warmer days and opportunities to work in your garden, Lisa. Yay for Crocus!

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  4. I know lack of rain is a great concern where you are but it sure lifts my spirits to see sunshine on the flowers in your photographs!

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    1. I'm glad, Sue. Lifting someone's spirits makes my day.

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  5. So lucky to have spring start so early. Garden looking gorgeous already with all the new growth and colour!

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    1. If we also got a bit more rain, coastal Southern California's weather would be perfect.

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  6. The panoramic view in picture #3 is nothing short of breath taking.
    Any news on the Gingko tree?

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    1. No update yet on the Ginkgo tree. We're ready and waiting but then it's only been on order for a couple of weeks.

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  7. It's hard to imagine living in a part of the world where something is blooming year-round. Gorgeous! I love Freesias, and I tried to grow some (as annuals or potted plants) years ago with no luck. And Camellias...mmmm, exquisite. I'm glad you got some rain.

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    1. Camellias were far happier in my former garden than this one, Beth. I inherited a few well-rooted Camellia sasanqua but hybrid 'Taylor's Perfection' is the only one I planted here. It went in before I developed an appreciation for the dry conditions and sandy soil here.

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  8. A chance for rain this week...hopefully it's a bit more generous than the last storm. Twigs for Freesia support--must try that.

    Beautiful Camellia. I miss them--there were always Camellias in the garden until this house.

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    1. I had many more Camellias in my former tiny garden than I've got here and, given the conditions, it's unlikely I'll ever plant another. We got 0.01/inch of rain early this morning while I was at the market but the forecast suggests we could get a quarter of an inch later this week. I'm hoping I can collect enough to top off my rainwater tanks.

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  9. Once again, I really enjoyed your post! I need to try Ipheion, Scilla peruviana as well as Scilla maritimia! I have had different colored Sparaxis at this house, but am inspired to try it again. Your freesia situation made me laugh at myself. My goal when I first starting gardening at his house was to have only purple, white and pink freesias under my white and brilliant pink roses and the red and yellow freesias in my drought tolerant bed. To my dismay, there are very few purple in the rose bed, although I have bought bags of purple freesias over the years, and a few with the red and yellow freesias.
    Regarding tulips, I learned on instagram, that Tulipa saxatilis ‘Lilac wonder’ returns for us. I plan to buy some if it is for sale again by High Country Gardens or elsewhere.r

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    1. A couple of years ago, after another debacle trying to manage the color mix of Freesias in a particular area (when I purchased Freesia labeled blue and white but ended up with dark pink, white and yellow flowers), I vowed that from then forward I was always going to purchase Freesias in bloom. Of course, I didn't figure on the pandemic. I resorted to mail order and, even though the "tropical sunset mix" came in individual bags labeled by color, it was screwed up...

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  10. The lack of rain is dispiriting. Not that your garden is showing it. I wish I felt as upbeat as your plants look :-)

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    1. As long as we're able to irrigate, the impacts of low rainfall shouldn't be abundant, although I've seen some, especially in my cutting garden and my minimally irrigated back slope. My rain tanks help a lot but I can only collect so much. If only I had a spot for a really big cistern! Ideally with a pump to help me deliver water throughout the garden.

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