Friday, April 30, 2021

The garden has its glow on

I'm always a little startled when I realize that the colors in my garden are shifting.  Blues and pinks dominated over the past couple of months.   There are still blue and pink flowers to be found but this week I noticed that my garden seems to be getting its glow on.  Yellow flowers and variegated foliage have been grabbing my attention at every turn.  The tree-sized Leucadendron 'Pisa' was the first plant to signal the color shift.

Leucadendron 'Pisa' sports silvery foliage year round but in spring it suddenly develops luminescent yellow bracts that look like flowers

From that point, I began seeing glowing color everywhere.

The flowers of Cistus 'Second Honeymoon' are more white than yellow but the plant's variegated foliage draws the eye too

The blooms of Hymenolepsis parviflora (aka Coulter bush) seem to appear all at once

This is the first time the Lomandra hystrix 'Tropic Belle' I purchased for their foliage have flowered.  The flowers are much splashier than those of other Lomandra species in my garden.

Here are some of the foliage specimens that stood out.

I have several Abelia grandiflora 'Kaleidoscope', two of which are shown here.  They've been producing fresh foliage stems.

These are two other varieties of Abelia, 'Confetti' on the left and 'Hopley's Variegated' on the right.   'Confetti' remains fairly compact while 'Hopley's' will climb to the stars if allowed to.

Although Coleonema pulchellum 'Sunset Gold' has pale pink flowers, its grown mainly for its foliage color as indicated by its name.  I have several of these shrubs in both my front and back gardens.

Corokia x virgata 'Sunsplash' is more demure than many of the other plants I've included in this post but both the color and the texture of the foliage draw second glances from visitors

I planted almost a dozen Heuchera 'Marmalade' plants last fall.  The five I have in the front garden get more shade (and possibly more water) and they're happier than those in the back garden.

Nasella tenuissima (syn. Stipa tenuissima aka Mexican feather grass) is striking at this time of year but it also self-seeds freely so I "comb" the plumes periodically

Yucca 'Bright Star' with Coleonema 'Sunset Gold' and Nasella tenuissima in the background

All of the foliage plants shown above have been in place for some time but perhaps the more intense sunlight made the plants stand out more than they had earlier in the year.  However, in the case of the flowering plants, the sheer volume of flowers is generally what caught my eye.

Arctotis 'Large Marge' is a relatively new introduction and not yet prolific but the flowers' color could be described as fluorescent

In contrast, Cotula lineariloba 'Big Yellow Moon' spreads fast and wide

Euphorbia 'Ascot Rainbow' has both variegated foliage and sprays of attractive yellow flowers

Osteospermum 'White Flame' has been self-seeding in this area for years now and the flowers are beginning to mutate

Grevillea 'Peaches & Cream' is one of the stars of my front garden.  It blooms year-round but the blooms have been heaviest this spring.

Leucospermum 'Goldie' is the most floriferous of my "pincushion" shrubs

Mimulus bifidus is the most successful of my monkey flowers

I introduced Osteospermum 'Double Moonglow' to my garden last year and it came back better still this year

 Achillea 'Moonshine' is on the brink of flowering in the back garden.  When it's in full bloom, it will draw the eye of anyone who walks through the space.

I planted this Achillea on both sides of the flagstone path and well into the wide back border to give it greater impact.  It's had buds for weeks but is only now beginning to flower.

I recently popped another Achillea 'Moonshine' into this pot outside my shade house, accompanied by a new (to me) intergeneric Argyranthemum 'Grandaisy Yellow' along with a pale yellow Petunia and a brownish coleus

It was toasty yesterday with the temperature briefly reaching 92F (33C).  Even when the temperature came down a bit, it was uncomfortable to do much in the garden, especially as the wind picked up.  It was still 80F (26C) at 9pm, which isn't a good thing.  We're expecting more of the same today with a slight cool down over the weekend.  I hope you can make the best of the weekend, regardless of your weather conditions.

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

Wednesday, April 28, 2021

Wednesday Vignette: Weeds

Any honest gardener will probably admit to an ongoing battle with weeds.  But what is a weed?  The common definition is that it's a plant growing where it's not wanted, usually vigorously and often to the detriment of plants the gardener values more highly.  The definition is situation-specific and therefore there are as many disagreements as to what's a weed as there are agreements.  I've got plenty of what I consider weeds.  I also have plants that other people have suggested I remove as soon as possible that I've had to baby just to preserve.  This post isn't intended as an overview of the plants in either category but instead an assessment of my recent interactions with a few weedy characters.

I'd been planning to whack back the Wisteria vine growing next to the arbor on the south side of the house for the past month but the task hadn't yet made it to the top of my to-do list.  The following view of the vine had me questioning whether I should actually leave it alone for awhile.

Instead of climbing up the arbor as the prior owner of our property presumably intended when he/she planted it, the Wisteria wove itself the small space between my cat's screened porch and the cover we place over the screen during the rainy season to keep her catio dry.  When I discovered this, I was struck by how pretty and picture-like it looked and was tempted to leave it alone.

This is the view from inside the catio.  We've had periodic rain forecasts over the past couple of weeks but no actual rain.  As we're expecting summer-like temperatures later this week and we're unlikely to get any more rain until October or November, I'll probably go ahead and remove the rain guard soon, which I suspect will cause the vine to collapse to the ground.  It was an interesting visual effect but not worth facilitating the vine's crawl up onto our roof.

In another situation, I noticed a plant I didn't recognize growing in my back border, swamping its neighbors.  Its vigor alone screamed "weed" to me.  I did some online sleuthing and came up with one reference suggesting that it could be poison hemlock!  As it was dark outside when I uncovered that possibility, I had to wait until the next day to check for the tell-tale signs that differentiate poison hemlock from wild carrots. 

The largest plant is preparing to bloom but there are a dozen others crowded around it and there's a red Cordyline nearly buried among them

The stems are hairy and don't have purple spots, which signifies that it isn't poison hemlock.  When I looked through my seeds and found a packet of Daucus carota 'Dara' I suddenly remembered scattering some seeds where my mystery weeds are growing, clinching the plants' identity.

I pulled some of the seedlings and transplanted them elsewhere yesterday

The seeds I sowed are known as "chocolate laceflower", which is is sold under two different species names, Ammi majus 'Dara' and Daucus carota 'Dara'.  I was told by one source that there's little or no difference between the two but most online sources describe the plants as "cousins" with Ammi majus described as more delicate and less weedy.  I've photographs of the flowers of the Ammi majus 'Dara' I grew last year but I wasn't able to find any photos of the foliage.  However, my recollection is that the plant was less robust than what's growing in my garden right now.  It may be another year before I can assess whether I was foolish to grow Daucus carota 'Dara' here.

I've got other weeds I tolerate because they're attractive, at least in moderation.  One of these is Dorycnium hirsutum aka hairy Canary clover (syn. Lotus hirsutus).  It self-seeds freely but the seedlings are easy to pull, at least if you catch them when they're small.

If the seedling is small and the soil is damp, it pulls up relatively easily and can be transplanted, although the plants allowed to stay where they seed fare best

However, if the plants are allowed to stay where they are until they reach this size, pulling them out can be a chore.  They develop deep tap roots.

I moved a few seedlings yesterday.  Dorycnium is a great groundcover and attractive even when not in bloom.

Other weeds that I tolerate in moderation include the following:

Left to right: Erigeron karvinskianus (aka Mexican or Santa Barbara daisy), Lobularia maritima (aka sweet alyssum) and Oenothera speciosa (aka pink evening primrose)

Are there any "weeds" you tolerate in moderation?

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

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

Monday, April 26, 2021

In a Vase on Monday: Going overboard (again)

It's Spring.  I can't help myself.  I started with a clear idea of what I wanted in my first vase and a vague notion of a possibility for a second arrangement.  And I ended up with four vases.   The problem arose at the start when, cutting materials for the first vase, I got carried away and cut more than the vase could hold.

Leucospermum 'Brandi' is one of my favorite flowers at the moment but this arrangement was actually inspired by my desire to use the last of the presentable Narcissi before the next stretch of very warm weather arrives later this week

I finally got a handful of Iceland poppies to bloom and added a couple to dress up the back of this arrangement

Top view

Clockwise from the upper left: Abelia 'Kaleidoscope', Agonis flexuosa 'Nana', Alstroemeria 'Indian Summer', Leucospermum 'Brandi', Narcissus tazetta 'Geranium', and Papaver nudicaule (Iceland poppy) shown with Lotus berthelotii 'Amazon Sunset'

When I realized that I literally couldn't stuff anything more into the first vase, I pulled out another one for the overflow materials I'd already cut.

I'd thought that the flowers of Aeonium 'Kiwi Verde', currently blooming all over the garden, and the chartreuse and rusty red flowers of Salvia lanceolata might offer a nice complement to the orange Leucospermum but there wasn't room to cram those stems into the first vase

Back view showing off the Aeonium flowers

Top view

Clockwise from the upper left: Aeonium haworthii 'Kiwi Verde', Agonis flexuosa 'Nana', Alstroemeria 'Claire', and Salvia lanceolata

I cut all my flowers on Sunday morning before I have breakfast so I already had flowers cut for what was supposed to be vase #2 but ended up as vase #3.

The noID snapdragons I grew from plugs are showing the first signs of rust so I cut them and the only Anemone 'Bi-color' still in good shape

Back view

Top view

Clockwise from the upper left: Abelia grandiflora 'Edward Goucher', Anemone coronaria 'Bi-color', red and white Antirrhinum majus, Coriandrum sativum, and Penstemon mexicali 'Mini Red Bells'

The contents of the fourth arrangement weren't cut on Sunday.  The foxglove is a holdover from one of last week's arrangements and the sweet peas were cut late last week for the kitchen island but I'm sharing them to show off the magical color transformation of Lathyrus 'Blue Shift' as the blooms age.

The vase of "leftovers" too good not to share

These photos show how the color of Lathyrus odoratus 'Blue Shift' changes from magenta to purple to turquoise blue.  I grew these from seed.

Enough from me!  For more IAVOM creations, check in with our host, Cathy of Rambling in the Garden.

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

Friday, April 23, 2021

My first major post-vaccination excursion

Since achieving full COVID-19 vaccination status in late March, I've been to the dentist, had my eyes examined, and gotten my hair cut.  I've visited my local botanic garden and my local garden center too but then I'd done that off-and-on throughout the last year.  However, on Tuesday, I broke through several of my self-imposed pandemic restrictions to meet up with three vaccinated friends in person; toured a botanic garden approximately 50 miles from home; visited a garden center I hadn't explored in over a year; and had lunch in an outdoor restaurant.  It was a blast.

Because I spent so much time chatting with my friends while touring Sherman Gardens in Corona Del Mar, I took fewer photos than I've done in the past but I've some worth sharing.  The botanic garden is small, just 2.5 acres, but it's meticulously maintained and plant beds are refreshed several times a year so there's always something new to see.  (You can find prior posts featuring this garden here.)

We started in the Central Garden after entering via the main parking lot.

Although the area surrounding the fountain pool, featuring Ranunculus and Papaver nudicaule (Iceland Poppies) looked good to me, the garden is already planning to replace them after a recent burst of very warm weather

Left to right, the biggest Iceland poppy I've ever seen; the garden cat, Julius (Caesar), perhaps the biggest domestic cat I've ever seen; and a vine that looked like Mandevilla sporting flowers in a color I haven't seen before

View of a mixed flower bed outside the garden's shade structure, featuring Clarkia, Digiplexis, and Leucospermums among other plants

Another mixed bed across from the previous one, adjacent to the Tropical Conservatory

The yellow Leucospermum (left) was drawing a lot of attention from visitors but I was also drawn to the attractive Dyckia nearby (right)

This mixed bed sat on the other side of the lawn

A closer look at the Digiplexis (an intergeneric hybrid of Digitalis and Isoplexis) and an unusual white-flowered Geranium maderense

Next, we headed into the Tropical Conservatory.

The koi pond is a central feature.  You can almost always find turtles sunning themselves on that rock.

The orchid area

A few closeups from within the conservatory

We checked out a couple of vignettes outside the Tropical Conservatory.

My favorite flamingo, bedecked with Tillandsias, in a bed filled with bromeliads

A display of carnivorous plants

This knot garden on the north side of the property formerly featured roses.

There was a mix of edible plants, Violas and chartreuse-green shrubs (maybe Spiraea? Ligustrum 'Sunshine')

We passed by the Sun Garden on the way to the shade structure.

My favorite otter figure, standing on the edge of the pond partly shaded by a large Callistemon (left), is still missing the hose he used to hold.  The goddess statue that used to occupy the sunnier other end of the area (right) has also disappeared. 

I'm very fond of the garden's shade structure, which was the inspiration for my own, much smaller, lath house.  This area is all about specimen Begonias.

Other plants located inside the shade structure include, clockwise from the upper left, a yellow-flowered Clivia, a pelican surrounded by assorted bromeliads, a collection of Peperomias, and a Rhododendeon

This noID plant momentarily drew us up short with the unfolding leaf (right) that almost looked like a flower. UPDATE: Identified by commentator as Ficus dammaropsis.

Heading in the direction of the Tea Garden, I admired the paper umbrellas hung under the arbor.

I was captivated by the way the filtered light under the arbor looked like rain.  My photo doesn't do the light effect justice.  Unfortunately, I'd elected to carry my small, lightweight Canon rather than my DSLR camera.

A wider view of the arbor, decorated with colorful paper umbrellas, and the shade beds surrounding the Tea Garden

Cyclamen, Heuchera, Nemesia, Peperomia and Pericallis (aka Cineraria) were planted here along with Camellias

As usual, I focused on the Succulent Garden to a greater extent than the many of the other areas, even though it arguably changes less from visit to visit.

View of the tree-sized Euphorbias and barrel cactus

A beautifully backlit bromeliad fronted by an artistic succulent display

Agaves, Aloes and bromeliads - oh my!

One of the most interesting plants here is the groundcover-like plant, which I think is Deuterocohnia brevifolia, a mat-forming bromeliad

I was drawn in by the Euphorbia polygona in this area

The best-looking Dudleya I've ever seen

Heading back to the parking lot for the next leg of excursion, I snapped a couple quick photos in the Fern Grotto.

Then we were off to Roger's Gardens to do a little shopping and have lunch at the Farmhouse restaurant onsite.  I only bought a few plants but I thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to chat casually with friends in person in the open-air setting.  For the first time in more than a year, life felt a little bit more normal.

Best wishes for a pleasant weekend!

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