Friday, July 30, 2021

Summer Spruce Up

Summer is my least favorite season.  It's hot and it's very, very dry.  Many of my plants shut down or go into hiding.  Gaps develop in spots throughout the garden.  I hesitate to fill them as new plants need more water and, with California's request to reduce water consumption by 15 percent, there's too little to go around.  Try as I can to shut my eyes and wait out summer, hoping for rain in the fall, I usually break down and do at least some planting.  I consider succulents fair game but this year I've gone a bit off the rails.

The bed in the foreground here was driving me crazy.  This photo was taken at the end of June.  The white-flowered Argyranthemum looked worse with every passing day thereafter and all the filler plants around them did too.  I considered planting the whole area in succulents but fell prey to a pretty face in the form of a new-to-me Echibeckia.

I brought home the Echibeckia, an intergeneric hybrid of Echinacea and Rudbeckia, and purchased inexpensive 6-packs of other plants to fill in the area around it.  The coleus was labeled as suitable for sun or shade and, although I feared I'd been sold a bill of goods on their sun tolerance, I planted them anyway.

Clockwise from the upper left, the plants I used included Echibeckia 'Summerina Orange', Dymondia margaretae, Gazania 'Tiger Stripe Mix', and Plectranthus scuttelariodes 'Rustic Orange' (aka coleus)

Deciding that the coleus wasn't going to branch out unless I cut it back, I did just that.  Now the area looks scruffy again but I'm hoping the coleus bounces back quickly.

The coleus stems I cut were trimmed down and put in water to root.  If the plants in the ground die due to exposure to full sun, at least I should have some rooted cuttings to plant elsewhere (in the shade).

I've added some small plants here and there to fill gaps in other beds too but this week I focused on sprucing up selected containers.

Actually, I augmented this half barrel in early June, filling in a gap left when I pulled out rust-encrusted snapdragons with a Dahlia 'Waltzing Matilda' tuber purchased during a last-chance sale and a strawflower seedling (Xerochrysum bracteatum) given to me by Denise of A Growing Obsession

Even through the dahlia isn't blooming yet, I love the look of the barrel.  The yellow and orange Lantana has been in the barrel for at least 2 years now but I cut it back hard in June and it's looking great again.

There had been pansies and a yellow Argyranthemum in this pot with the dark blue Scaevola.  I pulled the dead pansies, cut back the Scaevola, and replaced the Argyranthemum with Helianthus 'Choco Sun', a dwarf sunflower.  Argyranthemum will come back here but it doesn't look at all good in its off season.

Earlier this week I read a post by Margaret at The Gardening Me about refreshing her front door pots and decided I really should do something about the two largest pots by my own front door, both of which were looking truly awful.

It didn't help that I haven't been watering these pots enough.  The pansies and Bacopa were dead and the shrubs, Prostanthera ovalifolia 'Variegata' and Boronia 'Shark's Bay', were looking sad.  I left the shrubs but I may yet pull the Boronias as they've been disappointing.

I filled in with two groundcover plants at the base.  As I'd allowed the soil in the pot to dry out more than I should have, I used a wetting agent (surfactant) when I watered.  It seems to have helped.

The groundcover plants I used were Calibrachoa 'Double Lemon' (top) and Scaevola 'Bondi Blue' (bottom)

I haven't entirely ignored succulents this summer.  I filled two new containers, one of which I inserted in a garden bed to fill a hole.

I booted the plant that had been in this pot and popped in my new Mangave 'Night Owl'

Another recent purchase, bromeliad Orthophytum 'Gerkenii', went into an empty pot I had tucked behind our garage.  It's new home is my lath (shade) house.

Do you plant during the summer months, or wait until temperatures are cooler?

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

Wednesday, July 28, 2021

A quick spin through Roger's Gardens

About 10 days ago, a friend and I paid a quick visit to Roger's Gardens, one of my favorite "local" garden centers (about 45 miles from my home).  We dropped by after visiting Sherman Garden's plant sale nearby.  As we had reservations for lunch, we didn't have a lot of time.  In the process of doing a little plant shopping, I checked out several of the garden center's demonstration beds, which are often good sources of inspiration.

Roger's always plants this sloped area in the front section of the nursery with interesting plants but I'm not sure I've ever seen a more striking display than this one, featuring what I'm guessing is the new Helianthus 'Sunbelievable Brown-eyed Girl'.  I bought a different bushy sunflower called 'Sunfinity' last year at another nursery but this one's reported to have more bloom power.

This bed adjacent to the checkout area is replanted seasonally.  As befits our dry summer conditions, numerous drought tolerant plants were used, including bright yellow Achillea 'Moonshine' in this section.  Helichyrsum petiolare (aka licorice plant) and Phlomis fruticosa (or a relative) were planted nearby.

At the other end of the bed, succulents and Stachys byzantina (lamb's ear) provided a muted palette.  I didn't look at the succulents closely enough to determine whether they were Agaves or Mangaves but I think the vignette demonstrates how well sculptural succulents like these can be combined with softer foliage plants.

I was surprised as how much I liked this block-y display, light on flowers, featuring a number of shrubs

This is the same display, photographed from a different angle.  I noticed what I think are Pittosporum tenuifolium and Westringia fruticosa (aka coastal rosemary) among other shrubs, as well as a mass of silvery Dichondra.

The vertical garden in the background here is planted with various succulents

This side of the structure, the backdrop for Roger's periodic seminars, was planted out with even more succulents, some flowering
Roger's has put a lot of emphasis on planting for pollinators and wildlife in recent years.  I'm not able to identify many of the plants from these photos snatched on the fly but that impressive mass of white flowers is Achillea 'Sonoma Coast'Verbena bonariensis is planted behind it.  The plants in front of the low concrete wall are pollinator-friendly specimens for sale.

View of the same bed from a different angle.  Sunflowers (Helianthus) are visible in the background.  I suspect the sculpture pieces are by Dustin Gimbel.

This display also gets changed out seasonally.  It features Acacia cognata 'Cousin Itt', Helichyrsum petiolare, and what appeared to be Senecio serpens (blue chalk sticks) on steroids, as wells as Agave, Mangave and what might have been Dianella.

I didn't take time for closeup photos or check out Roger's exterior perimeters.  Next time perhaps!

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

Monday, July 26, 2021

In a Vase on Monday: Summer sulk

We've reached that point in the year when the garden enters its sulky phase - or maybe it's not the garden so much as the gardener.  Early summer blooms like the Agapanthus and Shasta daisies are just about done while my dahlias and zinnias are taking their time again this year.  There are still flowers to be cut but not much to inspire my inner florist.  I'd been eyeing the flower stalk of a Hippeastrum, one of several bulbs I planted in the ground last fall in the hope they might naturalize in my garden, but it wasn't quite ready for take-off.  So I focused on the ever-dependable Grevillea 'Superb', which blooms year-round.

The Dahlia 'Dark Side of the Sun' I purchased by mail order a couple of months ago offered a single flower so I placed it front and center.  The plant has deep chocolate-brown foliage, which I believe accounts for its name.

Back view: Succulent Cotyledon orbiculata adds its bell-like blooms

Top view: The color of the 'Pink Meidiland' rose petals matched the styles and stamen of the Grevillea so I threw in a few of them

Clockwise from the upper left: Agonis flexuosa 'Nana', Cotyledon orbiculata, Dahlia 'Dark Side of the Sun', Grevillea 'Superb', Rosa 'Pink Meidiland', and Tanacetum parthenium

On my spin through my garden, I noticed a smattering of blooms on Grevillea sericea, which I haven't used much, if at all, in the past year so I let it guide me in assembling flowers for a second arrangement.

Although the Grevillea kicked things off, the colors in Lycoris sprengeri 'Electric Blue' led me to add blue flowers in addition to the pink ones

Back view

Top view: The Lycoris buds start off pink but the flowers develop blue color as they age

Clockwise from the upper left: Angelonia 'Archangel White', two shades of Eustoma grandiflorum (aka Lisianthus), Prostanthera ovalifolia 'Variegata', Scabiosa columbaria 'Flutter Rose Pink' and 'Flutter Deep Blue', and Lycoris sprengeri 'Electric Blue'

Last week's Amaryllis belladonna and a couple Lisianthus were still in good shape so I popped them into a small vase with foliage I'd cut for the first arrangement and elected not to use. 

The foliage I added to the Amaryllis and Lisianthus is Leucadendron 'Jubilee Crown'

We've been lucky thus far in the sense that it hasn't been really hot here, although it's been unusually humid.  Monsoon rains and flash floods have plagued areas to the east of us but all we've received in terms of rain was 2/100ths of an inch almost two weeks ago.  There's a chance of rain this morning but I'm not counting on it.  It would be nice, though.

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, July 23, 2021

Sherman Gardens' greenHOUSE

As mentioned in my last post, Sherman Library & Gardens has a special exhibit running until mid-September.  While the primary purpose of my visit last Saturday was to attend the Plant-o-rama sale, my secondary objective was to check out the greenHOUSE exhibit, which features "rooms" inserted into garden settings.

First up is the Bedroom.

The bed and its wood canopy frame sits adjacent to the the garden's large lath shade house.  (Sherman's lath house was the inspiration for my garden's own much smaller structure.)

View from the foot of the bed

There wasn't a list of the plants that made up this creation but my guess is that the mix includes: Ipomoea barbatas (sweet potato vine), tuberous Begonias, Centranthus ruber, Digiplexis 'Illumination Flame', and red-flowered Arctotis.  I thought the maroon foliage plant could be an Alternanthera like 'Brazilian Red Hots' but I'm not at all confident of that.

The Formal Dining Room was perhaps the most elaborate display.

Notice the utensils used in the table settings!  Large terracotta pots planted with boxwood shrubs served as chairs.

View of the table from the other end.  A friend identified the shrub with the golden foliage for me earlier - I think it's Ligustrum sinense 'Sunshine' but my memory isn't entirely reliable.  I believe the purple-leaved plants are basil. 

I recognized the plants included in the centerpiece as tuberous Begonias,  Physalis (tomatillos), Echinacea (coneflowers) and Tropaeolum majus (nasturtiums)

Edibles planted behind the dining table included artichokes and corn

The 3-piece Lavatory was spread out within what's generally known as the Sun Garden.

The mirror-topped sink was very popular with visitors taking photos.  I picked a vantage point that captured a spectacular Tibouchina heteromalla in lieu of my face.  Other plants surrounding the sink included Delphinium, Digitalis purpurea, an Eryngium of some kind, and Senecio candicans 'Angel Wings'.

More views of the Tibouchina.  I grew T. urvilleana in my former garden but it was rangy.  There were 2 in my current garden when we moved in but one after the other died out during our earlier drought.  I adore T. heteromalla but I can't justify planting it in my garden given the water it requires.

Another important lavatory piece sits in the middle of the garden's pond, largely blocking garden mascot, Sherman the otter, in the background.  The little girl viewing the toilet on the right looked perplexed.

Another view, showing off the mossy toilet paper.  Plants in this area included Acanthus, Cleome, Delphinium, Digitalis, and water lilies of some kind. 

The nearby tub included more water plants

I almost missed the Music Chamber, tucked into a corner within the Shade Garden.

The moss-covered piano is surrounded by ferns, including small and large-leaved Adiantum (maidenhair ferns) and Platycerium (stag horn ferns), as well as a variety of Begonias

Close up of the Begonias

The Parlor was low-key but popular with families taking photos.

I never got a good enough look at the flowers planted in the drawers of the fuchsia-colored side tables to identify them

The last room was the Study, located next to the Succulent Garden.

Moss and small succulents were the main elements used to dress the space, including the books on the shelves

If it'd been up to me, I think I'd have planted a spiky Agave in the seat of that chair but then that might have posed safety concerns

The exhibit was inventive and fun.  It reminded me of an exhibit put on in early 2020 at RHS Wisley in the UK.  Referred to alternatively as The Monstera Mansion or the Giant Houseplant Takeover, it featured tender plants occupying rooms within Wisley's glasshouse.  It was open from late January through March 1, 2020, just as the pandemic was gaining steam.  I'd have loved to attend in person but was consigned to virtual tours via various online publications.  Each featured somewhat different photos but, if you didn't get a see the exhibit in one way or another, you can find links to a few sources here, here, and here.

Enjoy your weekend however you may be spending it!

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