Friday, July 29, 2022

Looking for bargains

On Wednesday, I took a trip to OC Succulents' satellite store in Torrance, California to see what kind of selection the wholesale nursery had to offer.  It's only about 15 miles and 30 minutes from my home but, if my photographic records reflect all my visits, I haven't been there since December 2018.  In any case, I know for certain I haven't dropped in since the start of the COVID pandemic so I wasn't sure what to expect.

I was a little shocked when I walked into the tented area that houses the nursery's smaller succulents in two, four and six-inch pots.

There was a LOT of empty space

This photo, taken on a visit in July 2018 from approximately the same angle, shows what I'd expected to see

There were still a lot of plants but overall it was a smaller selection than I'd hoped to find.

There seemed to be more plants in 6-inch pots ($9.95 apiece) than in 4-inch pots ($4.25 apiece)

I didn't see prices on these larger pots of Echeveria agavoides ('Red Tip' I think) but I wouldn't buy them in that size anyway.  I took the photo mainly as a reminder of just how large this particular Echeveria can get.

There was a large variety of Sansevieria (now classified as Dracaena) in a range of sizes too


There were many more plants in larger pots outside.  They were undoubtedly priced competitively but the tags still made me gulp and I prefer to establish plants in smaller sizes.  (Whether I'll continue to hold onto that preference once I have large gaps left in my garden when various agaves bloom out, remains to be seen.)

The largest plants were lined up along the the seller's back fence.  I didn't check the prices on most of these but the 'Blue Glow' Agaves, all smaller than any of the specimens currently in my garden, were priced at $179.

Agave geminiflora were going for $30, which I thought was pretty reasonable for plants this size

I was attracted to this new-to-me Agave sebastiana with its light blue color but it's apparently a prolific pupper, which could be a negative

Aloe cameronii has an attractive form, reminiscent of a sea creature.  I have a small plant but adding one this size isn't entirely out of the question for $30.

I didn't see a lot of Mangaves but they did have a few varieties.  This one is 'Racing Stripes'.  At $35, the price was on par with the Mangaves sold by my local botanic garden at its spring plant sale.

I've always had mixed feelings about Pedilanthus bracteatus but they are attractive planted in groups, especially when in flower.  They were going for $49.

There were collections of mid-sized plants in 8-inch pots close to the store's main entrance, including Agave parryi truncata and Agave 'Blue Glow'.  The plants were priced at $40 but at least I now know of a source for 'Blue Glow' Agaves when my plants bloom and die.

In contrast to the selection of small succulents, the selection of houseplants was as extensive as ever.

I think you could find every house plant you might covet in a range of sizes here

Plenty of Peperomia

Colorful Crotons

A wide variety of Calathea

I noticed a sign for Philodendron 'Birkin' ($12 for a 4-inch plant) but they were all gone

I didn't see any price tags on the small mounted staghorn ferns and bromeliads but these did give me an idea for sprucing up my lath house

There were even signs providing various kinds of guidance for newbie houseplant parents


I didn't buy any houseplants but I didn't go home empty-handed either.

I brought home 16 succulents in 4-inch pots: 2 Sansevieria trifasciata 'Twisted Sister', 3 Aeonium 'Lily Pad', 5 Echeveria 'Blue Atoll', and 6 other Echeverias I'm unable to identify.  With the exception of the Sansevierias, they were $4.25 each.  Factoring in the 10% discount I get from my local garden center, each plant was $2.04 cheaper those at my local outlet.  Not a great savings but future trips to OCS will be worth more if their selection improves.


I've tentatively decided to add more succulents to one habitually dry area in my back garden, already partially filled with succulents.  That plan hasn't entirely come together yet but at least a portion of the plants purchased on this trip are targeted for placement in that area.  Others will find homes in existing succulent beds as I fill in gaps.  Given the current direction driven by climate change, I suspect my garden will contain a larger percentage of succulents each year for the foreseeable future.

All material © 2012-2022 by Kris Peterson for Late to the Garden Party

Wednesday, July 27, 2022

A prickly project

After hand-watering my cutting garden and fertilizing the dahlias yesterday morning, I decided to tackle a prickly low-reward project I'd put off for months.  It was time-consuming and few people would be likely to notice a difference once I was done but it was something that bugged me almost every time I walked through my front garden, which is generally a couple times a day.

This is part of the seating area/plant shelf that surrounds the Magnolia tree in our front garden.  Pardon the poor quality of the photo but, as it's in partial shade all day, it can't be helped.  I should also acknowledge that the construction is a little odd; however, as I do relatively little sitting in the garden, I dedicated half the structure to potted plants, most of which have been here for years.

The focus of my effort was the bromeliad in the upper right of the preceding photo, Nidularium wittrockia leopardinum.  I picked up this plant at the South Bay Bromeliad Association's sale in August 2016.  It's been in the same pot since I purchased it.  I've pulled out dead leaves at intervals over the years but, as it grew steadily denser, that became increasingly difficult and it started to look mangy.

This is the plant in its "before" condition.  You can see some of the dead leaves hanging over the side.  Dead leaves could also be found in the interfaces between plant clumps.  It's difficult to work with because its leaves are lined all along the edges with sharp spines.

The original plastic pot sat inside of a decorative ceramic pot.  The plant clusters were so densely packed, I had to cut the white plastic pot to free it.

I struggled to cut through the plant clusters to separate them.  Once separated, I peeled away dead and disfigured leaves, ridding the plant on a large number of slugs in the process.  I don't find many slugs (or snails) in my increasingly dry garden but the slugs had found the ideal environment inside the relatively wet interior of the bromeliad.

I replanted 2 plant clusters in another plastic pot, inserting it into the ceramic pot under the Magnolia tree.  I planted the other 2 clusters in another plastic pot, which I slipped inside a terracotta pot and deposited next to the lath house.

I also decided it was time to replant the noID bromeliad a friend gave me a couple of years ago.

The noID bromeliad and its pot arrived already planted.  The pot originally included succulent cuttings as well, some of which I'd removed earlier.  I removed the remaining gangly Crassula stems, then cleaned up the bromeliad, removing its dead leaves.

I repotted the bromeliad in its original container.  I pinched pieces of Echeveria prolifica from another pot to add interest.

I'm planning to harvest more of these Echeveria rosettes for other areas of areas of my garden.  Echeveria prolifica lives up to its name and spreads very quickly.

In addition, I replanted the pair of concrete shoes (shown in the first photo on the lower left) using succulents.

I think the Aeonium arboreum rosettes had been there for more than 2 years.  The shoe containers were a gift from one of my sisters-in-law years ago.

Feeling lazy at this point, I replanted them with Aeonium haworthii 'Kiwi' cuttings.  The hardest part of the process was getting the previous stems out of the shoes without breaking them.

I'd considered dividing the Neoregelia 'Guinea x Pepper' on the north side of the seating area/plant shelf but I simply ran out of steam.  That's a project for another day.

Neoregelia 'Guinea x Pepper' (upper right) may be the toughest bromeliad in my garden.  Most aren't all that happy planted in the ground because my garden overall is so dry, especially this time of year.

I've previously divided this one and planted pieces of it in an area along our north property line, which is probably what I'll do again.  A larger mass of the Neoregelia will have greater impact. 

The cooler temperatures we enjoyed last weekend spilled over into the Monday and Tuesday but we're expecting a slow warm-up as the week continues.  Hopefully, it'll stay within a reasonable range.

All material © 2012-2022 by Kris Peterson for Late to the Garden Party

Monday, July 25, 2022

In a Vase on Monday: Variations on a hue

I'm not in love with pale pink but sometimes that's what the garden delivers.  Last week, my Amaryllis belladonna began popping up on their leaf-less stems, one after another.  Frankly, if I had to choose, I'd say I like the plants' foliage, which dies down as soon as temperatures soar, better than its flowers but the real problem is that the bulbs aren't optimally placed to hide their naked stems so they look a little ridiculous.  That placement wasn't intentional but, as shrubs and perennials died off over time long after the bulbs were planted, that's what's happened.  As an Alstroemeria in the front garden had produced an unexpected flush of matching pink-tinged flowers, the die was cast and I cut two stems of the most awkward-looking Amaryllis flower stalks.

I added a single Dahlia 'Karma Prospero' to the mix, mainly because it was the only new dahlia bloom in the right color range.  As I'd neglected to pinch back the dahlia earlier to promote side stems, it was also a good time to correct that error before it was too late.

I dressed up the back view with Daucus carota 'Dara', which is already rapidly going to seed

Top view

Clockwise from the upper left: Coleonema album, Leptospermum 'Copper Glow', Pelargonium schizopetalum, Alstroemeria 'Inca Vienna', Amaryllis belladonna. Dahlia 'Karma Prospero', and Daucus carota 'Dara'

I switched to the vivid side of the color spectrum with deep red flowers for my second arrangement.  I avoided red in my former garden and, even now, I haven't entirely embraced it.  However, I sowed seeds of Zinnia 'Benary's Giant Deep Red' earlier this year and they're the first of my Zinnias to bloom en masse so they were a natural choice.

To lighten up the arrangement I added one of the last stems of Alstroemeria 'Inca Lucky'Alstroemeria doesn't care for our hot summer temperatures so I don't expect to see many more flowers from that genus until late fall.

Back view: I added several stems of Leucadendron 'Safari Sunset' to the mix, one if the few red "flowers" in my garden that meshed well with the Zinnias

Top view

Clockwise from the upper left: more Coleonema album and Leptospermum 'Copper Glow', Leucadendron 'Jubilee Crown', Alstroemeria 'Inca Lucky', Leucadendron 'Safari Sunset', Persicaria capitata, and Zinnia elegans 'Benary's Giant Deep Red'

The last two stems of the 'Cobalt Dreams' Delphinium in my cutting garden had toppled over and were fading fast, leaving me compelled to cut them for a final hurrah on the kitchen island.

Utilizing the same vase as last week, I added two varieties of coleus (Plectranthus scutellarioides), 'Salsa Verde' and 'Vino' (in flower), to accompany the Delphinium 'Cobalt Dreams'

Our weekend weather was wonderful.  A persistent morning marine layer kept our afternoon temperatures remarkably low for this time of year.  It's not realistic to assume that those conditions will continue for long but I was happy that I was able to make good use of my time in the garden in any case.  Unhappily, however, late afternoon on Sunday was marred by the continuous sound of helicopters circling the area.  Sadly, that turned out to be the result of a mass shooting at a park less than 5 miles away.  The last report I heard was that seven people were transported to the hospital and two people died. The US population's sick addiction to guns continues unabated, even in California, which has some of the strongest gun regulations in the country.

For more IAVOM creations, check in with our host, Cathy at Rambling in the Garden.


All material © 2012-2022 by Kris Peterson for Late to the Garden Party



Friday, July 22, 2022

Leucadendrons: A garden mainstay

I took a step back to assess my Leucadendron collection this week.  Commonly known as conebushes, these plants in the Proteaceae family are native to South Africa and generally adapt well to coastal Southern California's Mediterranean climate.  As it turns out, I published a post on the subject in 2018, which I'd forgotten about.  I've only added one plant within the last four years, bringing the current total to an even twenty shrubs.  However, my plants have grown a lot since 2018 and therefore have a greater presence in my garden.  In at least a few cases, they've gotten a bit out of hand but I'm putting off any serious pruning until cooler weather arrives in the fall.

There are seven Leucadendrons in my front garden.

This Wilson's Wonder' is one of the few plants that moved with me from my former tiny garden.  It was in a pot there but it exploded in size when planted in the ground.  Despite pruning twice a year, it's currently over 6 feet tall.  It's not allowed to spread as wide as it'd like here because my husband generally parks his truck in the driveway alongside it.

Since its last haircut in early spring, it's started flaunting its summer color

In winter it looks like this, sporting flower-like bracts surrounding a central cone

I've a total of 4 of the smaller 'Blush' variety shrubs.  This one sits next to the driveway.

'Safari Goldstrike' is supposed to be a "compact" variety growing 4-6 feet tall and wide.  This one is already at least 7 feet tall and leaning into some succulents below it.  It's on the list for pruning this fall.

This photo of its almost florescent early spring "flowers" was taken in 2018.  The plant's become too tall to get good photos of the flowers in recent years.

'Cloudbank Ginny' is my most recent introduction.  It's probably going to get too big for its spot and may have to move.  It has an interesting flower, which you can see here as I couldn't find any of my own photos to share.

My second 'Wilson's Wonder' sits in the middle of the front garden, placed deliberately to break up the view from one end of the area the other.  It gets more shade than the plant in the driveway area.  In the background on the right, you can see 'Safari Sunset', one of 2 in my garden.

'Safari Sunset' is paired here with 'Jubilee Crown' (left), which has a softer aspect than any of my other Leucadendrons

This closeup of 'Jubilee Crown's' foliage and cones was taken in May


There's only one Leucadendron in the south side garden, an area dominated by succulents

'Summer Red' is a more demure shrub, which grows just 3-4 feet in height

'Summer Red' looks very different in early January


The back garden has nine plants, some of which are grouped together.

'Safari Sunset' is paired with another 'Blush' shrub here

This trio consists of 'Jester', a variegated plant, flanked by 'Winter Red' on each side

'Pisa' is my tallest Leucadendron, effectively serving as a small tree.  It's said to lean in the wind, hence its name.

It glows in spring.  This photo was taken in May 2021.

This 'Jester', positioned under Arbutus 'Marina', doesn't develop the strong summer color shown by the shrub in full sun.  It also tends to have bare legs, hidden by the Pennisetum 'Fireworks' and Lobelia laxiflora planted in front of it.

Yet another 'Blush' sits alongside 'Jester'

I'm not positive which variety this is but I've previously identified it as 'Summer Red'.  It's also relatively small but, in the shade of another Arbutus 'Marina', it hasn't developed the reddish color of the specimen in the south side garden, at least not yet.

The remaining three plants occupy the north side garden.

This 'Blush', backlit and also in shady location, doesn't show the color that characterizes its sister plants

I did a poor job of positioning 'Ebony'.  Not only does it get a fair amount of shade but it's largely hidden by the plants surrounding it, which include Grevillea 'Scarlet Sprite' in front, Grevillea sericea to its left, and Leucadendron salignum 'Chief' behind it.

Leucadendron 'Chief' so fills its space that it's hard to photograph.  I failed to prune it this spring when it finished flowering and I'm going to have a devil of a time whittling it down from its current height this fall.  This one is trying hard to reach its projected maximum height of 10 feet.

This closeup photo of its flower-like bracts was taken in January

As workhorses go, Leucadendron does a great job in my garden.  Thus far, all these plants are holding their own under our severe drought conditions.  I haven't tried one on my back slope, which gets relatively little water but, if we have a good rain year sometime in the future, I may give it a try there as well.

All material © 2012-2022 by Kris Peterson for Late to the Garden Party