Friday, March 31, 2023

Nursery trip (part 2) and new plants

Our second nursery stop last Saturday was Terra Sol Garden Center in Santa Barbara County.  It's much smaller than Seaside Gardens and doesn't have any display gardens but I've always found it to be a great resource for new plants.  I don't think I've ever left that garden center empty-handed, often spending more there than I do at Seaside.  (You can view my earlier post on Seaside here.)

Views of plants for sale

I was surprised at how much this plant looked like the Acacia 'Cousin Itt' I grow in my garden.  It's 'Itts' bigger brother, Acacia cognata, aka river wattle.  The flowers are just like those currently peppering my "little river wattle".

Plants I noticed but didn't purchase included, clockwise from the upper left, Pilea peperomioides in flower, Pyrrosia (?) in a hanging basket, and Veltheimia.  I came very close to buying a Veltheimia as I've admired the flowering bulbs a neighbor has scattered through her street-side succulent bed but I planted 2 of these bulbs years ago and, even given this year's rain, they haven't bloomed in recent memory.

Terra Sol offers a lot of garden decor items and a many pots outfitted to serve as fountains

Statues, especially Buddhas, are plentiful, if pricey


The garden center has a well-rounded selection of small-to-large succulents, and it frequently has succulents you don't commonly see elsewhere.

This Hildewintera colademononis, aka monkey tail cactus, was one of the rarer specimens on display on this visit.  (You can see it in flower here.)

While Terra Sol doesn't have landscape displays, it has a lot of containers planted with succulents.  Some of these were for sale but the larger ones are provided as inspiration.  The bottom photos are 2 sides of the same fountain-style planter.


So what did I bring home from this trip?

This was my haul from Terra Sol, shown below in my garden

My biggest investment was the 2-gallon Leucosperum cordifolium 'California Sunshine' shown in the upper left, which currently looks very small in the spot I selected for it (formerly occupied by an 8-foot tall Duranta).  Clockwise from the top right are: Carex 'Feather Falls', Anemone coronaria 'Mistral Bordeaux', Gasteria morombe, and Sedum 'Cape Blanco'.


And, for the record, here's what I took home from Seaside Gardens.

Prior to planting

Top row: Lophomyrtus x ralphii 'Little Star', including foliage closeup
Bottom row: Leucadendron laxum (still unplanted), Cuphea 'Starlight' (also sold as 'Starfire Pink'), and Coprosma 'Evening Glow'

As it turned out, we timed our trip well.  The skies opened up once more on Wednesday and again on Thursday.  It was dry and sunny all afternoon yesterday even though gray storm clouds hovered in the background.  There's a slight chance of rain again on Monday but at present it looks like it'll pass us by.  Another forecasting agency suggests that there's currently a 58 percent chance of yet another storm a week from today but I'm not convinced of that prospect at present.

Yesterday morning's view of Angel's Gate, the entrance to the Port of Los Angeles, from my back garden


Best wishes for a pleasant weekend, in the garden or not.  I stopped by my local garden center Thursday afternoon to pick up things to fill in around recent plantings and serve as groundcovers in bare spots so I'll be busy for awhile at least.

All material © 2012-2023 by Kris Peterson for Late to the Garden Party

Wednesday, March 29, 2023

A long-delayed nursery trip (part 1)

A friend and I'd planned to visit our favorite nurseries in Ventura and Santa Barbara Counties back in February.  We rescheduled several times when one atmospheric river after another interfered with our plans.  Last Saturday we finally got our chance to get on the road.  We only made it to two of our three usual stops this time (with a nice lunch break in between).  Our first stop was Seaside Gardens in Carpinteria.  I'll cover it in this post.

The attraction of Seaside is two-fold.  Not only does it have a great range of plants, many of which I've never found in the Los Angeles and Orange Counties garden centers I visit more often, but it also has a series of wonderful display gardens.  (You can view the map here.)

I spent more time in the display gardens than I spent in the nursery on this visit.  I'll share my tour, area by area.

Cottage Garden

Glare was an issue when taking photos all day but we enjoyed blue skies and sunshine.  It started out on the cool side but warmed up considerably during the course of the afternoon.  The Cottage Garden was mostly green but there were splashes of color here and there.

Clockwise from the upper left: what I think was a Dianella, a mass of Leucanthemum vulgare, Phlomis fruticosa just coming into bloom, Rosa banksiae 'Alba Plena' (including a closeup), and the Salvia collection just starting to produce buds

California Native Garden

A little wild but always a joy to see California poppies

Clockwise from the upper left: Verbena lilacina 'De La Mina' with poppies, more poppies, Plantago lanceolata (not actually native to California but naturalized all over the US), and Heuchera maxima.  The Ceanothus were in bloom too but I didn't get a good photo.


Most of the grasses had been cut back

The area included a bench made from a tree and a few noID flowering shrubs

A gigantic mass of Echium candicans sits along one edge of the Grasslands area

Succulent Garden

One of my favorite views of the Succulent Garden

A mound of Aeonium behaving as it does in my garden when left to its own devices (left) and Portulacaria afra, aka elephant bush (right)

Clockwise from the left: noID Agaves in bloom, A. vilmoriniana, and noID Mangave

Most Aloes were done blooming with the Aloe ferox on the left being a notable exception

Xanthorrhoea preissii, aka Western Australian grass tree (left) and Cyphostemma juttae, aka wild grape, just breaking dormancy (right)

South African Garden

The first thing I noticed upon entering the South African Garden were the Leucospermums.  The red-orange one is 'Sunrise'.  The yellow one may be 'High Gold'.

Leucadendron 'Jester' on the left and 2 shots of L. 'Ebony' on the right

There was one fresh pink bloom on Protea 'Pick Ice' but even the dried blooms were attractive

The blooms of Dombeya wallichii (left) had also dried but remained in place.  Polygala fruticosa is shown with fresh blooms on the right.

Chondropetalum, aka Cape rush.  It looks bigger than the dwarf C. tectorum.

A restio, possibly Rhodocoma capensis.  I've mixed feelings about this plant but its stems were looking very flashy in the sun.

Central-South American Garden

Clockwise from the upper left: variegated Agave americana, a noID Dyckia, 2 other noID bromeliads, Alstroemeria 'Indian Summer', and Fuchsia arborescens, aka tree fuchsia

Australian Garden

With time running out, I didn't give the Australian Garden its due.  Clockwise from the left: noID Acacias, noID shrub, and Prostanthera ovalifolia in bloom

Asian Garden

I always liked the fresh red foliage of Photina x fraseri but I'd never seen the plant in bloom.  I love it!

Of course I didn't ignore the nursery.

Views of the plants for sale in various areas

Some of the plants that drew my attention included, clockwise from the upper left: Asplenium antiquum 'Hurricane' (fern), Callistemon viminalis 'Red Alert', Leucadendron laxum, and Phormium 'Duet' and 'Sundowner'.

I brought home a Leucadendron laxum and three other plants from Seaside.  I'll show these and my purchases from our second stop, Terra Sol Garden Center, in my next post.  For now, here's a glance at the trunk of my car when I got home.

We had a great day but it took me over 2 hours just to get home from my friend's house in the San Fernando Valley.  LA freeways can be a nightmare.

All material © 2012-2023 by Kris Peterson for Late to the Garden Party

Monday, March 27, 2023

In a Vase on Monday: Sunshine and blue skies

We've had a welcome break in the rain since last Wednesday.  More rain is expected Tuesday night into Thursday morning this week but it's been nice to have sunshine and blue skies again in the interim.  Our climate usually delivers plenty of both and I have to admit I've missed them, much as I've appreciated all the rain we've had this year.

My first arrangement was inspired by the Dutch Iris 'Sapphire Beauty'.

The yellow flame on 'Sapphire Beauty's' falls almost requires a pairing with yellow flowers.  The Leucospermum 'Goldie' stems I cut last week were still in great shape so I reused them in this vase.

Back view: I keep using stems of Acacia 'Cousin Itt' as my foliage filler because the plants need pruning and I can't bring myself to throw away all those puffy yellow flowers

Top view

Clockwise from the upper left: Acacia cognata 'Cousin Itt', Freesia, Limonium perezii, Iris hollandica 'Sapphire Beauty', and Leucospermum 'Goldie'


My second arrangement was inspired by the calla lilies blooming on my back slope.  Last year's poor rainfall gave me just two blooms but this is clearly going to be a much better year.

In retrospect, I should've varied the heights of the lilies more

Back view: I limited the floral colors to yellow and white 

Top view

Clockwise from the upper left: Argyranthemum frutescens 'White Butterfly', Freesia, noID Narcissus, and Zantedeschia aethiopica

I recycled some of the Alstroemeria from last week's pink and white arrangement and cut a few new blooms to fill out a small vase for the kitchen island.  The 'Lady Jane' species tulips are still plentiful but I couldn't bring myself to cut any more.

Views from 3 sides.  The contents include 2 varieties of Alstroemeria, Argyranthemum 'Aramis Bicolor', Artemisia californica, and dark pink and white Freesia

For more IAVOM creations, visit Cathy at Rambling in the Garden.

All material © 2012-2023 by Kris Peterson for Late to the Garden Party

Friday, March 24, 2023

Foliage with fanfare

My love for flowers is well-documented.  Nevertheless, I value my foliage plants as well.  I've a substantial collection of plants grown specifically for their foliage.  However, with the recent and somewhat unexpected appearance of masses of flowers on my Acacia cognata 'Cousin Itt', I was struck by the number of foliage plants that offer attractive flowers as well. 

'Cousin Itt' has a large presence in my garden as shown in the top 2 photos.  The plants have produced tiny buds in the past and a few small puff-ball blooms but never anything like the masses of flowers they're flaunting this year.  I've frankly never seen these plants with abundant blooms like this either in person or online.

I started looking at other foliage plants that offer floral "benefits" even if only briefly.  I've listed some that came to mind below.  (Note: most of the floral shots were pulled from my photo archives as the majority of the plants shown here bloom in warmer weather.)

I have several Abelia 'Kaleidoscope' shrubs, as well as other Abelias.  All of them produce small, bell-shaped white blooms that manage to accent the foliage without overwhelming it.

I've 6 Agonis flexuosa (aka peppermint willows), all inherited with the garden.  In summer they produce long, trailing stems studded with white flowers.  As an aside, the foliage stems are a favorite of the local crows when building their nests.

I also inherited 4 Arbutus 'Marina' (aka strawberry trees) with the garden.  I suspect most of these trees are selected for their shape and trunk color but they produce clusters of beautiful lantern-shaped coral-colored flowers.  The hummingbirds love them too.

I discovered that Arthropodium cirratum (aka Renga lilies) do well in dry shade and, as I've divided the clumps many times, I've accumulated a lot of them.  They produce graceful sprays of white flowers accented by touches of yellow and lavender in May-June.

I don't actually like most succulent flowers.  Crassula multicava 'Red' (aka royal carpet jade and fairy crassula) is an exception, even when the dainty pink and white flower sprays sprawl over surrounding succulents.

I planted several Drimia maritima (aka sea squill) at the bottom of my slope.  The bulbs were huge and very heavy.  They produce attractive wavy green foliage when the rain arrives in the fall.  The foliage dies back when faced with summer's heat.  The leaf-less white flowers jump up in August-September.

It's easy to forget that Hebe 'Purple Shamrock' blooms.  I frequently use the foliage in flower arrangements but I rarely remember to photograph the flowers.

There's a Laurus nobilis (bay laurel) hedge separating our property from the neighbor's along our back slope (also inherited with the garden).  I didn't even notice that it blooms in late winter-early spring until a couple of years ago.

I planted 2 Leptospermum 'Copper Glow' shrubs in our front garden in 2014 after we'd removed our front lawn.  They're near the top of my list of favorite plants.  The sprays of flowers they produce in summer are simply a bonus.

I have lots of Lomandra but the wider leaves of Lomandra hystrix 'Tropic Belle' appealed to me when I tripped across it at a nursery in 2018.  The flowers of my Lomandra 'Breeze' and 'Platinum Beauty' are relatively inconspicuous so I wasn't prepared for the flowers of this one.  They dry well too.

Melianthus major (aka honey bush) has impressive serrated leaves.  I cut it to the ground each year and it bounces right back.  It's already producing its first rust-colored flowers, although the second and third photos above were taken in prior years as this years blooms are just getting started.

This hedge of Laurus ilicifolia (aka Catalina cherry) on the south side of our property line also came with the garden.  Its flowers are attractive, as are its berries, although the latter are messy, prone to self-seeding, and loved by rats.

We've significant stretches of Xylosma congestum hedges both along the street and lining the main level of the back garden.  It's the best of the many hedge materials installed by prior owners.  I didn't notice its blooms until a few years ago when it was swarmed by bees.  The berries are attractive too.

I've misgivings about some blooms on foliage plants, most notably those borne by agaves.  Most agaves are monocarpic and therefore die after flowering.  Yes, they often produce pups and/or bulbils as a byproduct of the process but it usually takes years before those grow large enough to make anything near the statement their parents did.

This year I have 3 agaves with bloom stalks.  From left to right, they're Agave 'Blue Glow', A. mitis 'Multicolor', and A. vilmoriniana.  They'll leave big holes in the garden when they die off.  Oddly, however, my neighbor's 'Blue Glow', which bloomed last year, has not died out, even after she finally cut its bloom stalk down over a month ago.


Best wishes for a pleasant weekend, free of any weather-related drama.  It looks as though we have at least a short dry spell ahead of us here, for which I'm grateful.

All material © 2012-2023 by Kris Peterson for Late to the Garden Party