Monday, July 31, 2023

In a Vase on Monday: Making the most of what I have

My garden has slid into the summer doldrums and the pickings for IAVOM are currently slim.  The dahlias have been slow to bloom.  Only two of mine have well-developed buds.  Five or six others appear to be developing buds.  The rest are healthy and getting larger by the day but they're certainly taking they're their time to produce flowers.  The first zinnias are blooming but I can't say they're putting on a good show yet either. 

The plants making the biggest floral splash in my garden right now are the Leonotis leonurus (aka lion's tail).  I improvised a bit to come up with suitable companions.

I added a couple of orange Zinnias and Alstroemeria 'Indian Summer' to play off the color of the Leonotis

Back view: The spiky green stems that look a little like Cyperus grass (papyrus) are Agapanthus stems stripped of their spent flowers to add a little height to the arrangement

Top view: I once painstakingly stripped a large number of Agapanthus stems with the intent of leaving them in a border to provide interest the way other people leave Alliums in place, only to have an industrious gardener cut all the stalks down to the ground a couple of days later

Clockwise from the upper left: Abelia grandiflora 'Kaleidoscope', Agapanthus stems, Alstroemeria 'Indian Summer', Leonotis leonurus, and 2 noID Zinnias.  (Also included but not shown in closeup are stems of Abelia 'Hopley's Variegated'.)

Although most of my Agapanthus are scruffy, I found a few presentable enough to be included in a second arrangement.  I scraped together some other flowers among those I'm ready to retire for the season to accompany the Agapanthus.

Front and center is Agapanthus 'Twister', as well as a bi-color Eustoma grandiflorum (aka lisianthus).  I've had a few blooms of Eustoma this year but they've been very disappointing overall.

Back view: I added the last of the peach foxgloves and one white foxglove stem to the arrangement, using stems of Viola 'Penny Peach' to the mix to knit the various colors together

The overhead view of the arrangement is my favorite 

Clockwise from the upper left: Achillea ptarmica, Digitalis purpurea, 'Dalmatian Peach' and 'Dalmatian White', noID Agapanthus, Eustoma grandiflorum, Prostanthera ovalifolia 'Variegata', Viola 'Penny Peach', and Agapanthus 'Twister'


There were two presentable lilies left in my back garden so I popped those into a small vase for the kitchen island.

The vase contains the last 2 blooms of Lilium 'Pretty Woman', Alstroemeria 'Inca Vienna', and white Eustoma grandiflorum


Our temperatures have fallen since Thursday last week.  Our marine layer didn't lift until almost 2pm yesterday.  Our afternoon high didn't climb above 82F/27C either and I'm hoping that trend continues.  If I'm going to clear out all those the scruffy Agapanthus and other spent summer flowers, I need a stretch of cooler weather to get the job done.

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, July 28, 2023

New Pollinator Garden

South Coast Botanic Garden, roughly five miles from my home, opened its new "Pollination Garden" on July 1st and I popped in to check it out earlier this week.  It occupies the space that housed the former children's garden, slated to be replaced by the 3.5 acre Children and Family Garden currently under construction in 2024.  The new garden was created to link the space to the nearby butterfly pavilion.

Opening a new garden in July struck me as a brave thing to do in our climate but SCBG is approaching the project in two phases.  Phase One involved sowing a wide range of seeds to create a meadow-like space to attract and support pollinators.  I waited almost four weeks to visit the new garden to give the seedlings a chance to develop.

View of the new space from the opposite side of the tram road.  I arrived just after SCBG opened at 8am, which on a hot summer's day was the right choice for my visit.

View from the entrance off the tram road

View looking roughly west in the direction of SCBG's entrance, with pre-existing mature trees in the background

One of the large beds just inside the entrance to the space.  The feathery foliage of the Cosmos plants was the first thing I noticed.  They're just starting to bloom.


The swaths of bright pink color were provided by shade sails.

Two of these provided places to take a break and rest in the shade



There's a large pond in the middle of the area.

There was a small pond in the former children's garden.  This one looks larger than the original pond but I think the location is the same.  The water is circulating with greater force, though.  I didn't see the turtle that formerly resided there and couldn't help wondering where he/she went.



The garden beds are full, although the flower power contained in them is still light.  I expect the bloom count will be much higher in August and September.


I collected closeup photos of some of the plants I saw.  A few appeared to be holdovers from peripheries of the former garden.

Top row: Amaranthus caudatus, Arctotis with Zinnias, and Cleome hassleriana
Middle: Cosmos bipinnatus, Datura, and Helianthus annuus
Bottom: Mirabilis jalapa, Rotheca myricoides, and Tanacetum parthenium

My phone identified the mature tree on the left as Asimina triloba (aka American pawpaw).  The trees on the right are new and, off the cuff, I couldn't identify them.

Signs are scattered throughout the area.

I was impressed by the plant identifications on each of the signs, which included the plant's species name as well as the common name


Phase Two of the project is scheduled to kick off in November when the annuals currently in place will be replaced by native and adapted plants suitable to our Mediterranean climate.  The native plants will reportedly be sourced by the Palos Verdes Peninsula Land Conservancy with support from the Theodore Payne Foundation.  SCBG's Director of Living Collections, Terry Huang, is channeling the approach used by Olivier and Clara Filippi in France.  They specialize in "drought resilient" plants.  I was introduced to Olivier Filippi many years ago via a video a fellow blogger who lived in Italy linked me too.  I think it was probably the recording of a talk he did in Athens in 2013 (which can be found here).  It made a big impression on me at the time.  If you're interested, he has at least one other video from a presentation at a Beth Chatto Symposium in 2019, which you can find here.  I have Filippi's first book (English translation), which I'm going to take another look at.  He has two other books expanding on what he and his wife have learned about planting and maintaining a climate-appropriate garden under ever more challenging circumstances.  

The book was originally published in French in 2008



I'm looking forward to seeing what the Phase One garden looks like in another four to six weeks, and I'm even more interested in seeing how the Phase Two garden develops.

Best wishes for a pleasant weekend.

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

Wednesday, July 26, 2023

July's hot color palette

Do the dominant colors in your garden change with the seasons?  Mine seem to.  Even though I have a wide range of foliage and flowering plants in my garden and just about every color of the rainbow can be found in any given month, some colors stand out at particular times.  During what passes for winter here, colors are muted and green and silver tones shine.  During the height of spring, blues and mellow yellows attract the most attention.  But, at the height of summer, when the sun is particularly intense, it's red, orange and gold that draws the eye.

I picked out some plant combinations and individual plants in my garden to illustrate this.

This bed dominates the north end of the back garden

Clockwise from the upper left, closeups of the plants in this bed include: Gazania 'Otomi', Leucadendron 'Blush', Lilium 'Orange Planet', and Lobelia laxiflora

This photo captures both the far end of the bed shown in prior wide shot and the bed on the other side of the flagstone path

Clockwise from the upper left  are closeups of the shedding bark of Arbutus 'Marina', Gazania 'Gold Flame', noID red Gazania, and Pennisetum 'Fireworks'

I used Aeonium 'Velour' in the north end of the back garden but these photos feature the same plant in other parts of the garden.  How red the succulent gets depends on the amount of sun and water it receives.

This bed occupies the southeast end of the back garden

View of the same area from another angle

Clockwise from the upper left, the highlights are: Gaillardia 'Arizona Sun', Leucadendron 'Safari Sunset', and Leonotis leonurus


And here are photos taken from scattered areas of my garden.

I have several Abelia grandiflora 'Kaleidoscope' shrubs

These daylilies are on their way out now but they made a splash all this month.  They are Hemerocallis 'Persian Market' and H. 'Sammy Russell'.

The foliage of Crassula pubescens ssp radicans contributes to the hot color theme

Cuphea 'Vermillionaire' is looking more spindly than this now.  It'll get a haircut as soon as the current heatwave abates.

Leucadendron 'Wilson's Wonder' has finally recovered from the unrequested shearing it received from the gardeners

This noID Bacopa is very happy despite the heat

Helianthus 'Sunbelievable Brown-Eyed Girl' also appreciates all the sunny days we've had this month


Are any particular colors standing out in your garden at the moment?

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

Monday, July 24, 2023

In a Vase on Monday: Bits of this and that

We had a lovely - and unexpected - change in our weather on Friday.  Just after noon, as temperatures appeared to be heading back into the low 90sF (33C) where they'd been stuck for more than a week, fog blew in, immediately dropping our temperature by almost 10 degrees.  It stayed below 80F (26C) for the rest of the day and was followed by marine layers on Saturday and Sunday.  Will it last?  Who knows, but I'm enjoying it for now.  I know I complained about it when it persisted from April through June but, after weeks of hot weather, I appreciate its value.  Our humidity is high but then you can't have everything.

View of the back garden against the morning marine layer

July's heat put a quick end to many of the early summer flowers.  The Shasta daisies fried almost before they got started, the Agapanthus are already looking shaggy, and even the Salvias are withering.  My dahlias and zinnias are coming along but I don't know if I'll see many, if any, flowers from those plants before August.  I gathered bits of numerous flowers scattered throughout my garden to put together the following arrangement.

There's no real focal point to this arrangement.  It's more of an ensemble cast of flowers.

Back view

Top view

Clockwise from the upper left: Monarda 'Peter's Purple', Pandorea jasminoides, Polygala myrtifolia, Digitalis purpurea 'Dalmatian Purple', Scabiosa columbaria 'Deep Blue', S. c. 'Flutter Rose Pink', Viola 'Penny Peach', and Digitalis 'Dalmatian White'


My other arrangement this week features what may be the last of the lilies for the season.  It's essentially a more flamboyant spin on the red and white arrangement I created for Independence Day earlier this month.

Unlike my earlier arrangement featuring Lilium 'Pretty Woman' which contained a single lily bloom, this stem has 5 flowers, one of which is still in bud and another which is just unfurling.  'Pretty Woman' is one of the so-call "tree lilies" which are known for growing taller and more floriferous with age.

Back view, highlighting Daucus carota 'Dara'

Top view

Clockwise from the upper left: Alstroemeria 'Inca Vienna' (plus one stem of the nearly identical A. 'Inca Husky'), Daucus carota 'Dara', Leptospermum 'Copper Glow', and Lilium 'Pretty Woman'



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, July 21, 2023

Dithering in the heat

It's been too hot to do much of anything in the garden this week, admittedly not as hot as many areas of the country but uncomfortable nevertheless.  My gardening activities are mostly confined to the early morning hours and focused primarily on watering and basic cleanup.  The cutting garden, replanted in late June, demands the most attention.

The photo of the cutting garden on the left was taken June 22nd after I'd replanted 2 of the raised beds.  The photo on the right was taken July 20th.  I removed all the sweet pea vines and replanted the third raised bed at the end of June.  Most of the dahlias have ballooned in size and the zinnia seedlings are coming along well, although few of the sunflowers have done much.

This mockingbird (Mimus polyglottos) greets me every time I step into the cutting garden, except when he's in the back garden stealing blueberries.  He thinks he's very stealthy. 

I've been spending a lot of time watering containers too, including these 2 in my front garden, both of which contain dahlias.  The 'Catching Fire' Dahlia here is the first of my dahlias to produce a bud (right).

I spend a ridiculous amount of time cleaning up after the Magnolia grandiflora in the front garden.  Because the area surrounding the tree is covered in bark mulch, it isn't possible to sweep the leaves up without losing mulch in the process so I pick most up by hand.


While working in the front garden I decided it was time to cut down the bloom stalk of Agave mitis 'Multicolor'.  This was the first of three agaves to bloom this year and its bulbils appeared well-developed.

The smallish Agave 'Multicolor' sits on a low slope facing west.  Its bloom stalk developed in November.

The cut stalk was about 8.5 feet tall.  The bulbils formed in tight clusters.  When separated, each individual bulbil was fairly small.

I saved 91 bulbils, planting them in 2 flats.  I'll pot up the best of these once they develop better roots.  I don't imagine I'll retain more than 20, most of which I'll give away once they're larger.


Unfortunately, while working in the front garden, I noticed signs of gopher activity in the area surrounding the Agave 'Multicolor'.

The mound visible here between Echium 'Star of Madiera' and Leucadendron 'Safari Goldstrike' suggests gopher activity.  I saw a few similar mounds nearby.  The sudden death of a healthy clump  of Gazania was the first sign, followed by the decline of other plants.

My prized Grevillea 'Peaches & Cream', which sits next to the Echium, has been dropping a copious amount of leaves on a level I've never seen before.  I've mounted a campaign to drive the gopher(s) out but I'm concerned I may lose the Grevillea.

The Oscularia deltoides (foreground, right) is also showing signs of decline due to gopher activity.  I installed 2 sonic devices in the area and have followed up this week with repeated applications of a granular deterrent that I water into the soil.  Those actions worked for me last time I had a gopher problem.

I cleared this path so I can walk through the area again, removing much of the Gaura lindheimeri, as well as Lotus hirsutus.  I expect to dig up the Oscularia and the rest of the Gaura soon.


As temperatures and time permits, tasks still in the queue include the following:

Removing the base of the dying Agave 'Multicolor'.  This isn't as easy as it may look as the area is sloped and surrounding plants and rock make it difficult for me to shovel it out.

I'm planning to go ahead with the removal of the Echium, which has more bare branches than foliage left.  I already have a replacement on hand.

Removing this bloomed-out Agave vilmoriniana before the rapidly decaying base allows the stalk to topple over on my Agave ovatifolia is also a priority.  I planted bulbils from an Agave vilmoriniana 'Stained Glass' given to me last year and, with limited "nursery" space, I don't feel a need to retain this plant's bulbils.

Action on this Agave 'Blue Glow' is still on hold.  The plant shows no signs of decline at its base and I'm giving it extra time to see if I'll get any viable bulbils from it.


Rather than dwell on complaints about the heat, I'll send you into the weekend with a few cooling images.

A mass of Agapanthus in my back garden border with the ocean in the background

Morning glory (Ipomoea) growing in a neighbor's garden (not mine!)

Jacarandas blooming at last in 2 gardens in my neighborhood - they're late to flower this year


Enjoy your weekend!

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