Wednesday, November 29, 2023

Gardeners are the most generous people

I met up with blogger friend Hoover Boo of Piece of Eden at Sherman Gardens in Corona Del Mar yesterday.  Workers there were in the midst of setting up a nighttime light show scheduled to launch in early December so it wasn't quite the garden we expected but we had a good time catching up and talking about plants anyway.  I'll post some photos of Sherman Gardens later this week but, as HB arrived bearing plants, let me share what she passed along to me in exchange for the single Barleria obtusa (bush violet) seedling I managed to find in my garden to pass along to her.

This is an overhead shot of the bounty I brought home

Here are some closeups:

On the left are Aloe cameronii 'Red' commingling with Agave bracteosa 'Monterrey Frost'.  On the right is Agave titanota 'White Ice'.  Some of these will be handy additions to the soon-to-be renovated succulent bed in front of our garage.

On the left is Begonia 'Irene Nuss', which may find a home in or near my lath (shade) house.  On the right is a substantial seedling  of Heteromeles arbutifolia (aka toyon).  The huge toyon that came with my garden suddenly dropped dead several years ago and I've missed it.  I'm tempted to plant it in the spot formerly occupied by the original toyon but the bottom of the slope along the property line might be a good choice too.
The huge bulb on the left is Hippeastrum papilio (aka butterfly amaryllis).  I planted out 3 of these bulbs years ago and they disappeared.  I've already identified a sunnier location for this one.  The bulbs on the right are Sprekelia formosisima.  I planted 5 of these bulbs in 2022 but only got one bloom this year.  HB suggested patience.  I'll be planting these in the same general area as the others.

Barring a sudden change in the weather, I plan to get my new plants in the ground or in pots this week.  There's not much else going on in my garden at the moment, although I do have two small updates.

Hippeastrum 'Apricot Parfait' is already blooming!  It looks like it's going to produce a second flower stalk too.

Late last week our 'Fuyu' persimmon tree (Diospyros kaki) had just the faintest touch of color in its leaves.  All of a sudden it's making a statement.  This tree and my Acer palmatum 'Sango Kaku' provide more fall color than anything else in my garden.

There's a slight chance of rain Wednesday night into Thursday.  I'm not holding my breath.

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

Monday, November 27, 2023

In a Vase on Monday: Goodbye Emanuelle and hello Itsy Bitsy

It's getting harder to pull together arrangements using what's blooming in the garden but I managed to do so again this week. My first arrangement was created around the last of the Amarines to flower.

I think the pale pink Amarine was upstaged once again, this time by a coleus rather than a dahlia.  Amarines are hybrids of Amaryllis belladonna and Nerines.

Back view: I used a second stem of Plectranthus scutellarioides 'Florida Sun Rose' (aka coleus) to dress up the back.  The coleus stem in the front view is the one I used 3 weeks ago.  It's developed roots and I hope to overwinter the cutting in my shade house.

Top view

Clockwise from the upper left: Correa 'Wyn's Wonder', Leptospermum 'Copper Glow', Prostanthera ovatifolia 'Variegata', Alstroemeria 'Inca Vienna', Amarine belladiva 'Emanuelle', Leptospermum scoparium 'Pink Pearl', and Plectranthus scutellarioides 'Florida Sun Rose'

The second arrangement features some flowering plants emerging from their summer dormancy.  Gomphrena 'Itsy Bitsy' has also returned with a mass of tiny blooms.  I cut the shrub down to the ground months ago.  The foliage bounced back quickly but the flowers took their time.

Stems of Polygala myrifolia (aka sweet pea bush) provided the base of this arrangement but it's really an ensemble cast

Back view

Top view

Clockwise from the upper left: Antirrhinum majus, Pelargonium peltatum 'Lavender Blizzard', self-seeded Osteospemum, Digitalis purpurea, Gomphrena decumbens 'Isty Bitsy', Polygala myrtifolia, and Vitex trifolia

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, November 24, 2023

First-rate foliage

When flowers fade into the background during the fall season, foliage is allowed to stand out.  It's a great time to take a closer look at it so I did.   I wanted to share the highlights, as well as a few problems.

With their sculptural good looks, many succulents are worthy of admiration.

I planted a variety of Aeonium cuttings below a strawberry tree earlier this year.  The reddish color of  Aeonium 'Jack Catlin' looks particularly striking when backlit by the sun.

I have several Aeonium 'Mardi Gras' rosettes in a bed adjacent to the front door walkway.  This variety doesn't pup much but I noticed that the one on the right has developed another rosette in the middle of the first one.

Agave 'Joe Hoak' and the squid agaves next to it (Agave bracteosa) have grown dramatically larger this year but they complement each other nicely
Agave ovatifolia (aka whale's tongue agave) always looks good.  I got stabbed several times pulling leaves out of its folds and still didn't get all of them prior to taking this photo.

My original Mangave 'Lavender Lady' is on the left.  The one on the right, planted 2 years ago, is quickly catching up in size.

The rain also contributed to a growth spurt on the part of Mangave 'Red Wing', planted earlier this year

But succulents aren't the only plants that warrant notice.  There are a lot more.

With summer's heat finally gone and a bit of rain, Acanthus mollis has returned in 2 areas.  These plants never died back entirely in my former garden but they routinely do so here.

The Acacia cognata 'Cousin Itt' in the front garden (left) are looking especially fluffy.  Those in the back garden look good when viewed from the front but they're in serious need of a cleanup in the rear.

Carex 'Feather Falls' rebounded after being eaten to the ground by rabbits this spring.  The Coprosma repens 'Everglow' next to them have done better in this spot than the small-leafed Coprosmas anywhere else in the garden.

A year or 2 ago I couldn't walk into a garden center without finding Centaurea 'Silver Feather' but I haven't seen any since.  I wanted another to balance out the 2 I have in the front garden but I guess I'm going to have to get it by taking cuttings.

Cordyline 'Can Can' wasn't happy planted in the ground but it's adapted well to growing in a pot

Dasylirion longissima (aka Mexican grass tree) is getting crowded out by its neighbors but it seems happy enough.  I still can't get the bermuda grass weeds growing at its base out without getting stabbed.

Hebe 'Purple Shamrock' is getting a little woody but I love it

I've planted a lot of Lomandra in my garden as a grass substitute.  These are some of the clumps of Lomandra 'Platinum Beauty' scattered about the garden, which glow beautifully in the right light.  It's also neater than my Mexican feather grass (Nasella tenuissima) and doesn't self-seed.  I'm thinking of using it as a replacement in a couple of areas.

There are 5 Phormium 'Maori Queen' in my front garden.  These are 2 of them.  The only care they require here involve cleaning out the dead leaves at the base 2-3 times a year.

Ruscus hypoglossum (aka spineless butcher's broom and mouse thorn), planted in 2014, was uncovered when I cut back the Acacia 'Cousin Itt' in the front garden.  This is another great plant for dry shade.  Flower emerge from the middle of the cladodes (aka "fake leaves) in late winter.

We still don't have much in the way of fall color but then it's never plentiful.

This Acer palmatum 'Sango Kaku', planted on the east side of the garage, reliably turns color each fall but another one that gets less shade usually drops all its leaves in late summer.  Japanese maples here want protection from intense afternoon sun and high winds.

The 'Fuyu' persimmon tree (Diospyros kaku) also develops fall color but warm temperatures have delayed it some this year.  In contrast, the 'Hachiya' persimmon usually drops its leaves before they color up much.

I promised to share some problem cases too.

Agonis flexuosa 'Nana' has developed a bad infestation of what I think may be scale this year.  It's happened before and usually requires a hard pruning of affected branches and treatment with Neem oil to control.

Aloe vanbalenii x ferox and the Agave attenuata 'Raea's Gold' next to it are crowding each other.  I think moving the agave is probably the answer - I just need to figure out where.

I clearly planted Leucadendron 'Ebony' too close to Leucadendron salignum 'Chief', which I never expected to get so massive.  Leucadendrons reportedly don't deal well with being moved so I'm planning to try some cuttings that I can plant elsewhere if they take, perhaps in the empty spot previously occupied by the Psorlea pinnata we removed a few months ago.  

That's it for this week.  By way of an update to those of you who expressed concerns about my cat, Pipig, although the radiologist thinks cancer is probably a factor, we remain hopeful.  She's rediscovered her heating pad and it seems to offer comfort, which is helpful at least for now.

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

Wednesday, November 22, 2023

New plants and new challenges

Seedlings and new bulb foliage are just beginning to emerge in my cutting garden.

Tiny larkspur (Consolida ajacis) and more robust sweet pea (Lathyrus annuus) seedlings have made an appearance, along with the first of the love-in-a-mist (Nigella papillosa) seedlings (not shown).  The Anemone coronaria bulbs are also beginning to produce foliage.

Unfortunately, the opossums have also been having a field day with the cutting garden.

I covered most but not all of the surface of the cut garden beds, leaving open spaces around some of the edges and the foxglove plugs.  The opposums took advantage of the smallest openings.  I've since filled in the uncovered areas with more mesh and I've used a lot more lawn staples to keep the mesh more firmly in place.

Fall is the best time to plant in my climate and I've been filling in empty spots elsewhere in the garden too.

With the dahlias removed from this barrel, I added Alternanthera 'Choco Chili', Argyranthemum 'Grandaisy 'Dark Pink', Calibrachoa 'Supercal Cherry', and a noID Digitalis purpurea.  I left the Dianthus planted there last year in place.

I finally planted the 2 native Heuchera maxima I'd ordered earlier from Annie's Annuals and potted up, after cutting back the original Heuchera,  These don't have the colorful foliage of the newer hybrid Heucheras but they're tough plants.  Freesia foliage is already coming up here and elsewhere in the garden.

I added a dozen plugs of the annual Pericallis hybrid commonly known as Cineraria to fill in the spaces between Euphorbia characias 'Black Pearl', the emerging Dutch Iris, and a few other plants.  Formerly classified as a Senecio hybrid, Cineraria are a cross between Pericallis cruenta and P. lanata.  I've always loved their colorful daisy flowers, which grow well in partial shade if protected from snails and leafminers.

I decided to try more Arthropodium cirratum (aka Renga lilies) in this area under the ornamental pear tree.  In my experience, these plants tolerate dry shade well.  Rather than dividing some of my existing plants, I took the easy route and ordered 3 from Annie's Annuals & Perennials.  Before planting, I also supplemented the soil with homemade compost.  Self-sown seedlings of Polygala myrtifolia are filling in the empty spaces between them.
Clockwise from the upper left, I also planted Achillea millefolium 'Sonoma White' (3), Muhlenbergia capillaris (1), Osteospermum hybrid '4D Sunburst' (3), and Rubus calycinoides (4).  All but the Osteospermum came from Annie's.  Rubus is an interesting groundcover said to grow 4 inches high and 4 feet wide.

I'm always adding new succulents too, including 2 Aeonium escobarii and another well-priced Mangave 'Aztec King'.  The Aeonium develops a well-formed clump, which you can see here.  The Mangave replaces a Kalanchoe that wasn't happy in one succulent bed in my back garden.

I potted up all the new Hippeastrum bulbs I purchased by mail order too.  On the left are 'Aphrodite', 'Exception', 'Elvas', and 'Zombie'.  On the upper right are 'Lemon Star', 'Emerald', and 'Evergreen' and on the lower right is 'Apricot Parfait', already out the gate.

I've continued to chip away at cleaning up the back slope too.  Working in the garden has been a distraction from worrying about my cat, Pipig.  We've paid two visits to the vet this month.  During the second, the vet took an x-ray and concluded that her current hacking cough could be attributable to either a reemergence of the cancer she was treated for in 2019 or pneumonia.  The vet's sent her record to a veterinary cancer specialist and, in the meantime, we're trying antibiotics.

She's 17 years old now but I'm having a hard time facing the prospect of her loss.  In any case, I want to ensure she's as comfortable as possible during whatever time she has left.

She read the signals of an impending trip to the vet (which is now a 40-minute drive in each direction) and she took refuge on the top shelf of her catio.  My husband's assistance was required to get her down.  She wasn't at all pleased.

I haven't slept well in over a week.  Hopefully, we're dealing with bacterial pneumonia and the antibiotic will do the trick.  Pipig, my patient husband, and I could use some rest over the long holiday weekend.

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

Monday, November 20, 2023

In a Vase on Monday: Fleeting beauty

I suspect I've used this post title before but it describes both of my arrangements this week.  As at least one reader anticipated, I decided to feature the Hibiscus flowers that surprised me last week for my first vase.  The velvety red blooms were just too pretty to ignore, even if the flowers close in low light and don't usually last more than two days at most. 

My house is quite bright inside but, regardless, the Hibiscus flowers were already closing by mid-afternoon.  It remains to be seen if they'll open again in the morning light, or if any of the buds clustered along the stems will open.
I dressed up the back view with a handful of the flower-like bracts of Leucadendron 'Blush'

Top view

Clockwise from the upper left: Coprosma repens 'Plum Hussey', Leptospermum 'Copper Glow', Leucadendron salignum 'Blush', Hibiscus acetosella 'Haight Ashbury', and Pennisetum 'Sky Rocket'

My second arrangement consists of only three elements, with the primary component being the fragile flowers of Camellia sasanqua.  Although we received less than a half inch of rain spread lightly over the course of four days, that was enough to leave many of those flowers shattered.  With wind predicted, I cut three stems from the largest of my shrubs.

Both varieties of Camellia sasanqua were inherited with the garden.  They differ in form but are very similar in color.

Back view: I could've used more filler plants but c'est la vie

Top view

From left to right: Camellia sasanqua, Pentas lanceolata, and Persicaria capitata

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

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