Friday, July 19, 2024

Post-Fling Chores

While making lists in preparation for my trip to the Puget Sound to attend the 2024 Garden Fling, I decided I might as well create one to summarize the tasks awaiting me upon my return.  So here are the projects I've got pending:

1. Checking the status of my cutting garden

The raised planters and barrels will be watered thoroughly before I leave but, if temperatures soar, the automatic drip system may not provide sufficient moisture and, as several dahlias finally have buds, I don't want to risk losing them.  My husband has agreed to monitor the situation when I'm gone but checking its status will happen as soon as I get out of the car.

2. Cutting back the shaggy Agapanthus throughout the garden

The Agapanthus flowered nearly in unison this year and they're rapidly becoming a shaggy mess now.  It'll be "off with their heads!" upon my return.

3. Shearing the dried flowers from Helichrysum 'Icicles'

This Helichrysum is looking scruffy and needs a scalping to remove the dried flowers and to reduce its footprint so it doesn't block the flagstone path.  I'd like to replace it elsewhere in the garden but I still haven't seen the plants for sale in my local garden centers.  I took cuttings in spring but they look pitiful. 

4. Thinning the Mexican feather grass (Nassella tenuissima) before it self-seeds everywhere

I thinned all the Mexican feather grass in late spring but they need another good combing

5. Planting new items I was foolish enough to order by mail in July

Annie's Annuals & Perennials had a sale recently and I couldn't help myself.  I managed to pop 3 Eustoma grandiflorum (aka Lisianthus) into a large empty pot where they can probably stay until fall (left).  They're supposed to produce light apricot-colored flowers.  I put my 3 other purchases, an Arctotis 'Ultra Violet', Hardenbergia violacea 'Meema', and Zauschneria cana 'Calistoga Hybrid', in temporary pots until I can clear spaces for them.

6. Laying more mulch to cover bare spots

20 cubic feet of mulch wasn't nearly enough to cover  my bare soil.  I probably need another 20 cubic feet to finish the job properly before summer turns really nasty.

7. Thinning overgrown Aeoniums

I can only walk through the path shown on the left by setting one foot directly in front of the other, like someone taking a DUI test.  The rosettes need to be cut back, or maybe the areas on both sides should be replanted from cuttings - that's TBD.  Other Aeoniums in the lower level of the front garden (right) should be thinned or removed entirely to provide a cleaner profile for the low stacked stone wall. 

8. Uncovering Leonotis leonurus (lion's tail)

This isn't a high priority but the lion's tail could use more sun, which means pruning the massive Callistemon 'Cane's Hybrid' above it.  I also need to pull more of the Daucus carota plants that are trying to take over the area.

A gardener's job is never done!  Making lists allows me to put aside what needs to be done for a time, while I focus on the Garden Fling.  I'll unroll photos from the Fling at intervals over the coming weeks in between work on my various projects.

Best wishes for a pleasant weekend!

All material © 2012-2024 by Kris Peterson for Late to the Garden Party   

Wednesday, July 17, 2024

Happy hummingbirds

We're lucky to have both resident and migrating hummingbirds here along the Southern California coast.  Their activity is more noticeable and intense during the summer months when the various species compete vigorously for flower nectar.  As they're moving almost constantly, I find them hard to photograph.  While my brother is something of a hummingbird whisperer, I find that the birds disappear as soon as I walk out the door, although they occasionally sweep over my head when chasing one another.  Luckily, they're currently obsessed with a garden bed outside my home office window so I've had opportunities to catch them with my camera from inside the house.

Hummingbirds occasionally rest, if not for long.  I've noted that they like nectar plants that provide nearby sanctuaries, like trees and large shrubs.  This one sought refuge in either the tree-sized Leucadendron 'Pisa'  it's perched on here or the strawberry tree (Arbutus 'Marina') just a few feet away.

My ability to discern one hummingbird species from another is questionable at best but my best guess is that this is a female or immature male Allen's hummingbird (Selasphorus sasin)

Here are some action shots:

The red head on this one led me to conclude that this one is an adult male Anna's hummingbird (Calypte anna).  Members of this species are year-round residents along the Pacific coast.

When the wings were in motion, I didn't get clear shots.  This one was inspecting the "flowers" of Leucadendron 'Blush'.

This was a poor shot of the wings but look at those feet!

This shot is clearer and my guess is that this is the Allen's hummingbird again.  Based on the sheer number of shots I took, most of which weren't worth saving, the birds' favorite nectar flower in this bed was the Lobelia laxiflora shown here.

Rear shot of what may be the same bird

The bed visible from my home office isn't the only one that attracts a lot of hummingbird activity but it pulls in visitors on a steady basis.

View of the bed from one angle

This angle gives a better view of the plants providing nectar

They favor certain flowers in this area.

Agapanthus - I saw the birds feeding on these white Agapanthus nearby but I couldn't manage a good shot from inside my office

Arbutus 'Marina' - In addition to seeking shelter within the branches of the strawberry tree, the bird's also sought out the tree's flowers as another source of nectar but they were too well camouflaged to provide me with good photos

Lantana camara - They regularly fed on the bed's Lantana 'Irene'

Leucospermum 'Royal Hawaiian Brandi'  - The flowers are almost gone now but were previously of interest

Lobelia laxiflora  - This was their favorite source of nectar and the basis for numerous battles

Elsewhere in the garden I've observed a particular appreciation for other plants like these:

Callistemon 'Cane's Hybrid'  - The flowers were already drying up and losing their peach-pink color when I took this photo in June but, at its floral peak, this shrub was another focus of fierce battles

All Cupheas, including these Cuphea 'Vermillionaire' are hummingbird magnets

Grevillea 'Superb' - With its year-round crop of flowers and Cuphea at its base, this large shrub is a major draw for hummingbirds in my front garden.  The Magnolia tree behind it provides a safe spot to rest between battles too.

Do you have hummingbirds in your garden?  Which plants do they favor?

All material © 2012-2024 by Kris Peterson for Late to the Garden Party

Monday, July 15, 2024

In a Vase on Monday: Just one

I usually create more than one floral arrangement for "In a Vase on Monday," the popular meme hosted by Cathy of Rambling in the Garden.  My decision to limit myself this week wasn't due to a shortage of blooms, although many are starting to look scruffy as summer progresses.  It has more to do with the fact that we're in the middle of an unplanned effort to replace all the remaining copper water pipes inside our house.  The plumbers' role in the process was mostly completed last week but there are holes in the walls of four rooms, a hallway, and a closet that need to be repaired and painted before everything currently strewn elsewhere in the house and garage can be moved back into place.  Meanwhile, I'm preparing to head off on a five-day trip, booked six months ago, leaving my husband with a mess.  And, on Saturday, the trauma rippling through the US as the result of an attempted assassination of a presidential candidate increased my tension.  Although the candidate isn't one I support and has himself manipulated political divisions within the country, the action by yet another gun-happy murderer is repulsive and just heightens emotions.  We can only hope that people on both sides of the political spectrum, as well as those commenting on the divide via mainstream and social media, tone down the rhetoric and focus on the substance of their differences.

With my attention jumping from one issue to another, this is what I came up with this week.

The unexpected appearance of a Hippeastrum simplified the selection process

Back view

Top view

Clockwise from the upper left: Cuphea 'Vermillionaire', Grevillea 'Superb', Hippeastrum 'Dancing Queen', Leucanthemum x superbum, Tanacetum parthenium, and Xylosma congestum

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

With the house and most of my usual vase spots a mess until the construction crew can install new drywall and paint, the arrangement ended up on the kitchen island

All material © 2012-2024 by Kris Peterson for Late to the Garden Party

Friday, July 12, 2024

Bloom Day - July 2024 (Early Edition)

Time is short and the heat is on so I got an early start on my Bloom Day post this month.  Even though my eyes see a diminished supply of flowers, there's still plenty of color in my garden, although the blooms do wither faster than they did in May and June.  As mentioned in Wednesday's post, a persistent marine layer, relatively unusual in July, has helped us out along the coast, keeping temperatures from soaring sky-high as they've done in many parts of the country.  How much longer that'll last is anybody's guess.

I'll start with five megastars of my July garden.

The last 2 years, Agapanthus have peaked in July rather than June as they formerly did.  With the exception of 'Twister' on the lower left, all those shown here are unnamed varieties that came with the garden.

To the best of my knowledge, the succulents in the top row are Crassula pubescens and those on the bottom are C. p. ssp radicans.  They occupy a variety of spaces throughout my garden.

Somewhat to my dismay, Daucus carota 'Dara' has also popped up throughout my garden, all self-seeded.  They're a pretty pest but I hope they don't continue to spread to the same extent in subsequent years.

The 2 tree-sized Leptospermum 'Copper Glow' in my front garden are blooming like never before, probably because I never got around to pruning it back last year

Salvia clevelandii 'Winnifred Gilman' in my south-side garden is having a banner year

There are a host of other plants pumping out blooms on a lesser scale too.

Bignonia capreolata on my back slope is another plant inherited with the garden

The blooms of Cistus 'Grayswood Pink' (left) and C. 'Sunset' don't last long but the plants continue to produce new flowers

The flowers of (left to right) Cuphea 'Honeybells', C. 'Starfire Pink', and C. 'Vermillionaire' are small but profuse

I planted Euphorbia 'Dean's Hybrid' on my back slope in 2012 and they continue to spread there.  I like the way they play off the succulents and I'm thinking of trying them in my recently renovated succulent bed adjacent to the garage next year. 

Gaura lindheimeri, now classified as Oenothera lindheimeri, is as pretty but equally as weedy as pink evening primrose.  I cut it back soon after taking these photos.

Gazanias self-seed as well but, unlike Oenothera, they're relatively manageable.  Their seedlings don't always replicate their parents, however.
Clockwise from the upper left are the Grevilleas currently in bloom: G. alpina x rosmarinifolia, G. 'Poorinda Leane', G. 'Peaches & Cream', G. 'Moonlight'G. 'Superb' (in a wide shot and closeup), and G. sericea

My noID shaggy Leucanthemum x superbum

Magnolia grandiflora - if only it didn't continuously drop leaves and petals by the bucketfuls during the summer months!

Pandorea jasminoides and Trachelospermum jasminoides doing their summer thing sharing an arbor

Polygala myrtifolia continuing its relentless effort to fill every open spot in my garden

Rosa 'Pink Meidiland' also came with the garden

Long-blooming Salvia canariensis var candissima 

Sollya heterophylla (aka Australian bluebell creeper), now classified as Billardiera heterophylla, continues to spread, which may necessitate adjustments to its bed
I planted 2 small Tanacetum parthenium as fillers in one of the raised planters of my cutting garden late last year.  They remained small until last month when they mounted a takeover.  The T. p. 'Aureum' remains relatively modest in size but the straight species is now feet taller and wider.

There are some new arrivals this month.

The Begonia 'Roseform Pastel Mix' tubers I potted up earlier this year just started to bloom this week

The Eustoma grandiflorum (aka Lisianthus) I planted as plugs received by mail order are finally blooming but I've lost a few already to dry conditions

Excuse the Daucus carota photobombing the Leonotis leonurus on the left.  The lion's tail shrubs want more room and more sun than they're getting.

Hybrid Monarda 'Peter's Purple' is the only bee balm that's survived in my garden

Despite the influence of the marine layer, there are a significant number of plants headed for the exits as the temperatures climb.

Clockwise from the upper left, the pending exits include: Achillea 'Moonshine', Arctotis 'Large Marge', Cynara 'Purple Romagna', and Digitalis purpurea 'Peach Dalmatian'

Other exits include the daylilies, clockwise from the upper left: Hemerocallis 'Apollodorus', H. 'For Pete's Sake', H. 'Strawberry Candy', H. 'Persian Market', and H. 'Sammy Russell'

After delaying their blooms for well over a month, the lilies are now sprinting for the finish line.  Clockwise from the upper left are: Lilium 'Conca d'Or', L. 'Friso', L. 'Orange Planet', and 'Pretty Woman'.  The latter has 2 more bloom stalks but they're still without buds.

I never got a good shot of the tall red flower stalks of Melianthus major growing up through one of my strawberry trees but the spent flowers with the lime green seedpods show up better

I'm surprised that some Osteospermums have hung on for this long.  Clockwise from the upper left are O. 'Coral Magic', O. 'Double Moonglow', O. 'Purple Spoon', and O. 'Violet Ice'.

This has already been a long post but, as usual, I've gone ahead and appended photos of the best of the rest in collages organized by color with names noted clockwise from the upper left.

Red flowers: Allium spaerocephalon, Alstroemeria 'Inca Lucky', Fuchsia 'Voodoo', Gaillardia 'Arizona Sun', G. 'Spintop Copper Sun', Lotus berthelotii, Gomphrena 'Itsy Bitsy', and Pelargonium peltatum 'Dark Burgundy'

Orange and yellow flowers: Alstroemeria 'Indian Summer', Argyranthemum 'Angelic Maize', Eriogonum nudum 'Ella Nelson's Yellow', Lantana 'Lucky Yellow', Lonicera japonica, and Santolina 'Lemon Fizz'

White flowers: Alstroemeria 'Claire', Fuchsia 'Windchimes White', Phyla nodiflora (aka Lippia), 2-headed Acanthus mollis, and Dipladenia

Pink and lavender flowers: Pelargonium hortorum 'Dynamo Hot Pink', P. peltatum 'Lavender Blizzard, P. hybrid 'Orange Fizz', Teucrium cossonii majoricum, and Tulbaghia violacea

Blue and purple flowers: one of 10 Gladiolus 'Purple Flora' quickly withered by the heat, Globularia x indubia, Salvia 'Mystic Spires', noID Scaevola, Viola 'Sorbet XP Neptune, and Wahlbergia 'Blue Cloud'

I hope I haven't bored you with another long Bloom Day post.  For more posts from a range of locations in the US and beyond, visit Carol, the host of Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day, at May Dreams Gardens on July 15th.

All material © 2012-2024 by Kris Peterson for Late to the Garden Party