Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Striking Succulents

After all the rain we've had this month, my succulents are looking squeaky clean.  I thought it's a good time to show off some of those that don't get regular coverage (although some of those that do may have crept in here and there).

This pot contains Aeonium 'Jolly Green', a low-growing variety, and Graptosedum 'Vera Higgins', showing off the copper color it develops under cool conditions

These are all 'Sunburst' Aeoniums but the 2 on the left have been growing in a pot in partial shade for years while those on the right are planted in the ground in full sun.  What's most interesting are the variations in the color of the 2 on the left.  Note that the yellow and green stripes in the 2 rosettes are reversed.

'Velour' is probably my favorite Aeonium.  They need at least partial sun to develop that red color.

Agave americana mediopicta 'Alba' is looking far more striking now that it's been liberated from the embrace of the overgrown Agave 'Blue Flame' we removed last month.  When I looked closely at this photo, I realized it's also up to its old tricks with a new pup tucked under a leaf on the left.

I planted 2 Agave attenuata 'Ray of Light' (in different sizes) in October 2021.  I wasn't overly impressed with them at first but their variegation is more pronounced now.

I love the colors of Agave lophantha 'Quadricolor' but  these plants are sneaky and prolific puppers.  You can see yet another new pup developing on the far left of this photo.

I planted Agave 'Mr Ripple' from a 4-inch pot at the back of my south-side succulent bed in July 2016, where it was largely hidden and seldom noticed.  With last month's cleanup of that bed, I'm admiring it much more often. 

The elimination of large clumps of Aeonium 'Kiwi' from my north-side garden in January provided a clearer view of Agave pygmaea 'Dragon Toes' (left).  At some point, the plant had produced a good-sized pup on the other side of the gravel path (right).  The pup of the dwarf agave is crowded by the larger Agave capensis so I may transplant it into my garage area succulent bed when it's ready for replanting.

Speaking of plants that need to be moved, I think both of these fall into that category.  Neither appears on my spreadsheet but they may be varieties of Agave titanota.  The one on the left is small and will be easy to move.  The one on the right, with an attached pup, is going to be much harder to remove from under a large Agave 'Blue Glow' without blood being shed.

I couldn't resist including a shot of this renovated area of the north-side garden featuring Agave ovatifolia 'Frosty Blue', A. applanata, and A. pygmaea 'Dragon Toes' surrounded by other succulents
One of several Aloe striata (aka coral aloes) in my garden finally starting to bloom

Cotyledon orbiculata, one in a pot and another in the ground.  These plants glow in the garden.  I think I need a few more.

Pot containing Echeveria 'Violet Queen' accompanied by Crassula perforata and Sedum 'Little Missy'.  I love the bright pink edges of the Echeveria.

I made the mistake of planting one Faucaria tigrina in the ground.  They're much happier in pots.

This clam shell I planted with succulents in November 2022 has been very satisfying.  Gonialoe variegata is currently getting ready to bloom.  Last year, Oscularia deltoides bloomed with lavender flowers.  Other elements include Cotyledon orbiculata and Graptoveria 'Fred Ives'.

I planted this pot on steel legs a year ago with Graptopetalum pachyphyllum, G. paraguayense, Graptoveria 'Fred Ives', and Sedum 'Little Missy'
'Aztec King' has become one of my favorite Mangaves.  I've got one in a pot and 3 in the ground.

Mangave 'Crazy Cowlick'

Mangave 'Night Owl'

Mangave 'Pineapple Express'

2 of several 'Red Wing' Mangaves

This mix of Mangaves in my north-side garden includes 'Lavender Lady', 'Purple People Eater', and 'Silver Fox'

Another mix of Mangaves at the back door includes 'Aztec King', 'Falling Water', and 'Praying Hands'

There are small succulents scattered here and there but I've mainly used them as fillers so they don't stand out as well as the larger plants except when used in pots.  As I renovate my garage area succulent bed, I plan to use more of the smaller succulents in larger groups to boost their impact.

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

Monday, February 26, 2024

In a Vase on Monday: What's better than one zombie?

The answer is two 'Zombie' Hippeastrums of course!  We had a few days of warmer temperatures and my Hippeastrums, all grown outside, have begun to open one after another, with 'Zombie' leading the parade.

I added 2 flowering stems of Arbutus 'Marina' in front to add more interest but I've no idea how long the small bell-like flowers will hold up.  They look fragile.
Back view: Like the last time I cut 'Zombie' for a vase, I used the ever-abundant flowers of Grevillea 'Superb' as a filler

Top view

Clockwise from the upper left: Arbutus 'Marina', white Freesia with noID Narcissus, Grevillea 'Superb', Leptospermum 'Copper Glow', Leucadendron salignum 'Blush' (now faded to ivory/yellow), another noID Narcissus (Tazetta type), and Hippeastrum 'Zombie'

While the first arrangement sings of spring, the second looks like a reminder that winter isn't done with us yet.  I had to fight the inclination to pick a cheerier set of blooms for my second arrangement but I'd already pruned stems of Leucadendron 'Wilson's Wonder' so I felt locked into the color scheme those stems set for me.

Cybister Hippeastrum 'Emerald' is much less flashy than 'Zombie'

Back view: The last of the Leucadendron 'Wilson's Wonder' stems I cut, which originally bore green cones with light yellow bracts, now sport brown cones with reddish-green bracts

Top view

Clockwise from the upper left: Corokia x virgata 'Sunsplash', Hippeastrum 'Emerald', Leptospermum 'Copper Glow', Leucadendron 'Blush', L. 'Wilson's Wonder', and Pyracantha berries

The rainstorm that had been forecast for Sunday/Monday this week has largely fizzled out, although it's possible we'll get a stray shower or two between Monday night and Tuesday morning.  There's now a greater chance of rain later in the week from Friday night through Saturday, possibly spilling into Sunday morning.  Much as I've appreciated the rain we've received thus far, as well as a short break to dry out a bit, I'm also hoping we haven't already seen the last of our rainy season.

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

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

Friday, February 23, 2024

Making a start

I've been planning to renovate the succulent bed in front of our garage since last year but other priorities kept getting in the way.  Weather has been the latest issue but I decided I needed to at least make a start so I did just that this week.

The bed in question has been an issue for me for years now.  In 2016, after we removed the sod that originally covered most of the area in front of the garage, including the area later designated as a succulent bed, I added only a small number of succulent cuttings around the Agave attenuata that came with the garden.  I didn't formally plant the area with a variety of succulents until September 2017.  I've tweaked the succulent mix at regular intervals but these never made the difference I was looking for.  I think it actually looked its best back in 2018.

This photo was taken in April 2018.  I note that I had a small Leucadendron in the mix at that time, as well a 'Blue Flame' Agave.  I don't specifically recall my decision to remove them but I suspect I was concerned that both would get too big for their spots.


This is what the bed looked like earlier this week before I started pulling it apart.

There were already a large number of empty spots I hadn't bothered to fill as I'd been planning a wholesale renovation for some time.  You may also recall that the large clump of Agave attenuata had been reduced by nearly half back in October when the agaves were badly damaged after being covered by a plastic tarp during our annual tree trimming exercise.

The plants in that bed have never fleshed out or filled in as my other succulents beds have done.  Part of the problem may be starting with relatively small plants but I think I've also erred in failing to mix in some softer plants to blur the edges as I've done with all of my other succulent beds.

While this south-side bed is dominated by succulents, it also includes plants like Hymenolepsis parviflors, Leucadendron 'Summer Red', Metrosideros 'Springfire', Salvia clevelandii, and Vitex trifolia

View of the same bed from the other direction

The street-side succulent bed is mostly succulents but its backed by a leafy green hedge of Xylosma congestum

This bed running the length of the lower portion of the back slope is about half succulents, sharing space with an Arctostaphylos, artichokes, creeping LantanaAbelia 'Chiapas', Ribes viburnifolium, and rosemary

So I'm convinced of the value of adding some softer plants to the bed currently slated for an overhaul; however, I'm also concerned that the soil in that area doesn't drain as well as most areas of my garden.  I've collected more rocks and I'm planning to give the plants better drainage by raising the soil level using succulent-friendly amendments.  Thus far, I've  pulled the plants I've decided I don't want to keep and and potted up half of what I want to hold onto.

This photo shows how much I've already cleared.  I plan to leave the clump of Agave attenuata as it is and probably the bromeliad on the left (in front of the pot) as well.  I'm still debating removal of the woody Abelia grandiflora on the far left.

These succulents are slated for a giveaway

I've held onto these to be replanted either in the renovated bed or elsewhere

These are some of the plants I'm considering adding to the renovated bed: A noID Aloe I got from one neighbor, a bulbil of what may an Agave parryi I received from another neighbor, an Aloe cameronii I got from a blogger friend, and one or more Drimia maritima bulbs from my back slope 

There's another storm on the horizon.  Before it arrives, I hope to dig up the other plants I want to keep and get them into pots.  Time permitting, I'll also move the existing rock out of the way.  I'm holding off on a delivery of a truckload of soil until there's a decent break in the rainstorms that gives me adequate time to move the soil out of the driveway when they drop it off.  Then I need to decide whether more rocks are required before I go plant shopping.  I'm guessing I may not be done with this project until sometime in April. 

Best wishes for a good weekend, whatever conditions the weather in your area delivers.  I'll send you off for the weekend with few new spring flowers.

Anemone coronaria 'Rosa Tigrato'

Hippeastrum 'Emerald' and H. 'Evergreen'

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

Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Walking the neighborhood

During the atmospheric rivers that have meandered through Southern California at frequent intervals this month, I've stayed close to home, squeezing any required errands in between rain showers.  Public announcements have encouraged residents to stay home if they can in order to avoid being caught by falling trees or flash floods.  However, I've taken walks through the neighborhood between downpours, snapping photos along the way.  Wrapped in clouds and using my cell phone, many of the photos aren't as clear as I'd like but I'm going to share some of them anyway.

My photo "trail" follows the route I took through my neighborhood.  One of my favorite stops is several houses down the street.  It's fronted by a sloped garden topped by a massive Bougainvillea and peppered with succulents.  I've featured wide shots of it before but only took closeup photos during my recent excursions.

Agave gypsophila, surrounded by Cotyledon and Kalanchoe among other succulents

Shrubs like this Echium handiense are included in the mix here and there.  This Echium has spread over the years via self-seeding.  (I clearly cut back my spent Echium flowers too soon.)

The gardener and I often take our spins around the neighborhood together.  She showed me some other areas of her garden earlier this week before we headed out.

Clockwise from the upper left are Chasmanthe floribunda (aka cobra lily), noID Narcissus, Rosa 'Julia Child', and Streptosolen jamesonii (aka marmalade bush).  I'm on the lookout for both Chasmanthe bulbs, which do better than Crocosmia here, and the Streptosolen shrub.

A large mass of Helleborus foetidus (aka stinking hellebore) in full flower

A vigorous Phlomis purpurea.  Mine, planted from a 4-inch pot in 2020, is only now beginning to gain some girth after I moved it to a better spot in 2021.

One section of a tiered succulent garden at the back of the house,  The gardener is in the process of revamping another tiered area after the neighbor behind them removed a mass of juniper planted along the property line.

A downed agave bloom stalk.  The gardener gave me several bulbils.  She pointed to the agave shown in the foreground on the far right as the parent plant's twin.  I'm guessing it's a variety of Agave parryi.

The house next door was professionally landscaped from scratch in 2022.

The modern garden for a mid-century modern style house has matured, although I still wonder how manageable all that Nasella tenuissima (Mexican feather grass) will be.  I've been slowly removing mine as I identify other options.

As I rounded the circle that makes up our neighborhood, I took photos of another front garden that received an overhaul in stages in 2022 and 2023.

The sharply sloped front garden shown here was covered with a rumpled rug of artificial turf for many years.  In 2022, the owners had the right-hand section of the "rug" removed and planted masses of Agave attenuata, several Crassula ovata, and a couple of Magnolia trees with an edging of junipers along the entire length of the bed.  In 2023, they mirrored that planting scheme on the left side. 

A line of ornamental pear trees decorates the front of another house on the other side of the road.

I took this photo in between 2 back-to-back rainstorms.  As messy as ornamental pears (Pyrus calleryana) can be, these well-manicured specimens always look elegant in early spring.


I managed only a few shots on the other side of the neighborhood.

This garden, designed by a former neighbor who's since moved, has always been a favorite of mine but the last 2 owners haven't been as invested in keeping it fresh, although it's tended weekly by a competent gardener.  The steep front garden is terraced.  The Magnolia (maybe 'Black Tulip') and gigantic Leucospermum (maybe 'Sunrise') have just started blooming.

Another home on the other side of the street features this large Roldana petasitis (aka Californian geranium and velvet groundsel).  Native to Mexico, it's reportedly drought resistant despite its large tropical-looking leaves.

On another occasion, I took a brief jaunt up to the entrance of our neighborhood.

The entrance has a gatehouse, a remnant of decades past, but no gate.  It's been planted out over the years with succulents donated by neighbors, including me.  The aloes are blooming now.  The massive Echiums fronting the main road (probably self-seeded) will be blooming in a few months.

I noticed this Aloe cilaris (aka climbing aloe) next to the gatehouse for the first time

These cliffs run along the west side of the neighborhood road

Rhus integrifolia (aka lemonade berry) is one of the native plants growing along the road with other plants, many presumably self-sown

Jade plants (Crassulata ovata) and Yucca grow there too
There are clumps of Agave attenuata studding the edge of the road too, this one accompanied by what I think is a banana plant

That's it for my latest neighborhood garden survey.  Hopefully, I'll get to wander beyond its confines soon.  The current rainstorm is expected to clear out this morning; however, there's yet another round of rain on the horizon, currently projected to arrive late Sunday or Monday.  Our "water year" rain total to date (since October 1st) stands at 15.11 inches!

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