Friday, March 29, 2024

Sneak Peek at South Coast Botanic Garden's Bloom! Exhibit

South Coast Botanic Garden has been boosting its Bloom! exhibit for some time.  It officially opens April 1st but preparations to immerse visitors in spring flowers have been going on for some time.  Mother Nature doesn't march to anyone's schedule but her own and relatively good rainfall, combined with warming temperatures, readied the garden for the enjoyment of visitors well in advance of the exhibit's opening.  I decided to avoid the crowds and took advantage of a sunny day earlier this week to check it out, even though the garden staff doesn't yet have everything in order.  As the Bloom! map wasn't available, I had to search out the bloom displays on my own.  As an added complication, filming was underway on the day of my visit, which meant there were restrictions on where I could go.

So, with the proviso that this "sneak peak" isn't intended as a substitute for a visit, here we go!

SCBG plans to offer visitors numerous photo opportunities.  I expect that the courtyard at the garden's entrance is one of these.  The ceiling was decorated with an elaborate display of (artificial) flowers.


According to SCBG's Bloom! Guide, the main displays are confined to the front forty acres of the garden.  As construction of the new children's garden is ongoing and filming restricted certain paths through the garden while I was there, I covered a little less than that.

Wisteria covering the arbor adjoining the Japanese Garden is an annual display

The formal beds at the front of the garden are full of annuals and assorted bulb blooms surrounded by boxwood (top row).  The wire supports are intended to show off vines, including sweet peas, but those plants haven't taken off yet.   Beyond these beds are others that include perennials like the purple-flowered Salvia and the pink-flowered Pelargonium capitatum (bottom row).

The Pollination Garden was replanted in November with California natives and other climate-adapted plants.  Most of the natives are still getting established but spots of color have been added here and there, like Brachyscome, Calendula, CosmosDianthus chinensis, and Nemesia.

The Tropical Greenhouse showed off colorful bromeliads and Phalaenopsis

I knew that the Amphitheater Meadow Garden was designed as a central feature of the springtime exhibit so I made a point of seeking it out.

The photo on the left was taken from the edge of a wall in the Rose Garden overlooking the Amphitheater Meadow.  The outlook was previously lined with yellow Euryops chrysanthemoides shrubs but they've been removed, presumably to avoid blocking the view.  The middle photo is a wide shot of the meadow's primary bed.  The photo on the right is a snapshot showing the mix of bulb flowers and seeded annuals.  SCBG reported that 21,000 bulbs were planted in connection with the Bloom! exhibit.

Closeups of some of the key elements, top row: Anemone coronaria in various colors
Middle: noID varieties of Narcissi
Bottom: Scilla peruviana and Layia platyglossa (aka tidy tips)

A second bed planted exclusively with Narcissi

I never leave SCBG without at least strolling through the Desert Garden.  There were still some Aloes in bloom.

The top photo is a wide shot of the main section of the Desert Garden.  Clockwise from the middle left are Aloe cameronii (I think), a noID Aloe, A. reitzii, and A. striata.

I walked through the Rose Garden too.  While some roses were already blooming, the majority of the flowers won't appear until later in the season.

Clockwise from the top: bed planted with Rosa 'Tahitian Sunset', a closeup of that rose, Rosa 'Anne Morrow Lindbergh, Canna, and a noID Aloe.  Yes, there are succulents in the Rose Garden.

A lot of trees are currently blooming.  I captured only a few of them.

Top row: hybrid Handroanthus (I wasn't able to get any closer to it) and Cercis canadensis (guess)
Middle: Erythrina x sykesii (1st 2 photos) and the peach-colored flowers of E. caffra
Bottom: noID Prunus with closeups of flowers from 2 different trees

I've lumped the photos of other flowers I found during my stroll into two collages rather than trying to identify them by their locations.

Top: Aeonium arboreum with Kalanchoe fedtschenkoi, closeup of Kalanchoe, and Clivia
Middle: noID Callistemon, Echium candicans, and Lavatera (guess) with Osteospermum
Bottom: Rhaphiolepis swallowing a pink Cuphea, Strelitzia reginae, and Zantedeschia aethiopica

Top: noID Begonia and Grevillea (maybe 'Misty Pink')
Middle: 2 shots of Geranium 'Rozanne'
Bottom: Sisyrinchium bellum and Paeonia x 'Little Darlin' (Itoh peony)

If you have a chance to visit SCBG this spring, I suggest grabbing a map when you check in.  To avoid situations such as I discovered during my impromptu visit, I also suggest checking SCBG's list of area closures.

Roadblocks due to film equipment and a parking lot full of trucks

Whatever the weather or your plans for the holiday weekend, best wishes!  We're expecting rain all weekend but that's a good thing (unless it floods).

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

Wednesday, March 27, 2024

My plant shopping objectives

I don't like to see large bare spots in my garden and, as there are a lot of those at present, finding suitable plants to fill the gaps is the main driver behind my current plant shopping expeditions.  That's not to say that I don't buy plants at intervals year-round.  I'm a sucker for attractive foliage and the promise of pretty flowers so I'm frequently guilty of buying plants I don't "need" or even have an obvious place to put.

Last Friday afternoon, I headed to Deep Roots in Manhattan Beach.  I used to drop in there fairly often when we lived closer.  Even now it's only fifteen miles away but the trip took over forty minutes, such is the state of traffic in LA's South Bay.  My goal was to find a Leucadendron or some other drought-tolerant shrub with foliage to soften the succulent bed I'm renovating.  Deep Roots has been a good source of such plants in the past.

Overview of the south end of the garden center from the upper parking lot.  I found that Deep Roots still has a nice selection but, like a lot of garden centers in the post-pandemic era, container sizes are much larger and prices are correspondingly much higher.

I dismissed some beautiful plants because they were just too much of a departure from the specifications I had in mind.

I passed by a display of nice Euphorbias paired with splashy Anigozanthos, a very expensive Banksia, and a beautiful Loropetalum that was too pink, too large, and not sufficiently drought-tolerant

I more seriously considered other plants.

My only real objection to Euphorbia 'Miner's Merlot' (left) was that it was sold in a very large pot and priced higher than I'd like to pay for an experimental run.  Leucadendron 'Ebony' (middle) was the only member of the genus I found in a 1-gallon pot but, because it's a coveted variety, it was pricey and I have one 'Ebony' already.  The new-to-me Leucadendron 'Startreuse' (right) appealed to me but I prefer not to start with plants in 2-gallon containers and its price made me swallow hard.

Although I ended up passing on all three of those options, I checked out succulent plants while I was there.  They have a nice selection but I generally consider their succulent stock on the expensive end of the spectrum.

Top: Mangave 'Center of Attention' and Agave bovicornuta 'Holstein'
Middle: Mangaves 'Bedhead', Silver Fox', and 'Mayan Queen'
Bottom: Mangaves 'Mayan Queen', Falling Water', 'Lavender Lady', and 'Kaleidoscope'
Can you believe I have at least one of all of these except the agave?

Clockwise from the upper left: planted containers, Aloe striata, Dudleya, and Cereus forbesii 'Spiralis'.  The last was priced at $80.

I even strolled through the indoor plant displays.

I'm always tempted by orchids but even the Cymbidiums on a 50% off sale (which didn't include those shown in the lower right photo) were very pricey.  I didn't even look for a price on the Zamioculcas 'Black Raven' on the lower left.

I ended up taking home three 'Violet Queen' Echeverias in four-inch pots and an Anigozanthus (aka kangaroo paws).  Neither really fit the specs I had in mind.  However, I've got two other 'Violet Queen' Echeverias in a pot I love and I'd told myself I should pick up more if I had a chance.  They're probably a bit delicate for my new space but they'll fit someplace!  With respect to the Anigozanthos, I came across plants in the Bush Gems Celebration collection two years ago and, although stunned by their unusual colors, I passed on them, only to regret that later.  Even though I couldn't envision it in the renovated succulent bed, I couldn't bring myself to pass on it again.  So now the question is: what do I do with it?

Closeup of the flower.  The pot was only labeled "Anigozanthos Celebration," which is a term applying to all the varieties in the Bush Gems collection.  However, I looked it up online and I think this one is known as 'Masquerade'.  The plant grows about 18" tall and 16" wide and, depending upon who's consulted, can tolerate full sun or needs partial sun.

I carried the plant around my garden to conduct tryouts in different settings.

This spot along the walkway bordering my north-side garden has a vacancy, gets morning sun, and is backed up by Grevillea 'Scarlet Sprite', which plays off the reddish-pink in the Anigozanthos's flowers.

This spot is at the back of the south-side bed facing the dirt path that only I and the gardeners that trim our hedges use.  It gets almost full sun and has lots of open space while I wait for the baby Agave ovatifolia 'Frosty Blue' to grow up.

This spot is on the west side of the south-side garden next to a Callistemon 'Hot Pink' (not yet flowering) and several Cistus.  It gets good sun but I'm concerned the Anigozanthos may be too small to show up well against the larger plants.

This spot is in the south side of the front garden next to the flagstone path.  It's backed up by a Pennisetum 'Rubrum' (past due for its annual buzz cut), a Centaurea 'Silver Feather', and an infant Lepechinia fragrans.  All those surrounding plants can get big so the Anigozanthos could get swamped.

Then I asked myself if the Anigozanthos could go in the renovated succulent bed after all.  It's not big or fluid enough to provide the soft touch I was looking for among the succulents but that doesn't mean it couldn't have a spot there.  If I planted 'Blue Glow' Agaves on either side of it to play off the turquoise blue of the flowers and introduced some reddish-pink color behind it that might give the relatively small plant a boost.  The area gets good sun, with some late afternoon protection from the Arbutus 'Marina' tree in the background. 

What do you think?  Which option would you choose?

Due to other commitments and the rain in the forecast, I may only make it to my "neighborhood" garden center this week for another round of plant shopping.  In addition to agaves, I'll continue to shop for smallish Leucadendrons and Euphorbia 'Miner's Merlot' (preferably in one-gallon pots).  I have two other local sources for succulents I plan to check out as well but they require longer trips that'll have to wait a bit.

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

Monday, March 25, 2024

In a Vase on Monday: The spring extravaganza continues

We got a fifth of an inch of rain on Saturday as forecast and my 50-gallon replacement tank was ready to receive it, thanks to my husband's effort in retrofitting it.  It wasn't a lot of rain but it was enough to fill the tank.

We didn't look at the new tank's overflow mechanism when we purchased it by mail order.  It turned out that any excess spewed from the bottom, which isn't a good thing when the tank is set up against the house.  My husband drilled a hole in the side and fit it with a pipe to divert any overflow to the funnel system that that runs below ground, directing water away from the house.

It's been very windy of late but the latest rainstorm gave the garden the boost it needed.  Once again, there was no problem finding material to fill a couple of vases.  The first arrangement was inspired by Dutch Iris 'Pink Panther'.  The flowers have shot up virtually in unison in two areas of my front garden.

'Pink Panther' is more lavender than pink.  I initially wasn't sure what I had that would complement its color but I had no trouble whatsoever finding appropriate companions.

Back view: I added 2 Dutch Iris 'Eye of the Tiger' to provide more contrast

Top view

Clockwise from the upper left: 2 noID varieties of Lathyrus odoratus, noID Scaevola, noID Ageratum, Iris hollandica 'Eye of the Tiger', I.h. 'Pink Panther', and Scilla peruviana

My second arrangement is yet another yellow and blue mix.  This one was inspired by the last of the potted Hippeastrums to bloom this year, one I initially thought might be a dud because it took so long to sprout.

Hippeastrum 'Lemon Star' looks a lot like the H. 'Luna' I grew in pots last year.  I planted the 'Luna' bulbs in the ground after they finished flowering last year and they're now producing flower stalks so I may have more Hippeastrum blooms in another month or 2.

Back view: I used the first flowering stems of Acacia cognata 'Cousin Itt' as a foliage filler

Top view

Clockwise from the upper left: Acacia cognata 'Cousin Itt', Hippeastrum 'Lemon Star', Iris hollandica 'Mystic Beauty, 2 different noID Narcissi, and Phlomis fruticosa 

Last week's Leucospermums held up well.  I removed the Narcissi and Ranunculus blooms that had fallen apart to create a streamlined version of the arrangement that included Leucospermum 'Royal Hawaiian Brandi'.

The simplified version is shown on the left and the original version is on the right

There's a good chance of more rain next Saturday.  In the meantime, I'm hoping we get a less wind and more sun to facilitate work in the garden and maybe some spring plant shopping.

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

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

Friday, March 22, 2024

Succulent bed renovation - progress report

I'm nowhere near done renovating the succulent bed in front of our garage but I've made significant progress.  This post will serve as an update.

The first task was to bring in a cactus soil mix to both visually raise the soil level and improve drainage in the area.

We had one cubic yard of a cactus and succulent friendly soil mix trucked in and dropped in our driveway.  It may not look like much but it took a good deal of time and effort to move it.

I moved about one-third of it myself but thankfully my husband moved the rest (in less than half the time it took me to move my share)

I then tackled mixing the new soil in with the existing soil.  I did that at periodic intervals over 2 days.  I was exhausted afterwards.

The next step was laying out the rocks, both old and new.

I dug the rocks into place, trying to cover the bottom third of each individual rock.  Proving my argument that one can never have enough rock, I came up short but made do with what I had.  I included some rocks that the plumbers dug up last year when they changed out our water pipes.  Most of those are gradually disintegrating but they'll hold up for awhile yet.

Once the rocks were in place, I made my first stab at laying out the plants I'd saved when I dug the area up.

I'd potted up all the plants I wanted to save when I dug up the area in February.  I also pulled out a few potted plants I've been holding in reserve for possible use here.

I didn't follow the layout I'd originally tried in all respects but I'm fairly comfortable with it; however, a lot of holes remain to be filled.

This is the area as it looked yesterday afternoon

Closer look at the east side of the bed (nearest the garage)

Closer look at the west side of the bed (nearest to the street)

Here's a peek at the individual specimens I've already planted:

Clockwise from the upper left: Aeonium haworthii 'Kiwi' (clumps dug out of my north-side garden), Agave attenuata 'Raea's Gold' (the mother plant I removed from the back garden last November and re-rooted), Agave bracteosa 'Monterey Frost' (a gift from Hoover Boo of Piece of Eden), Aloe arborescens 'Variegata', Aloe cameronii 'Red' (another gift from Hoover Boo), Aloe nobilis, and multiple pups of Aloe 'Rooikappie'

More, clockwise from the upper left: Crassula ovata (a rooted cutting), Curio x peregrinus, Echeveria agavoides, and Senecio serpens (cuttings from my south-side garden)

Plants I'm still committed to replanting include: Aeonium nobilis, Aloe maculata, and Curio ficoides 'Mount Everest' (the only one of 5 that looked healthy enough to keep)

On standby are 2 small 'Blue Glow' Agaves I purchased from Annie's Annuals last year and potted up to gain size and 2 silver-blue Cotyledon orbiculata I love

We dug up the ever-leaning Kumara plicatilis (aka fan aloe) a close friend gave me sometime soon after we moved here.  I never got it properly straightened out and it was never happy.  Its leaves were half the size they should've been and some were damaged by insects.  Rather than replant it as is, I cut off 2 of the best looking branches, which I've potted up in hope of getting them to develop roots.  

Now I get to go shopping!  In addition to at least two or three larger succulents plus smaller ones to serve as fillers, I'm thinking of adding a few softer plants, including a small Leucadendron (as if I need more!) and drought-tolerant flowering groundcovers.  I'll provide an updated report when I'm closer to being done.

Best wishes for a pleasant weekend.

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