Monday, April 29, 2024

In a Vase on Monday: Opposites

Surprise!  I have two arrangements this week.  (Just kidding - I know regular readers would be more surprised if I had just one, especially during the spring season.)  They could't be more different.  The first is unusual in terms of its color mix.  The second can best be described as frothy.

The first arrangement was inspired by Dutch Iris 'Lion King'.  Although the blue Dutch Irises are almost done blooming, 'Lion King' always seems to lag behind.

It's not easy to find companion plants to enhance the colors of this Iris's petals and I wondered if the choices I made duplicated those I've made in the past.  However, I looked back at the photos of other arrangements using this Iris and was somewhat surprised that, with the exception of the yellow Leucospermum flowers, I haven't used any of the other elements before.

Back view

Top view

Clockwise from the upper left: Acacia cognata 'Cousin Itt', Aristea inaequalis seedpods, Iris hollandica 'Lion King', Leucospermum 'High Gold', Phlomis fruticosa, and Salvia africana-lutea

I didn't have great expectations for the second arrangement but I liked the way it turned out, even though it strikes me as very girly. The inspiration was the Polygala myrtifolia (sweet pea bush) that's growing all over my garden.  Although I've pulled what seems like hundreds of its seedlings this year, it's still abundant.  It makes a decent groundcover so I've left more of it in place than perhaps I should.

The frilly bits are flowering stems of Prostanthera ovalifolia (aka mint bush) and sweet peas.  Sweet pea petals seem to drop within 3-4 days and I have suspicions that the flowers on the mint bush may not last long in a vase either but I'll enjoy it while I can.

Back view: It has a heavenly scent!

Top view

Clockwise from the upper left: Digitalis purpurea, Lathyrys odoratus 'April in Paris', a noID purple sweet pea, Nigella papillosa, Polygala myrtifolia, and Prostanthera ovalifolia 'Variegata' 

Last week's arrangement featuring peach foxgloves held up well and, as I couldn't bring myself to toss all the contents in my compost bin, I cut it down to a smaller size and gave it a place on the kitchen island.

I've always recognized that Alstroemeria and Leucosperum flowers have long vase lives but I don't recall foxgloves holding up as well

It's looking as though our rainy season is probably over but at least cooler-than-usual temperatures may persist for another month or more.  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, April 26, 2024

Revealing my renovated succulent bed

I've been groaning over the succulent bed adjacent to the garage in our front garden for several years.  It's gone through numerous tweaks since I first planted the area in 2016 following removal of the lawn but it's never come together as well as my other succulent beds.  I finally started a wholesale renovation of the area in February when I removed the majority of the existing succulents, potting up what I wanted to keep and giving away or tossing out others.  I provided a status report in March after I'd dug in more than a cubic yard of succulent soil, augmented my rock collection, and begun replanting some of the succulents I had on hand.  Since then, I've been shopping and planting.  Noting that this is an immature garden with empty space I hope to see slowly disappear as the plants mature, I'm glad to finally reveal it in its current status.

This is a view of the bed from the southeast corner looking northwest toward the property line.  The Anigozanthos 'Fireworks' in front looks like it's done with its first flush of flowers.

This is a slightly different view from the flagstone path that intersects with the brick path used to move our trash bins to the street

View from the west end of the trash path looking at the potting bench and trash bins lined up against the garage

West end of the bed.  The new Chondropetalum tectorum (dwarf cape rush) on the left is planted in the area formerly occupied by a large Abelia shrub. I added a new Rhodanthemum hosmariense (Moroccan daisy) in front of the rush this week.  The small, white-flowered Westringia, a gift from a friend, was planted a decade ago.

View from another flagstone path behind the renovated bed looking south.  That large pot on the right needs replanting but that's a project for later.

East end of the bed with the trash bin path in the background.  I couldn't do much to disguise the irrigation pipes on the right, although I added a Crassula ovata (jade plant) on the near left, which may eventually grow large enough to detract attention from the pipes.

I conducted an informal survey of the plants in this area.  My photos are organized roughly in order of their species and I didn't capture every plant but here they are for my records.

Clockwise from the upper left: Miscellaneous Aeonium rosettes that originally decorated that piece of driftwood; Aeonium nobile and cuttings of A. haworthii 'Kiwi'; small plant sold as Aeonium 'Atropurpureum'; the Aeonium 'Sunburst' cutting I took that looks more like 'Moonburst'; the crested Aeonium 'Sunburst' I got at the C&SS sale; and cuttings of Aeonium 'Velour' from elsewhere in my garden

Clockwise from the upper left: Agave attenuata 'Raea's Gold'; large Agave 'Blue Glow'; small 'Blue Glow' (one of 2); Agave bracteosa 'Monterrey Frost' (a gift from Hoover Boo of Piece of Eden); large pup of Agave pygmae 'Dragon Toes'; and one of 2 Agave titanota 'White Ice' moved from my north side garden.  I also planted 2 small pups of 'Dragon Toes' (not shown). The remnants of the clump of Agave attenuata I inherited with the garden is still in place.

Clockwise from the upper left: Aloe arborescens 'Variegata', A. distans, A. dorotheae 'Red' (also from Hoover Boo), A. 'Rooikappie' divisions, and A. sinkatana (zubb) x jacunda

Left-right: well-established clump of Billbergia 'Borracho' and new Chrondropetalum tectorum 'El Campo'

Clockwise from the upper left: Corpuscularia lehmannii, noID Cotyledon (3), Crassula perforata (3), C. rupestris (2), C. streyi, and Curio ficoides 'Mount Everest'

Clockwise from the upper left: Echeveria 'Afterglow' (3), E. 'Blue Prince' (3), E. 'Serrana' (3), E. agavoides (a dozen), E. 'Mexicano' (3), E. 'Violet Queen' (3), and Graptopetalum pentandrum (3)

Clockwise from the upper left: Osteospermum 'Serenity Coral Magic' (2), O. 'Serenity Dark Purple' (3), Pelargonium formosa, and Phormium 'Rainbow Sunrise'

Groundcover materials left to right: Aptenia cordifolia (red apple, 6 plugs), Sedum spurium 'Tricolor' (12 plugs), and Senecio serpens cuttings.  I also have a dozen plugs of Crassula 'Little Missy' on order by mail.

Along the way (with help from my husband), I removed a large Abelia grandiflora 'Edward Goucher' that came with the garden.  Constant shearing had turned it into a tall twiggy mess.  There are still two other Abelias on the other side of the peppermint willow (Agonis flexuosa).  I've cut one back by half already and plan to do the same with the second one.

The shrub in the front was reduced by half in height and width.  The shrub behind it shows what the other 2 shrubs originally looked like.

It appears that I now have a gopher problem in this area too.  After discovering that on Wednesday and having a tunnel collapse under my foot on the other side of the garden near the lath house on Tuesday, I'm finally coming to accept that my attempts to move the gophers out using deterrents isn't working any longer and a more serious approach may be required.

On that note, best wishes for a peaceful weekend.

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

Wednesday, April 24, 2024

My last nursery run this spring?

I visited a local succulent outlet late last week in search of small plants to fill in some of the empty spaces in the bed I've been renovating.  I shopped OC Succulents in Irvine for years but it's an hour-plus drive away; however, the company opened a "smaller" store in Torrance in 2018 only about thirty minutes away.  I hadn't stopped in since 2022 and, on that last visit, I found that their prices had climbed significantly but now that I've adjusted (somewhat) to the higher plant prices everywhere, I thought another stop was in order, especially as they offer a wider selection of succulents than any garden center in my area.

While the focus of my visit was on smaller specimens, that didn't stop me from checking out the inventory of larger plants.

This is a small sample of what was available in 5-gallon pots.
Top row: Aeoniums 'Merlot' and 'Zwartkop' and Agave 'Green Glow'
Middle: Aloe cameronii, Crassula 'Crosby', and Mangave 'Mission to Mars'
Bottom: Mangave 'Snow Leopard', noID Opuntia, and Yucca gloriosa 'Variegata'

A view of the array of cactus and other succulents in 15-gallon pots

15-gallon agaves with huge Euphorbia tirucalli in the distance

Large barrel cactus (Echinocactus grusonii) in numbers you wouldn't find anywhere else nearby

This Aloe 'Medusa' was $150 but, for a focal specimen this size, I think that's a relative deal.  OC Succulents sells plants in large volumes to landscapers and others with business licenses, who receive discounts.

The indoor plant selection, such a contrast to the succulents, always comes as a surprise when I walk into the store's interior area.

Wide shots of the indoor plant selection

Left to right closeups of  Agloanema 'Siam Aurora Red' (aka Chinese evergreen), Microsorum diversifolium (aka kangaroo paw fern), and Zamioculcas zamiifolia (aka ZZ plant).  I couldn't decide if I liked the variegated Chinese evergreen or hated it.

With my mission in mind, I didn't spend much time with the indoor plants, stepping outside into the tented area that houses both larger indoor plants and the smaller succulents.

My focus was on the 4-inch succulents

These 10-inch or larger plants were $20+: Agave parryi, Neoregelia 'Fireball', and Echeveria harmsii

Here's what I took home:

The smaller plants aren't labeled but OCS does now provide a receipt showing plants by their species names; however, the 2 pale blue Echeverias were missed.  My guess is that they're Echeveria 'Cante' (although my camera's app disagrees).  Other purchases include: a ZZ plant, an Aeonium, a Corpuscularia, 2 varieties of Crassula, Echeveria 'Blue Prince', and Graptopetalum.

Will that really be my last trip to a plant nursery or garden center this spring?  Probably not.  In fact, I stopped by my local Armstrong Garden Center earlier this week to pick up some planting mix and pumice to pot up my dahlia tubers as they wait for space to free up in my cutting garden - but that doesn't count, does it?  I routinely admonish myself not to plant anything new - except succulents - after June but I'm not as disciplined as I'd like to be.  Just last night, I submitted a mail order for a succulent variety I couldn't locate locally but then succulents really don't count...

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

Monday, April 22, 2024

In a Vase on Monday: Everything everywhere all at once

I never thought I'd say that I have too many flowers available to cut in my garden but that's how I felt on Sunday morning.  I usually fixate on a few flowers and create an arrangement (or two or three) but, with temperatures rising, the spring flowers that prefer cool temperatures are rushing to the finish line while the summer flowers are already getting ready to move in.  Lilies are developing stalks; Agapanthus are sporting buds; and daylilies are already blooming here and there.  I've started potting up my dahlia tubers to get them sprouted so I can move them into my cutting garden when the cool season flowers are ready to clear out.  With mildew and rust already afflicting their foliage, I focused on making use of them while they're presentable.

My first vase made use of some of the peach foxgloves that shot up all at once.

I wasn't sure how I felt about mixing the pale peach foxgloves with the bright orange Leucospermums at first but I think Alstroemeria 'Indian Summer' helped to tie the whole thing together.

Back view

Top view

Clockwise from the upper left: Abelia grandiflora 'Hopley's Variegated', Alstroemeria 'Indian Summer', Digitalis purpurea 'Peach Dalmatian', Leucospermum 'Royal Hawaiian Brandi', noID Ranunculus, and Xylosma congestum

The second arrangement made use of the sweet peas and larkspur, as well as a few of the remaining blue Dutch Iris.

The larkspur grew especially tall this year yet only recently started blooming, at which point its stems started to topple over.  The first variety of the sweet peas began blooming in mid-February.  Another variety joined the display in March but I didn't see any evidence of others until late last week.

Back view

Top view

Clockwise from the upper left: white Anthirrhinum majus (snapdragons); Consolida ajacis 'Summer Skies Mix' (larkspur) in various colors; Iris hollandica 'Sapphire Beauty'; and a mix of Lathyrus odoratus, most recently including 'April in Paris'

And yes, there's a third vase this week.  The stems of Alstroemeria 'Claire' included in one of last week's arrangements was still in good shape so I added two of the last anemones, as well as stems of the dark pink snapdragons (after removing their rust-covered foliage).

Anemone coronaria 'Rosa Tigrato' put on a good show but she doesn't appreciate the rising temperatures

Back view

Top view

Clockwise from the upper left: Allium neopolitatum, Antirrhinum majus, Hebe 'Wiri Blush', Alstroemeria 'Claire', and Anemone coronaria 'Rosa Tigrato'

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, April 19, 2024

South Coast Cactus & Succulent Society Show & Sale

I didn't make it to last year's local Cactus & Succulent Society show and sale but I made a point of getting there last weekend.  Like the 2022 sale, it was held in a nearby art center only fifteen minutes away.  It's a smaller venue than the local botanic garden provided in the prepandemic days.  Based on my earlier photographic record, there were fewer show tables and seemingly less sale plants.

I arrived about an hour after opening on the first day of the sale when rain was in the forecast so it wasn't as crowded as these events usually are


I gave the show tables most of my attention.  The light inside the art center's exhibit space was dicey and I had repeated problems focusing my camera so I only took closeup shots of selected plants.

Show table 1 (the tables weren't numbered but I've done so to keep them straight)

Closeup of 2 plants from that first table, Mammillaria formosa (left) and Melocactus conoides (right).  The Mamillaria looks like a fancy decorated cake to me.

Show table 2

Clockwise from upper left are closeups of: Aloe dorotheae, Dyckia 'White Whiskers', Euphorbia andpria, Euphorbia canariensis, crested Euphorbia lactea, Euphorbia stellata, and Rubutia tiraquensis

Show table 3

L-R: hybrid Dyckia, Machairophyllum albidum, and noID Fockea

Show table 4

Closeups from upper left: crested Aeonium 'Sunburst', Cotyledon pendens, Graptopetalum mendozae, and Pachypodium breviraule

I also took photos of some of the plant sale tables.

One vendor's display from multiple angles

Another vendor's display, including a Trichocereus in flower (lower left)

Colorful Aeoniums and Echeverias (left), crested Euphorbia grandidens and Melocactus matanzanus (middle, IDs are guesses), and a variety of other cacti (right).  I didn't process what I assume was an Agave 'Sunglow' in the background in the third photo until I reviewed my photos.  Everything on this sale table had looked pricey but I may have caved for that one if I'd been more attentive.

Snippets of 2 more sale displays

There were also pots for sale.  As I've lost some of my favorite pots to clumsy critters in recent years, I'm always looking for more; however, the pots were generally on the expensive side so I passed and put my money into plants.

Beautiful pots by succulent collector Jim Gardner 

Pots for sale by other vendors

I laughed at the saying on this planted pot but didn't check its price.  If that "5" on the tag, meant $5 I blundered in leaving it behind even though I'm unsure what the plant was.  It looked like a Clivia to me but that isn't what the tag suggests.

I took home just four plants.

Clockwise from the upper left: crested Aeonium 'Sunburst', hybrid Aloe sinkatana x jacunda, Crassula streyi, and Pelargonium carnosum

One plant's in a pot but all four found homes in my renovated succulent bed, which I'll show sometime soon.  I'm still doing some tweaking there.

Best wishes for a wonderful spring weekend!

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