Friday, June 28, 2024

June's tour of South Coast Botanic Garden (Part 2)

Last Friday, I posted part one of my June tour of South Coast Botanic Garden.  Today's post covers where that one left off, starting with the Palm Circle near the entrance to the garden.

The Palm Circle was planted up with a lot of tropicals, including banana trees for the summer season

The Pollination Garden lies just beyond the Palm Circle.  Last year, it was initially planted with annuals to cover the bare ground.  In November, when the annuals were spent, the garden staff planted natives that are known to attract pollinators.  Most of the natives will take time to become established but, luckily for visitors, a wide range of annuals showed up to fill in the empty spots this summer.

Clockwise from the upper left: Achillea millefolium (common yarrow), Anetheum graveolens (dill), Daucus carota (wild carrot), Cosmos bipinnatus (paired with borage and roses), Cosmos with a visiting bee, noID Cirsium (thistle), and Xerochrysum bracteatum (strawflowers)

A huge Rotheca myricoides (butterfly bush, formerly classified as Clerodendrum ugandense) has occupied the area surrounding the current Pollination Garden as long as I can remember and, although it's native to Africa, the garden apparently intends to leave it in place.  In my view, any plant with blue flowers should automatically get a free pass to remain wherever it thrives.

The area surrounding the pond was mostly green.  I was pleased to find that the pond now has a turtle again.  Whether it's the same turtle that occupied the pond when it was part of the old children's garden or not, I can't say.  He was inundated by admiring children and remained under water at the time of my visit so I didn't get a good photo of him.

When I first saw this squirrel, I initially wondered if it was a chipmunk as its appearance was very different from those that frequent my own garden, as well as the squirrels I usually see at SCBG.  However, I little research clarified that my resident squirrels are the tree-dwelling eastern fox squirrels and this one is a native California ground squirrel.

I popped into the small tropical greenhouse, which was more disappointing than usual.

Two Phalaenopsis (moth orchids) were woven into a tall vine.  The lower one was pink and upper one was was an odd shade of blue.  I tried to convince myself that the staff couldn't have died the upper one blue but its color was too unreal to believe the color was natural.

I spent more time than usual in the Rose Garden but then roses are especially deserving of attention when they peak in early summer.  They were plentiful, although they could have benefited from deadheading.  I sought out the most perfect blooms I could find.

Clockwise from the upper left, the roses include: 'Gemini', 'Judy Garland', 'Julia Child', 'Love & Peace', 'Sexy Rexy', 'Sparkle & Shine', and 'Love Song'

Last year, the garden added tropical plants, including Cannas, to one area of the Rose Garden that was prone to damp soil.  They were looking their best at the time of my visit.

In a drier area, staff and volunteers had added masses of Pelargoniums and lavender

They added masses of true Geraniums too.  I wish these were happy in my garden but I suspect SCBG is more generous with their water rations than I am.

These unidentified groundcover roses were planted in an area surrounding one edge of the Rose Garden.  In addition to their abundance, I actually felt a degree of solace when I spotted an equal abundance of weeds.  Grass weeds have plagued my own garden this year and keeping up with them isn't at all easy, especially when they're protected by thorns.

The former Mediterranean Garden that was situated near the Rose Garden no longer exists as a defined garden area. Part of the area it formerly encompassed sits behind construction fencing but the area directly opposite the Rose Garden, previously covered by an expansive mass of Salvia leucantha (aka Mexican bush sage) is now planted with a wide range of drought-tolerant plants.

This photo was taken last year (June 14, 2023) when the area was still covered in Salvia leucantha

One year later, from the fenced section of the former Mediterranean Garden to the palm trees adjacent to the main path leading to SCBG's entrance and exit, the space previously covered by Mexican bush sage has been completed replanted.  There are grasses, Leucadendrons, Opuntia and a variety of other succulents, as well as several Salvia leucantha.  I noticed the new planting for the first time during my visit this past February.  It's filled out since then, albeit slowly.

As I headed to the exit, I passed through an area I used to refer to as the "promenade" because it led from the Palm Circle to the formal entrance of the Rose Garden, an area often used for wedding events.

The 'Snow Leopard' Mangaves (left), planted in 2022, are looking good.  A mix of Alstroemeria and succulents, including dwarf Portulacaria afra (elephant food) and Senecio serpens (blue chalk sticks), is used elsewhere as shown in the next 2 photos. 

I'd hoped to have a chance to walk through the upper meadow, which was closed during each of my earlier visits to the garden this year.  I understand that the garden has installed a row of Grevilleas there but I've yet to have the opportunity to see them.  I found the upper meadow closed yet again, although I entirely support the reason for this particular closure.

Children of various ages were using their summer break to engage in a new learning experience

Now that the marine layer is lifting very early, if it's present at all, I may schedule a visit to the butterfly exhibit in early July.  Fingers crossed that I find a suitable slot when the temperature is neither too cool (for the butterflies) or too hot (for me).  In the meantime, may you all find a sweet spot in the weather this weekend.

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

Wednesday, June 26, 2024

Wild & Weedy Wednesday: Desirable weeds?

I'm joining Cathy of Words and Herbs for Wild & Weedy Wednesday again this week to show off a few plants that have shown a proclivity for straying.  They aren't native wildflowers and they haven't shown up on any of California's invasive plant lists.  Their weedy tendencies may be anomalies unique to my garden, or possibly attributable to the heavier rainfall we experienced during the course of the past two years.

The first plant is Wahlenbergia 'Blue Cloud', which I purchased from a Northern California nursery by mail order in September 2013.  It was described as a drought-tolerant perennial groundcover.  It's a member of the Campanulaceae family and, according to Wikipedia, native species in this genus are found on every continent except North America.  This one delighted me for a few years before seemingly disappearing, at which point I added it to my wish list on the nursery's site.  As it turns out, that nursery no longer carries the plant; however, a replacement proved unnecessary when my original plant roared back with a vengeance in recent years.

It's wiry stems are looking decidedly weedy here in my south-side garden, growing between the agaves and right through the middle of a Dasylirion longissima.  The buff-colored seedpods seen on the right may be responsible for its spread, although some Wahlenbergia species reportedly spread by rhizomes.  The species wasn't identified by the seller, beyond stating that it was native to South Africa.

The plant also likes to place itself in pathways between paving stones, where it's easier to manage.  It can be pulled up relatively easily where it's not wanted, although that doesn't guarantee that it won't reappear.

The second plant is Salvia lyrata, also known as lyreleaf sage.  I saw it on a blog at some point in 2019 and, coincidentally came upon plug plants at my local garden center a short time later so I brought home a six-pack.   I was attracted more by the burgundy foliage than the flowers, which aren't impressive in my view.

I planted all 6 tiny plants in one very dry area in my back border.  They managed to merge into a messy mass as shown in the photo on the left.  I plan to dig them up and move them around this coming fall; however, they've already spread themselves here and there as the photo on the right indicates.  That plant is sitting in the middle of the flagstone path 8-10 feet away from the original plug plants. 

Still others have appeared much further away.  The one on the left is in the south-side garden and the one on the right is in the front garden.  How they got there is a complete mystery to me.

The third plant, a white and yellow-flowered Scaevola, gets credit for self-seeding itself in my garden but it's too soon to tell if it'll spread any further, although I'd be happy if it did.

I had a similar plant in a back garden border in 2012-2013 but it disappeared.  This one appeared between paving stones in a nearby area following this year's rainy season, at least a decade following its earlier disappearance.  

Any plant that manages through years of drought to reappear with vigor in response to sufficient rainfall is to be cherished in our changing climate, where long periods of drought punctuated by intense atmospheric rivers at periodic intervals are predicted to become more common in my part of California as the years progress.  The challenge will be to manage their spread during the wet years.  Visit Cathy at Words and Herbs for more on wild and weedy plants.

With temperatures rising, plants are suddenly hustling to bloom, some after long periods of what I can only describe as stasis.  As I've already seen a few quick exits in response to last weekend's heatwave, I thought I'd append views of an assortment of the most recent arrivals to this post given the prospect that their beauty may be fleeting.

Echinopsis oxygona annoys me by opening one bloom at a time.  The blooms seldom last longer than a day.
In contrast, the flowers of Epiphyllum 'King Midas' generally hang on for a few days once they open.  Luckily, I caught 2 flowers just as they were opening on Friday evening (as shown in the left column).  I photographed them again the next morning when they were fully open (as shown in the right column).  Epiphyllum 'Monastery Garden', which I mistakenly identified as 'King Midas' in last Wednesday's "Late Arrivals" post, lasted nearly a week before its flowers crashed but these 'King Midas' blooms had collapsed by Sunday morning.

The first of my Lisianthus (Eustoma grandiflorum) bloomed last week but its petals were singed along the edges by Saturday's heat

This Hibiscus rosa-sinensis 'Marianne Charleton' has been in a large pot since 2020 but, on the rare occasions in which it's bloomed, it withers quickly in the heat.  I'm thinking of giving its pot to a more worthy subject.

When this large clump of multi-petaled Leucanthemum x superbum flowers, it seems to do so almost en masse

Buds on the first bloom stalk of Lilium 'Pretty Woman' are just opening.  Three other blooms stalks are trailing behind at different stages in development so I'm hoping they'll provide flowers on a more gradual basis.

Wherever you are this Wednesday, I hope Mother Nature is being kind.

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

Monday, June 24, 2024

In a Vase on Monday: Off to a fiery start!

Well, summer rolled in like a lion here and I can only cross my fingers in the hope that it'll achieve the proverbial gentleness of a lamb as the season progresses.  We topped 94F (34C) yesterday.  Today's temperature is forecast to be "much" cooler than yesterday's but then that's what Saturday's forecast said about Sunday so I won't be placing any bets on it.

At least I got out early in the morning on Sunday to cut flowers and putter in the garden before ducking inside for the afternoon.  I only wish I'd gotten all my mulch spread before the heat arrived but maybe the heat will break later this week, allowing me to get back to that chore.

The 'Montego Bay' lily I eyed earlier in the week as a possible centerpiece for a floral arrangement was sadly past its prime on Sunday but my lilies are slowly unfolding one after another and I was able to select another one.

A tall stalk of Lilium 'Orange Planet' filled in nicely, complemented by 3 of the last blooms of Leucospermum 'Royal Hawaiian Brandi'

Back view: I used Alstroemerias and Lobelia as fillers

Top view

Clockwise from the upper left: Acacia cognata 'Cousin Itt', Alstroemeria 'Third Harmonic', A. 'Indian Summer', Leucospermum 'Royal Hawaiian Brandi', Lilium 'Orange Planet', and Lobelia laxiflora

Another of the Hippeastrums I planted in the ground last year produced an unexpected bloom stalk and, fearing that it wouldn't survive this initial heatwave, I decided to cut it for a second arrangement.

Hippeastrum 'Rosetta' produced just 2 flowers on a relatively short bloom stalk.  This bulb was much more robust when I grew it in a pot but I expect it's still getting established in its new spot in a front garden bed.

Back view

Top view

Clockwise from the upper left: Alstroemeria 'Inca Husky', A. 'Inca Vienna', Cuphea 'Honeybells', Fuchsia 'Windchimes White', Hippeastrum 'Rosetta', and Prostanthera ovalifolia 'Variegata'

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, June 21, 2024

Before it gets hot...

I visited South Coast Botanic Garden earlier this week, primarily as another exercise in the use of my new camera but also because it's only going to get hotter as the summer progresses so the clock was ticking if I wanted a pleasant stroll.  Even though the garden wasn't at the top of its game, I took a lot of photos (practice!) so I'm going to split them into two separate posts.  I'll post the second half next Friday.

I left the house later than I'd planned, arriving around 10am, but the marine layer was still firmly in place.  I didn't expect it to be crowded on a Wednesday morning, even though Juneteenth is a federal holiday, but the parking lot was nearly full and the garden was packed with families.  The schools are out and summer vacation season is clearly already in gear.

The garden is still touting its BLOOM event, which kicked off in April and runs through the end of this month.

This Bloom Watch poster listed the following top picks among the flowers in the garden: Fuchsia, Sparaxis, Opuntia x 'Beaver Rita', Lathyrus odoratus, Collinsia heterophylla, mixed Ixia, Eschscholzia californica var maritima, Datura wrightii, and Layia platyglossa.  According to the poster, most of these flowers were to be found in the Amphitheater Lawn so I headed there.

Most of what I found there were members of the Clarkia genus, aka farewell-to-spring

There was a large display for use as a photo opportunity

The beds formerly filled with bulb flowers had neatly braided foliage.  I've read that this isn't ideal but I have to admit that it looks a lot better than my messy bulb foliage, which I usually end up cutting back earlier than I should. 

The Banyan Grove, one of my very favorite spots in the garden, was nearby so I checked out its current status.  It's intended to become a central part of the new children's garden currently under construction so I wasn't sure what to expect.

This was one of many banners advertising the plans for the area.  It was affixed to the construction fence.

As was the case the last 2 times I visited, the main section of the Banyan Grove is blocked off.  It looks like the bulk of the earth moving activity may be finished but I didn't see any sign of building activity.  The signs still claim that the children's garden will open in 2024.

On the other side of the tram road, the Ficus petiolaris (left, often called the "ghost tree") and the variegated Ficus benjamina (right) appear unaffected by the building plan

Fortunately, not all the Moreton Bay fig trees (Ficus macrophylla) were cordoned off

The Moreton Bay figs were always popular with kids when I conducted tours of the garden as a docent years ago and I was pleased to see that they still have a chance to clamber over those massive roots even as changes are in progress

Of course I had to check out the Desert Garden too.

View facing the front of the main section of the Desert Garden

One of several huge Agave shawii surrounded by barrel cacti (Echinopsis grusonii)

Euphorbia xanti (aka Baja spurge) always delights me when it's covered with pink and white flowers like this

The California poppies (Eschscholzia californica) seemed right interspersed among the Aloes but the Buddleia was a surprise

I'm not especially impressed by Alluaudia procera (aka Madagascan Ocotillo) in its leafless state during the winter months but it's attractive when it greens up and blooms

I also checked out the Living Wall, in the area opposite the Desert Garden.

The Living Wall looks great, although it seems to be covered in far fewer succulents than was originally the case.  It's heavy on ferns and includes Ficus elastica (rubber tree plants) and what looks like it might be small-leaf Scheffleras.

I took random photos of plants in various areas that grabbed my attention as I continued my stroll.

I loved this tree, Calodendrum capense, aka Cape chestnut

Jacarandas are slowly coming into bloom all over my area.  They seem a little late to me, but perhaps that's attributable to the cooler temperatures that have accompanied the marine layer.

Seeing these Romneya coulteri (aka Matilija poppy and California tree poppy) reinforces the fact that I was foolish to plant one on my back slope

Other flowering plants, clockwise from the upper left, included Brugmansia, Justicia carnea, Lathyrus odoratus (planted much later than mine), and Plumbago

That's it for part one of my visit.  Best wishes for a pleasant weekend.  Wherever you are, I hope it's not too hot!

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