Friday, September 12, 2014

My favorite plant this week: Acer palmatum 'Sango Kaku'

I've always loved Japanese maples.  Even in my former, tiny garden, I had two of them.  So, although the climate of my current garden is hotter, drier, and far less shady, I had to have some here as well.  I currently have 3, of which Acer palmatum 'Sango Kaku,' also known as the coral bark maple, is my favorite.  I brought it home in 2011 with only the vaguest idea where to put it.  It ended up planted in a bed alongside our garage, facing the vegetable garden, where it has done surprisingly well thus far.

As you can see, 'Sango Kaku' is already sporting its autumn colors, and has been for perhaps a month already.  In May, it was mostly green but still flaunting its trademark coral trunk and stems.

In its current spot, it gets morning sun and afternoon shade, which may account for its healthy appearance.  In my experience, Japanese maples here do best with some shade.  This one had shown little in the way of tip and leaf burn, although I've read that those problems may become less prevalent as the tree matures.

In contrast, my poor A. 'Purple Ghost' is a stick, with only a tenuous hold on life.  I placed it on the southeast side of our property, where it was blasted by sun during the hottest time of the day; buffeted by Santa Ana winds when they blew; and pestered by raccoons burrowing at its base in search of grubs.  I've moved 'Purple Ghost' to a spot alongside 'Sango Kaku' in the hope that it will soon achieve the same level of health.

Acer palmatum 'Sango Kaku' is my favorite plant this week.  It provides a bright spot in my vegetable garden even when most everything else looks dreadful and it provides me a touch of autumn color, which is hard to come by in Southern California.

Please visit Loree at danger garden to find her favorite plant selection and those of other gardeners.

All material © 2012-2014 by Kris Peterson for Late to the Garden Party

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Bromeliads and Succulents

I've been shopping for more Agave 'Blue Glow' to add to a bed I'm planning to renovate.  In addition to the beauty it adds in every setting, I think it may be an effective raccoon deterrent - and I've certainly tried everything else.  The problem is that the price of these popular plants have soared into the stratosphere.  At one time, I was able to get  a small plant for $10 but recently the lowest price I've seen was $35.  After considering pulling plants from other areas to fulfill my current purpose, I decided to pay another visit to the Marina Del Rey Garden Center, where I originally found the plants for $10.

This garden center has definitely gotten the message that Southern California gardeners need drought tolerant plants.  Although they've always had a nice selection of succulents in a range of sizes, they seem to have more every time I visit.  They've also added a lot of bromeliads to the mix.  The price of bromeliads usually makes me choke and I can't say that the Marina garden center's prices are low but they do have a large variety.

The new emphasis on bromeliads struck me as soon as I pulled into the parking lot.

Display garden fronting the parking lot (I can't account for the pink flamingos)

There were more in the main section of the nursery.

The succulents are nearby.

Most of the 4-inch pots are $5, which means I can quickly get in trouble in this section

These variegated Agave attenuata were on special

They've always had containers planted with succulents for sale and display but there seemed to be more of them when I visited this time.

I brought home 3 Agave 'Blue Glow,' purchased for $17 a piece.  Oh, and a bromeliad.

No ID provided with purchase Possibly Aechmea fosteriana (Thanks again for the ID rosekraft!)

All material © 2012-2014 by Kris Peterson for Late to the Garden Party

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Planting Bed Facelift #1

In January, I wrote a post about a few projects my husband and I'd undertaken, including the removal of the wood-fired snorkel spa in the backyard.  Lacking a clear vision for the area, I filled it with cast-offs from other areas of the garden and impulse purchases.  It never came together and earlier this summer I lost its central element, the mountain pepper (Driyms lanceolata), probably due to a combination of transplant shock and inadequate water.  As I'd added Melianthus major to the bed in April, after picking it up the local botanic garden's spring sale, I decided to rely on other Australian plants for the rest of the bed.  My first "fall" planting purchase, Grevillea 'Ned Kelly,' and the established Arbutus 'Marina' adjoining the space set the red(dish) and yellow color scheme.  I'm still tweaking it but the largest elements are in place.

The main elements include:

Grevillea 'Ned Kelly' (aka 'Mason's Hybrid), which can be seen in flower here

Anigozanthos 'Big Roo Yellow,' which I bought in a large container (breaking one of my usual rules)

Leucadendron salignum 'Blush' (photobombed by Hibiscus trionum)

Leucadendron 'Jester,' temporarily in a tomato cage for his own protection - I paid a pretty penny for him even in a 1-gallon pot and it would break my heart if the raccoon marauders tore him apart before his root system anchors him in place.  

Supporting elements include:

Phormium 'Amazing Red' in the background is new but the ornamental oregano (Origanum 'Monterey Bay'), pineapple flowers (Eucomis 'Oakhurst,'which haven't bloomed), cherry skull-cap (Scutellaria suffrutescens) and succulents are holdovers from my earlier planting scheme

Hibiscus trionum (aka bladder weed or flower-of-the-hour), which has a reputation for uncontrolled self-seeding

Fernleaf lavender (Lavandula multifida) is another holdover from an earlier planting scheme

The 3 Pennisetum setaceum 'Fireworks' are new - they're not supposed to get as large as the red/purple variety I have elsewhere in the garden

Scabiosa ochroleuca, also picked up at the spring plant sale, was moved a couple feet so it no longer has to compete with the more aggressive Hibiscus for root space

The Sempervivium have been spreading happily for several months at the front of the bed

I'll probably add some of the burgundy-flowered Hemerocallis 'Spanish Harlem' I'm pulling out of the front yard borders and more succulents.  The ornamental oregano and pineapple flowers may be moved to other areas but, for now, I'm leaving them in place.

The bed formerly occupied by our Eucalyptus tree is the next candidate for a facelift.

All material © 2012-2014 by Kris Peterson for Late to the Garden Party

Monday, September 8, 2014

In a Vase on Monday: Keeping it Simple

Please pardon the interruption for a brief weather report: We got rain this morning!!!  I awoke to the sound of water and immediately thought that something had gone wrong with our irrigation system.  We had a chance of rain predicted as fall-out from Hurricane Norbert off the coast of Mexico but such predictions seldom come to anything.  Well, this time, it wasn't a break in the sprinkler system but real, honest to goodness rain.

Rain chain outside the dining room window

My rain gauge says we received 1/4th of an inch (6.35 mm) but that was enough to fill my rain barrel.  (I clearly need more of those.)  It has stopped now but the skies are still gray so maybe we'll get more.

On to the topic of the morning: flowers.  I bought over a dozen Rudbeckia a few weeks ago, the majority of which were R. 'Cherry Brandy,' a variety I've successfully grown before.  When I saw that my New Zealand tea tree (Leptospermum scoparium) had started to bloom, I decided they would make a perfect pairing in this week's vase.

Although I considered many foliage plants that could complement the two, including Persicaria 'Red Dragon,' Pseuderanthemum 'Texas Tri-star' (which I used last week), and Prostanthera ovalifolia (mint bush), I decided to make do with coleus (Solenostemon scuttelarioides).  I'd intended to leave the vase alone with just those 3 elements but, when trying to remember if the Leptospermum scoparium was 'Apple Blossom' (it's not), it occurred to me at the last moment to add my favorite Pentas to the mix.

Vase photographed from the back

Here are some close-up photos so you can appreciate each of these plants:

Rudbeckia hirta 'Cherry Brandy'

Solenostemon scuttelarioides 'Fire Fingers Coleus'

The center of the Leptospermum scoparium 'Pink Pearl' flowers echo the color of the Rudbeckias and I love the woody seed pods 

The ever-useful Pentas lanceolata 'Kaleidoscope Appleblossom'

The vase was placed in the foyer.

Last week's vase held up well.  After pulling out the foliage, I put the remaining flowers in a smaller vase and stuck it in my home office so I can enjoy it for awhile yet.

When Eustoma 'Borealis Blue' is cut in bud, the flower buds open in a paler shade

Please visit Cathy at Rambling in the Garden, the host of the "In a Vase on Monday" meme to see what she and other gardeners have put together this week.

All material © 2012-2014 by Kris Peterson for Late to the Garden Party

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Deep Roots Garden Center

On a recent visit to Deep Roots Garden Center in Manhattan Beach, I was surprised to realize that I'd never written a post about it.  When it opened, I lived in one of the nearby beach cities but not long afterwards we moved to our current house, roughly 15 miles to the south, so I don't have an opportunity to drop in regularly.  However, the garden center specializes in water-wise plants and, as I'm currently on the hunt for more drought-tolerant selections, I swung by there twice recently, once with my camera in tow.

The garden center sits on a relatively small plot on Sepulveda Boulevard, surrounded by retail businesses on 3 sides and homes in the rear.  The staff makes maximum use of the space they have available.

The parking lot doubles as storage for fruit trees, like this Guava tree, and bedding plants

Entryway to the garden center's main area

There are lots of succulents, although some of the most interesting are available only in large containers at hefty prices.

I loved this Aloe greenii 'Icena,' seated next to a Beschorneria yuccoides

There were lots of small succulents

And some very big ones, like the Furcraea and Agave 'Blue Glow' here

I couldn't find the ID for this Agave but I liked the bright spines

This Aloe camperi 'Jennifer' was new to me

I think a spiral Aloe may go on my Christmas wish list

Dyckia 'Naked Lady' isn't as spiky as those I have but it was attractive

If I knew where to put this Synadenium grantii, a relative of the Euphorbia, it might have come home with me

Beyond the succulents, there are shade plants.

Maybe it was the red background but I fell for this Begonia 'Paul Hernandez,' which grows 4-6 feet tall but, with nowhere to put it, it was left behind

Unfortunately, Cordyline 'Caruba Black,' shown here with Persian Shield, requires lots of water

Perennials can be found lined up at the other end of the garden center.

I'm trying to think of a place for this purple smoke bush

Digiplexis 'Illumination Flame' looks great in front of a red wall

Edible and water-wise plants are a few steps up and toward the back of the property.  I came in looking for Leucadendron 'Jester,' which they had but only in large pots.

The Leucadendron collection

A variety of drought tolerant plants arranged around a huge driftwood centerpiece

I came home with a Grevillea 'Ned Kelly,' a Vitex agnus-castus, and 2 Pentas lanceolata.  As a bonus, I got a good picture of a Gulf Fritillary.

All material © 2012-2014 by Kris Peterson for Late to the Garden Party