Friday, December 19, 2014

The Fun Continues

Work on the front garden continues between rainstorms.  I thought I'd provide an update, although I'm far from done with planting (and don't expect I'll be done until spring, if then).

The biggest change since my first report is that flagstones and the first plants have been installed in the area to the left of the walkway to the front door.  My husband is once again responsible for setting the stone in place.  For a change, rather than letting my collector tendencies run wild, I selected plants to create continuity with the area on the other side of walkway.

All the plants are drought tolerant to some degree.  Here's what's in place thus far:

  • Coprosma (1 'Evening Glow,' 1 'Inferno' and 1 'Scarlett O'Hara')
  • 1/2 6-pack Erigeron karvinsianus (aka Santa Barbara daisy)
  • 1 6-pack Gazania 'Kiss Frosty White Flame'
  • 3 Lavandula stoechas 'Silver Anouk'
  • 1 Leptospermum 'Copper Glow'
  • 3 Lomandra longifolia 'Lime Tuff'
  • 1 flat Thymus serphyllum (aka creeping thyme)

Top: Coprosma 'Scarlett O'Hara' (left) and 'Inferno' (right); Bottom: Coprosma 'Evening Glow'

Gazania 'Kiss Frosty White Flame'

Lomandra longifolia 'Lime Tuff' (which looks very similar to the L. 'Breeze' I used on the other side of the walkway)

I plan to use more thyme, Gazanias and other perennials, possibly Euphorbia, to fill in some of the empty space.

The biggest change on the right side of the walkway was the addition of 2 cubic yards of bark mulch around the Magnolia tree.  I also added a few more plants in the area beyond the tree.

View of the area to the right of the walkway

View of the back section (more stones were needed to give me space to move without tromping through planting areas)

Key additions included:

  • 1 Abelia grandiflora 'Kaleidoscope'
  • 1 Agave gentryi 'Jaws' (featured in my December foliage follow-up post)
  • 2 6-packs of Ajuga 'Chocolate Chip'
  • 1 Asplenium 'Austral Gem' (fern)
  • 3 Plectranthus ciliatus 'Zulu Warrior' (grown from cuttings)
  • 3 Zephyranthes candida (aka rain lilies)

Abelia 'Kaleidoscope' (there are 2 others in an existing bed along the house)

Another look at the handsome Agave 'Jaws'

The ferns, Plectranthus and Ajuga in the foreground will be part of an expanded  shade bed including the existing Arthropodium cirratum (Renga lilies), Pelargonium tomentosum (peppermint geranium), and Geranium 'Biokovo' among other plants

But it still looks bare.

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

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Christmas Wreath

On a recent shopping trip with friends to Roger's Gardens in Orange County, I checked out the wreaths on display.

Wreath with Banksia - I thought the flowers were fake at first

Most years I buy an inexpensive Christmas wreath from the local garden center or tree lot.  Although they may have a few pine cones and a mix of greens, they're pretty plain.

This year's purchase, hung over the flagpole holder that came with the house

But I always add my own touches, usually a bow and Christmas ornament odds and ends.  This year, Sunset magazine featured wreaths with proteas and I thought maybe I'd use natural materials to embellish my wreath too (even if I didn't make the base from scratch).  Loree of danger garden added Leucadendron to her tree and I thought that was a good idea, especially as I have several of these shrubs in my garden.  I tucked in some Aeonium, Pennisetum setaceum and Heteromeles arbutifolia berries too.

My embellished wreath

In addition to a bow I've reused for years, I added succulents, berries and grass plumes cut from my garden as shown in close-up here

This close-up of the wreath's lower portion shows 2 varieties of Aeonium, stems of silvery Leucadendron 'Pisa' and cuttings of L. 'Wilson's Wonder' (I also used a few stems of L. 'Chief')

Leucadendron 'Wilson's Wonder' isn't as red as it was in summer or as yellow as it'll be later this winter but I was still pleased with the effect.  And, despite our recent rain (another inch from the storms yesterday and last night!), the wreath has held up well in a largely unsheltered area.  Do you use garden material to decorate for the holidays?

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

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Foliage Follow-up - December 2014

This month's foliage follow-up post is a bit of a grab bag.  The plants I've selected to highlight have little in common but for the fact that they're all looking very good at the moment.  Some are new and some have been in place for awhile.

First up is Phormium 'Maori Queen.'  I added 3 of these to the new bed along the front walkway, created as a byproduct of the recent removal of the front lawn.  I looked for more to add on the other side of the walkway when it was finally ready for planting but I've yet to find more locally.

Phormium 'Maori Queen' looks especially good when backlit

Another variegated selection is Erysimum linifolium 'Variegatum.'  This plant and the others surrounding the backyard fountain have been in place going on 3 years now.  They looked scraggly in the heat of mid-summer and I'd planned to replace them all this fall but light pruning, the cooler weather, and rain seem to have snapped them back into shape.

Erysimum linifolium 'Variegatum' also makes the most of the light

I planted Melianthus major in early spring and it sat like a lump doing nothing until recently when it suddenly produced new growth.  It, too, may be responding favorably to the cooler weather and rain.  We're due for more rain today - in fact, we've already had some light rain this morning.

The hanging succulent basket by the front door I planted in late summer has begun to overflow as the individual plants grow larger, earning it the attention of passers-by.

Sedum 'Lemon Ball' is taking over, although the Kalanchoe and Senecio are holding their own

Despite receiving regular watering, the unidentified Kalanchoe has turned a delicious burgundy, mirroring the red stems of the variegated Portulacaria afra

Photo taken from above the basket showing some of the succulents almost buried behind the Sedum

But my very favorite succulent at the moment is Agave gentryi 'Jaws.'  I've seen photos of this plant elsewhere and thought it was attractive but I was unprepared for the effect it had when I saw it in person.  I scooped it up (carefully) and took it home after seeing it last week while on a shopping trip with friends.  It's currently situated in the front garden near my new Leucadendron 'Wilson's Wonder,' where its orange and red spines echo the Leucadendron's foliage color.  It's said to get 3-4 feet tall and 4-6 feet wide at maturity and to be suitable for placement in either sun or shade.  I hope the latter information is correct as it gets only partial sun where I've placed it, at least this time of year, but I'll keep a watch on it and move it if necessary.

Look at the size and color of those spines!  The leaf imprints are wonderful too.

The emerald green leaves show tinges of blue at the base

Pam at Digging hosts this monthly foliage follow-up.  You can find her foliage picks and links to other gardeners' selections here.

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

Monday, December 15, 2014

Bloom Day - December 2014

We got our second solid rainstorm of the season last week, a so-call "Pineapple Express," which did indeed roar through our area like a freight train, complete with lighting effects in the form of blown electrical transformers visible on the horizon.  We were lucky, though, and didn't either lose power or suffer the mudslides that caused significant damage elsewhere.  It did leave some flowers in shambles but it was welcome nonetheless, even if we're still far from ending California's drought.

A few plants took the downpour in stride, most notably the Arbutus 'Marina,' still blanketed in blossoms (but no berries).

2 of our 5 Arbutus 'Marina,' all loaded with blossoms

The Arbutus blooms attract bees, hummingbirds and even butterflies

Other pink-flowered plants that held up well included:

Arctotis 'Pink Sugar'

Coleonema 'Sunset Gold' and Cuphea ignea 'Starfire Pink,' which seem impervious to all weather conditions

Leptospermum scoparium 'Pink Pearl'

There were troupers among the blue, yellow, orange and white-flowered plants as well.

Ageratum houstonium 'Blue Horizon'

Anemone 'Mona Lisa Deep Blue,' a Bloom Day cheat as it and several others were planted shortly before our last rainstorm

Angelonia augustifolia

Aster x frikartii 'Monch'

Polygala fruticosa 'Petite Butterflies'

Solanum xantii, a California native

Argyranthemum frutescens 'Butterfly'

Gaillardia aristata 'Gallo Peach'

Gazania 'New Day Yellow'

Osteospermum 'Blue-eyed Beauty,' another new acquisition

Aging blooms of Gomphrena haageana

Orange-flowered Osteospermum (no ID)

Cyclamen (no ID)

Hibiscus trionum, not blooming as profusely but still producing new flowers daily

Lantana 'Lucky White,' yet another new introduction

Osteospermum ecklonis '3D Silver'

Some plants were beaten down by the rain but are too pretty to entirely ignore this Bloom Day:

Camellia sasanqua (no ID)

Eustoma grandiflorum 'Borealis Blue'

Rudbeckia 'Cherry Brandy'

Schlumbergera truncata

That's it for this year-end Bloom Day wrap-up.  Visit our Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day hostess, Carol, at May Dreams Gardens to find what's blooming in her Indiana garden and links to other bloggers' posts.

It's also time to post a photo of what I have "In a Vase on Monday," in collaboration with Cathy at Rambling in the Garden.  As multi-tasking is mandatory during the busy holiday season, I'm including blooms picked from my garden in today's Bloom Day post.  Visit Cathy to find what she and other participating gardeners collected for their vases this week.

Today's vase contains 'Buttercream' roses, an Anemone, Aster x frikartii, Solanum xantii, and Erysimum linifolium

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