Friday, August 29, 2014

My favorite plant this week: Pentas lanceolata 'Kaleidoscope Appleblossom'

When the garden as a whole is not looking its best, the plants that sail through the pressures that beat most down really shine.  At present, one such plant is Pentas lanceolata 'Kaleidoscope Appleblossom.'   This plant is more resilient than any of the other Pentas I've grown.  Pentas lanceolata is classified as a semi-tropical shrub but it's usually grown as an annual.  I planted this one in June 2013 and it's still going strong.




My plant is almost 2 feet (60 cm) tall and wide, which is on the upper end of the spectrum quoted for this variety.  Mine receives partial shade but the species can handle full sun.  However, it can't handle freezing temperatures and is best suited to USDA zones 10a-11.  Although it can tolerate dry conditions, as my plant has, the stress may make it prone to infestations of spider mites.

The flowers attract butterflies and hummingbirds.  I dead-head it regularly to keep the flowers coming.  It produces blooms almost year-round.




The flowers also do very well in a vase.

Vase containing Penta lanceolata, photographed in late October 2013


Pentas lanceolata 'Kaleidoscope Appleblossom' is my pick as my favorite plant this week.  Please visit Loree at danger garden to view her choice as this week's favorite plant.


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


Thursday, August 28, 2014

When things come together just right

By mid-summer, most gardeners I know - at least those who garden in hot, dry climates like mine - become discouraged.  I'm no exception.  Most of my grass is dead.  Numerous plants have dropped dead, some seemingly overnight.  An army of disgusting worms attacked my Bush Lupine and ate half the plant before I sent them packing.  The raccoons returned and, in addition to stealing the filter out of our fountain and running off with it, they declared an end to our detente and tore apart the beds in the side yard looking for grubs.  And it's still too warm to begin fall planting - even if that didn't prevent me from indulging in the purchase of a dozen Rudbeckia last week - so I have itchy fingers

I deal with the situation by putting on blinders to avoid seeing the garden as a whole, while focusing on practical problems: modifications to the irrigation system, mulching, hand-watering, pruning, and researching drought-tolerant plants and new ways to thwart raccoons.  However, while planting 3 of the Rudbeckia I couldn't stop myself from buying, I realized just how good at least one of my beds looks right now.

Wide view of the bed

Side view of the same space



This bed seldom shows up in my photos.   On the southwest side of the house, it's partially hidden behind our Magnolia tree.  I've added and subtracted plants from this bed at intervals in the 3 years I've tended this garden.  While some of these are still immature, the bed nonetheless finally feels as though it's coming together.  I love the mix of mid-tone and chartreuse greens, accented by yellow, orange and red touches.  The yellow color is provided by Abelia 'Kaleidoscope' and Coprosma 'Evening Glow' as well as the flowers of Rudbeckia 'Prairie Sun' and Gaillardia 'Mesa Peach.'  Orange and red tones are provided at various times of the year by the berries on the Nandina, 2 varieties of Hemerocallis, and Gaillardia 'Goblin,' which self-seeds freely.

The Calliandra, Coleonema, Nandina and Agapanthus in the background came with the house but I've added most of the rest of the plants.

The Grevillea 'Superb' planted last November is developing lots of new buds

Gaillardia 'Goblin' is flowering less profusely than last year but still provides a lot of color

The new Rudbeckia 'Prairie Sun' mixes well with Abelia 'Kaleidoscope' and Coprosma 'Evening Glow'

Coprosma 'Evening Glow' is a relatively slow grower

One of 5 Lomandra longifolia 'Breeze' in this bed, this plant adds an airy quality

Duranta erecta 'Gold Mound' if the label that came with it can be believed

Salvia 'Mesa Azure'

And a closer look at the Rudbeckia that pulled everything together



Now, my only wish is that the lawn surrounding the bed wasn't so hideous.  I think the answer is to pull the front lawn out.  Plans are underway...


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

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Almost Wordless Wednesday - My New Butterfly Magnet

Old butterfly magnet:




My new butterfly magnet - the flowers of Senecio fulgens:

Western Tiger Anise Swallowtail (thanks for the correction, Jane!)


Gulf Fritillary


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

Monday, August 25, 2014

In a Vase on Monday: Recent Acquisitions

I've whined about the shortage of flowers in my garden quite a bit of late.  Last week, thinking ahead about what I could use to create a vase for the Monday meme sponsored by Cathy at Rambling in the Garden, I was at a loss.   Although some plants in my garden have begun a second bloom cycle, there was nothing that I hadn't used more than once already this summer.  Then I visited my local garden center, looking for Sedum, and came home with a dozen 4-inch pots of Rudbeckia.  On a second tour of another nursery with a friend, I picked up 3 more Rudbeckia.  So, this week's vase features - you guessed it - Rudbeckia.




This particular Rudbeckia was labeled R. 'Zahara' but I believe it's actually Rudbeckia hirta 'Sahara.'  The 3 plants I brought home went into a pot, filling in a hole in the border around our fountain.  The semi-double flowers range in color from pink to burgundy to caramel.




Here's what went into the vase:

  • 1 stem of Pennisetum glaucum 'Purple Majesty' (reused from last week's vase)
  • 5 stems of Rudbeckia hirta 'Sahara' in a range of colors
  • 2 stems of Solenostemon scuttellarioides 'Fire Fingers Coleus'
  • 2 stems of Solenostemon scuttellarioides 'Honey Crisp Coleus' (reused from last week's vase)
  • 3 sprigs of Thymus serpyllum


The beautiful Rudbeckias, photographed from above

Close-up of Coleus 'Fire Fingers'

Photo of the back of the vase, highlighting the leftover Coleus 'Honey Crisp'

Close-up of thyme



The colors in this vase, which echo those I used last week, have an autumn feel.  I know many gardeners are still holding onto summer, so here's a second vase with a more summer-like disposition, although it also features one of my new Rudbeckias, R. hirta 'Prairie Sun':

Broken stem of R. 'Prairie Sun' in a bud vase with Abelia 'Kaleidoscope' and more leftover Coleus 'Honey Crisp'

Close-up of R. 'Prairie Sun'



And here are the vases in their final positions:

Back in the foyer yet again

Adding sunshine to the living room



What have you brought inside to brighten your household space?  Please visit Cathy, the sponsor of the "In a Vase on Monday" meme to see what she's created.  You'll also find links to other gardeners' creations.


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

Friday, August 22, 2014

My favorite plant of the week: Senecio fulgens

Now that, thanks to Denise at A Growing Obsession, I have a name to attach to the robust succulent planted in a birdbath-style container in my dry garden, I can give it the acclaim it deserves as one of my favorite plants.  It's hard to name a plant as your favorite if you don't even know its genus.




I picked up the unlabeled Senecio fulgens a few months ago because I was attracted to its foliage.    Its leaves and stems are a chalky blue-green color.  Some on-line sources reference a purple flush on the undersides of the spoon-shaped leaves but I've seen no signs of this on my plant.




When I bought the plant, there were no flowers or flower buds.  Flower color wasn't a factor in my purchase decision.  But, when the plant began blooming a few weeks ago, the red-orange color of the flowers was impossible to miss.  New blooms seem to appear daily and there are lots of buds still forming.




Although I had no idea what color flowers it might produce when I planted it, it turned out that the floral color of the Senecio neatly echoes the color of other succulents in the container, most notably Kalanchoe daigremontiana 'Pink Butterflies' and the red edge of Agave 'Blue Glow.'  It also picks up on the foliage color of Coprosma repens 'Plum Hussey' in the background.




My plant, which  I purchased in a 4-inch pot, has grown to approximately 12 inches (30 cm) in height.  According to on-line sources, it should get no taller than 18-24 inches (46-61 cm), although specimens as tall as 3 feet (91 cm) have been observed.  Regular trimming is suggested to keep it from becoming leggy.

While it prefers full sun, it can take a little shade.  It needs good drainage and it can't tolerate frost.  Hailing from the eastern areas of South Africa, it's suited to USDA zones 10-12.

Senecio fulgens is my favorite plant of the week.  Please visit Loree at danger garden, our host for the weekly favorite plant post, to see her pick this week and to find links to other gardeners' selections.


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

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

If your bathtub is the ocean...

Then you need a really big rubber duck.  The world's largest rubber duck sailed into the Port of Los Angeles this morning.  Created by a Dutch artist, he's the mascot and one of the main attractions of the Tall Ships Festival that kicked off this afternoon in San Pedro.  Although I was watching out for him this morning, I missed his early arrival and he was kept in hiding until noon, when I saw him heading out toward the Angel's Gate lighthouse to meet the incoming tall ships and lead their parade into the harbor.  I have no idea how you hide a bright yellow rubber duck 6 stories tall, 110 feet long, and 85 feet wide but festival organizers managed to keep him out of the view of my binoculars, as well as out of sight of harbor visitors.

The duck appeared, heading toward Angel's Gate, just before noon (PDT)

The duck turns to lead the tall ships assembled just outside the harbor's gate


We counted 6 tall ships in the harbor this afternoon - a total of 12 are scheduled to participate in the festival

Two of the tall ships are shown here moving through the canal beyond the duck

The most visible of the tall ships had red sails, visible just behind the duck in this photo


The pictures shown above were taken from our backyard, about 2 miles from the harbor, using my point and click camera.  The duck and the ships were easier to view using binoculars then through my camera's view-finder but, without the bright yellow duck to orient me, I'm not sure if I could have pinpointed the tall ships as they progressed through the harbor.

The Tall Ships Festival in Los Angeles continues through Sunday.


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

Monday, August 18, 2014

In a Vase on Monday: Floral Accents

There REALLY isn't a lot of floral color in my garden right now.  Yes, there are a few - mostly short - flowers here and there but, with the exception of the Coreopsis 'Redshift,' there's nothing much available in sufficient quantity to make an impact in a vase.  Most of the flowers also don't coordinate well with one another.  I considered constructing a vase solely with foliage material but, after cutting a mass of colorful coleus 'Honey Crisp,' I was able to find a few flowers that provided a nice floral accent to the variegated foliage of the coleus (Solenstemon scuttellarioides).


Close-up of Coleus 'Honey Crisp' showing the peach, yellow and green upper surface and its pink and purple undersides



The first floral accent I hit on was Gaillardia grandiflora 'Goblin,' which is very short.  The taller look-alike Gaillardia 'Arizona Sun' hasn't reappeared this year, which is unfortunate.  After a couple rounds of our property, I also picked up:

  • Gaillardia 'Mesa Peach' (2 stems) - short and barely visible in the photo at the top of the post 
  • Helianthus annuus 'Lemon Queen' (1 stem) - planted late from seed in the vegetable garden, this appears to be the only 'Lemon Queen' to show her pretty face
  • Pennisetum glaucum 'Purple Majesty' (1 stem)
  • Tanacetum parthenium 'Aureum' (2 stems) 
  • Zinnia (2 stems) - planted from seed, I have no record of the small flowered variety that has survived our water limitations

Close-up of Helianthus 'Lemon Queen' and Pennisetum 'Purple Majesty'

Close-up of the 2 small Zinnia flowers, surrounded by Gallardia 'Goblin' in flower and in bud



Once again, the bouquet landed in the front foyer to greet everyone who comes through the door.




Please check in with Cathy at Rambling in the Garden to see her floral creation and to find links to photos of bouquets created by other participating gardeners.


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