Saturday, March 28, 2015

Favorite Plants this March

I'm a little late with this post but there's been a lot to do in the garden this month and blog posts must be squeezed in.  Despite the unseasonable heat we've experienced this month, new plants and flowers keep making an appearance, which has also made choosing a favorite plant more difficult.  This week I've given preferential treatment to the Ixia hybrids growing in my backyard borders, in part because I don't think they'll hold up as long as some of the other contenders.

Ixia photographed in my backyard border


Ixia, also known as corn lilies and wand flowers, are native to South Africa and grow from corms.  They do especially well in hot, dry climates like mine but they can grow in colder climates if they're pulled up and stored during the winter months. Some growers recommend pulling them up in areas that receive summer rain as well; however, with good drainage, mine don't seem to have a problem with the irrigation they receive in summer.

They have upright grass-like foliage and look best grown in groups.

In a warm, dry climates they may remain in place until they become so crowded that flowering diminishes


Flowers may be cream, yellow, red, orange or pink and they often have center splotches that contrast with the petals.   All those I've seen in garden centers have been offered in mixed assortments.  Interestingly, all those I planted in 2013 have bloomed in shades of cream and yellow while all those I planted last year, also labeled as a mixture, have bloomed with magenta petals.

I haven't seen any orange or red blooms yet!


The Ixia hybrids are my favorite plants this week.  I'm joining Loree at danger garden in flaunting this month's favorites.  You can see her March favorites here.  Earlier this month, I featured 2 other favorites, Arctotis hybrid 'Pink Sugar' and Pelargonium peltatum 'Crocodile.'

You can read my March 6th post about Arctotis 'Pink Sugar' here

And my March 13th post about Pelargonium peltatum 'Crocodile' can be found here


All material © 2012-2015 by Kris Peterson for Late to the Garden Party

Friday, March 27, 2015

Plant Shopping Extravaganza

As mentioned in my last post, I did some serious plant shopping last weekend.  Although I visited more nurseries and garden centers in a single day on another occasion, I haven't bought as many plants - or spent as much money - in a single day as I did on this trip.  I left the house before 8am and didn't get home until after 6:30pm.  I was spurred on in part by my desire to find plants to fill the space left by the recent removal of a tree in the backyard border and in part by my ongoing search to find plants to fill the remaining blank spots created when we removed our front lawn.  I was also driven by a sense of urgency to get my spring planting done as soon as possible in light of the high temperatures we've already experienced this March.  The only things that kept my spending in check were time constraints and my friend's admonition that her car had only so much room.

Our first stop was Seaside Gardens in Carpinteria.  In addition to offering a great selection of California-friendly plants, it has wonderful demonstration gardens.  The first thing we saw when we got out of the car was a hummingbird flitting among the flowers of Grevillea 'Ned Kelly.'

The hummingbird was not at all intimidated by the fact that 2 women were standing 2 feet away aiming cameras in his direction 


A busload of ladies from the Red Hat Society arrived shortly after my friend and I so I didn't get many pictures of the demonstration gardens during this visit but you can find photos of my November visit to Seaside here.

Views from Seaside's various demonstration gardens

It looked to me as though our earlier heatwave may have already taken a toll on the California poppies' show


As we visited on the second day of spring, Seaside was especially well stocked.



There were some gorgeous plants up front that made my heart flutter but one look at their price tags nearly made my heart stop.  None of these plants came home with me.

Clockwise from upper left, all costing over $100 in nursery pots: large specimens of Grevillea 'Peaches & Cream,' Leucadendron 'Safari Goldstrike,' Leucospermum cordifolium, and a plant I didn't get the name of Leucospermum reflexum (thanks for the ID, Evan!)


I left with 9 plants but there were several others I've had some misgivings about leaving behind.

Clockwise from upper left: Veltheimia bracteata 'Yellow Comet,' Halimium lasianthum, Petrea volubilis, Lonicera japonica 'Mint Crisp,' Boronia megastigma, and Leucadendron 'Jester'


After lunch, we headed back south, getting off the freeway and turning east upon reaching Ventura.  About 15 minutes later in the town of Casita Springs, we found our next target: Australian Native Plants Nursery.  This nursery is generally open only by appointment but my friend had made arrangements for the stop earlier and the gate was open when we arrived.



My friend was immediately entranced by the beautiful purple-flowered shrub next to the entrance, which I recognized as a Prostanthera.

I initially thought this must be Prostanthera linearis but, after checking ANP's website, my guess is that it's the non-variegated form of P. ovalifolia


Meanwhile, I was attracted by a large Acacia on the other side of the gate, as an Acacia was on my list of prospects for my back border.

I didn't ask which Acacia this was as it was too tall for my needs


As this is a true nursery, there weren't many flashy plant displays but there were plants stacked on tables, plants lined up in rows, and plants in hoop houses, some of which were open to visitors and others which were not.



A number of plants caught my eye but were ultimately left behind, at least this time.

Left to right: Hakea petiolaris, Leucadendron discolor, and Grevillea rivularis


Jo, the owner, located all the plants I asked for.  As I was checking out with 5 plants, my friend and I heard a frog croaking at our feet.  We never did see the frog but we did see this:

Grevillea 'Pink Midget,' not currently available


After we squeezed this round of purchases into my friend's car, we were off again, headed to one of my favorite nurseries, Sperling, in Calabasas.  To my knowledge, the property is still for sale but on this early spring day, it was well-stocked and crowded with visitors.  As we'd gotten caught up in a hideous traffic jam on our way south and it was already late afternoon, I didn't linger to take more than a few photos before filling my cart with 21 more plants.

Metal goats appear to be popular!

The succulent in the photo on the far right is Euphorbia xantii (aka Cherry Blossom Euphorbia)


Here's a different view of my purchases.  I managed to get almost all of these in the ground before the current heatwave struck.

The photo on the left shows the entire collection of 35 plants.  The photo on the top right shows Callistemon 'Cane's Hybrid,' Helleborus 'Anna's Red, and Leucospermum cordifolium (yellow form); the middle photo shows Ceanothus arboreus, Correa 'Wyn's Wonder,' Dianella tasmanica 'Tasred,' Digiplexis 'Illumination Flame,' Heuchera maxima, Leucadendron 'Safari Sunset' and Phomium 'Ed Carmen' (which seems more yellow than the photos I see on-line, possibly due to its youth); and the bottom photo shows Argyranthemum frutescens, Centaurea 'Silver Feather' (which may require more water than the tag led me to believe), Gazania 'New Day Yellow,' Lagurus ovatus (Hare's Tail grass), and Osteosperum 'Zion Copper Amethyst.'  Somewhere in the collection is also a one-gallon container of Grevillea 'Peaches & Cream' but even I can't pick it out in my photos (behind the Callistemon maybe).


Hopefully, if the heatwave passes within 2 days as expected, all will survive.  I'll show photos of the plants in the garden when I get a chance.


All material © 2012-2015 by Kris Peterson for Late to the Garden Party

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Almost Wordless Wednesday: Spring Fights a Hostile Takeover

Summer is already muscling in on Spring in Southern California with a second heatwave due to arrive tomorrow.  But Spring still wants to have its moment.  In evidence, I present the following photos.

The first of these were taken at Descanso Gardens in La Cañada Flintridge by a friend of mine (who wishes to remain anonymous) last Tuesday as our first heatwave came to a conclusion.






The same friend and I swept through 3 nurseries on Saturday - Seaside Gardens in Carpenteria, Australian Native Plants Nursery in Casitas Springs, and Sperling Nursery in Calabasas.  The coming heatwave be damned, I came home with record booty.  (Details to come.)




All material © 2012-2015 by Kris Peterson for Late to the Garden Party

Monday, March 23, 2015

In a Vase on Monday: Florapalooza

Despite last week's heatwave, there's a lot blooming in my garden at present.  While a few things, like the daffodils, perished in the heat, new blooms are steadily appearing - apparently spring is not going to allow summer to take over the garden quite yet.  I noticed that more Hippeastrum had bloomed in my street-side bed last week and I'd targeted one of those for this week's "In a Vase on Monday," the meme hosted by Cathy at Rambling in the Garden, but it was already past its prime when I went to cut it.  Nonetheless, there were a lot of other flowers to choose from and, because another heatwave is on its way, I cut more than I usually would and ended up with 3 vases.  A florapalooza!

The 3 finished vases


Most of my Alstroemeria are blooming.  They provided the focus of my first vase.


This vase contains:

  • Alstroemeria in varying pink shades (no ID)
  • Argyrantemum frutescens 'Butterfly'
  • Coleonema album 
  • Leucanthemum x superbum, ruffled variety

While some of the pink Alstroemeria, like this one, have blue undertones, others are closer to coral pink, but as all had touches of white and yellow, I used those colors in an effort to harmonize the collection 

This is the first of my Leucanthemum to bloom


My Eustoma grandiflorum 'Blue Borealis' is blooming for its second season and, since I'd already lost a few to the last heatwave, I decided to cut this one as the centerpiece of a purple-hued bouquet.  It turned out a bit too heavy on the purple and I think the Eustoma got lost in the mix.  

I should have substituted more white Coleonema for some of the purple Limonium


In addition to the Eustoma, I used:
  • Anemone coronaria (it didn't respond well to the heat either and the bloom included here is a pale imitation of the earlier flowers
  • Argyranthemum frutescens, pale yellow variety (no ID)
  • Cerinthe major
  • Coleonema album
  • Ixia (aka African corn lilies), yellow and magenta varieties
  • Lavandula multifida (aka fernleaf lavender)
  • Limonium perezii (aka Statice)

The blue Eustoma isn't as large as the blooms the plants produced last year but it still provides a good facsimile of a blue rose

Coleonema album, shown here with fernleaf lavender, is available in profusion this time of year 

I always forget about the Ixia in my garden until they bloom - I pulled them out of the first vase because they got lost but they don't really work in this one either

The paper-like flowers of Limonium perezii are often used in dried flower arrangements


The last vase, just 3 inches tall, contains leftover tidbits of Coleonema, Pelargonium peltatum 'Pink Blizzard' and dwarf Fuchsia 'Windchimes Neon & White.'



The last vase ended up in the guest bathroom.  The first one landed on the dining room table and the purple vase is sitting in the front entryway.

Unfortunately, the fragrance of the Coleonema (aka Breath of Heaven) doesn't quite mask the musty scent of the Leucanthemum but perhaps that will fade 

The Eustoma shows up a bit better here


I thought the purple arrangement looked better in the photo taken in the bright light of the entryway than it did in the photo taken in the kitchen.  Pipig, however, wasn't impressed.

Or perhaps she was just affronted by the attention the flowers were getting when she knows the focus should be on her


Visit Cathy at Rambling in the Garden to see what she's found for her vase this week.  Link up if you have a vase to share!


All material © 2012-2015 by Kris Peterson for Late to the Garden Party

Friday, March 20, 2015

Spring Stroll

To celebrate the official start of spring, I took a stroll of the neighborhood.  I used to walk the area early most every morning but, when my knee started acting up, the orthopedist recommended I substitute a stationary bike for walking.  I still miss those daily walks and as I've also lost track of what's going on in the neighborhood, I decided to turn a deaf ear to the orthopedist and celebrate spring by taking a stroll with my camera this morning.

The trees across the street have leafed out - fortunately, they're just out of the line-of-sight of my foliage-averse neighbor (whose house can be shown just above another neighbor's Nerium oleander on the right)

The neighbors across the street are partially hidden behind Alyogyne huegelii (Blue Hibiscus) and what I think is Iris sibirica 'Butter & Sugar'

The next house is almost completely hidden by hedges but this wonderful Leucospermum makes an appearance every spring

I've killed 2 of these but think I have to try growing it again

The owners of the house on the other side of the street have replaced some of their shrubs with succulents.  I'm in love with that variegated Aloe (Aloe arborescens 'Variegata'?)

I don't recall noticing the large coral tree (Erythrina) just up the street before - how can that be?  Perhaps it's because I always focus on the even larger pine tree next to it.

It's impossible to miss the vibrant pink Bougainvillea surrounding this house.  I like the Bougainvillea best when it tumbles down the slope, as shown on right.


Rather than continue along the neighborhood road, I hiked up to the entrance to our neighborhood, which has been undergoing a mini-renovation since the city removed several trees along the main road as part of a 4-month project to repave that road and improve safety.  The left turn into our neighborhood used to be a bit scary as we faced a blind curve and drivers tend to come along from the other direction at speeds well above the posted limits (despite regular speed traps set by the sheriff's department).

The area sloping down from the main road has been cleaned up, leaving mostly succulent plants.  That huge white building on the other side of the main road is a house (even if it looks as though it could pass for city hall).

The area along the main road was recently replanted with Bougainvillea, Limonium, Cistanthe grandiflora (formerly known as Calandrinia) and Hesperaloe - all very drought tolerant selections


Walking back the way I came, I noticed things I haven't seen when driving the same route.

The California pepper trees (Schinus molle) are loaded with berries

This street-side planting of an ornamental banana tree and Agave attenuata looks great despite being irrigated by nothing more than run-off from the house above

One house on my route is surrounded by remarkably healthy Hibiscus shrubs (two years ago they were infested with white fly so I was impressed by their current condition)


Moving back along the neighborhood road from the point I'd veered off, I was confronted by the weed-strewn property that was once framed with roses and Pelargoniums.

This house makes me sad as it had a vibrant garden before it was sold.  I have no doubt the new owners plan extensive renovations but did they have to clear the property of life a year in advance of the beginning of work?  

Although this is a poor photo, I think this is Aesculus californica, a California native buckeye

The house across the street has planted a Jacaranda - I look forward to those beautiful (if messy) blooms

All the boulders surrounding the next house look like this - there was no attempt to give them a more natural look by burying their bases

The renovation of this house, which started about the time we moved in, is finally complete.  It's far larger than this photo suggests, a split-level home, sitting on close to 2 acres that slopes into a canyon

Cistanthe (Calandrinia) is already in bloom in this front garden

Opuntia pads were planted in front of this house (to create a barrier?).  The parent plant stands behind an electrified gate in front of a Spanish-style house.


Just beyond this point, there's a road that used to connect to other neighborhoods.  Many years before we moved here, it was closed following a community vote.  This has contributed immeasurably to the relative peace of our neighborhood by eliminating commuter traffic.

Ugly yellow concrete pylons prevent cars from entering our neighborhood but it's possible to walk through to the neighborhood beyond

Echium lines both side of the former street.  I briefly wondered if I could get away with digging up the Echium seedling on the lower left.


On the other side of the closed road is an empty lot.  The house that once occupied this double lot reportedly burned down many years ago and the land has been for sale ever since.  I'd thought to walk the space to see what kind of view it has but stopped as the weeds are currently waist-high in spots.

There are tall plants of what I beleive must be some kind of Borage all over the property, as well as lupine sprouting up through what must have been a driveway


Slightly further down the road, I noticed that a "for sale" sign was up in front of the house of one of the most active gardeners in our neighborhood.  We'd received notice that she and her husband planned to move but I was sad to see the sign anyway.  Her garden is beautiful and I really hope another gardener buys the property.

The gardener terraced her frontyard after she moved in 14-15 years ago

A few of the plants occupying her front garden

The 2 most magnificent garden specimens are on display here
In addition to a 100-year old pine, she's got the largest Leucospermum I've ever seen


The street level rises again from this point, as I headed back home.

This slope is covered by ivy and fronted with palms, Agapanthus, Hemerocallis, Phormium and Strelitzia

This is one of 2 "spur roads" that stem off from our neighborhood road

I think these shrubs are Cassia didmobotrya (said to smell like popcorn)

My neighbor's driveway with our trees shown in the background


I hope spring is in the air wherever you are, even if there's still snow on the ground.  We're having a span of pleasant spring-like weather here, although forecasters are predicting yet another warm-up in the 90F (32C) range for the middle of next week.  However you're spending the weekend, enjoy it!


All material © 2012-2015 by Kris Peterson for Late to the Garden Party