Monday, October 20, 2014

In a Vase on Monday: The Old & the New

This week I actually had a floral feature in mind in advance for the vase prepared in connection with the celebration sponsored each Monday by Cathy at Rambling in the Garden.  Mid-month, just after Bloom Day (of course), I noticed that my Senna bicapsularis 'Worley's Butter Cream' had begun blooming.  There are only blooms on a few branches but I was glad to see them.  I initially thought I'd accent them with Tagetes lemmonii but I didn't like the mix so round and round the garden I went, searching for appropriate plants to complement the pale yellow Senna.  Once again, I ended up with more than I'd expected.

Back view

While the Senna makes its first appearance this year, most of the other elements have shown up earlier in one vase or another.  In addition to the Senna, there is:
  • Abelia x grandiflora 'Kaleidoscope'
  • Asparagus densiflorus 'Spengeri' (at least that's what I think it is)
  • Gomphrena haageana
  • Grevillea 'Superb'
  • Nandina domestica (berries)
  • Rusellia equisetiformis

Senna bicapsularis is also know as Christmas Senna for its habit of blooming late in the year

The asparagus fern has suddenly produced zillions of tiny white flowers

The unidentified Gomphrena I picked up a few weeks ago was definitely worth the purchase - the flowers have a long vase life (I briefly considered reusing the blooms I picked for my vase 2 weeks ago but these are freshly cut)

Grevillea 'Superb' has more blooms than ever before - it appears to like our cooler temperatures

The Nandina berries pick up the oranges tones of the variegated Abelia 'Kaleidoscope'

The yellow form of Russelia equisetiformis was a last minute addition - the coral form also would have worked

I think it turned out rather well.  It took its place opposite the front door, where it provides a cheery welcome.

My post was delayed a bit this morning as my husband and I discovered that our cat, Pipig, was missing, throwing me, if not him, into a panic.  She's recently taken to streaking out of the house but she's never stealthy about it so she's quickly collected and tucked back inside but, last night, she apparently managed an undetected escape when I stepped outside around 9pm to water a plant just outside the door.  Much to her surprise - as well as mine - she ended up spending the night outside.  After a frantic search outside early this morning, I finally heard mewing and found her perched on the top of the grape arbor, looking nearly as upset as I was.  It took both my husband and I to get her down.  Luckily for both of us, she managed to avoid being eaten by one of the neighborhood coyotes or squirted by one of the skunks that wandered the garden last night.  After a hearty breakfast and a good wash, she's fast asleep in her own bed.

Pipig having a good rest after her great escape and eventual recapture

Please visit Cathy at Rambling in the Garden to see what she's got in her vase this week.  You'll also find links to other gardeners' creations.

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

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Foliage Follow-up - Celebrating Succulents

Summer here in Southern California takes its toll.  At this time of year, most of my plants are looking a little worse for the wear.  That's especially true this year as we're in a severe drought and, like many people, I've reduced my supplemental irrigation in response to pleas to conserve water.  2013 was our driest year on record and 2014 isn't shaping up to be much better.   Under these conditions, it's the perfect time to celebrate succulents, which generally get by with very little water or attention.  So, for this month's foliage follow-up, an event posted by Pam at Digging, I'm focusing on a few of my ever-expanding succulent collections.

I had very few succulents at my former house - all I can recall is a scattered planting of Aeonium 'Kiwi' and Calandrinia grandiflora (aka Cistanthe grandiflora) along the driveway.  Now I have succulents in pots large and small, as well as borders.

I put this first planter together 2 years ago this month, using a container that formerly functioned as a friend's fountain, and it remains one of my favorites to this day:

This planter contains Aeonium haworthii 'Kiwi,' Aloe 'Delta Delight,' Crassula 'Ivory Pagoda,' Dyckia 'Burgundy Ice,' Echeveria 'Violet Queen,' Graptoveria 'Fred Ives,' and Senecio radicans glauca

This next pot, which sits on the same patio, was planted in March of this year:

It contains Aloe deltoidonta, Cotyledon orbiculata (aka Pig's Ear), Senecio vitalis and 2 other succulents for which I have no record

Another, assembled that same month, sits along a path on the other side of the house:

This pot, and its twin on the other side of the path, contains Euphorbia 'Dean's Hybrid' (not a succulent), Graptoveria 'Fred Ives,' Portulacaria afra, and Rhipsalis ewaldiana

My biggest succulent planting effort yet is a long street-side border.  It's still a work in progress - there's a lot of blank space yet to fill.  I'll provide an update soon but I thought I'd highlight one recent addition, an Agave desmettiana 'Variegata,' acquired at a very reasonable price of $20 complete with 11 usable pups!  In these parts, that's what we call a bargain.

The mother plant is surrounded on the left and right sides by 2 of her pups

My thanks to Pam for hosting this celebration of foliage plants.  Visit her blog page to see what foliage is grabbing her attention right now and to find links to other gardeners' foliage picks.

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

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Bloom Day - October 2014

The monthly floral celebration that is Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day, hosted by Carol of May Dreams Gardens, has sneaked up on me yet again.  With most of my available time absorbed in preparing the former lawn area in the front yard for planting, I've given very little attention to tidying up my garden, which makes picture-taking more difficult.  In addition, almost one month into the fall season, I'd normally have refreshed my garden beds but there's been no time for much of that either.

I took a look at last year's October Bloom Day post and, while some of the same plants are blooming for me on schedule this year, others are no-shows.  In some cases, as with my Coreopsis, Eustoma, and Osteospermum, my plants have already exhausted themselves (although I think the Eustoma is gearing up for a return visit).  Other plants, like my Acanthus mollis 'Summer Beauty' and Argyrantemum, haven't made an appearance since spring, which I attribute to the reduced irrigation associated with our drought.  Still others, like Centranthus ruber and Agapanthus appear disinclined to make the unseasonably early appearances they made last year.

With those disclaimers, here are the plants currently blooming in my garden, listed alphabetically by genus.

Ageratum houstonianium 'Blue Horizon' has perked up since the weather began to cool

Anigozanthos 'Bush Gem Yellow' is still blooming

I recently discovered that this Bougainvillea, on the back side of the hedge I thought represented our property line, is officially on our property

Camellia sasanqua has produced just a few tentative blooms thus far

Cuphea ignea 'Starfire Pink' and Coleonema pulchellum 'Sunset Gold' have been in bloom most of the year

Duranta erecta, in a pot, has responded to haphazard watering by blooming more this year

Flowers produced by an Echeveria (no record of variety)

Gazania 'New Day Yellow' blooming at the feet of Mexican feather grass

One of my most recent acquisitions, red and orange Gomphrena haageana

Grevillea 'Superb,' seated in front of Nandina domestica, is suddenly producing abundant blooms

Hebe 'Wiri Blush,' sitting in front of Phormium 'Dark Delight,' has produced a new flush of flowers

I'd planned to move this Hemerocallis 'Spanish Harlem' but it won't stop blooming - it's on it's 3rd cycle this year

An unidentified Hoya I've had forever is blooming again despite repeated aphid infestattions

Lavandula multifida (aka fernleaf lavender) is hard to photograph but so are skipper butterflies

Leptospermum scoparium 'Pink Pearl' dried up a bit in the last heatwave

The flowers of Nandina domestica have been replaced by orange berries, which will gradually turn red (ignore the ugly air conditioning unit behind the shrub)

Pennisetum setaceum 'Rubrum' is doing its best to hide the bare dirt formerly covered by lawn behind it

Pentas lanceolata 'Kaleidoscope Appleblossom' has also produced a new flush of bloom

Plectranthus ciliatus 'Zulu Warrior' celebrates every October by bursting into bloom (although its foliage gets a little ratty)

Prostrate rosemary, almost always in bloom, plays host to bees all day

Rudbeckia 'Cherry Brandy' handled the recent heatwaves better than the rest of my Rubeckia, although the foliage on most of my plants doesn't look as good as this

Salvia leucantha (aka Mexican bush sage) is another reliable October bloomer

Salvia 'Mesa Azure' looks better in person than it does in this photo

If dead-headed every 2-4 weeks, Salvia 'Mystic Spires' keeps on blooming

This dwarf Tagetes lemmonii (aka Copper Canyon Daisy) has lost its bushy shape and flopped over but I still love the sweet-smelling flowers

That's it for this month's bloom wrap-up from my little corner of coastal Southern California.  Carol  at May Dreams Gardens can connect you with other gardeners from all over the world with blooms to share.

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

Monday, October 13, 2014

In a Vase on Monday: There's Always Something

Since the start of summer, I've wondered every week what I can possibly come up with to include in a vase for the post linked to the "In a Vase on Monday" meme hosted by Cathy at Rambling in the Garden.  For the last 2 weeks I featured bright red-orange-coral hues and I didn't want to do that again even though Grevillea 'Superb' is overachieving in the bloom department at the moment.  And, while the cooler temperatures have prompted a few Camellia sasanqua to bloom, there weren't enough to make a splash.  However, the Plectranthus ciliatus 'Zulu Warrior' by the back door has flowers aplenty so it was the obvious choice, even though I had no clue what to combine with it.  But, strolling through the garden turned up all the elements this simple bouquet needed.

Front view

Back view (I can't explain why I didn't trim that one sky-high Salvia stem before I started taking pictures except to say I had no more time to fuss)

In addition to the Plectranthus, I included:

  • Coleonema pulchellum 'Sunset Gold,' aka Breath of Heaven
  • Pentas lanceolata 'Kaleidoscope Appleblossom'
  • Salvia leucantha, aka Mexican bush sage

I grow Plectranthus 'Zulu Warrior' mainly for the foliage but, in fall, the flowers offer an added bonus

I also grow Coleonema 'Sunset Gold' mainly for the foliage but it does produce tiny pink flowers and the scent, when you run your hand along the foliage, is indeed heavenly

Pentas 'Kaleidoscope Appleblossom' has suddenly produced a healthy flush of bloom, although the flowers are somewhat smaller than they were earlier in the year

I added Salvia leucantha to accentuate the purplish tones of the Plectanthus

The flowers sit on the dining room table in a vase I think I picked up during my college days.

Please visit Cathy at Rambling in the Garden to see her creation this week.  A lot of other gardeners are joining in to flaunt their flora so, if you have a vase created from materials in your garden, link up!

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

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Back with a Vengeance

I haven't complained about my raccoon adversaries in one of my own posts for quite awhile.  For a time, my furry visitors did relatively little damage.  They didn't cease their visits - the fact that the shells in the top tier of the fountain are redistributed throughout the backyard most nights is a sure sign on their ongoing presence.  But they tempered the fury associated with their endless pursuit of grubs.  Maybe they found another food source for a time.  However, the brief detente is over.  Once I replanted the bed formerly occupied by the eucalyptus tree, apparently their favorite grub-hunting ground, their claws came out.

This was the evidence left behind after a visit sometime during the night of October 8th

I've done a number of things to deter them.  I put out a non-poisonous animal repellent.  I planted the bed with prickly Agaves.  I buried clay pot shards, points up, just below the soil's surface throughout the bed.  I added Euphorbia after Alison at Bonney Lassie said her local raccoons avoided it.  I initiated late night pre-bedtime patrols with a flashlight.  For a short while, I thought my approach was working.  There was evidence of digging but none of the plant-tossing and broad-scale digging shown above.  After cleaning up that incident, I added more tomato cages, replanted my plant shards, and refreshed my animal repellent.  All was calm - for one night.  Then this:

This was the scene on Saturday morning, October 11th - it didn't look too bad at first glance

On closer inspection, it looked worse

2 of the 3 new Euphorbia rigida were left with their roots exposed - too small perhaps to have any impact as a deterrent 

Things looked worse when I viewed the bed from the other direction

I'm glad my new silver Leucadendron was protected by a tomato cage

As was the Grevillea

Everything has been replanted - again.  The holes have been filled and tamped down.  Clay shards have been replaced.  I've given up on the repellent - I think the raccoons have become immune to it, or perhaps now believe that it signals the presence of grubs.  I've added more tomato cages and picked up gopher cages, inverting them and pinning them into the ground.  It remains to be seen whether that'll have an effect.

Upside-down wire basket designed to protect plants from gophers

Every morning, I check my plant bed - and the entire garden - with great trepidation.  What's really galling?  There's a wide expanse of freshly-turned dirt nearby, where my husband and I continue to clear the former lawn area of grass roots, sod netting, and rocks.  The raccoons ignore it.

Freshly turned, dig-able dirt, mere feet away - untouched!

My husband ignores my rants.  So does my cat.

Pipig doesn't care a whit about the raccoons

She just wants to be left alone to nap

Next up: the purchase of a motion-activated sprinkler.  It gets mixed reviews, especially with respect to raccoons, but I'm desperate.  I also bought milky spores to add to the soil to inhibit the development of the next generation of grubs - whether or not that works, it could take a year or more to determine.  If none of these things work, I may cover the entire area with rock boulders.

If you have a solution that's worked for you, please share.

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