Sunday, October 14, 2018

Falling into Fall

As the saying goes "Fall would be my favorite season if it wasn't followed by winter." It may be mine anyway, at least here in Oakland with the warmer days and cool nights extending well into November. While the garden may not be as lush or bursting with the exuberance of spring, fall offers its own distinctive charms. And Fall is kind of a rest period. Yes, there's still weeding and trimming, fixing up some post spring/summer beds, but we've done most of the planting and can sit back and enjoy what our gardens have to offer. Today's garden photos reflect the diversity of the season but also a subtle shift from flowers to foliage as we inch our way to the colder months. And given my diverse garden, there are always delightful little surprises. This week it was my carefully nurtured Cypella peruviana bulb opening its first golden-orange flower. As they say, sometimes the hardest fought battles provide the sweetest victories.

Here's what all the fuss is about. Like Neomarica caerulea this Cypella has a patterned 'throat' to add that extra bit of interest. Unfortunately the flowers are very short-lived, often only a single day.

Begonia 'Illumination Apricot.' One last shot of my prolific bloomer. The whole series seems to provide vigorous bloomers, often smothering the foliage. No shy wallflower here.

Although the variegated foliage was the appeal of this Mini Bar Rose morning glory, I like the white rim on deep fuchsia-colored flowers. 

Speaking of 'mini', here's my Calibrachoa Mini-famous Double Rose plant. Like many things in my garden this year, it's blooming later than usual. You're never certain to get a second year's bloom out of Calibrachoas but this is year two of this little beauty.

Justicia betonica. I'm still in love with this tres, tres cool Plume flower. I'd not known of it until finding it a fellow enthusiast's plant sale and now it's nearly my favorite plant. Look at it full size to fully appreciate  the veining on its bracts. I kind of think of it as my 'albino justicia.'

Tried to catch the sun back-lighting this huge flower on my Oenathera 'Silver Blade.' This cross has perhaps the largest flower of any Mexican Evening primrose. And it's not often that you see a flower where every part of it is exactly the same color (as you find here).

Okay, okay, I should wait until the flowers on this Asclepias cancellata open but damn I swear they are opening in extreme slow motion. The flowers on this Wild Cotton milkweed are slightly unusual, forming five white 'tubes' with purple bases. Stiff, slightly curved leaves also distinguish this plant. A great plant for Monarchs.

We occasionally get asked at the nursery I work at "Do you have any plants that bloom year-round?" Uh, no. But actually that's not true. Two come to mind, one being this Gomphrena decumbens. It just goes on and on, as if oblivious to seasons or rain or, well, anything!

I'm still digging my new Salvia mexicana 'Danielle's Dream.' It seems to spend as much time with its fuzzy white bracts closed as open and sprouting two lipped pink flowers but that's fine with me.

Sesbania tripetii. It's about done blooming but couldn't resist one last shot of its glorious orange flowers. 

Eriogonum latifolium. Although E. grande rubescens and E. giganteum get all 'the press,' this charming and neater habit CA Buckwheat has made itself at home. I like some wildness in my garden - and there's plenty of that - but a plant that stays neat and compact has its own charm.

Lotus jacobaeus. This is the 'other' nonstop blooming plant in my garden. I remember when I mentioned to an experienced gardening friend 'Oh, my Black lotus seems fragile.'  He claimed his grew almost like a weed and was never out of bloom. Lo and behold that's what mine has done. Bees love it so am glad to have flowers for them in the cooler months.

Another 'almost there' shot, this of my smooth and speckled leaved Billbergia. The flower spike is all yellow bracts for now but soon will open sprays of multi-colored flowers.

Nandina 'Firepower.' It's now acquiring the vivid reds that lend it its variety name. This is a dwarf heavenly bamboo shrub, only getting to 30" tall and wide.

Two new additions to the garden, nearly mature specimens of Birdsnest Fern here above and the delightful Kangeroo Paw fern below. btw, both can be grown indoors. 

I'm sometimes asked to photograph whole beds, not just individual plants. Here's a photo of the main walkway, taken from the vantage point of the back apts towards the street. There's a 2' wide bed on the right and a foot wide ledge on the left where I keep a collection of potted plants.

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Back on Track

Well, after a 3 week absence due to Outlook email problems - now thankfully resolved - I'm back up and running with my garden blog. Things keep progressing in the garden - there's always a surprising amount going on in the fall - but today a startling discovery. I already have the first of my spring bulbs up, in this case Ipheion, Ixia and Freesia. In early October! Of course it'll be two months before they bloom but still, they're up a month early.
Our cool weather has meant that many things are late and that includes morning glories, usually in bloom in July. Does anyone in Oakland remember when it was last 85 degrees? How about 80? Yep, a cool summer and our warm fall is beginning to look less likely as well. Not that that is a bad thing, given all the wildfires.
So here's a representative sampling of what is going on in my garden this fine early October.

A version of the 'shrimp plant.' The flower or should I say bract on this Justicia brandegeeana has a darker tone to the older specimen already in my garden. 

Salvia madrensis. One more shot, though far from perfect, of my true yellow Salvia madrensis. I say true yellow because there are so few yellow salvias and most have pale yellow flowers.

Ceanothus 'Gloire de Versailles.' This variety has very pale lilac flowers that at the right time are lightly fragrant. It's more of a sprawler than dense upright ones like Julia Phelps. 

Begonia Nonstop Deep Salmon. This lovely begonia is a late starter but makes up for it with the loveliest flowers. 

Salvia chamaedryoides 'Marine Blue.' This delicate salvia isn't so much a spiller but rather here it's reaching out for more sun. It normally only gets a foot tall and the stems break easily but I love the color of its flowers. 

The purple part of this Arum pictum is the emerging spathe. It will open to form a curved semi-circular spathe with a round bulbous spadix in the center. Arums are widespread and ancient looking, which to me makes them immediately fascinating. Plus they are poisonous.

This is my newly cleaned and amended driveways bed. It is slowly acquiring more succulents, being one of the few sunny spots with room to plant. I mixed in a cool Sideritis at the front and a Dorycnium at the rear for complimentary drought tolerant foliage.

The green flower spikes of my Cunonia capensis (Butterknife tree) will soon turn a creamy white and become as fuzzy as a, well, as a bottlebrush tree's flowers. 

Though no longer in flower, I still find the foliage on this Corydalis 'Blue Line' to be delightful. Verdant green, highly lobed, dense, it makes its own presence felt. 

This plain - but curious - looking plant is a Synadenium grantii, a close relative of the the Euphorbia genus. It is supposed to acquire some red spotting as the weather cools and in the meantime I love the fat pink 'trunk.'

This little charmer is a Begonia Belleconia Soft Orange. It's a tuberous type that has a pale orangish-white center. Very curious but pretty.

Cuphea ignea Strybing Sunset. This cigar-type cuphea is just now coming into its own. 

I'd previously posted a photo of my Scabiosa Florist's Blue with a bee harvesting nectar. Here's a different type of honey bee diligently collecting nectar.

This photo of my Snapdragon Chantilly Peach makes the flower look redder than it actually is. Actually, the flowers do start out darker, then open up to a golden-orange color. Part of the deservedly famous Chantilly series.

Any guess what this Salvia is? If you guessed a variety of S. mexicana you'd be right (the fuzzy white bracts helped). This new pink, not purple, variety is called Danielle's Dream. Here the fuzziness of the bracts seem especially pronounced.

Rhodocoma capensis.  This Giant Cape restio is a lovely addition to any garden and looks fabulous when mass planted. I don't have that option so am growing a single specimen in a pot.

The little known Ruellia brittoniana - thanks to Barb Siegel for the specimen - produces inky purple flowers in great numbers in the fall. They remind me a bit of Salpiglossis flowers.

A relatively new variegated Coreopsis, this C. 'Tequila Sunrise' offers Polemonium-like foliage and eventually yellow flowers. It's a cross between C. grandiflora and lanceolata so hopefully has inherited the best qualities from each species.

Late or early? Some things are late this year but some are early. My Cornus florida is already showing fall color. A nice early October treat.

"Oh, behave!" Anyone that saw the Austin Powers movies remembers that line. Here my Correa Wyn's Wonder has not behaved, deciding to hug the ground and spread out like a ground cover, rather than acting as the shrub it is. That's okay. I'm used to it now and it does make a rather attractive ground cover.

Pelargonium 'Fireworks' is aptly named, with exuberant red and white flowers seeming to explode above the green foliage.

Here's the first of my Morning Glories to bloom, this one (Kikyo-zaki) grown from seed. It's supposed to have a white edging so we'll see what happens with future flowers.

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Falling into place

Hard to believe we're on the cusp of the Fall Equinox. Time flies, unless of course you're waiting for that Amazon package ...
Today more photos of my garden. It will soon have a new visitor, as my newly adopted cat will soon be transitioning to the outside. She'll love the garden. Pictures to follow.

Clematis Rooguchi. This fall blooming clematis nearly died in the late spring but now has rebounded vigorously and is putting out its first waxy purple flowers. 

Sedum Lemon Coral. This delicate looking but vigorous sedum is a popular item in our nursery. It mounds up to ~ 6" then spills over a container, low wall or hanging pot. Very versatile and a bit more forgiving about water than many succulents. Yellow, star-shaped flowers appear in summer.

Platycerium veitchii. This less common species of staghorn fern actually prefers some sun. It features slightly grayer leaves but in all other respects likes the same conditions as the more common staghorn. 

One more photo of my unusual Bigelowia nuttallii. What looks like fine golden 'hair' are actually the rayless flowers. You'd think that bees would have a very difficult time collecting pollen out of these slender 'tubes' but I've seen them on the plant so they must have found a way.

Hibiscus Cherie. The sun somewhat bleached out the color on this photo, as the flowers are considerably more orange than the golden tones seen here. Hibiscus are much favored by hummingbirds and moths.

Salvia madrensis. There aren't many true yellow-flowering salvias but this one, hailing from Mexico, puts out tall stems with opposing two-lipped canary-yellow flowers in the fall.

Rainbow bush may seem like an odd name for a succulent but this Portulacaria afra ‘Aurea’ is actually well named. You have the green and gold colors of the petals, then pink to red stems that stand out on this small sub-shrub (2-3'). It may be slow to flower but when it does, the pink flowers really stand out against the golden foliage. Very drought tolerant.

This slightly redder flowering form of Justicia brandegeeana is a recent addition to my garden. The common name Shrimp bush owes its name to the reddish bracts that look like the body of a shrimp. If you look closely you can see small white flowers emerging from each individual bract.

Though simple, I love the pure red flowers (and delicate foliage) on this morning glory relative called Cardinal Climber (Ipomoea sloteri). It has proved just as vigorous as other annual morning glories, a good thing given its pretty flowers and effortless climbing habit.

Tweedia and Scabiosa atropurpurea Florist's Blue. Though I didn't intentionally plant these together, I think they complement each other very well.

Though my Amorphophallus paeoniifolius hasn't yet produced its dazzling spathe, one bonus is its rough textured, pebbled stalk. Very coarse and rigid. Unlike any of my other species in this fascinating genus.

Not the best shot of my Salvia Marine Blue but you can see its vivid purple flowers, each containing a contrasting white blotch. Very pretty.

You kind of get a hint that a certain plant is fragrant when it's named Monardella odoratissima! And indeed this less common Coyote mint is one of the most fragrant, and sweetest smelling, of the entire genus. Same pretty purple flowers.

I never get tired of photographing my sticky monkey (Mimulus) flowers. They apparently cross pollinate very easily so new colors keep appearing.

Here's that same Scabiosa, showing off its rich lavender tones. Though sometimes known as Butterfly flower, it's equally popular with bees.

This new Justicia betonica features very cool green ribbed white bracts and pale pink flowers.

Begonia Torch. I love the dark foliage as much as the vibrant orangish-pink flowers.

This morning my climbing bromeliad looks like red birds in flight! It's loving its location.

Here's my front yard Sun King bed. It has a certain 'wild' look, especially with the Epilobium canum having run amok.

Here's my Ceratostigma plumbaginoides, slowly filling in a front yard bed, around the base of a bird fountain. It's beginning its fall and winter bloom season.
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