Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Sweet Smell of Honeysuckle

Honeysuckle is such a popular garden plant - who doesn't love that delicious fragrance? - that it may surprise some to know that there is a whole world of honeysuckles out there, including some that aren't even fragrant. The genus Lonicera is comprised of 180 species scattered throughout the world. The most common one is Lonicera japonica (Japanese honeysuckle), with its familiar butter yellow and white flowers. Two European species are popular, L. periclymenum (Common or Dutch honeysuckle) and L. x americana. Both feature bright pink buds, with the latter opening to pale yellow flowers and the latter having a multitude of colorful varieties. Vining and fragrant, like most honeysuckles, they are sun lovers that have long bloom seasons. America is represented by L. semeprvirens, a honeysuckle native to the east coast. Called coral honeysuckle due to its vivid Coral-red flowers, the trumpet shaped flowers also feature golden throats. This is one of the non-fragrant species but is so lovely I wanted it in my garden anyway.
Want to go big? L. hildebrandiana (Giant Burmese honeysuckle) sports yellow flowers that can reach an incredible six inches. My neighbor has it growing up on top of his carport and it's quite the sight when in bloom. Want something rare and beautiful? Annie's Annuals is selling Lonicera pilosa 'Strybing Honeysuckle,' an exceptionally colorful species hailing from Mexico. Huge clusters of slender red trumpets open up to golden-orange flowers. Long blooming like many honeysuckles, it blooms from spring to fall.
And just when you think you know everything about honeysuckles, along comes the bush type L. caerulea. Its calling card is the fact that it produces edible blue berries! Wow.
So, after that quickie tour around the world of honeysuckles, here are some photos from my garden, capturing another moment in time.

Mitraria coccinea. This woody climbing shrub hailing from Chile offers up bright green foliage and in late winter through early summer little orange tubular flowers. Totally charming.

For such a small succulent, this peanut cactus sure puts out large showy orange flowers. 

It's the start of lily season in my garden. I have over two dozen different varieties and usually the first to bloom are the Asiatic types. Though they are not fragrant like the Orientals, the color range is fantastic. This raspberry-colored one is part of what's called the Summer Garden mix from Easy to Grow Bulbs.

The yellow flowers are my Calibrachoa Lemon Slice, while the red ones belong to Pelargonium Fireworks Red & White. Both are happy campers it would seem.

 CA native Phacelia viscida isn't long blooming but does offer up vivid gentian blue flowers when in bloom. They contrast nicely with everything around them.

Speaking of lilies (and unusual flowers), this Lilium Apricot Fudge has a funny name and odd flowers to match. Yes, that's a lily. It's an Asiatic type as well but very unique.

Neoregelia Morcom. This easy to grow bromeliad is on its way to acquiring its red-spotted golden form. One reason neoregelias are popular is that they're beautiful even when not in bloom.

Alstromerias may be common but they are nonetheless beautiful and always remind me of spring.

Here's another photo of my Thunbergia battescombei. Sometimes known as Blue Clock vine, it actually grows as a shrub, producing curving, flared trumpet-shaped flowers. One of the most intensely purple flowers out there!

I pruned my smoke bush back hard last fall and then held my breath. Though it was late leafing out this spring (so was everything), it has come back nice and bushy, with good leaf color and now the first wave of 'smoke' flowers.

One would be hard pressed to identify this plant as a Wisteria but that's what it is. W. 'Kofuji' is a dwarf bush-type wisteria. No blooms yet but I love the foliage and its sprawling habit. 

I don't seem to have much luck with regular (hybrid) Gladiolas but have discovered a wealth of species glads. Here's G. 'Halley' and its sporting its distinctive red splashed on white flowers.

Gazanias are a dime a dozen but this double form is a bit trickier to find. It's proven just as hardy and long blooming as the single types. 

Here's the more typical Thunbergia, this one T. 'Arizona Red', and as you can see it's taking over my east facing fence. It's supposed to offer the darkest of the 'red' varieties.

Cuphea oreophila. This much larger bush cuphea hails from Chiapis Mexico and can easily get to 5' tall and wide. Now that it's settled in, it's blooming nearly year round.

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Stop start stop

Spring, sort of summer, then winter again. Is that how it's supposed to happen this time of year? No matter and it sure beats sweltering heat! Want to extol the virtues of mallows this week. That in the widest sense is every genus in the Malvaceae family. Putting aside Hibiscus and Hollyhocks for now, I want to recommend four prominent members of this family: Lavatera, Anisodontea, Sphaeralcea and Malva. These shrubs, or in the case of Sphaeralcea munroana a ground cover, are tough, drought tolerant and very long blooming. Keep an eye out for my column on these four in an upcoming Sunday Chronicle.
Lots of photos today and since I used my zoom lens, more closeups. Don't forget to click to enlarge.

Daffodil Tahiti. I love the so-called double daffodils and this one features a ruffled orange center.

Sometimes a photo just naturally emphasizes the true color of a flower and that's the case here. Dianthus Super Trooper Orange is certainly a colorful variety.

The yellow flowers belong to Eriogonum Shasta Sulphur. Most CA Buckwheats offer up pink or white flowers but there are a few yellows too and this is one of the best.

One thing not always mentioned about milkweeds (in this case Asclepias curassivica) is that they are strong self-seeders. Thi8s specimen seeded itself in a pot holding my Pavonia and has made itself at home. 

Leucospermum Veldfire. Love this sugarbush as they are called in South Africa. It's managed to establish itself in a minimum amount of soil.

This unusual double lily is called Lilium Apricot Fudge. Not quite fully open but you get the sense of its unique shape. One of my favorites and an early bloomer to boot!

Laburnum anagyroides. This Golden Chain tree as it's called made a speedy recovery from being heavily pruned. To my amazement it's already blooming.

California maritime poppy. This perennial form of the CA poppy is a vigorous plant that spreads by underground rhizomes. Tough, long blooming and pretty. Pretty much all you want in a plant.

Drosanthemum micans. This version of Dew flower certainly offers intense colors, with the red border especially just jumping off the screen.

Neoregelia Marcon. This bromeliad is courtesy of Bromeliad Paradise on the east coast. It's suppose to get more golden as it matures.

Here is this week's flower ID quiz. Any ideas? Look at the leaves and not just the flower. No? It's an unusual Flowering maple - Abutilon vitifolium. I'd never seen before with lavender flowers. Very pretty!

Exbury azalea red. The Exburys as many know are the deciduous brightly colored hybrids, offering up oranges and golds not found in traditional evergreen azaleas. Plus red obviously. And too, they are sun lovers as opposed to the evergreen types, which are happier with a bit of shade.

I've not generally had a lot of luck with Kangaroo paws but this JoeJoe Yellow is blooming its heart out.

Welcome back Marmalade bush! I whacked it back pretty hard in the fall of 2017 and it's just now fully back and blooming.It was a good plan, as it had gotten kind of unruly. Possibly my favorite non-bulb in my garden.

Mitr4aria coccinea. This hard to find sub-shrub is noteworthy for its reddish-orange tubular flowers. And for the fact that it blooms in late winter/early spring. Lovely!

Now you see it and now you don't. My Philadelphus Covelo burst into bloom almost overnight! Though flush with flowers, this variety doesn't possess much fragrance and certainly not compared to the P. Belle Etoile.

Camellia Jury's Yellow. Yellow flowers in a camellia are hard to come by. This variety from Sonoma Horticulture Nursery is a delight.

Pelargonium Raspberry Twizzle. The name kind of says it all!

My Passiflora parritae x tarminiana 'Oaklandii' has taken over my apple tree. That's okay because the apples are useless and the white flowers brief. This passion flower cross is a prolific bloomer, from late spring till nearly XMas.

Aquilegia Flore Pleno. This red and yellow columbine is one of my favorites.

Good things come in small packages. This petite Aquilegia buergeriana 'Calimero' packs a picturesque punch! Delicate, soft colors but it has returned faithfully each of its 5 years.

Saturday, April 27, 2019

An interrupted spring

Well, first the month of March it rained nearly every day and that was followed by being down for the count health wise for the month of April. Springus interruptus indeed! The garden has continued on without me, as gardens will and now it's a pleasure to go out and stroll through all the changes. The following photos were taken today and while they won't rate as the most exciting, they will give an idea of some of the spring color. That said, I'm anxious to add some new spring annuals/perennials, to fill in a few empty spots.

Allium roseum. This sweet little 'fireworks' allium offers up umbels of delicate pink flowers. 

Not sure which Allium this is but it's similar in form to the roseum only white. Ornamental onions, at least these smaller types, are easy to grow and return each year.

Mimulus variety. Not sure which one this is, Jelly Bean Bronze perhaps, but no matter it's a beauty. 

I have quite a few Dutch iris in my garden and this pure yellow is one of them. 

Chantilly Purple snapdragon. The Chantilly series is very hardy. This is the start of year 3 for this beauty.

Papaver Drama Queen. Bicolored AND fringed? Sign me up!

If only this Narcissus 'Tahiti' would take me home ...

Tritonia variety. A vigorous genus, Tritonias multiply with ease in one's garden.

Though in too much shade to show off their magnificent colors, this Dutch Iris Bronze mix has put forth a show of ginger colors.

It looks like an azalea, it blooms like an azalea but it's actually an ... Azalea! An Exbury hybrid azalea that is, the deciduous type that offers up a stunning color range of reds, oranges and golds.

Leucospermum Veldfire. Still my favorite pincushion bush, with loads of gold 'down'  right before the flower opens.

You may not know it but you're looking at one of the rarest dogwoods in these parts. It's Cornus florida ssp Urbiniana. Its claim to fame is its pure white, dramatically recurved flowers. 

Iris douglasiana. Everybody's favorite CA native species iris. Easy, prolific once established, tough and adaptable, it's great for colonizing a part shady bed.

Nepeta tuberosa. This larger-sized catmint is just now adding its first flowers. Of course, bees, hummers and cats are all beating a path to its door.
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