Thursday, August 27, 2009

Fall/Not Fall

Is your garden confused? That may sound like an ad line for a garden therapist but in our Bay Area, many gardens aren't quite sure what month it is. Cool months from May through August for those on the coast side of the hills has meant a delay for plants loving the warmth. Sunflowers? Growing inch by inch rather than a foot a week. Dahlias? Late coming up. I'll still have lilies in bloom in September! Then again, my mind-of-its-own lycoris just sent up a solitary bloom spike, which yielded 5 beautiful golden flowers. My lotus is loving the sun, spilling over its container and ablaze with red "parrot's beaks." The fall leaning heleniums are in bloom, a Red Shades and a multi-colored Mardi Gras. One nice surprise: the biennial ipomopsis is blooming, offering tiny brilliant red trumpet-shaped flowers. Right beside it are two success stories -- a salpiglossis still blooming its heart out with both purple and yellow flowers off the same plant. And a yellow & purple flowering torenia, also blooming like crazy. I've tried several times in the past to grow these plants with very little to show for it.
Another sign of confusion? I have aquilegia still in bloom. In August. Plus, my Leprechaun's Gold columbine has new yellow & green foliage, so pretty! Another just-water-me-and-I'll-keep-blooming delight are the two agastache foeniculum (Anise hyssop). The bees love them and it keeps pumping out fuzzy purple flowers, no signs of letting up. One plant that has the season right is crocosmia, which is popping up all over the place. The hummers love them and having been converted to the joys of orange blossoms, the burnt orange crocosmias are a welcome sight. Speaking of orange, my marmalade bush is still blooming like crazy, attracting a steady stream of bees and hummers. I can stand two feet away and the Anna's hummingbirds will still come right up beside me to grab nectar from the bush.
I'm not sure if this would qualify as "plant of the month" but my Leycesteria bush is beginning to pop out flowers. They have interesting pink bracts and white flowers. Vertical panicles of this beautiful combo dangle from the branches, looking all the world to me like miniature pagodas. Plus the flowers are sweet smelling. One of my all time favorite shrubs and it's tough too.
I'm anxiously waiting on the three varieties of toad lily (tricyrtis) that have foliage and in one case tiny buds. I love their showy, "painted" flowers.
In the Ace nursery where I work we still have a great selection of plants. You'd almost think it was still spring. And so the temptation continues to bring more plants home, to add to Norm's Nursery. And work has begun on renovating my morning sun back yard, so shady treats are on my radar. Much of the work to begin the gardening year is behind us but now we head towards fall and soon it will be time for pre-winter projects. But for now, we can enjoy the not-spring/not-summer season in our garden, luxuriating in whichever plants decide to reward our attentions with colorful displays.
 
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