Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Ode To Spring Bulbs

There's something so simple and elemental about spring bulbs that it's hard to put their joy into words. Once planted, they return year after year, popping up like little phoenixes, each according to their own schedule. We never know until they return whether they are coming back, how many there'll be, color variations. They offer their brilliant colors, attract all manner of pollinators, everything from a multitude of bees, hummingbirds, even flies. As an amateur photographer, I find that sometimes photos give you a new perspective on flowers' charms. There are several close-ups in these photos and I imagine that this is sort of what a pollinator might see. It's easy to understand how the Dutch at one time prized tulips so intensely that bulbs were trading for the price of houses.
The recent sun has really kicked blooming into high gear. Heady days for the spring palette!
The photos are:
Top line: Kennedia nigrans -- a fabulous vine with contrasting black & gold flowers
2nd line left: Tulipa clusiana -- charming little herbaceous tulips
2nd line right: Boronia megastima -- one of the most fragrant plants you'll ever encounter
3rd line left: Salvia africana-lutea -- odd but lovely ginger-colored flowers
3rd line right: Ranunculus -- I love the peony form of these flowers. Texture!
4th line left: Chaenomeles -- flowers first on bare stems!
4th line right: 'Spoon' osteospermum -- lots of fun & one that kids love
5th line left: Magnolia Alexandrina -- close-up of this lovely large flower
5th line right: Magnolia stellata -- I call these star magnolias 'finger' magnolias
6th line left: Ixia bellendini -- a hardy and charming perennial
6th line right: Peacock moraea -- can you say show-off?
7th line left: Double form daffodil -- love these doubles!
7th line right: Interior shot of Orange Emperor tulip
8th line left: Interior shot of red tulip
8th line right: Freesia -- so many colors of this fragrant S. African bulb
9th line left: Red sparaxis
9th line right: Orange sparaxis
Bottom line left:Tricolor sparaxis -- one of my faves
Bottom line right: Iceland poppy -- A gorgeous and uncommon color

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Back to winter?

Is it just me or did we take one step towards spring and two steps back to winter? I keep forgetting that in the Bay Area spring is often a stop and start affair. We're all anxious to welcome the sunny, balmy days that there's a bit of calendar denial going on. That said, our gardens are definitely moving forward, helped by the rains and the brief bits of sun. Here are a few more photos to cheer up the winter-bound souls. Photos are:
Top left: Nasturtium 'Empress of India' One of the most intense nasturtiums
Top right: Anchusa species (yet to be identified) Tiny, tiny flowers but a vivid purple and tough!
Middle left: Rhododendron 'Donnatella' One of the early blooming rhodies
Middle right: Peacock moraea (are these wild or what?)
Bottom left: Gladiola (which is deranged as it blooms whenever it feels like it, spring summer or fall)
Bottom right: Clematis armandii 'Apple Blossom' Just unbelievably fragrant.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Photos to tease & please

Here are some early spring flowers, some common, some harder to find. Though it's the second of March, the mild weather and rain is encouraging early blooms.
Top left: Helleborus 'Mardi Gras' (looking exquisite unfurled)
Top right: Red gladiola, also in bud form. mere hours before opening
2nd line left: Tulipa Sylvestris (did someone say yellow?)
2nd line right: Romulea monadelpha (the only response is wow!)
3rd line left: Oxalis vulcanicola (calling Spock)
3rd line center: Ribes sanguineum (spicy fragrance)
3rd line right: Pandorea pandorana (blooming like there's no tomorrow)
4th line left: Kennedia nigrans (for all you black lovers out there)
4th line right: Echeveria subrigida (one of the loveliest succulents ever)
Bottom line: Finally two common plants, a little forest of violas on the left and a "meadow" of Ipheion flowers on the right.
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