Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Dog days

Sometimes the 'dog days' of summer are a good thing. For we gardeners it's a time to enjoy the fruits of our labors and to mainly be concerned with weekly maintenance. Of course some of us are still planting, adding summer and early fall perennials to the spots vacated by spring annuals. In August my thoughts turn to thoughts of vines. Now is an excellent time to plant a variety of vines, be that common ones such as jasmine, passion flowers, thunbergias or Bower vines (Pandorea) or less common ones such as Cup & Saucer (cobaea) and Kennedia. Maintenance wise, it's time to replenish bark mulches, trim back those plants that have gotten carried away, fertilize everything that will benefit from such feeding this time of year and trim back any bulbs that have finished blooming.
Here are a few more photos from my late July garden, an eclectic mix that reflects the diversity of my little corner of paradise. From top to bottom, they are:
Echinacea Hot Papaya. No other word but wow for this showy echinacea.
Tiger lilies. I'm a sucker for lilies, which are some of the easiest & most colorful bulbs to grow.
Clematis tangutica seedhead. This cute yellow clematis is worth growing for the seedheads alone!
Pink mirabilis. What's that expression? A weed is only a plant you don't want in your garden. Oh so true for the vigorously self seeding Four O'Clocks.
Thalictrum rochebruneanum (say that species name fast ten times). Quite possibly the loveliest of all meadow rues!
Variegated porcelain berry vine. This vigorous vine not only has THE most beautiful berries in existence (I just checked the voting and it wasn't close) but this variegated form's foliage is lovely indeed. I finally found a place to grow mine and it's much happier.
Hibiscus cisplinatus. I've posted photos before but here's one of the flower about to open. Lush is the word that comes to mind.
Begonia Gene Daniels. So many begonias, so little time. I got the sun dappling the leaves, creating an interesting effect.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Vancouver trip

I've just returned from the scenic city of Vancouver, certainly one of North America's most beautiful cities (when  the weather is nice). I walked sections of the city with my nephew, visited the wonderful Queen Elizabeth Park and had a tour of the city's main harbor, False Creek, in my brother's boat. Here is a sampling of photos I took. While the quality varies, it will give you a taste of this wonderful city.
Bloedel Conservatory set. A wonderful little tropical indoor garden in Q.E. Park. From top to bottom they are: A colorful bromeliad; towering banana tree; a blue macaw; a tree with hanging roots; curious little finch-like bird; an Eclectus parrot.

The Queen Elizabeth Park set. This sunken garden next to the Bloedel is similar to Butchard Gardens in Victoria in that it was built from a quarry. Very lovely.

False Creek set. This is downtown Vancouver's main harbor, where the 1986 Expo was set. From top: one of the many marinas with a shot of an AquaBus in the foreground. We rode one later in the week; downtown with a dragon boat in background and a two person paddle boat; sailboats in English Bay; a paddlewheeler 'party boat'; Canada Place located near the end of False Creek; my brother in the world renowned Museum of Anthropology; famous Bill Reid sculpture The Raven & the First People (which is huge); native people's ceremonial shield.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Our July gardens

As I finished a tour of my garden, taking note of new developments, doing a little pruning and fertilizing, it occurred to me that one of the true pleasures of gardening is simply spending time in it, no matter what one is doing. There is a relationship, with both gardener and garden affecting each other, changing each other, deepening the bond. Spending quality time means you notice little things, registering them individually but also ingesting their truths to be stored for future reference. Gardens receive love and they give love, not just the flowers but the whole ecosystem of visiting pollinators and those insects that have made a permanent home in our gardens. Our gardens can be sanctuaries, places of momentary or lengthening solace or inspiration. Time set aside is rewarded in so many ways.
Here are some new photos as my garden sheds its spring raiments and metamorphoses into a shimmering summer paradise. Top to bottom:

Cuphea llavea, also known as bat-faced cuphea. See the red ears and the purple snout?
Trachelium (with bee). This vigorous bloomer is more purple than what it shows here.
Cosmos sulphureus. A common plant but if you like orange it's a classic!
Zinnia Raggedy Ann. Yes, a zinnia. Kind of like a zinnia with pink dreads!
Eucomis. This burgandy form not only has burgandy leaves but a more reddish flower.
Abelmoschus. Not many know this hibiscus relative but the flowers are simply gorgeous.
Here the sunny blue of nigella is given a delicate backdrop from the pure white blooming swainsona.
Oregano Kent Beauty. Well known now, this ornamental is nonetheless almost too pretty for an herb.
Cuphea vienco Burgandy. So many cupheas, so little time ...
Clematis integrifolia. A stunning true blue nodding clematis that is proving easier to grow than the rep it has.
Orange New Guinea impatiens. I'm not a bedding impatiens fan generally but couldn't resist this color.
Variegated porcelain berry vine. Beautiful delicate foliage and the most sensational berries ever seen on any plant. Ever.
Canna Australia. Gorgeous deep burgandy foliage and burnt orange flowers. Enough said.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Summer vines

Vines have sometimes be relegated to the role of problem solver -- to cover an unsightly fence, provide privacy where needed or fill in an empty spot with something green. Evergreen vines such as morning glory, potato vine and royal trumpet vine are great for quick coverage and are generally easy to grow. But the world of vines is a vast one and so are its uses. You could group this category of plants in many ways but one simple way is this: evergreen 'coverage' vines, deciduous coverage vines, fragrant vines and smaller 'ornamental' vines.
Gardeners are naturally most familiar with the first category, comprising not only the three mentioned above but such sturdy choices as pandorea (Bower vine), evergreen passiflora varieties (passion flower) and the shade tolerant hardenbbergia. Good performers all.
Deciduous coverage vines have to include thunbergias (lazy Susan vine) which can even sometimes stay semi-evergreen, deciduous clematis varieties, red and pink flowering mandevillas and less common vines such as kennedia nigricans.
Fragrant vines feature the two most popular choices -- jasmine and honeysuckle -- but include a host of other sweet smelling vines. There's Mandevilla laxa (Chilean jasmine), with its intensely fragrant white flowers, plus the evergreen Clematis armandii and we can't leave out wisteria of course.
The words smaller & vine may seem contradictory but in fact there are many wonderful vines that won't go crazy and cover everything. One of my favorites is the deciduous perennial Asarina, a 6'-10' vine with delicate leaves and purple or white flowers. Like yellow? There's a yellow flowering bleeding hearts vine (Dicentra scandens) that is vigorous and a prolific bloomer. Speaking of yellow, there's nothing more charming than the aptly named annual climber, Canary Creeper. It's a nasturtium, though you wouldn't recognize it as such by the smaller, bright yellow flowers that resemble, well, canaries. Want something unique and very charming? Mina lobata (Spanish flag) performs a neat trick. It's flowers flush out bright red then age to coral, yellow and finally to white. This means that sprays of flowers contain all these colors. Wow.
Speaking of a change of color, it's worth mentioning one final vine. Cobaea scandens (Cup & Saucer vine) has an even more impressive trick. Its 'cups' start out green then gradually fill in to a rich burgandy color, kind of like the chesire cat appearing out of thin air.
01 09 10