Saturday, October 27, 2012

Not so Scary Gardens

At least here in the milder zones of the Bay Area, where many of our Hallowe'en gardens are still showing wonderful Autumn colors. I continue to be amazed at how much is still in bloom in my little "nursery," as I like to call my collection. Walking my neighborhood and driving around N. Oakland I see many other wonderful gardens showing their fall color. Two plants still in pots in my front yard continue to be delights -- the unstoppable Lepechinia with its salvia-like wine-colored flowers and the unusual yellow flowering Alyogyne hakeafolia (photo below). Meanwhile Tahoe has had its first snow, something the ski resorts are only too happy to welcome. Here are a few more photos of my late October garden. From top to bottom:

Moraea iridoides. Though common, this flower is still exceptionally pretty.
Bessera elegans. The most beautiful bulb few have ever heard of. It even has a lovely common name - Coral Drops. They look like little parasols to me.
Scabiosa ochroleuca with ladybug. This week's Pick column, I couldn't resist shooting a photo of an industrious little ladybug foraging.
Agastache species. The plant of the summer at our Ace nursery. We sold a bundle of these fragrant charmers.
Swainsona. Hands down, the star of my Australian shrubs bed this year. Keeps on blooming, much to the delight of local bees.
Justicia species. This plant has survived all manner of abuse, including being outside year round, and has begun flowering again.
Fuchsia. A simple one but huge flowers and a great color combo.
Buddha in the tropics. I've situated this Buddha statue in my tropical corner. He seems quite at home.
Adenanthos. Known as Wooly bush for its ultra soft foliage, this plant brings to mind that 60s song Wooly Bully.
Dahlia Seattle. Each succeeding flower gets pinker, which offers lovely tones to the base yellow.
Alyogyne hakeafolia. Backlit by the sun, it's just the loveliest soft yellow.
Phylica plumosa. Speaking of sunlit, check out the sparkling hairs on this wonderful little shrub. It's been one of the success stories in my garden.
Pink oxalis. The large lime green foliage is as much the attraction as the vibrant pink flowers.
Cyrtanthus species. This little guy, a gift from a local S. African plant collector, seems to be in bloom for more than half the year. Love its coral-orange blooms.
Mina lobata. Love this guy and the way the flowers progress in color from bright red to almost white.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Fall Harvest

For flower gardeners, our harvest are the fall blooming plants that populate our gardens now. I'm always surprised that even this late in the year my garden is full of color. So here are more photos, my favorite today being the first one, Haemanthus albiflos. I love its common name: shaving brush plant. I see why now. The other photos are, top to bottom:
Leycesteria formosa. Here is the seedpod/fruit. Fab.
Mahonia. My specimen seems to start blooming earlier every year.
Hydrangea Nikko Blue. Hydrangea flowers in October? This guy has been unstoppable this year!
Orange masdevallia. Thought I'd killed it but lo and behold a little bloom fertilizer and it's back.
Little John azalea and lemon verbena. Love the rich tones of the azalea and the lemon verbena is simply too fragrant for words.
Crassula corymbulosa flowers. Fantastic little marvels. This crassula always seems to be in bloom.
Salvia discolor. Still my favorite salvia, with the lime green bracts, white stems and almost black flowers.
Penstemon Tubular Bells Rose. I haven't always had good luck with penstemons but this one's been a real trooper.
Rudbeckia 'Maya.' In a word - WOW! Sometimes nature is frighteningly perfect.
Marmalade bush. This closeup isn't in perfect focus but I love this bush as much as the hummers do. And that's saying something.
Day lily. Forget which one this is but love the sublime colors.
Passiflora citrina. So simple and yet so lovely. As refreshing as a mint julep.
Plumbago auriculata. Robin's egg blue. Nuff said.
Chaenomeles fruit. Contrary to what some believe this flowering quince does actually produce edible fruit. Kind of cool looking.
Portulacaria in front of aloe. Love the juxtaposition.
Burgundy iochroma. I nearly killed this plant but once I got it in the ground it's now flourishing.
Begonia Gene Daniels. It's been a very happy camper and is shooting off bloom spikes in all directions.
Ledebouria socialis. Not many know this little bulbous perennial hailing from S. Africa but it's one of my favorites and I never fuss over it.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Fall into Grace

Fall into grace could be a good title for a book on gardening, as it sums up for many of us the feeling of being blessed to tend to such beautiful gardens. My garden is bursting with color these days, a fact that still seems odd to this former Canadian. The weather is due to warm up again this next week but there's no mistaking it is fall. Crisp mornings, cool nights and condensation on our car windshields in the morning. As the old saying goes, autumn would be my favorite season if it wasn't followed by winter.
Here are a few more photos of my autumnal garden, where vines are competing with fall blooming perennials and the new color of pansies, Iceland poppies and primrose are adding a carpet of new color. From top to bottom:

Passiflora Blue-eyed Susan. A new passion flower vine on the market and in one word - wow!
Mina lobata. One of my favorite annual vines, in part because of the progression of colors.
Salvia discolor. My favorite salvia and though not in bloom yet, the white stems and silverygreen calyxes are simply lovely.
Bessera elegans. The prettiest bulb no one's ever heard of. Little coral parasols.
Helenium Mardi Gras. Blooms nearly year round here in Oakland's mild climate. If ever a plant was aptly named, this festive sneezeweed certainly is.
Rose variety. Though I'm not a big rose person, this inherited rose is lovely and intensely fragrant.
Echinacea Summer Sky. Love 'em or hate 'em, when echinaceas are happy they're certainly showy.
Morpho Butterfly pansy. We joke at our nursery that this variety was inspired by Morpheus of Matrix fame.
Dahlia 'Seattle.' It's late this year and showing more peach highlights, which is fine by me.
Grevillea 'Moonlight.' I love this grevillea and even though the flower spike here has yet to open it still possesses a shimmering beauty.
Lotus 'Amazon Sunset.' It's my observation that lotus like the later months. Mine has rebounded and is looking its best as the weather cools down.

Friday, October 5, 2012

The Timeless Garden

I was thinking this morning that gardens somehow embrace the opposing experiences of being tied to the seasons, a cycle as old as the earth itself, but also one of timelessness. Each time we walk out in our gardens there's a sense of timelessness, of standing outside time itself. As if the garden were a world where time itself doesn't exist. For me, that's part of the meditation, of the sense of "disappearing" into this precious & carefree world. On the best days, the concerns of the everyday world melt away, replaced by the feel of the earth between my fingers, the tactile sensations of preparing the bed, of planting, of the tools in my hands and the timeless scents that the garden offers. Nowhere else is losing track of time so complete, so engaging.
Those of us in the milder zones of the Bay Area also have a sense of time appearing to stretch beyond its natural limits. It's October and for many parts of the country gardens are winding down for the year. Not here. The warm days often extend into late November, making for a much longer growing season for both vegetables and flowers. Yes that means more work but it's a small price to pay for the rewards such work will bring.
Here are a few more photos from my fall garden. The funny thing this year is that some flowers were much earlier than usual but many arrived much later. Last year my pretty bulb known as Coral Drops (Bessera) bloomed in July. The first flower just opened this morning, two months later than last year. I'd almost given up. Mind you, it's been another cool summer and those plants waiting for heat, like was the case with the bessera, were triggered by our mini heat wave this week.
Top to bottom the flowers are:
Alyogyne hakeafolia. This yellow flowering "blue hibiscus" is just indescribably lovely.
Salvia azurea. Simple but such a pretty blue.
Trachelium Hamer Pandora. A closeup shot reveals more of an exploding star kind of effect, not unlike Allium schubertii or A. cristophii.
Scabiosa ochroleuca. My favorite pincushion flower these days and, showing that bees seeking nectar are color blind, this bee was hard at work collecting nectar.
Daucus carota. The flower cluster starts out funnel shaped before opening to a flat cyme, offering a unique kind of view.
Hibiscus trionum. One of my favorite flowers and by far the easiest hibiscus to grow in our climate.
Golden sedum. Just love this color. No bloom yet but I'm enjoying its smooth caramel textures.
Tuberose begonia. Common but that doesn't mean this rich yellow isn't simply stunning.
Kalanchoe species. More yellow on this vigorous little kalanchoe. Long blooming.
Red canna. I brought this back from the dead, put it in my tropical bed and it's made a complete recovery.
Ranunculus Buttered Popcorn. Yes, a funny common name for this variegated, water loving, low growing ranunculus. It's planted beside my pond where I'm hoping ti will spread to soften the junction of the gravel path and pond edge.

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