Friday, January 25, 2013

Spring Preview

This little blast of almost-spring weather has sent us obsessed gardeners out to work in the balmy, sun-drenched afternoons. Ironically, our week of near freezing nighttime temps only helped those of us who have tulips, hyacinths and crocuses in our gardens. That brief winter seems to have done the trick; my orangy-pink hyacinths planted last year are up and beginning to bloom. I spotted my first little yellow crocus bloom yesterday and the Happy Generation variegated leaf tulips planted last year are up and progressing. The first of my many lachenalias (L. tricolor) is in bloom. Of course there are other winter flowers, most notably the camellias. On that note, here are some photos taken today (1/24) to tease you into getting out there. Identifications follow the photos.

From top to bottom the photos are:
The first tender young crocus flower. Such a sweet color.
The surprisingly vigorous Hyacinth Gypsey Queen, a returnee from 2012.
Iceland poppy. Such a saturated orange, it's hard to believe!
Agastache Globetrotter. I've become a huge agastache fan and they reward my devotion!
Eryngium planum, Osteospermum & Eriogonum giganteum. Showcasing silvers & lavender tones.
Bulbinella latifolia. See my comment about the orange Iceland Poppy. S. African bulbs are to die for.
Grevillea Moonlight. Still the champ among grevilleas. That cream color is superb.
Chanomeles Kurokoji. Have a black thumb? Plant a flowering quince! Un-killable, vigorous and oh that winter color!
Chamaecyparis obtusa Nana Lutea. One of the dwarf conifers now populating a bed devoted to them. The 'panels' of the branches kind of remind me of twisting DNA strands!
Erysimum linifolium variegatum. Why we love wallflowers.
Echium fastuosum. Still growing and still possessing a dense rosette of impossibly silky leaves.
Magnolia stellata. The first flower to open this year, stellatas offer the purest white for our visual senses.
Erysimum Winter Sorbet. Love the color combo!
Camellia 'Buttermint.' Love how the creamy white flowers seem to ooze from the dark background.
Camellia reticulata Frank Hauser. When someone asks me 'Why hunt down a C. reticulata hybrid, I want to show them my Frank Hauser. As the woman in the breath mint commercial says "Fabulous!"
Lonicera sempervirens. Though not fragrant, this colorful Eastern U.S. native is super vigorous.
Primula acaulis. The color of the buds is more intense so caught my new one before it opened.
My cat Jet. She's the guardian of my garden and a sun lover to boot.
Aloe rupestris. Nothing fancy but it has proved to be surprisingly vigorous.
Ganesh. Oh, come on, everybody knows Ganesh. A new acquistion and he's made of volcanic ash and somehow that seems to make him for a garden.

Friday, January 11, 2013

The beauty of conifers

I never was one to get too excited about conifers -- I grew up with dense forests of Douglas fir in British Columbia -- and it wasn't until an unplanned trip to Oregon that I began to appreciate the diversity and unique charms of this group of trees and shrubs. More to the point, it was a visit to Oregon Botanical Garden and a curious bed of dwarf conifers.that really piqued my interest. Its collection numbered rare conifers from Japan and China and the combination of unusual textures and shades of green, blue, even gold, and the extreme small stature was an eye opener.
It took me more than five years before I brought to fruition my own planting of dwarf conifers, featuring mostly Chamaecyparis and Cryptomaria varieties. I added a dwarf, spreading blue juniper to add its unique bristly texture.It just so happens I'd inherited a mature fir tree and so that seemed a good place beside which to create this mini (in both senses of the word) garden.
That's not to say there aren't a great number of full-sized conifers that should tempt most gardeners. Be that any number of fir trees, lovely iconic blue spruce or our singular redwoods (if you have the room), there's a conifer for almost any look or purpose. Conifers are also great trees or shrubs for birds, both as a food source and for the privacy needed to build nests. Add in the heady aroma that many conifers exude and it's easy to understand why gardeners will find the room for one of these long lived trees or shrubs.
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