Sunday, March 31, 2013

Spring bounty part 2

I will admit that I'm torn about sharing photos of my garden. On the one hand it's the height of self-indulgent vanity -- hey, look how pretty my garden is -- but then again I love sharing these photos, just as I love sharing my garden's beauty with friends and passersby. So with that mea culpa, here are a few more photos on this part sunny, part rainy spring day.

Ixia species. Sometimes ixias offer a soft palette and at other times intense colors like this fuchsia-colored variety.
Mimulus variety. This "water" mimulus is flourishing and keeps thinking of new colors to put forward.
Drosanthemum 'Pele.' Flame colors but soft luxurious petals, dew flowers are one of my favorites.
Leucospermum species. Brought home from Ace's houseplant supplier, am I the only one who thinks this is odd?, this pincushion has flourished.
Sphaeralcea munroana. One of my favorites, this low, spreading globe mallow has the most beautiful foliage of all mallows and the one inch rose-red flowers are indescribably lovely.
Chaenomeles Kurokoji. A force of nature, this flowering quince is so spectacular I didn't have the heart to dig it out of the bed that became an Aussie natives bed last year.
Phacelia viscida + sweet pea. Both just starting to bloom. A good color combo, n'est-ce pas?
Japanese painted fern. Back like clockworks, this showy deciduous fern is one of my faves, especially when the morning sun highlights its silvers & purples.
Viburnum plicatum. I love viburnums, they along with physocarpus (ninebark) and spireas might be my favorite deciduous shrubs, and V. plicatum is one of the best. This shot is a bit on the dark side but in a strange way that makes the newly opened white flowers pop.
Allium schubertii. Those that are in any way familiar with my garden know I have a huge collection of bulbs. This includes some alliums (ornamental onions) and there are two that are tied together in my mind -- this A. schubertii and the similar A. cristophii (Stars of Persia). I call them the "exploding" alliums as each head is comprised of dozens of individual star-shaped flowers that seem to explode from the center.
Iris Bronze Beauty. Just a lovely Dutch iris, combining pale purple and showy bronze petals.
Iris pseudacorus 'Holden Clough.' I teased you in the last entry with an unopened bud; here is the flower fully opened.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Spring bounty

We flower gardeners all suffer from amnesia. Most notably we forget each winter just how quickly spring rains and warmer temperatures can create an explosion of new growth and flowering in our gardens. Weren't we in winter just three weeks ago, with very little going on? This week especially has brought a burst of leafing out and certain early blooming perennials already budding up. Here are a few snapshots of this new growth. From top to bottom:
Impatiens glandulifera Wine Red. Though this shot was taken at Ace, it has inspired me to write a column about this vigorous, self-seeding species Impatiens. So lovely!
Papaver rhoeas Falling in Love. Aptly named, it's hard not to fall in love with the silky semi-double flowers that can span the color range from white to the deepest rose. This first flower was the latter.
Gladiola Lemon Moon. Thanks to Alejandro for propagating this virtually unknown S. African gladiola. Exquisite colors and larger than most S. African glads.
Watsonia laccata. Hard to believe this cute little guy, with one inch round flowers, is a watsonia, especially given the marbled colors.
Ixia species. This pink on the outside, cream on the inside is one of my favorite corn lilies.
Magnolia Butterflies. I've recently created a "yellow bed" in the median strip in front of our house and it's anchored by this still young Magnolia Butterflies. I love the way the pale yellow color shimmers in the sun.
Leucospermum Veldfire. Okay, sometimes you just get lucky. This was one of the photos shot early this morning, where the combination of the flower hairs and the way the rain droplets cling to them almost makes the flower look like it's covered in ice. Fantastic!
Salvia africana-lutea. Why this salvia isn't better know is beyond me.  It has the most unique flower color, heck even the way the flowers cluster, of any salvia I know of. Tough too.
Chasmanthe bicolor. A close-up showing the two colors and the purple anthers.
Omphalodes cappadocica. Simple and common but love that blue.
Ranunculus repens Buttered Popcorn. Cute ground cover that I have next to my pond.
Choisya ternata. Now in its fourth year, it's loaded with intensely sweet smelling flowers. The perfect companion to my pond area bench.
Centaurea Amethyst-in-Snow. Hard not to love centaureas, especially the contrast here of pure white and purple.
Echium species. Planted by my neighbor right on our border, it's shooting up now, making me believe it's a E. wildpretii.
Iris pseudacorus Holden Clough. While the straight species has simple flowers, this variety has stunning coppery-colored blooms with pronounced veining (which you can see even in bud form).
Sparaxis grandiflora ssp grandiflora. I had a little mystery about a specimen given to me by Kiamara. I'd lost the tag and even though the flower certainly looked like a sparaxis, the deep purple color threw me. Later, I discovered that this sub-species can have wine-colored flowers (like this one in my woodland area) or the dark purple.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

I weed, therefore I am ...

Ahh, yes, spring! Return of bulbs. Introduction of new colorful annuals. And ... weeding. I swear, you can add weedy grasses to the short list of things that will survive after life disappears on this earth. I spent six hours ridding my front garden of weeds over these last two days. Out with the weeds, down with the bark mulch. So for now I can look out and see flowers not flowers AND weeds so maybe the stiff back is worth the effort.
Not that I'm complaining. A friend's visit spurred me to clean things up and now I get to reap the visual benefit. Speaking of which, here are more photos of "new" arrivals, demonstrating my garden's transition into spring. Top to bottom they are:
Corydalis flexuosa China Blue. I let this beauty go dry and almost killed it but now it has rebounded nicely. I think of the flowers as little blue seahorses.
Gladiolus alatus. I didn't quite catch this little S. African glad at its prime but salmon-orange petals and a chartreuse lip make this one of the most unique and showiest of the species Glads.
Hyacinthoides hispanica. A lovely and reliable bulb, with surprisingly large flowers for a scilla.
Winter Sorbet wallflower. Just now starting to put on a show, I love the color variation.
Ixia longituba bellendenii. A lovely bright pink ixia.
Leucospermum sp. An unknown species from one of our houseplant growers, this vigorous pincushion plant is loaded with flower buds this year.
Ornithogalum umbellatum. A cute ground cover species of this S. African bulb.
Magnolia Alexandrina. I think magnolia flowers can sometimes be most appealing in bud form.
Chaenomeles Cameo. I love all things coral and just added this vigorous flowering quince.
Cistus salviifolius.  I planted this spreading rockrose in my neighbor's yard eight years ago and it's still going strong with with little or no attention.
Abelia sp. 'Chiapas.' A rare form from the SF Botanical Garden, this is different from the standard shrub abelia in two ways: it has a low growing, spreading form and it's sweetly fragrant.
Melaleuca incana. Love the butter yellow flowers on this Aussie native.
Leucadendron linifolium cone. This unique leucadendron produces lovely little silvery cones. If it's a female plant, which luckily mine turned out to be.
Iceland poppy. Common plant; uncommon perspective. Here it's the stamen that are the show, though the vivid orange backdrop helps too.
Ribes sanguineum. A final goodbye to this year's flowering, which was the most spectacular ever.
Hydrangea quercifolia. This oakleaf hydrangea held onto its old leaves even as it leafed out in spring, providing an interesting contrast in color and texture.
Lonicera sempervirens. This evergreen Eastern native honeysuckle has decided it likes its location and is putting on quite the show, scrambling over a metal arch.

Friday, March 15, 2013

While I was gone ...

One of the treats of gardening, for those of us working full time, is having almost a week between sessions in the garden this time of year. In spring, a lot can happen in a week. One of my favorite things is to stroll through my garden at the start of my weekend and greet new arrivals. That could be a a new bulb poking its head above ground (this week it was a group of different lilies that suddenly appeared), a plant sprouting new flowers (as was the case with several magnolias, a coreopsis, shrubs such as Melaleuca and Swainsona and Prostanthera) and plants reappearing (Japanese Painted ferns, several clematis and some agastache). Of course it helps to have a lot of different plants in your garden but that's the great thing about spring -- whether they're budding out, reappearing or beginning to bloom, spring is in there encouraging nearly every plant in our gardens.
So, a few photos from my garden on this, a most joyous Ides of March. Photos top to bottom are:

Mahonia lomariifolia. I grow this "wicked" plant as much for food for berry loving birds as much as I do for its interesting foliage and sprays of bright yellow flowers.
Camellia Little Babe. Every variegated blossom is slightly different and is appearing on a small specimen. Definitely an over-achiever.
Ribes sanguineum + Japanese maple. One in full bloom, the other leafing out.
Fuchsia boliviana Alba. A shot of the milky tubes before the carmine sepals open.
Melasphaerula. A little known but extremely vigorous S. African bulb. Dainty flowers but buckets of them, waving in the breeze on slender stems.
Kennedia nigricans. This vigorous vine didn't flower last year but has loads of buds now. There's nothing quite like the color of this black & gold flower.
Salvia discolor. Speaking of dark hues, here's a better shot of my "black" salvia. With its milky green bracts and sticky white stems, there's nothing quite like it.
Sparaxis. This is their season and I love this color combo. I call this "cream soda" orange. Goes nicely with the yellow centers.
Physocarpus opulifolius 'Nugget'. Yes, a golden-leaved ninebark bush. Glorious.
Peacock moraea. That aquamarine blue is so other-worldly.
Peacock moraea + sparaxis. Now that's a show of color.
Speaking of unique colors, how about this "chocolate" ferraria? One of my all time favorite plants, if only because it should be growing in some exotic locale. Or at the bottom of the ocean (starfish anyone?)
White sparaxis. The white background really makes the yellow and dark red colors pop.
Streptosolen. Otherwise known as Marmalade bush. Mine is just starting to bloom again. It's a force of nature, growing quickly and blooming for 8-9 months of the year. Not for the feint of heart.
Annual mimulus. Or so I thought when I planted it last year. But it's come storming back.
Peach Crisp heuchera. Love the color, though right now it gets a bit lost in the temporary bark mulch.
Leucaspermum Veldfire. On my top ten list, the buds are getting fatter as each week passes.
Kerria japonica. There's nothing more cheerful than Kerrias. If you like yellow, that is.
Halimiocistus Merrist Wood Cream.. I get asked about this charming high ground cover a lot. It's a cross between a Halimium and a Cistus and the MWC features butter yellow blooms.
Cryptomeria 'Spiraliter.' A very cool, twisty, Japanese Cedar that's part of my dwarf conifer bed.
Chamaecyparis 'Nana Lutea.' Another dwarf conifer bed resident. The twisting branch "panels" remind me of DNA strands.

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