Thursday, April 11, 2013

The Natural World

The sudden arrival of a pair of Hooded orioles to my hummingbird feeder this morning served as a reminder that our gardens aren't simply something we create for our enjoyment (and that of friends/family/neighbors). They are part of the natural world, even if we're smack dab in the middle of the city (as I am). Our gardens provide valuable habitats for not only birds but other wildlife, even down to shy salamanders that tend to hide under flowerpots. Taken as a whole, city gardens can provide green zones that allow for more productive foraging by bees, butterflies and all. These visits may not make us forget we're in the city but it does give us a fuller experience of nature in our little corner.
The rain a week ago followed by the warmth of the last few days has sent forth an explosion of color in my garden. Here are a few 'moments-in-time.'

Viburnum plicatus. I've somehow managed to dwarf this specimen and still keep it happy.
Geranium phaeum. There aren't many flowers you would describe as "matte" as opposed to glossy but the subtle purple flowers of this species geranium are incredibly lovely.
Rhododendron 'Sappho.' Last week I shot the bud; here's a shot of the flowers. As mentioned, I've brought this specimen back from the dead, so even the few flowers coming this year are a blessed event. And that color!
Choisya ternata. This plant loves its location (morning sun) and has gone crazy with blooming. A favorite with the bees.
Back Yard house wall bed. The choisya, Black Magic camellia, Rhodie Luna Freckles (getting ready to bloom), Fuchsia boliviana 'Alba,' Camellia reticulata 'Frank Hauser' (done blooming), Viburnum tinus and lavender rhodie.
Kalanchoe 'Chocolate Soldier.' Everybody's favorite kalanchoe.
Kalanchoe houghtonii. Called "Mother of Millions" for it's prolific self seeding, I already have starts coming up in the same small pot. Nice flowers though.
Sedum x adolphii. This 'Golden sedum' was slow to get established but has really found its stride. One of a kind color and tough.
Trachelospermum asiaiticum. Look up 'slow' in the dictionary and you'll see a photo of this plant. Which is strange for a jasmine but for the first time this year it's at least getting some wonderful spring color. Sort of a coppery-mustard.
Front yard pots. The shrubs-in-pots collection here includes: Eriogonum giganteum; Leucospermum 'Veldfire'; Banksia ericifolia and Salvia africana-lutea.
Front yard (wider view). More of the front yard plants, including the lowest bed.
A shot of the front bed, capturing the burgundy sweet pea, Phacelia viscida and the yellow & white Dutch iris.
Phacelia campanularia. Possibly the bluest of all the CA Bluebells and certainly the one possessing the loveliest foliage.
Petunia 'Papaya.' A new petunia and I just love the coral orange color. Papaya indeed!
Babiana. Not sure which one this is but I'm a big babiana fan and they tend to reward those with patience.
Aquilegia 'Leprechaun Gold.' Lovely variegated foliage and then old-timey double purple flowers.
Laburnum anagyroides. It's a mystery to me why Golden Chain trees aren't massively popular. First off, the foliage is indescribably lovely and then panicles of wisteria-like golden flowers appear in late spring. Fragrant too.
Isoplexis chalcantha. If I were to recommend two less common shrubs to someone who wanted something indestructible, long blooming and lovely, this Isoplexis and Incarvillea arguta would be near the top of my list. You couldn't kill this plant if you tried and with a little water it goes nuts blooming. Flowers are a little foxglove-like (it belongs to the same family) but oh that color. Hummingbirds love it too.
Tillandsia Abdita. So many tillandsias, so little time ...
Golden feverfew with pink scilla. Nothing quite does "gold" like Tanacetum parthenium aureum. Little pink scilla flowers poking through offer a sweet contrast.

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