Thursday, May 9, 2013

Back to Norm-al

Out of the ashes of a pretty crazy two weeks, my life is returning to norm-al. The bad pun is owing to the name of this blog, Norm's Nursery. And that name is in honor of my dad, Norman Nickel, who loved gardening. If he were still with us, he might find it amusing that his formerly hyperactive son had stumbled onto something that promotes and invites calm and contemplation. He too sought calm in a hectic world, be that in the garden or out on the water. That gardening should eventually have become my full time job, a writing career as well as tending to a large garden would certainly have pleased him to no end.
Anyway, a lot has been going on in my garden in the two weeks I've been waiting on a new camera lens and so here are a few photos taken today. As I type, I have oaktits, hummingbirds and hooded orioles visiting my kitchen window ledge, a mere ten feet away and easily seen from my writing desk. Keeping the various bird feeders stocked is also a bit time consuming but a small price to pay for their activity and sweet songs.

This photo of Sauromatum venosum isn't from my garden but my specimen bloomed for the first time this year and it deed indeed look like this. I have an expanding arum collection and this Voodoo lily is one of the coolest (and weirdest).

 Here's a new iris I brought home this week, I. louisiana Anne Chowning. Fab colors!

 For those not familiar with Nicotianas (flowering tobacco) or have only grown the small, plain bedding ones, it can be quite a shock to see some of the eye-popping species. This is N. sylvestris 'Only the Lonely' (someone clearly had a Roy Orbison fixation). It reaches 30" tall and sends out sprays of long tubular pure white flowers, making for quite the late spring show.

 Here a towering Echium wildprettii stands guard over a sprawling Calandrinia. Both feature glaucus foliage, providing a cool backdrop for vivid splashes of color.

 This Iris species has been spreading in a filtered sun location, a different color than what I remember planting but then again I may have forgotten planting it many years ago.

 This Dianthus barbatus offers dark foliage and velvety-red flowers. It's a neighbor to a burgundy-leaved eucomis (pineapple lily), making for vivid contrast with blue and green foliage nestled next to them.

 For those not familiar with Fuchsia boliviana, its impressive height and girth can take some getting used to. They not only bloom prolifically but they produce copious amounts of berries (unripe ones here are green, they are black when ripe). Amazingly they are edible (and sweet) to humans.

 Another arum, this Arisaema speciosum var. magnificum is about ready to unfurl its foliage. If I'm lucky, that will be followed by a large, maroon-spotted spathe. Weird & wonderful.

 Clematis niobe. Still my favorite clematis. Hard to beat the saturated wine-colored flowers.

 I've taken a few photos of my Clematis 'Belle of Woking' but it's been so happy this year that I had to take one more.

 I'll admit to having a special place in my heart for this short climber, Scyphanthus elegans.The flowers are small, an inch plus, but so cheerful and unique that I eagerly await its flowering every year.

 Antirrhinum 'Chantilly Peach.' Annie's Annuals does a series of snap dragons that are especially vigorous and this is one (group includes Dbl Azalea Apricot & Dbl Azalea & Dbl Azalea Pink). Sturdy, long blooming and lovely.

 Calycanthus occidentalis. Better known as California Allspice, on account of the flowers having a decidedly spicy fragrance. For me, they smell like vinegar, not one of my favorite smells, but the flowers certainly are lovely.

 Nigella. Everyone is familiar with Love-in-a-Mist flowers but a close-up reveals that the flowers are more intricate than they first appear seen from a distance.

 Cotinus 'Royal Purple.' I really soaked this tree this winter and spring and it responded with an extravagant flowering. There's nothing quite like a 'smoke bush' in bloom. I'm not quite sure how any gardener resists having at least one in their garden.

 Streptosolen jamesonii. The same might hold true for the awe inspiring Marmalade bush. I get more comments from passersby on this plant than anything else. Mind you, you have to like orange, as a mature specimen will bloom for 8-9 months of the year if given lots of sun. Plainly spoken, it's the most vigorous plant in my garden and if I didn't prune it back twice a year it would overrun everything next to it.

This smaller flowering Million bells is one of the Mini-famous double-form calibrachoas. Umm, just one question. Mini-famous? What the heck does that mean? No matter, it has produced cascades of gorgeous lavender flowers each of the three years I've had it, proving that good things do indeed come in small packages.

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