Thursday, May 16, 2013

May riches

May might well be the most fantastic month for flower gardeners in the Bay Area. We still have spring annuals in bloom; deciduous perennials have reappeared, deciduous shrubs are blooming and those of us with bulbs such as iris and lilies are beginning to experience their show. Clematis are putting on a show and other early vines such as passifloras are beginning to bloom. I think of it as an overlapping period, with late spring rubbing shoulders with early summer. The weather isn't too hot yet we're in our sun-drenched dry season. In that light, here are a few photos to demonstrate my garden's recent reverie.

Iris louisiana Anne Chowning. A new, favorite iris, with vivid saturated reds and a splash of gold.

Hymenocallis (Ismene) 'Sulphur Queen.' One of the showiest bulbs, with a flared yellow cup and green ribs. Fantastic.

Ixia monadelpha. The shot didn't come out right, proving the auto setting can't always correct for a low light situation, but I love the "mood" of this shot.

Scyphanthus elegans. I'll admit to being crazy about this flower and it scrambles nicely in a contained area.

Moraea ramosissima. A less common moraea which, while simple, has its own charms. It took its time blooming, the other moraeas having bloomed in March and early April.

Cynoglossum amabile. A "tall" forget-me-not and I certainly did not! Bluer-than-blue.

Cephalaria gigantea. This aptly named scabiosa cousin can get very tall, to six feet, and has large pincushion-like blooms.

Drosanthemum bicolor. Still a best kept secret, dew flowers offer vivid colors and the softest, silkiest flowers imaginable.

Verticordia plumosa. Speaking of best kept secrets, not many have heard of this Aussie native. Colorful and tough (much like many gardeners, oui?)

Iris louisiana 'Pastiche.' I'm thrilled that this Louisiana iris has returned, back with its full color after a few pale years. These kinds of irises are my favorites right now -- large flowers, colorful, tough.

Clematis purpurea plena elegans. An uncommon clematis I found at Sonoma Hort last year. This particular flower hasn't opened all the way but you get an idea of its ruffled form. Plus, love that color!

Tradescantia 'Sweet Kate.' No truth to the rumor this spiderwort was named for Prince William's wife but it is a real keeper nonetheless. Gold & purple are royal colors I've heard.

Sambucus  canadensis. This is said to be one of the best fruiting elderberries. Not showy but it does feature verdant foliage and large heads of pure white, star-shaped flowers.

Plectranthus zuluensis. People are getting to know plectranthus as tough, shade-tolerant workhorses. Here's a closeup of the flowers that demonstrates that they can be showy too.

Aristolochia fimbriata. This pint-sized Dutchman's Pipe has pretty little flowers but I find the foliage equally charming.

Hebe evansii. Again, with many hebes it's the flowers that make the show but this Evans hebe has rich maroon new growth that is the real show for me.

Isoplexis isabelliana. The subject of this coming Sunday's Pick of the Week column, this fabulous sub-shrub IS all about the flowers. Related to (and once classified under) digitalis (foxglove), the rusty apricot flowers offer an otherworldly color all summer and fall.

This shot features the interesting color combination of the canary yellow scyphanthus, the pinkish-lavender of the double calibrachoa and the vivid purplish-blues of Lupinus pilosus. Long may they prosper!

Lupinus pilosus. I've included a few photos of what is so far my plant of the year  but this shot is taken looking straight down on the flower, providing a unique and entrancing view.

Tweedia caerulea. It's a mystery to me why nobody is growing this milkweed member anymore (thanks to Barb for keeping it going!). Fabulous color, felty grayish-green leaves, interesting seedpods. Mine survived the winter and is now filled with flower buds about to burst.

 Papaver 'Thelma Crawford.'This fabulous breadseed poppy isn't as well known as many others but you may be scratching your head as I am as to why that's so. Lit by the sun, the color is simply sensational.

Front yard. Here's a shot of my ever evolving front yard. It's where I throw caution to the wind and group all manner of colorful and intriguing plants together.

Passiflora 'Blue-eyed Susan.' Currently my favorite passion flower vine. And why not? That color is vivid and it's proving to be prolific. I laughingly call it my "Ex-girlfriend" plant, as there was indeed a blue--eyed Susan in my past who I was very much in love with.

A corner of the front yard bed, showing the combo of Satureja mimuloides on the left, Dianthus barbatus on the right, showing off its dark red flowers and the beginning of a purple salvia peeking out from the exuberant marmalade bush.

Physocarpus 'Coppertina.' I can never quite seem to capture the beauty of this copper-leaved ninebark. This is as close as I've come.

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