Thursday, September 12, 2013

Garden Dramas

It's somewhat the nature of gardens, at least those that hold a great variety of plants, that it is hard to play favorites. At least for very long. Photographing one's garden, where you have a permanent record of a moment in time, makes you realize that there are so many things to appreciate about plants. Beyond the obvious (flowers), or even the foliage of certain plants, you gradually get drawn into the continuing drama of individual plants, of the beds they're in, of certain larger sections. Each week I walk out into the garden, there are an abundance of stories. As wonderful as photos are, they freeze that drama at a moment in time, somehow hitting the pause button on these mini-dramas.
This is the time of year for salvias -- I have nine different kinds -- but I thought I'd take a moment to draw your attention to a salvia relative, Lepechinia. There are two notable species, L. calycina and L. hastata. The former is a CA native (known as California Pitcher plant). It features white down-turning flowers, emerging from green calyces. Both the leaves and flowers have a minty kind of fragrance. It can reach 6-8' and is exceptionally hardy. Lepechinia hastata hails from Hawaii, yet is surprisingly hardy (to 0 degrees). It features large, textured silvery leaves, equally as minty as L. calycina, and clouds of large, exquisite, burgundy flowers come fall. Both are vigorous and a joy to have in one's garden. I'd do a column on them if not for the difficulty in finding them in Bay Area retail nurseries.
All of that said, here's some new photos.

Clematis viorna seedpods. As mentioned above, it;s not always the flowers that are the attraction and nowhere is that more apparent than with this tubular type clematis. Curiously, the seedpods are larger than the flowers themselves.

I like to say that Hedychium greenii is the most beautiful ginger many people have never heard of. Apart from the fabulous color of the flowers, sort of a coral red, the petals have a noticeable texture to them. I did a column on this Flame ginger as it's called and Ace was swamped with requests.

Philodendron species. This was intentionally planted at the curve of the gravel path but is so vigorous that I have to keep trimming off the larger leaves. Still, philodendrons occupy a special place in my gardening heart, being somehow quite prehistoric.

Though this shot isn't in focus, I couldn't resist a quick shot of a chickadee coming to nibble on my suet feeder. They're quite possibly the most charming common bird ever, full of life and personality and not shy around humans.

Calceolaria Kentish Hero. Despite its odd variety name, this pocketbook is so dazzling in its color that I can't imagine anyone who likes orange not having one in their garden. Unlike the floppy annual types, this guy forms a sturdy bush and comes to life in late summer.

Centaurea 'Black Sprite.' Black indeed! This flower is SO black that light just seems to fall into it, like a black hole in space. Here, with the closeup focus, it hovers like some alien borg spaceship.It's so very weird it almost doesn't even look like a flower.

In contrast to the 'Death Star' Black Sprite centaurea, here's a fun little guy, Gomphrena 'Fireworks.' The variety name refers to how the individual petals just seem to explode outwards from the center and then you have the contrast of the bright yellow stamen.

Another shot of my front yard color, with the golden Caryopteris hogging the limelight. Right behind is the green-leaved C. incana. I keep my these pots for seasonal color, though many are perennials. It's my contribution to passersby, a little flower power to hopefully brighten their day.

Speaking of flowers that bring forth a smile, here's a new addition. Arctotis 'Sunspot' features a variety of oranges, peaches and golds and if that isn't sunshine in a pot I don't know what is!

Here's a mystery Euphorbia that was a gift.  It joins another new Euphorbia, E. atropurpurea. Both will be a bit of a surprise as to what they finally do.

Luculia pinceana. A shrub with the most intoxicatingly fragrant flowers, this was a recent addition from Barb Siegel's collection. Can't wait for it to bloom (late fall/winter). Here, what looks like flower buds are actually leaf buds. The top down shot helps to suspend the illusion.

Many of you are familiar with 'Blue hisbiscus,' (Alyogyne huegelii) but this yellow flowering species A. hakeafolia is also a lovely member. I love the rotating star pattern at its center.

A new addition to my Dwarf conifer bed, Chamaecyparis pisifera 'Filifera Aurea' (whew, that's quite a mouthful!) is a cascading type false cypress. Love it! I'm having a hard time not adding more plants to this Japanese-themed bed.

Here's a better shot of the other new addition to the Japanese bed, Osmanthus 'Goshiki.' Love the variegation; love the holly-like leaves and can't wait for it to produce its fragrant flowers.

Tecoma x smithii. The new star attraction in my garden, I just adore the peachy-orange flowers, now beginning to appear in clusters. Delicate green foliage makes a complementary backdrop.

Yep, these are 'Naked ladies.' I love calling out in our indoor shop "Hey, have the naked ladies arrived?" These popped up in my neighbor's yard but couldn't resist snapping a shop.

Here's a shot from the backside of my Japanese bed, featuring the statuary surrounded by several dwarf shrubs.

Finally an interesting angle on the Caryopteris incana, showing the flower 'balls' as they 'run' along the branch. Caryopteris are renowned for being butterfly plants but the bees find them equally delightful.

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