Saturday, September 21, 2013

Rain Man

Or should the title read 'Rain, man.' Looking out at the rain, something people in the Bay Area don't see much of between June and November. Though I'm more of a sun person myself (and I've lived in rainy areas like Vancouver), there is something lovely about the rain. Plus it nourishes the garden in ways that I just don't think hose water does.
Rain Man also makes me think of the Dustin Hoffman movie and the mathematical savant that Hoffman plays. I was a math major and interested in all things mathematical (which is a pretty big list since numbers underlie just about everything in our life). That has faded and in some senses replaced by an interest in horticulture. I've just scratched the surface but I still get asked occasionally "How do you know all this stuff?" And really the simple answer is -- obsession. My knowledge of plants is no more remarkable than someone who knows a lot about stamps, just a little more useful. As has often been pointed out, we are a nation of enthusiasts. Like many other gardening enthusiasts, I'm fascinated by plants. Add to that my writerly interest in Etymology and the knowledge can pile up faster than you think. So, I raise a glass to gardening enthusiasts the world over. Long may they prosper. (See this is what happens when you're cooped up indoors during the rain. The mind rambles.)

Here are a few more photos from my garden, taken yesterday before the rain arrives.

Impatiens niamniamensis. Otherwise known as Congo cockatoo for its colorful beak-like flowers. One of the unique aspects of this colorful species Impatiens is the fact that the flowers appear along the stems, not at the tips of the branches as is the case with most plants. The flowers are stiff and waxy, something that always delights children (or the kid in all of us).

Cobaea scandens. Otherwise known as 'Cup and Saucer' vine. The flatter green part of the flower in the rear is the saucer. The cup has a neat trick. It starts out the same shade of green as the saucer then gradually colors in to the lovely burgundy you see here.Very vigorous! (which is a kind way of saying it can take over anything near it).

Though no longer in bloom, the lovely silvery foliage of Eriophyllum lanatum is well worth adding this CA native to your garden. Tough too.

These pots at the entrance to our front walkway are usually reserved for sun loving color. Right now that's an Autumn Colors rudbeckia, a red Calibrachoa and my new fave, Caryopteris 'Hint of Gold.' Not just a hint, this "Bluebeard" has remained a vibrant golden since I brought it home two months ago.

Tweedia caerulea. I've said it before, how can anyone who likes true blue flowers possibly resist the charms of this milkweed? Here they seem to float in the ether, with the silvery backdrop of Centaurea gymnocarpa.

Tomato variety. A friend gave a tiny seedling to my studio neighbor and I helped her out by planting it a much larger pot. Though I don't recognize the variety, I love the marbling. Very yummy.

Viburnum x burkwoodii. Although it's supposed to bloom in spring, this fragrant viburnum is producing a few flowers here in September. A tough, smaller viburnum, x burkwoodii is a great addition to a fragrant garden.

Although I'd previously shown a photograph of my King protea, I just love the color, the perfect geometry (remember my math background) of the petals and the realization of how spectacular the open flower will be.

Passiflora citrina. This charming and simple passiflora is climbing up into a fir tree and I think creates a beautiful 'woodland' look.

Tecoma x smithii. I couldn't resist bringing home this Tecoma, even though I had no room for it. The flower colors are just too vibrant. It's in a median strip where I hope to train it up a tree (and keep it from wandering onto the street or sidewalk, something I've been unable to stop my Passiflora 'Blue-eyed Susan from doing.

Right across the sidewalk from the Tecoma is a nice patch of Calandrinia. Sometimes I bemusedly think of the flowers as waving to passersby. "Hi, how are you doing on such a fine day!" they'd say.

Bonus points for those who recognize this guy. It's a Dyckia marnier-lapostollei and that's no optical illusion. It really is that silvery. Some Dyckias can be deadly thorny but this guy isn't too bad. VERY slow growing but hey, I'm not going anywhere.

And finally my new favorite fern -- Doryopteris pedata. Otherwise known as Digit fern for its hand-like leaves. This is the first I'd heard of it and I couldn't resist adding it to my fern collection.

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