Friday, April 4, 2014

April showers bring ...

The couple inches of rain that the Bay Area got this last week are certainly welcome news and nowhere is that more evident than in our gardens. And now with at least ten days of clear weather to come, I expect our garden denizens will be bursting forth. If you haven't already planted your spring natives, now is an excellent time to do so. For blues, consider gilias, phacelias and Baby Blue Eyes, as well as Echium Blue Bedder, a charming, low growing annual echium. It's just as popular with the bees as its perennial cousins. For pink shades, there is a collection of floriferous clarkias. I have Amoena and the lovely Salmon Princess already started. For yellows, there's the exuberant Tidy Tips (Layia) and Cream Cups (Platystemon), which will run wild in a pleasing sort of way.
For perennials, nothing is better than CA buckwheats (Eriogonums), with the E. grande rubescens being a favorite selection. It's a good time to get native penstemons and salvias going as well.  Perennials don't have to involve major space allotments. There are plenty of smaller, native perennials for a variety of spots.
Here are a few photos from my garden, shots taken on an unexpectedly clear day yesterday.

If this plant looks familiar yet strange, you may be right. It's the variegated leaf form of Nicandra (Shoo-fly). They're in the Solanum family, a classification given away by the purple flowers and distinctive seedpods. Very easy to grow and self-seeds.

Iris Eye of the Tiger. So many Dutch iris, so little time ...

Justicia brandegeeana. Or Shrimp plant to the non plant geeks out there. As soon as I moved this into more sun, it immediately began to flower. There's something about the flowers that is so appealing. To paraphrase that modeling expression "The camera just loves them."

Another plant geek explained to me that Cornus florida dogwoods can be finicky and maybe that explains why mine has taken its time flowering. This is the first year I've gotten more than a handful. But I'm a glass half full kind of guy so am expecting a much better show next year.

This Lonicera japonica is beginning to bloom and that means bees of all kinds will be visiting. Here it's a bumblebee of some sort.

A new Dutch iris this year. The gold petals are just so vivid!

Speaking of Phacelias, here's P. campanularia, often called Desert Bluebells. This is a low growing, spreading species, with distinctively patterned foliage. Another favorite destination for bees.

If you look up the word orange in the gardener's compendium, I'm pretty sure you'd find a picture of Papaver 'Orange Chiffon.' To paraphrase the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, "this flower is SO orange, light just kind of disappears into it." It's so orange you have to show your I love Orange membership card to even buy the plant.

Gaillardias are a member in good standing of the Happy plant club. This G. Arizona Apricot was a salvage plant (scraggly, half-dead) and look at it now. H-A-P-P-Y. 

For some reason I've had a hard time getting a good photo of my Felicia amelloides variegata. This shot isn't perfect but it's at least presentable. Blue daisies as they're called thrive on benign neglect. Tough, drought tolerant and long blooming!

Iris Holden Clough. This showy Louisiana-type iris is hard to find in the trade these days and that's a shame. With its toffee colors and pronounced veining, it's one of the prettiest members of this group.

Here's another shot of my Tillandsia in bloom. It's easy to forget that air plants are actually bromeliads. Seeing them in bloom reinforces the connection.

Sedum x adolphii. This golden sedum is a colorful addition to any succulent bowl, unbothered by light conditions, rain or bugs.

Aeonium Kiwi. This soft focus shot, catching the plant in dappled light, creates a nice mood.

This O.R. (original rhodie) has survived poor soil, a somewhat restricted area, thrips and inconsistent watering but has hung tough. It's starting a new bloom cycle.

To my delight, my Arisaema ringens has returned after not appearing at all last year. One of the sturdiest of all the arisaemas, it showcases huge, verdant green foliage and a sturdy spathe.

Scyphanthus may be the prettiest flower that few have ever heard of. Its delicate but exceptionally pretty cup-shaped flowers appear in spring. It's a scrambler/short vine, perfect for when you don't have a large area to cover. 

Acer Beni Maiko. I just brought home this vividly colored Japanese maple. Though this photo is from the web, I wanted to share how beautiful the tree will look at full maturity.

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