Friday, September 12, 2014

An Inviting Garden

I talked a bit about the importance of diversity in my last entry but one aspect of this I didn't mention is that planting a garden with a wide selection of plants also attracts a diverse crew of pollinators and other beneficial insects. Although there are bees, butterflies and birds that target a certain plant (or group) as is the case with Monarch butterflies, it is more generally true that these birds and insects will sample of variety of natives and other plants commonly found in this state. Bumblebees go even further; they are generalists and will seek out many plants that provide nectar, native or not.That is true of hummingbirds as well, which favor plants with tubular flowers. Ideally you would add plants to your garden that bloom in all four seasons, so there's always something in bloom for these beneficial and attractive visitors.
That said, here are some photos taken today. As we head into fall, there is more of an emphasis on foliage and so there are a few shots here that focus on that feature.

This is one of my front yard color bowls, with annual Petunias and Torenias plus the unusual perennial mallow Pavonia (orange flowers).

Many will recognize the powder blue blooms of Plumbago auriculata. They are such tough shrubs that the city of Oakland has planted them beside freeway entrances. They are also said to be good at absorbing pollution. They do provide lovely hydrangea-like flower clusters and are a favorite destination for butterflies to sun themselves on.

Another shot of my un-Pittosporum like P. crassifolium. For me it's much prettier than any of the other Pitts and though mine has yet to bloom it's supposed to sport the prettiest red flowers.

War of the Aussie giants. Yes it's a match to the death of ... okay it's more like two friendly Aussie natives who simply have outgrown their allotted space. That's especially true of the Adenanthos sericea, better known as Wooly bush for its silky soft foliage, on the left. But the Melaleuca incana on the right is also way too happy (if you know what I mean and I think you do). I love them both so they'll just have to get along.

Clerodendrum ugandense. That's a mouthful so people just call them Blue Glory Bowers. Easy to see why with that color. It's another in a long line of plants with pea-like flowers. This guy can get big so you need the room.

Another shot of my Aloe striata, better known as Coral aloe. To the left is my favorite Oxalis (O. latifolia), which sports the prettiest lime-green foliage and then vivid pink flowers. To the right of the aloe is the weirdly named Plectranthus relative -- Hemizygia (variegated foliage).

Here's the first foliage shot. Can you guess what it is? It's a Beschorneria albiflora and up close you can see the lovely striations on the leaves.

There's red and then there's Bouvardia red. It's such a saturated red that the camera has a hard time delineating the detail of each small tubular flower. No lie, this thing blooms nearly year round.

Though the lighting is less than ideal, here's a closeup of one of my rain lilies. Now can anyone ID this little creature checking out something of interest in the center?

Most of you know Rehmannia. I just had a funny image of a police rap sheet on this plant. "Mr. Rehmannia, aka Chinese foxglove; aka profuse bloomer for shade; aka self-seeder."

Yes this is a Plectranthus but which one? If you were standing in front of it, the giveaway would be the lime-green foliage and its height. It's a P. Zuluensis and finally in its third year it's gotten around to some serious blooming.

Didn't think I'd have enough color on my Ampelopsis this year (thus my stealing an image from the web for a previous post) but here's mine with a few exquisite blue berries. 

This leaf should be a bit more recognizable. It's a red banana and we're mild enough here in Oakland that you can grow them outside. It does die back completely in the winter but comes back faithfully in late spring. Love the red center spine.

This super frilly thing is Begonia 'Calypso.' Of course the flower hasn't fully opened but I love the golds and apricots and its fully double form once open.

Today as I was looking at the most fragrant of the Plectranthus species, this one is known as Cuban Oregano though it's not edible, it suddenly looked like miniature water lettuce plants. Haven't seen this guy bloom but the fragrance is heavenly.

If my primroses are back I know that fall can't be far away. This is part of the Primula Primlet series. Very cute.

Another exuberant Aussie in the same bed as the Adenanthos and the Melaleuca, in front of them in fact, is this surprisingly little known Aussie native Swainsona. It has a long bloom season and pure white, pea-like blooms. With a little water it remains lush and quite floriferous.

It may look like a Calceolaria (Pocketbooks) but in fact it's a ... well ... Calceolaria. In this case a C. paralia. It has larger leaves than C. mexicana, is perennial and tends to stay upright not flop like the mexicanas.

I get asked about this plant all the time, especially when the sun isn't bringing out the true color of the flowers (deep purple). Without the sun the flowers look almost black. That and the lime-green calyxes make quite a striking combo. It's Salvia discolor (I imagine a man of Italian descent being asked "what color?" and him replying "Dis-color here." Okay, that was bad.

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