Thursday, September 18, 2014

Rain, not rain

Did it rain last night or did I just dream it rained? Hard to tell from the ground here in Oakland. What we all are experiencing today is a kind of humidity we're not used to. It's strange to wake up to warm, sticky weather. It makes me appreciate our dry weather, though of course we desperately need the rain. Our gardens soldier forward, with those of us in cooler coastal regions lucky to have milder temperatures, thus a need for less water for the plants.
Big news in my garden today is one of my Billbergias,  a gift from noted bromeliad collector Bill Holliday, having sent up a colorful bloom spike almost literally overnight. It's the first photo posted here and I'm just so excited I could explode. I need to learn more about tropicals as a large group and bromeliads as a subset. Getting them to bloom is still a hit and miss affair. I do recommend bromeliads to everyone; they're one of the easiest groups to grow and many have colorful foliage to enjoy even when they're not in bloom.
Okay, here are the photos. Is it really mid-September? When one doesn't have kids, summer kind of slides into late summer which slides into fall, with not a lot of change in the weather sometimes. There is however a gradual shift in emphasis to the shrubs and fall perennials in my garden so I guess gardens know the score more precisely than we humans.

Here's the Billbergia that got me so excited. I need some help in identifying which variety it is. You would think the maroon foliage and white spots would narrow it down but only slightly. I think it may be a B. 'Breauteana.' At least the flower does. I didn't manage to get this shot in perfect focus (maybe because I was too excited?)

This cute little guy is Corydalis lutea. It is known to self-seed and gradually colonize an area. I love the color and delicate clusters.

Begonia 'Irene Nuss.' It's easy to see why this prolific cane begonia is at the top of many people's lists. Definitely one of my faves. The flower clusters are large and an extravagant pink but it's also the scalloped foliage that grabs you. 

My split-leaf Philodendron just keeps producing larger and larger leaves. Its top level roots have gone everywhere and I need to keep trimming it or I can't get around it to get to the west side of the back yard.

Last week I posted a photo of this Begonia 'Calypso' in the midst of opening. Here it is fully open. Incredibly dense and such cheerful colors.

My succulent table. The silver, spidery plant in front is a Tillandsia. Directly behind it is an Echeveria 'Black Prince.' Behind and to the right is the incredibly floriferous Crassula alba v. parvisepala. 

My Epilobium 'Orange Carpet' has sprung into bloom and behind it that single purple flower is the resilient Gomphrena 'Fireworks.' I'd say that the Epilobium is keeping up in the fireworks department.

And this is a ... Well, it's a Lotus (you knew that) but I thought it was fun to shoot the dense mass of foliage without the telltale flowers. Seen in this light, it's pretty fab just like this.

Zinnia 'State Fair.' I'm becoming more intrigued by this plant all the time. Here it's in the process of opening and the juvenile petals are still a peachy-gold color, not yet having acquired the red of the mature flower.

I managed to catch a nice optical illusion, shooting this blue Echeveria. The 'gold eye' is simple a tiny pool of water refracting the sun's rays. Still, it's a neat trick.

Here's a better shot of my Oxalis latifolia. I love the lime-green foliage as much as the flowers.

Last week I took a closeup shot of one of the leaves of my Beschorneria albiflora. Here's the whole plant. A little water now and again has kept it greener. Still waiting for it to bloom a second time. The first time was spectacular.

Trying to take a good shot of my Tecoma x smithii is a challenge, as its branches hang downwards and thus so do the flower clusters. So that's my hand holding them up in the lower left. Check out the interesting bean-like seed pods.

Here's my favorite bulb-you've-never-heard-of -- Bessera elegans. For such tiny bulbs they pack quite a punch and multiply quickly. Here the sea of Coral Drops as they're known look like parasols being lifted by the breeze.

Speaking of plants that just don't know when to quit, this red Salpiglossis not only came back for a second year, when I pruned it back in July it responded by producing a new flowering spike. And who can resist Painted Tongues as they're called?

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