Thursday, November 6, 2014

Zebra weather

Zebra weather? Yes, that is when black is white and vice versa. As in, summer in November, as we dig out our T-shirts again and rummage through the closet for our circulating fan. There's snow in Tahoe though so there's hope yet.
Our gardens certainly like the warm weather, assuming they're getting some water. Still, succulents continue to fly out of our nursery. Those and drought tolerant plants, so gardeners are still not convinced we'll see much rain. At least it's led to wiser planting decisions.
Here are a few more photos from my garden. I've decided, time and inspiration allowing, I'll talk a bit more about certain plants. Where to plant them; my own experience in growing them and so forth. 

Fern lovers will recognize the broad fronds of Pteris cretica but this isn't the popular albo-lineata but a variety called Green on Green. The inner rib is just a bit greener than the white of albo-lineata. Brake ferns are some of the showiest ferns around and they are especially good for lightening a really shady spot. Mine is getting a bit more sun than it absolutely needs but it seems quite happy. In fact, in reaching for a bit of sun, it has formed a lovely cascading shape.

Echeveria 'Black Prince.' It took its time blooming (three years?) but it turns out that it produces a cluster of flowers, not single ones on a long sloping stem like some other Echeverias.Echeveria flowers are often popular destinations for hummingbirds.

Aeonium castello-paivae 'Suncups.' A new Aeonium (at least to me), this lovely variegated offering was just too cool not to bring home (I brought home two). Aeoniums are at their best in the winter period, liking the cooler weather, though below 20 degrees it would suffer or possibly die. A closeup look at the leaves reveals an almost painted type of pattern.

Justicia fulvicoma. My 'Orange' justicia has finally opened its simple, two-lipped flowers. There's a bit of patterning at the top -- a nectary runway as its called, directing pollinators inside the nectary. I'm a fan of justicias and whenever I spot one that can be grown here I usually snap it up. They're a bit frost tender so one has to be a little careful.

This odd looking creature is a Senecio (I sometimes think that if one cannot guess what a succulent is try Senecio first, as it's such a diverse genus). This is S. anteuphorbium 'Swizzle Sticks.' As the species name indicates, it's a Euphorbia type of Senecio. The little leaves sprouting off the stems look like little green flames to me, as if its a type of 'burning bush.' 

Bouvardia ternifolia + Grevillea 'Bonfire.' Not sure what I was after here but they are two of my favorite plants. The Bouvardia blooms nearly year round, with brilliant red tubular flowers on slender, almost leafless stems. The newly purchased Grevillea is growing by leaps and bounds and will soon sprout equally red flowers.

Phylica plumosa. I've posted photos of this before but it's looking particularly fluffy these days. I think the tips look like the foamiest fountains, spilling chartreuse foliage upwards to greet the passersby's eyes. This South African native isn't nearly as difficult to grow as it has been reported but it does love sun, heat, good drainage and just enough water to keep it happy. Hard to find in the trade so grab it when you do spot it.

Whenever I would describe a plant in one of my columns as "tough, drought tolerant, pretty and long blooming" there'd usually be a stampede to our nursery to buy one. Well, count this white-flowering Swainsona as fitting that bill. Though I'm not a big fan of white flowers, the combo of the pure white flowers and delicate, fern-like foliage is a winning combo.

Is this fly after an exotic fruit perhaps? Nope it's a seedpod from my Datura Blackcurrant Swirl. Everything about this plant is weird and interesting, including the seedpods. I don't know how I ever failed growing my first Datura because this one has been blooming nonstop since March and shows no sign of letting up.I keep pruning it back so it doesn't overrun nearby plants.

I somehow lost the tag to this succulent and being still a bit of a novice I'm not sure what it is. A Kalanchoe perhaps. I love the bluish tint to the leaves and that red rim. It has stayed low to the ground so far, spreading out to make a small colony. 

No mystery for this cute little guy. It's a Ledebouria socialis.It has semi-translucent succulent tubers and then the spotted leaves. It does flower, though the stems of very tiny white flowers are not very showy.

A rescue from work, this mini-orchid (genus unknown) was nearly dead. But it has hung in there and now has some new growth. I love the tangle of cascading roots.

Look up 'red' in the floral dictionary and you might find a picture of this Abutilon 'Lucky Lantern Red.' More so than some abutilons, the flowers on this variety are almost waxy. My experience is that Abutilons like some sun (this one gets it from 10 am to 2 pm in summer), though some will tough out some shade. But if your abutilon is kind of leggy and it's getting aphids or scale, that may be a sign that it's in too much shade. Also, abutilons benefit from being whacked back at least once a year if not more. It spurs new growth and a bushier, lusher look.

This photo is far from perfect but for now it's an introduction to Pelargonium sidoides. Yes, this is a geranium, for those of you not familiar with this species. It's grown as much for its scalloped grayish-green leaves as it is for these intense burgundy flowers. A most distinctive pel, even if one doesn't remember its name.

I've posted many photos of my exuberant Helenium 'Mardi Gras' in the past but not one recently. My specimen blooms eight months out of the year, prolifically, and is a real bee magnet. Never a problem getting a photo of a bee collecting nectar, as they're over there all the time.

Lastly, Cypella peruviana. Sensationally beautiful flowers but you practically have to pitch a tent beside them as the flowers open and close in a matter of hours and then that's it until the next flower opens. There's not much to the foliage so the flowers are the thing for this South American bulb.

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