Friday, December 12, 2014

Ahoy, mateys!

Yes, for all you friends outside of the weird and wonderful Bay Area, those really were people kayaking down city streets yesterday! Indeed it did come down in buckets. I had a few near casualties in my garden but it mostly survived intact. Speaking of survival, that brings me to today's spontaneous topic -- Great Garden Victories (known as GGVs). Veteren gardeners will know immediately what this refers to -- the wonderful experience of getting something struggling to finally do well or in some cases, bringing plants back from the dead. While we all love each and every plant in our garden (except maybe the weedy ones), there is a special satisfaction to plants that fall under the GGV category.
Example # 21 in my garden is represented in today's first photo -- Agapetes serpens. It's a long sad story but hey I've got the time here so ... Just kidding. It was doing fine in a large pot on a sunny porch; had to be moved so was put 'temporarily' in a shady corner; no preferable place opened up; thrips set in; it nearly died; sprayed for the thrips and saved it only to have thrips come back; finally I fed the heck out of it, a pruned brugmansia opened up more light, I got rid of the thrips for good and voila! So, don't let anyone tell you that this plant isn't tough. We could start a new saying "Tough as agapetes!"
A word about today's photos. Due to the rains and things being a bit beaten down, I make an exception and raid my archives for photos of plants that I would otherwise have photographed today.
With that caveat, here they are:

Hopefully you'll be spared the above plagues when growing Agapetes. And it's worth it, as not only are the individual urn-shaped flowers very pretty, but they develop in rows beneath the branches and have a papery feel. As the Orbit gum woman says in the commercials - "fabulous!"

From difficult to super easy, meet Anomatheca laxa. This genus is so closely related to Freesias that it was once classified as such. It however appreciates some shade and is a prolific self-seeder. There are subtle variations in color (and there is a white form) but the straight species offers charming coral-red flowers. 

This is a 'blue hibiscus.' No, you're not color blind and it's not really a "blue hibiscus" but its species mate, Alyogyne huegelii, is commonly referred to by that common name. This is the harder-to-come-by A. hakeafolia, which as you can see has yellow flowers. My specimen seems to bloom whenever it feels like it though in theory it's a summer and fall bloomer.

Who you calling a wallflower? Put up your dukes! Okay, wait, I am a wallflower, otherwise known as Erysimum. This is E. 'Winter Sorbet' with its delightful mix of purple and orange flowers. It is aptly named, as this variety seems to bloom later than most others.

My Shiny Bristle fern has filled in since this photo was taken (last year) but wanted to showcase one of the loveliest if not well known ferns that do well in our area. 

I'm making one exception in including this Dianthus 'Chomley Farran' photo. It normally blooms in the late summer/early fall but is late this year. Still hoping it makes it. There is some disagreement on whether this variety is one of the famous 'Bizarres' from the 1800s. They were especially showy, variegated types that fell out of favor. Hard to understand why when you see this madam's beauty.

Chamaecyparis obtusa 'Nana Lutea.' One of the denizens in my dwarf conifer bed. It's a personal favorite of mine and I somehow imagine its twisting 'panels' as DNA strands. In any case, it's been one of the stars of this bed and has nary a brown leaf.

Salvia 'Vanhouttei.' Thought to be a S. splendens type, meaning it likely won't survive the winter, it's nonetheless very showy right now. What you see aren't the flowers but the rich, burgundy-red bracts.

Borage officinalis. This is the simple borage that self-seeds like crazy but I love its pure blue nodding flowers almost as much as the bees (note the bumblebee on the lower right).

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