Friday, February 13, 2015

Damn it, it's Spring!

I give up. Despite it being early February, I'm giving into overwhelming physical evidence and acknowledging it's spring. The plants have spoken. I know, I know, New England is still buried under 10 feet of snow. But that's a place far away and long ago.
We have what we have when we walk out the door and out my door is spring.
Not that that's a bad thing, mind you. It's just weird. If we can just alternate a week of heavy rain with a week of pleasant sunny weather then that would be perfect.
In a way this early warm weather is a good reminder that we do indeed live in the natural world. That it doesn't matter a whit what a human calendar says. That said, climate change is wreaking havoc on our planet so it's only through a useful short term amnesia that we can put aside those worries and enjoy this lovely weather. I was watching the Pebble Beach golf tournament in Monterey yesterday and despite the fact the average high on this date would be 61 degrees, it was 75. The golfers were alternately baffled and delighted. And the views were spectacular. Worth tuning in even if you don't care at all about golf.
So, here are photos from my 'spring' garden. Of course there are plants that aren't as easily fooled by this unusually warm weather. It's still February for them and they'll surface or bloom when they are damn well ready, thank you very much! Still, lots to photograph on such a lovely day. Praise be.

Crassula falcata. Known as Propeller plant, mine has decided to act as a spatula-like waterfall, tumbling down from its pot. Quite possibly my favorite succulent.

Though the shot isn't perfect, this Primula Primlet 'Sunrise' is just so exuberant I had to photograph it. So cheerful!

Speaking of exuberant, here's a closeup shot of a hybrid freesia. I swear, some of these freesias are so brightly colored you need sunglasses to view them. 

Iceplant + violas. Golden yellow and wine colors, hanging out, loving the sun. Iceplant flowers really do react to the sun. They rarely open on cloudy days. It's as if they're operating by solar polar, unable to unfurl until the sun gives them the energy to do so.

The Sun bed. This small bed is my favorite destination to plant spring annuals over top of the many bulbs here. Here it's Ranunculus, which though a bulb, I usually buy new each spring. There's also a Voltage Yellow osteospermum, also a perennial but which added a bit of much needed color in the winter. Soon this bed will be alive with Phacelias, Nigellas and Nemophilas, not to mention a host of Iris and Daffodils.

If this looks familiar, in fact like a Euphorbia, it is. What makes it different are the red flowers, here just starting to emerge, marking it as a Euphorbia atropurpurea. Deer proof, tough and pretty, Euphorbias are a great landscape plant.

Brachysema selsianum. Another shot of my Aussie native shrub that produces "unopened" red, pea-like claw flowers. It's a low scrambling shrub, used for texture. I always think of the pure red flowers as Cardinals (birds) in a tree, only close up.

Here's my own shot of the Wind poppy, Stylomecon. The crinkly orange creme soda flowers are pretty but its the 'eye' and the stamen that are the real attraction to me. 

Sometimes the bud form of flowers can be as interesting as the open flowers. Here my Luculia pinceana has produced little pink balls that look like little alien pods. Of course once the flowers open, their heady fragrance becomes very apparent.

Let's imagine a world where you aren't familiar with a lot of common plants. In that world you come across this exquisite sky-blue nodding flower and fall head-over-heels in love. That's how I look at the common Borage. If there were ever a flower I wanted to self-seed in my garden (and this one does), it's borage. And of course bees love it.

Calothamnus villosus. There must be a term for plants that flower directly off the stem and Calothamnus is one of the more unique ones. It forms little bumps along the stems that then suddenly open into these wispy flowers that are sort of pom-pom like.

Everybody's favorite 'orange' plant, Streptosolen (Marmalade bush) is immediately identifiable.  It's blooming early this year, no doubt responding to the warm weather. Toast anyone?

Melaleuca incana. This Aussie shrub has gone a bit wild, literally branching out. Here, one of the branches has created a 'highway' through the Adenanthos (Wooly bush). This species has fuzzy yellow flowers that remind some of Bottlebrush flowers, only on a miniature scale.

Here's a closeup of the Melaleuca flowers. One interesting thing about them -- the flowers start out looking very much like conifer cones and then gradually plump up before finally releasing their color.

Last week I posted a photo from my archive of my Magnolia 'Black Tulip.' Here's a "live" shot, taken this morning, of two open flowers. As I noted, this variety's flowers stay in a tight cup shape, which to me adds to their beauty. The flowers also hold onto their color.

Ten points for anyone that can guess this flower. Of course it hasn't opened yet. The multitude of little buds should be a clue that it's a bulb. It's in fact Allium schubertii. That is, an ornamental onion. This one, along with A, cristophii, form huge balls of tiny flowers that seem to explode out from the center, like fireworks. Very pretty.

Here's a photo of my Bamboo iris, taken of my own plant (not the one I raided from the net last week). The flowers aren't showy in and of themselves but there will soon be dozens of them, opening on crooked stems that snake up above the foliage. 

Chasmanthe bicolor. Most gardeners are familiar with the phrase "A weed is only a plant you don't want in your garden." That might be true for this S. African bulb. It can be slightly invasive, though mine has proven well behaved. Tough, pretty and drought tolerant. It's all good.

Gelsemium sempervirens. Better known as Carolina jasmine, though it acts more like a honeysuckle than a jasmine. Not especially fragrant but it produces a wealth of cheerful yellow flowers in spring.

Camellia 'Francie L. Variegated.' Another reticulata camellia, this one has variegated rose and white flowers. You get a preview of that even in this early bud phase.

This lovely Sedum is just commonly referred to as Jelly Bean sedum and you can see why here. They really do look yummy enough to eat. 

Sedum 'Lemon Coral.' Amazing how this sedum just brightens up any area. That chartreuse just really pops. From this top view it looks like it's shooting upwards but very soon it will be spilling over the front of the pot.

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