Friday, February 6, 2015

The Rain

So, a month of nothing but rain in December (yoo, hoo the drought is over) followed by a completely dry month of January (life as we know it is over) and now the Pineapple Express comes roaring into town. What, "mood swings" in California? Never heard of such a thing!
Seriously though, this 3 day rain is badly needed, for all manner of reasons. And of course our gardens will benefit greatly. Even die-hard sun lovers like myself are happy.
I've recently discovered a fun 'trivia facts' book called 1339 QI Facts to Make Your Jaw Drop. It has all manner of wondrous facts and the author points out that each of these facts has been researched (and that that research is available on their website). It covers quite the spectrum and very little is about plants but there are a few so I thought I would share a couple in each of my next few blog posts. Here are the first two:
* The nectar of citrus plants contains caffeine to attract bees.
* Urban birds have learned to line their nests with cigarette butts . Nicotine is a powerful insecticide that wards off mites, lice and fleas.

Okay, now the photos. Due to the rain, I've dipped into my archives or in a few cases the internet for pictures of plants in my garden that are in various stages of bloom. Don't forget to click on the photos to see them in full size (where their beauty can best be appreciated).

No this isn't an orange dandelion but a tough ground cover called Hieracium lanatum. It forms a dense mat of lightly hairy green leaves and usually in spring these dandelion imposter flowers that pop up on tall stems. 
Blogpost sometimes does funny things so the following six photos are mashed together, not letting me make notes under each photo. So, here goes, top to bottom. Everyone will recognize the top one, a colorful freesia hybrid. For any novices out there, freesias are the easiest bulb to grow -- and one of the sweetest smelling. Plus all the wild colors.
Below it are two photos of Lachenalias, at this point unidentified as to species. Lachenalias are of course a South African bulb that is, along with freesias, the easiest S. African bulb to grow. They do want a dry summer (after blooming) but other than that they are very reliable rebloomers.
Below that is a photo of a new Ferraria in my garden, F. ferrariola. This photo is from Annie's Annuals and Perennials. Ferrarias somehow manage to be beautiful, strange and totally unique all wrapped in one tough little package.
Next up is the wonderful plant known as Bamboo iris (Iris confusa 'Chengdu'). This picture is also from Annie's (where I bought mine). I bought mine three years ago and waited. Waited some more. I'd about given up when I went out in the garden yesterday and saw the first blooms! And there were half a dozen flowering stems so it's soon going to look like the specimen in this photo. I've learned to be patient but sometimes plants really test you!

Camellia 'Lila Naff.' Mine is just now budding up but I couldn't wait to share its beauty so here's a photo from the web. It's a Reticulata type and like many varieties in that species it has wavy petals and an extravagant visual appeal. 

Stylomecon heterophylla. This CA native poppy isn't nearly as well known as it should be, given its beauty. Besides the delicious, crinkly orange petals, it also offers up golden stamen set against a burgundy 'eye.' Enough to make orange lovers swoon. (This photo also from Annie's).

Magnolia 'Black Tulip.' This isn't a painting, though it looks like it. And I didn't catch this flower on the 'cusp' of opening. This magnolia's flowers hold onto their cup shape, giving them almost a posed appearance.

Chaenomeles 'Kurokoji.' One of the most beautiful of all the flowering quince bushes. It blooms very early in my garden, even without the help of our unusually early warm days. There's nothing quite like that blood red color.

Geranium phaeum. This hardy and lovely geranium is hard to find. Which is a mystery, given its dense, purple-speckled green foliage and lovely matte purple flowers. I've neglected it and it still keeps on ticking.

Ranunculus. Who doesn't love these colorful bulbs? So many colors, some that are bicolor, and their relatively long bloom season for a bulb. Instant color.

Kerria japonica 'Pleniflora.' Though this photo from my archive isn't in perfect focus, my specimen is currently opening new flowers even before the leaves arrive. Tough, pretty and lightly fragrant, what's not to like?

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