Thursday, May 21, 2015

I'll have a mimosa please

Nice to have the sun back today, even for brief moments. There wasn't much rain preceding it but it at least it freshened our gardens. I've been a bit lazy about writing about a single plant that's on my recent radar but today I have such a plant in my sights. That would be Jacaranda 'Bonzai Blue.' The variety name is a giveaway as to what is new about this tropical tree. For those familiar with the tree some call the Mimosa tree, you know it can get quite huge. As in 40' at maturity. That makes them spectacular but a tad impractical for those of us with smaller yards. But now Monrovia has just put this dwarf cultivar on the market and they claim it will only get to six feet in height! I'll believe that when I see it but even if it stops at 8-10' that's still very manageable. My five gallon specimen (see photo below) is very dense and bushy. In fact, except for the distinctive foliage, you'd never guess it was a Jacaranda at all. So, we'll see. I love the look of this dwarf variety. I'd been aware Monrovia was about to debut this new cultivar for some time and finally it's available to the public. I'm especially pleased to have it because I definitely don't have room for another full-sized tree in my garden. This fits the bill perfectly!
The mostly cloudy weather today made it a bit of a challenge to get good photos from my garden but here are a handful that turned out nice.

Calceolaria calynopsis. This hard to find red pocketbooks is such a treat. Flowers are larger than those found on the common yellow flowering C. mexicana or the orange flowering C. Kentish Hero. BTW, who the heck exactly is this 'Kentish Hero?' Anyway, I love this new Calceolaria and am curious to see how hardy it is.

Speaking of our 'Kentish Hero,' here he is, already sporting some burnt orange flowers. I like the color orange so he's a welcome addition to my garden. And this one is a perennial too.

Albuca species. This unidentified Albuca just opened its first flowers and they are a cheerful yellow with green ribs. Albucas are generally one of the easiest bulbs to grow.

Although it may be difficult to tell from this photo, this is a flowering stem from my Aeonium 'Suncups.' It's the first time its bloomed, so I had no idea what the flowers would look like (You'd be surprised at the sometimes lack of info on the flower color of some succulents).

Clarkia amoena 'Aurora.'  One of my favorite clarkias, for this fabulous coral color. The first few flowers are showing a bit of white, which I haven't seen in the past. Clarkias are one of our most reliable wildflower natives. I once was hiking in Briones Park in April and saw a whole hillside dotted with them.

Although a lot of people associate the color purple with Statice, I picked up this yellow flowering one in a flat of mixed colors. Limonium sinuatum is a very hardy, drought tolerant plant (which is why you see it growing by dry roadsides) and of course the flowers are great for dried flower arrangements.

I thought the yellow flowering Lilium Trebbiano and the wine-colored Buddleja 'CranRazz' looked good together. Although this lily isn't fragrant the butterfly bush certainly is.

And, Ta Da, here is the star of today's plant offerings, the aforementioned Jacaranda 'Bonzai Blue.' It's only about 30" tall right now but mimosas grow quickly. I expect it to be full size by next year, if not sooner. No telling if this young tree will bloom this year. 

Just in front of the Jacaranda is my Eriogonum giganteum. Now that its roots have soil to grow into its looking much healthier. I love the silvery leaves and you can still see the beading of this morning's rain on the leaves.

Although not the best photo, I'm trying to take more pictures of whole beds and not just individual flowers. This bed is underneath a well established fir tree on the west side of the property. The bed faces southwest but the overhanging branches do shade it a bit. In front is one of my favorite plants, a low spreading mallow, Sphaeralcea munroana. Behind and sort of overlapping is a Monardella villosa (Coyote mint). Further back and to the left, the sword-shaped leaves are a Bamboo iris and directly at the base of a tree is a Passiflora citrina. Which is all to say that you can indeed grow things under conifer trees.

Immediately to the left of the above bed, still under the fir tree, is a bed with a bunch of lilies. The taller, narrow-leaved lilies are L. regale (Regal lily), which produce enormous, white, scented flowers in early summer. There are two red oriental lilies mixed in plus a Clarkia concinna (a shade-loving clarkia), a low growing variegated Plectranthus and my Abelia species 'Chiapis.' 

Collectors of carniverous plants will know what this is (Sarracenia), also known as the American pitcher plant. They come in a variety of colors but I especially like this lime one, which is especially good at showing off the red veining. Fun for humans; deadly for small insects.

Hydrangea quercifolia. Better known as Oakleaf hydrangea. Mine has sort of taken over the south side of my Tropical Corner. It's almost never deciduous, is full and lush spring through fall, produces cones of white flowers in summer and then gets some lovely red color in the late fall. To me, it's one of Nature's "perfect" garden plants.

Could a flower possibly improve your love life? (and I don't mean buying roses for your girlfriend). This flower might. Meet Osteospermum 'Berry White.' That's Berry not Barry but hey, something whose name even sounds like the king of romance can't hurt, right?

Cotinus 'Royal Purple.' This photo is exactly why you want this tree in your garden. It's just ridiculously, extravagantly floriferous in a way only smoke bushes can be.

This variety of Asclepias curassivica will send you to the moon. Well, not literally but given its variety name (Apollo Orange) it seems like maybe it might. Of course it's the plant that monarchs lay their eggs on. Don't forget to cut off any flowers in the late fall (or cut it back completely).

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