Okay, gratuitous Superman reference but just seeing blue skies for the first time in ... let's see, how long is my beard now? Amazing how our gardens (hopefully) have prospered in the cool gray weather. Still there's nothing like sun and a little warmth to make them happy. Hopefully we'll have a stretch of sunshine here in the Bay Area to lift everyone's spirits.
The cool weather has partially disguised the transition in many of our gardens from spring to summer. I have pulled out most of my winter/spring annuals, those spots giving way mostly to summer blooming perennials.
Today's spotlight plant, something that may be unfamiliar to many (it was to me) is a plant commonly known as Bamboo fern (Coniogramme japonica v. gracilis). This fern hails from China and one look at its fronds gives you an idea where its common name came from. Actually one writer has likened its fronds more to certain palms. He has a point. In any case, it's yet another plant that the novice might never guess to be a fern at all. I'll let you be the judge (photo below). I'm always on the outlook for something new and interesting and that was especially true as I get ready for my yearly garden party.
Today's photos are a cross section of different kinds of plants, though the one thing they all have in common is that they're perennials. Enjoy!
Bamboo fern. You decide -- does it mimic a bamboo or a palm? This is a web photo but photos of my own specimen will follow in the near future.
Calceolaria Kentish Hero. Here's a nice shot of the sun lighting up the rich orange flowers. Hmm, orange is such a powerful color, such a showoff, that it might be fun to do a little book on the subject.
Here's an idea of why growing the yellow Bleeding hearts (Dicentra scandens) is unlike any other dicentra you've ever grown. Set aside the canary yellow flowers for the moment and consider its species name. Scandens, as in scandent, means climbing. That's exactly what this Bleeding heart does, as this photo makes evident. And most Dicentras act as annuals or a short lived perennial. Not so with D. scandens. It's one tough customer and like the swallows of Capistrano it's back faithfully every year.
If Chameleons can change color, then certain plants can evolve, right? Okay, that's a bad lead in to the oddly named, blue-flowering perennial Evolvulus. This is a hybrid so not sure of it's species info. No matter, its calling card, the small & simple blue flowers, is enough to earn its keep along my main walkway.
Most gardeners will recognize this flower, at least by its common name (Marmalade bush). If you made a list of the top ten plants whose common name is highly descriptive, marmalade bush would surely make the list. A real favorite for my garden hummingbirds.
Echinacea 'Primadonna Deep Rose.' Whoa there, someone had one too many glasses of wine in coming up with this variety name. That said, this guy has proved pretty durable, outlasting some of the other varieties I've tried. No primadonna here.
Limonium sinuatum. I still haven't gotten a photo of this yellow flowering statice that shows off its beauty. Curiously the unopened buds are an alabaster color.
Many of you will recognize this flower (Plumbago auriculata). This vigorous, okay semi-invasive, shrub might be the first thing that appears when you google the gardening version of "Be careful what you ask for." Thankfully it's contained in a median strip bed but just the idea of digging it out gives me the willies.
I included this closeup of a Leucospermum 'Salmon Bud' not so much for the flower but for the curious green visitor. Anybody know their insects? In any case, he stands out quite nicely against the honey golds of the inner petals.
Magnolia grandiflora 'Little Gem.' This dwarf form of the evergreen Southern magnolia is slowly establishing itself in one of my median strips. Here, one of the flower buds is uncovering from its protective, furry, brown covering. I'm becoming more intrigued with the bud form of flowers.
This photo is in a bit too much shade but those curious cashew-shaped alabaster things are the bud form of a Vigna caracalla, better known as a Snail vine. To the left, you can see one beginning to color up to its eventual lavender color.
Primroses are annuals and they like shade. Everybody knows that. Except ... In truth, primroses are perennial plants and many can take a decent amount of sun in our mild climate here. Exhibit A is this Primula Sunrise, one of the Primlet series. This little beauty is on year three and it likes its daily dose of sun.
Clematis viticella 'Purpurea Plena Elegans.' Viticella clematis are a late flowering species with smaller flowers, some a double form like this PPE. They appear in summer and bloom well into the fall. I love their petite charms.
Plectranthus species are so tough and adaptable, a great problem solver for shade, that we sometimes forget that they also bloom. This P. zuluensis, one of the taller species, has very pretty lavender flowers, with darker purple markings.
My newest succulent fave is this Sempervivium tectorum calcareum (whew, that's a mouthful). This plant has one of the most curious common names ever -- House Leek. Say what? A little research reveals that Semperviviums as a genus are called houseleeks. One story has it that due to their toughness, Semperviviums were grown on house roofs. Okay, that's the house part, but where the heck does the leek part come in?