Friday, June 19, 2015

Summer Delight

Spring to summer. That transition has so many connotations, some almost mythic, that it's part of the very fabric of our modern lives. For gardeners, that can be as simple as the transition from the exuberance of spring bursting forth to the quieter beauty of summer. Most of the planting has been done and hopefully one has conquered the array of weeds that also burst forth in spring. We never stop working in our gardens of course but hopefully now is a time when we can slow down a bit and appreciate the fruits of our labors.
June is always an interesting month to me. Although we tend to think of plants for spring and plants for fall, with summer a period not exactly forgotten but not quite with its own identity, summer can be a time when many perennials really hit their stride. My garden is full of them, many in bloom now, giving the garden a definite summer look.
Here is a peek at some of my garden's June clothes.

Bromeliad species. Many bromeliads will bloom in summer and this red-flowering one seems to favor this season to show off its colorful bracts.

Rhipsalis 'Limey.' Rhipsalis is a type of epiphytic cacti, commonly known as Mistletoe cactus. It is the largest and most widely distributed type of epiphytic cacti in the world. They are great for hanging baskets, with many displaying a cascading habit. 

Though not the best picture, I couldn't resist sharing the beautiful white blossoms of Philadelphus 'Belle Etoile.' I had to wait three years for it to bloom but the heavenly fragrance was worth the wait. 

Polemonium reptans 'Stairway to Heaven.' This morning sun loving perennial will eventually produce beautiful lavender flowers but in the meantime shows off lovely variegated foliage. BTW, this variety name refers to the plant's common name -- Jacob's Ladder. 

Nasturtiums may be common but some of them are really quite pretty. This one almost looks more painted than grown and is climbing up the vines of my Porcelain Berry vine.

I couldn't quite get the tiny, tiny flowers on this Ledebouria socialis in perfect focus but they are so unique and sweet that it's worth posting the photo anyway. It's an interesting plant, being a geophytic species of a bulbous perennial. It hails from South Africa, an area as many know that is a rich source of flowering bulbs.

I'm hoping that this golden 'spear' will be this bromeliad's "flower." It certainly provides an interesting contrast to the silvery smooth leaves.

Laurentia axillaris. The plant's common name -- 'Blue Stars' -- is as much descriptive as it is prosaic but in any case I love this plant's ferny foliage and exuberant lavender stars.

Here's another shot of my newest Dianthus (D. chinensis heddewigii). That color is pretty fab and the white edging really adds to the drama. I've been thinking about this color recently and given that relatively few flowers exhibit such a bold hue, it might make for an interesting photo essay.

Remember that old TV quiz show, where contestants had to guess the identity of the mystery guest. There was a line something like "Do you know me? I ..." Well, one could pose that question for this plant. Although it's not common and of course it's the flower that usually gives away a plant's ID, this bulb really does possess a very identifiable form. There's the striated markings on the leaves and the way the tips of the leaves have a little curlycue. It's a Gloriosa lily and it will eventually produce showy and distinctive red and yellow flowers.

Though the Clarkia 'Aurora' flowers at the bottom are in shade and not showing off their coral charms, the contrast to the golden hues of Physocarpus 'Nugget' is striking. Definitely a showstopper.

I took a photo of this newly planted succulent bowl last week but here's a closeup of one of its star entries -- Sempervivium tectorum calcareum (whew that's a mouthful!) I love the burgundy tips and the hint of turquoise in the leaves. Here it almost looks like a lotus floating on a blue pond.

Speaking of art, check out this new variety of Painted Tongue. That would be Salpiglossis 'Chilean Black.' This variety does indeed hail from Chile, which of course shares our Mediterranean climate. Here the flowers are a rich wine color but it can also show lots of purple.

Delphinium 'Summer Skies.' They might just as well entitled this variety 'Robin's Egg Blue' given its light blue hues. I've always wondered, given that bees pollinate these flowers, whether there's a connection to the inner section of delphiniums being called a "bee." The genus name derives from the Latin for "dolphin", referring to the shape of the nectary.

I thought this made for an interesting shot, with the Aquilegia 'Yellow Queen' flower seeming like it's actually the bloom of the Sauromatum venosum behind it. That Arum's common name is Voodoo lily and it produces a foot long, brownish spathe that can sometimes be quite smelly. To me, the voodoo spell it casts is its singular weirdness and beauty.

Aloe distans. This tough little aloe, newly planted in a median strip bed about six months ago, has already produced its first flower (up above, not yet open).  So many aloes, so little room ...

The angle taken to get both the flower and the foliage of this Francoa ramosa in the frame makes it seem as if the plant might be very tall but in fact it's only 30" at this point. It is certainly happy and has made the transition from being planted a mere month ago to it's already being in bloom quite effortlessly. It's a great alternative to foxgloves.

Right next to the Francoa is another new addition to my garden, this Euphorbia x martinii 'Ascot Rainbow. It also decided to get on with the business of flowering and is so covered in bloom heads that you can barely see the leaves. 

Here are two shots of a hummingbird visiting my Marmalade bush (whose flowers they adore). In the top photo, he's hovering just to the right and a bit lower than center. In the lower photo, he's resting in pretty much the center of the frame.

Here's the 'star' of my garden party, the Echium 'Blue Bedder.' It truly is one of the great bee plants for the garden and unlike perennial echiums which take awhile to grow and blossom, the annual Blue Bedder grows quickly and flowers profusely. If it were a product sold in a grocery store it would be advertised as "Instant Echium!"

Here's the aforementioned 'Shady Lane,' the pathway leading to the back yard. A friend kidded me about how 'clean' the garden looked for the party and tho I did do a lot of weeding and pot organization, I think it was the fact that the walkways were newly swept that caused her comment.

Ten points to those who can name this plant. If the foliage were more in focus, it might be easier but take a closer look at the shape of the flowers. Do they look familiar? It's a Corydalis but the fact that the flowers are yellow on this C. lutea is what throws people. Most Corydalis have blue flowers but I'll admit that despite being a lover of true blue flowers, I love these canary yellow blooms.

Iris 'Joyce Terry.' Not sure why but this bearded iris bloomed VERY late this year. Not only is it lovely but it is one of the sweetest smelling of any Bearded iris I've had the pleasure to be around.

Got bat? You do, sort of, if you have any of the so-called Bat-faced cupheas in your garden. There are an increasing number of Cuphea llavea varieties on the market. This one is a C. llavea Vienco Burgundy. Despite its name, the color of the flowers mysteriously ranges from red to burgundy to purple.

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