Friday, July 10, 2015

Distance Makes the Heart Grow Fonder

I'm back from Canada and between the time there and the hustle to get ready I hadn't spent any quality time in my garden for two weeks. That meant my normal weekly walk through the garden was an especially inviting one. So many 'old friends' wearing new clothes. Some of the 'kids' had really grown, especially my Hollyhock 'Mars Magic,' which was 5' tall when I left and 7' on my return. Wow! It's not that I needed to go away to appreciate my garden, but the time away gave me a fresh perspective. Of course there's things that need doing but much of the garden party prep, making the garden look as neat and full as possible, was able to carry forward. Meaning the garden still looked rather nice on my return.
Due to the mild Oakland weather I get to garden year round. One drawback is that there's no down time, no winter to provide a rest. So, getting out of town provides my main break, albeit a brief one.
While I was gone it went from 85 to 65. In other words, typical Bay Area weather. Hey, it beats hurricanes, floods and general pestilence.
Okay, enough musing. Here are the photos. Due to the gray skies today, many of the photos are a bit muted. It does however give those interested an idea of what is in bloom this second week of July.

Cosmos sulphureus. Casual nursery shoppers sometimes confuse this short, brightly colored cosmos for a marigold but this Cosmic Mix is pretty fab. Oranges, reds and yellows float above fern-like foliage.

Hollyhock 'Mars Magic.' Though the flowers seem to be creamy pink in this photo,  they're more a raspberry red color. It's rocking a median strip pretty good and it's just getting started.

Ipomoea 'Heavenly Blue.' This morning glory produces the largest flowers and that robin's egg blue is too beautiful for words. 

Want to adopt a colorful bird that will make you happy? You have it if you're growing Nasturtium 'Canary Creeper.' I grow this annual every year and on this lattice board the last few. Mine is not a cottage garden, but this one area might well qualify. Unlike other nasturtiums, this one can cover a pretty good area, scrambling over whatever you give it to climb on. A little bit of floral sunshine.

And they too shall rise. My Cuphea Vienco Burgundy completely disappears in the winter, takes its time coming back but then goes berserk, going from nothing to full bloom in a month. This is a Bat-faced type, though not with the face and ears apparent on the Cuphea llavea types.

No boring California native here. Here are two of my Mimulus varieties, each in full bloom. Mimulus aurantiacus types thrive on benign neglect so don't over-water them.

This deep red, star-shaped charmer is Petunia exserta, a perennial petunia that I believe only Annie's grows. Its beauty belies its toughness. A sun lover, it'll produce an abundance of blooms in summer and fall.

Eucomis 'Sparkling Burgundy.' This well named cultivar features large, burgundy strap-shaped leaves and then in summer rigid stalks smothered in waxy, star-shaped flowers. On a coolness scale of 1-10, I give this plant an 11! Eucomis is a S. African bulb and is surprisingly tough. There is quite a range of colors for the flowers, from pure white, to whitish-green to this pink and even a deeper purplish pink.

Okay, this photo may not be exciting but those little purple buds are this dwarf Jacaranda's first crop of flowers-to-be. Can't wait! I've always loved Jacarandas but since they get 30-50' tall I didn't have room. So I was unreasonably excited when Monrovia announced a dwarf version that only gets 5-6' tall. We'll see.

If you're wondering what kind of Scabiosa this might be, well, stop. It's a Cephalaria gigantea. It does belong to the same family as its more familiar 'cousin' (Dipsacaceae) but this guy can reach 6-7' in height and each flower can be as large as 3" across. Thus its species name. Charming and just as popular with bees and butterflies as Pincushion plants.

Take an Angel's trumpet flower, make it a double and pull out that palette and select a gorgeous purple to coat the outside of the flowers and voila! Datura 'Blackcurrant Swirl.' I'll admit to being head over heels in love with this plan.

Aloe distans. Although this photo isn't perfectly focused, the flower head is so amazing I had to share it. It makes a kind of "floral umbrella" and the tips are a greenish-yellow. Too cool for words.

No shame in not being able to ID this guy. It's Abelia sp. 'Chiapas.' It was brought back from Chiapas Mexico by Strybing curator Don Mahoney and as far as I know only Annie's Annuals grows it. Its uniqueness lies in it being a cascader, having purple not pink flowers and most wonderfully, in its flowers being fragrant.

Okay, no more jokes about dandelions in talking about this tough as nails ground cover, Pilosella aurantiaca. Love the color and the mat forming foliage is a rich green with fine little hairs.

Not to repeat myself (okay I am) but "ladies and gentlemen, the world's greatest Lupine." It's Lupinus pilosus and thanks again to Barb Siegel for keeping this beauty in cultivation. There's just nothing else I can think of with this color, form and then the large, fuzzy seedpods. Love it!

I haven't always had the best luck with fashioning hanging baskets but this one, made for the garden party last month, has turned out quite nicely. It has two Calibrachoas (Million Bells) and then the charming Oregano 'Kent Beauty,' which is just starting to produce its pink bracts.

There's a reason that people love Passion Flower vines and this Passiflora actinia might be near the top of the list why. It does have petals of course (greenish-white, above) but it's the wildly colored and wavy filaments that are the real show. Uhh, Mr. Darwin, how exactly did we arrive at this flower?

Begonia 'Illumination Yellow.' This wildly popular new series of cascading begonias is just too floriferous to be believed. But there it is, so smothered in flowers you can barely see the leaves.

Speaking of going a little crazy, here's my Asarina erubescens 'Bridal Wreath.' Last year this small vine just overran everything next to it. Which I didn't mind, given its soft, mint green leaves and those pure white tubular flowers. Notice the yellow markings on the inside of the flower? Those are known as 'nectar pathways,' helping to guide pollinators into the heart of the flower where the nectar is located.

This is my first opportunity to photograph my long delayed in blooming Passiflora Oaklandii. This Parritae cross (with tarminiana) sent a vine dangling low enough that I could finally capture its unique beauty. So, with the P. actinia it's all about the filaments and with P. Oaklandii it's all about the petals. Ain't Nature grand?

Filed under "Patience is a virtue" this is the first year my Sambucus canadensis has produced berries. That was the main reason I planted this Elderberry bush, to provide berries for the birds. So, sweet success at last! Hopefully the Northern Mockingbirds and Robins will  find it.

The flash that came on automatically due to the low light conditions somewhat bleached out the colors here, especially for the deep burgundy bracts but I'm still including this photo here as these are the first flowers on my surprisingly hardy Deppea splendens. 

Dianella 'Baby Bliss.' One look at the 'shooting stars' form of the flowering stem, I almost think that someone shouted "Okay, quick, scatter!" I already see little berries forming, which will also be its first year to do so.

Savlvia patens. Nothing quite the pure blue flowers of this deciduous sage. The flash also made this flower a bit lighter than it is in truth but couldn't wait to share a photo of one of my favorite salvias.

Begonia boliviensis ''Sparkle Sunset.' This begonia has also exploded into bloom and is sharing its container with a Cuphea ignea 'Orange.' It seems to like its location so will leave it there for awhile.

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