Friday, September 11, 2015

To rain or not to rain

... that is the Quest(ion). There was a bit on the news last night that meteorologists now are predicting a 95% chance of an El Nino (rainy) winter. The main issue for those of us in the Bay Area is whether it will make it this far north. It seems it will but at this point we're like Missouri (Show me!). Then again, we could really get pounded and that may not be as much of a good thing as it first seems. Yes, if we get snow in the Sierras as a result the reservoirs will rebound some but it could also result in widespread flooding. But at least it will be rain and it will soak the state, reducing the wildfires and reinvigorating parched lands.
That doesn't mean as gardeners we shouldn't still be following drought tolerant gardening principles. One year of rain does not a reliably wet climate make. And for those of us who work outdoors (and don't relish getting soaked), the promise of a series of big rainstorms is a little less a joyful event to look forward to.
And now the photos. My garden is definitely transitioning into what I call NSNF (not summer, not fall). That is, the plants that are following their natural clock and that are spring or summer bloomers, are largely done with their flowering. It's the period for late summer and fall bloomers. Then again, the continuing warm weather is delaying the changes brought on by cooler nights. That's Nature for you; sometimes 'early,' sometimes 'late' but always in the moment.
The first batch of photos is from my new Nikon and the second from my older Nikon. The new Point and Shoot has its limitations so will continue to use my older dslr Nikon.

Osteospermum 'Voltage Yellow.' Here, my new camera was able to automatically adjust for the lighting (sun) and largely remove the bleaching the sun can cause. 

Leucophyta (Cushion Bush). A little test with a shot in part sun, part shade. Mostly successful. Cushion bush is a curious plant. Some have compared this Aussie native to tumbleweed and you can see why. It is super tough and drought tolerant and adds both silver tones and texture to a garden.

Here's my Succulent Bowl #5 (should I have a contest - name that succulent bowl!?). It is progressing nicely. This shot was another test of my new Point and Shoot camera, to see if it could handle different objects in the same shot, plus differing colors and textures. Not completely successful but not bad.

Here the new camera did do its job, getting a good shot of my notoriously difficult to photograph Evolvulus. In the past the sun has washed the colors out or if photographed in shade the camera didn't capture the true blues. This shot is pretty accurate and if it's accuracy that one wants in a photograph (one doesn't always want a literal accuracy, going for a certain effect) then this one succeeded.

Tillandsia species. I call this one 'Silver Spider.' Just the coolest air plant I've yet to come across, even though it has yet to flower. 

Here's what the excitement is all about for Passiflora parritae flowers. Sensational color more than makes up for the fact that the filaments are inconsequential. This plant is a cross, being P. parritae x tarminiana 'Oaklandii.'  It took a couple years to bloom but is off to a good start this year.

Plectranthus 'Zuluensis.' One of the taller Plectranthus, it can get 6-8' tall, it nonetheless produces flowers similar to the popular 'Mona Lavender.' Most Plectranthus are fall bloomers and of course are great plants for dry shade, being tough and resilient.

Ampelopsis. As you can see, this is the variegated form of the Porcelain Berry vine. This shot is from the new camera. I had to stand further back and use the zoom to get it in focus.

And here's a shot taken with my Nikon dslr. This was manually focused and is perhaps not perfectly focused. I'm dealing with a balky lens that has a tendency to move slightly so getting that perfect focus is sometimes a challenge. When I retire I'll likely invest in a much higher quality digital slr but for now I make do with my present equipment. Thus the new 'easy' camera.

Justicia fulvicoma. This hard-to-find shrimp plant is a real delight. I love the color of the flowers and its tropical appearance. Justicias are easier to grow than one might think, assuming one is in a zone where you don't get a freeze. Plume flowers as they're called are a great way to add a bit of the tropics to one's garden.

Echeveria flower. Not the perfect shot to be sure but this particular Echeveria's flower has a lot of orange in it. Delightful.

Here's a closeup of my new native abutilon, A. palmeri. The flowers are a saturated golden yellow and the leaves a very un-Abutilon like downy silvery-green color. This is one flowering maple that actually prefers the sun (and the heat). I planted it out in a median strip so we'll see. This 'exception' makes me think that a good article might be "Native specimen of generally) non-native genera." There are more examples of this than one might think. For example, Lavateras are not a native genus but there is one native species, L. assurgentiflora.

This odd 'egg' is a Datura seedpod. It will eventually crack open and spill its seeds. Of course the seeds especially are very poisonous, part of the plant's defense mechanism, so caution must be taken when growing it.

Asarina scandens 'Joan Lorraine.' One of the prettiest flowers in the Asarina genus. Asarinas are hardy and prolific vines and a good choice where you don't want something going wild and completely covering plants next to it. Incidentally, there is a charming ground cover species, A. procumbens, which sports downy leaves and flowers that resemble snapdragons or nemesias as much as they do typical Asarina blooms.

Dietes 'Lemon Drop.' I love the buttery-yellow petals and the black and orange 'eyes' of this Moraea cousin (it was originally classified as a Moraea). 

Bessera elegans. My vote for "the prettiest bulb you've never heard of." This late summer blooming bulb produces masses of inch plus little 'parasols.' The interior of the petals have a cream-colored 'rib,' adding extra intrigue to the flower. Delicate but vigorous and one that will colonize in your garden.

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