Wednesday, November 18, 2015

The Relief of Rain

For those of us in drought stricken northern California, the two recent rainstorms were a most welcome event. Meteorologists are pretty sure we're in for a major El Nino winter so we may make significant progress for getting the land a good soak and starting to replenish our reservoirs. In any case, our gardens certainly appreciated the drink and it did clear the air.
I return this week to sharing photos of my garden and talking about those plants. I grew up in B.C. Canada so can appreciate transplants to the Bay Area who are a bit confused about being able to garden year round. I wouldn't have it any other way but there is something to be said for having a winter rest period, a time away from the garden so that one returns refreshed in the spring. That said, today's photos are evidence that there is life beyond the late summer/early fall.

Coprosma 'Pina Colada' A new and aptly named variety on the market, I couldn't resist its exuberant colors. Mirror plants as they are known are a great all season shrub for a sunny location. 

My 'Hint of Gold' Caryopteris is off and running and loves its sunny location. I tried growing it in a container and it wasn't happy. Here it is, in one of my median strip beds. Bluebeards as they're called (an odd name to be sure as the flowers are purple and don't hang down like beards) are a great butterfly plant and are even called Butterfly bushes by some.

If this little guy looks familiar, he should. This is one of the butterflies I featured in last week's blog. Gulf Fritillary butterflies are becoming more frequent visitors to my garden and are always a welcome sight.

These strange looking seedpods belong to Tecoma x smithii. Here is a cluster of them unopened and then below we see one that is about to open. It has a fluffy seedhead, similar to milkweeds.

Duranta 'Gold Mound' For some reason this dwarf evergreen shrub has taken a long time to get established. It's finally getting a little volume to it and in doing so it's showing off to more dramatic effect its bold golden hues.

Two weeks ago I showed a closeup photo of the leaf on my Abutilon thompsonii. Here's the whole plant. This is a smaller-sized, bushier type Flowering maple. Though the peach-colored flowers are pretty, it's the foliage that made me invite it into my garden.

Those familiar only with the dwarf common Celosias might be a bit taken back with the taller, bushier species. Here's a C. argentea cristata 'Cramer's Burgundy' starting to branch out. Love that color and the way the flowers exhibit a wavy, textured look.

Okay, not the most exciting photo. It's here to remind us that it's the beginning of bulb season. With the exception of the pot with the wider leaves (a Ferraria ferrariola), the other bulbs sending up shoots are various Lachenalia species. These early blooming bulbs from South Africa are a most welcome treat in December and January.

My Mandevilla 'Giant Crimson' soldiers on and even if it's not as abundant in bloom as it once was, there's no mistaking its vivid red flared trumpet-shaped flowers in the late fall.

Speaking of bulbs, here's Oxalis latifolia. No, not the dreaded and invasive oxalis with the yellow flowers that's starting to pop up in people's gardens about now but rather a winter blooming variety with lime green 'shamrock' leaves and vivid pink flowers. One of my faves!

Shooting in the sun and shooting in the shade can yield very different results, as is evidenced here with a shade photo of my Tecoma stans 'Bells of Fire.' Less fire and more orange soda perhaps? Lovely nonetheless and this dwarf  version is happy in a large pot.

Abutilon 'Lucky Lantern Red.' This guy is back to blooming after a two month pause. Word to other abutilon owners; these large shrubs or small trees don't bloom year round. It just seems like it. Still, not many other plants have such a long bloom season.

Immediately recognizable, honeysuckle bushes are, despite their commonality, one of the most fantastic fragrance plants for the garden. There's just no mimicking that intensely sweet smell. Add in their popularity with bees and hummingbirds and it's no wonder they're one of the most popular vines/bushes in our gardens.

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