Friday, January 29, 2016

The ABCs of Gardening

(Note: For those of you looking for The Wave Garden photos, see the entry following).
In this case, the ABCs of gardening refer to the Abutilons, Bulbs and Camellias that are one of the features of many people's gardens this time of year. Okay, the A reference is a bit of a stretch but I do have two varieties in bloom as I write this and they just seem to bloom nearly year round. No qualms about the B and the C as I have all manner of bulbs poking their heads up, with the first crop (snowdrops, Lachenalias) already in bloom. Freesias, daffodils and sparaxis will soon follow. C is for Camellias and they're real show this time of year. I've gotten fond of them, especially the Reticulatas. This species features flowers that are especially large, many with wavy petals. Two make an appearance in today's blog, the C. 'Frank Hauser' that now in year four is putting on a great show, and the new C. Winner's Circle,' so new to the trade that there are virtually no pictures of it online. Even the grower (Nuccio's) doesn't have a photo of it on that camellia's page. It's a lovely salmon-pink color, with especially large flowers. Now in year three, it's putting on its first real show.
So, here are photos from my A,B,Cs and a host of other winter season plants.

Here's the aforementioned Camellia 'Frank Hauser.' Full view is above and a closeup of the extravagantly fluted petals is below. The Reticulata species is aptly referred to as the Queen of the Camellias. Bold colors, wavy petals and especially large flowers all contribute to their reputation for showiness.

Camellia reticulata 'Winner's Circle.' A lovely coral-pink, with subtle fluting but very large blossoms. Incidentally, of the four main 'shade' shrubs -- Rhododendrons, Azaleas, Hydrangeas and Camellias -- Camellias are usually the hardiest, the longest blooming and the most drought tolerant.

Abutilon thompsonii. It may be in a bit too much sun, this species is one of the few that likes some shade, but it seems nonetheless to be thriving. I've mainly planted it for the foliage but the peachy-orange flowers are lovely too. 

Staghorn fern. I have two, one wedged in a tree branch not in soil and this one, which as you can see is in a pot. Staghorns are adaptable, as long as they get some regular moisture to the leaves but have the soil dry out between waterings.

Pansies + Lachenalia 'Francie.' A bit of winter color plus a new Lachenalia for my collection. Francie has yellow flowers with green tips. Here they are still only budded but will likely open in a week's time.

Chaenomeles 'Fuji.' What to say about flowering quince that hasn't been said a million times before? They're incredibly easy to grow and ideal for a sunny hillside that will get little water or attention. Despite its 'flowering' designation, my plants do produce a few small fruits.

Eriogonum crocatum. Now my favorite CA Buckwheat, this beauty keeps its silvery foliage year round in mild zones. In summer it produces sulphur yellow flowers that are favorite destinations for butterflies and bees.

"I'm ready for my closeup Mr. DeMille!" It almost seems as if this Salvia discolor is posing. It's taken advantage of the dramatic lighting and backdrop to show off its shiny green leaves and white undersides and stems. Of course it's better known for its nearly black flowers (and for some its sticky stems).

Everyone knows the distinctive bordered leaves and pinkish-white flowers of Daphne odora marginata. We grow it of course for its heavenly fragrance but that aside, I think it's a handsome shrub. 

This Ribes aureum is my 'Confounding plant of 2015.' It nearly died off, didn't grow at all for most of the last year and a half but has in the last two months decided to put on a bit of a growth spurt and is leafing out. I'm very happy and hope to see the distinctive yellow flowers this summer. 

Sometimes 'bare' is beautiful. Case in point, Coral Bark maples. They feature reddish stems that provide winter interest, before it begins leafing out in early March. Here the gray stucco provides a nice contrasting backdrop.

Begonia 'Irene Nuss.' One of the cane type begonias, mine is finally getting a foothold in a morning sun bed. Note the dramatically red new leaf, which will age to green but retain some dark red coloration on the undersides.

Under the heading of 'If it looks like a Choisya then it must be a Choisya,' this is the variegated C. Sundance. I love plants that offer an ever shifting palette of variegation on their leaves. This one has yet to bloom as vigorously as the straight species but the foliage provides year round appeal.

Sedum 'Lemon Coral.' One of my favorite sedums and a bit more tolerant of regular water now that the rains have returned.

Euphorbia atropurpurea. This handsome Euphorbia features red flowers, making it a bit more uncommon than most other species. You can see the start of flowers in the upper left.

Clematis armandii 'Snowdrift.' This evergreen clematis has come as advertised -- vigorous and oh so sweet smelling. It's in the process of covering an east-facing wall and it soon will be sprouting those heavenly smelling white flowers.

Speaking of Clematis, my deciduous C. 'Belle of Woking' simply can't wait for spring to begin blooming. Flowers will often start out this demure green and white color then gradually fill in to be a pale lilac.

New to the market, this cross between a Lachenalia viridiflora (the blue) and a Lachenalia quadricolor has yielded this beauty. It has proven to be even more vigorous in year two.

A friend has shared that his Lotus jacobaeus has proven to be an effective colonizer and I'll admit I was skeptical at first. It looked too delicate and it doesn't share the dense foliage of its more common species mates. But lo and behold, it bloomed its heart out last year, paused for a couple of months and is back to flowering. Okay, okay, damned if he wasn't right.

My lovely Coral aloe looks like its swimming in a sea of clover and in a way it is. The green on the top side is Oxalis latifolia and it's gradually colonizing the area.

"It's a bird, it's a plane ..." No, it's a Mini-cattleya. I'm a sucker for orange orchids and this minicat is purrfect. Okay, moving right along ...

Phaelenopsis. I just loved the wine colors on this Phaelenopsis so had to take it home. It's a darker burgundy color than this photo makes it seem, a color I rarely see on this genus.

Salvia spathacea. This guy is either late or early in its blooming. Early, je pense. This native hummingbird sage is aptly named, being a favorite destination for hummers one and all. I not only love the burgundy flowers but the rough, textured leaves.

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