Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Spring is a State of Mind

Well, it certainly is when the weather sort of matches it and that's been true for Northern California this last two weeks. That and recent rains are giving gardens the big Thumbs Up to leaf out (deciduous shrubs), pop up (bulbs) and get going (annuals). My Oakland garden is in full swing and I know, I know, it's February 17th and it's sub-freezing on the east coast but well, the temps here don't lie baby. So, I'm giving in to the fact we have yet another early arriving spring.
I'm okay with it in the microcosm (my garden, our nursery) though the Macrocosm view is more unsettling. Global warming aka Climate Change continues and that ain't good. One small bonus for planting a garden is that when you have thousands or millions of gardeners doing that, collectively it does remove carbon from the atmosphere. Not to mention providing a habitat for birds and pollinators.
The photos today reflect the above comments - one deciduous shrub leafing out, another photo of a newly blooming bulb, plus plenty of camellias and magnolias. And as usual there were surprises.
Okay here they are:

Camellia reticulata 'Lila Naff.' This blush pink flower has just a hint of salmon in it. It's a young plant still and this is its first year blooming.

Camellia reticulata 'Francie L Variegated.' This lovely variegated form is in its second year of blooming and is displaying the characteristic mottled pink and white flowers.

Under the heading "I guess when they say 'riparian' they mean it" my Ribes sanguineum is so much happier this year with all our January rains. One mystery -- ribes are supposed to be popular with hummers but I rarely see any on my flowers. Maybe I'm just not looking when they're there ...

Camellia japonica 'Jury's Yellow.' This is one of my favorite new camellias. Check out the 'ruffled' center portion of the flower. True, there's not a lot of yellow coloring, just enough to suggest a bit of butter.

Lachenalia species. Not sure which one this is. It was labeled L. mutabilis but does not change color so it must be something else. No matter, it's certainly pretty enough.

Gold Star winner for plant of the month in my garden is this Clematis armandii 'Snowdrift.' It's gone berserk blooming, a thousand buds all seeming to open at once! And this is truly one of the most fragrant Clematis ever. Incredible. Let's review: handsome foliage year round; easy to grow and maintain; fantastic sweep of pure white flowers and heavenly fragrance. It's all good.

Here's today's entry for Name that Plant. Hint - it's fragrant. Second hint - bears might like it (sort of). It's Gelsemium sempervirens, better known as Carolina Jessamine. It's a type of honeysuckle, thus the bears reference (honey), and produces its bright yellow flowers in late winter/early spring.

Magnolia 'Butterflies.' This subtle yellow saucer magnolia has finally hit its stride in year four. This photo doesn't feature the best composition (or quality of light) but I was just so excited to see it bloom I couldn't wait to share it.

Speaking of finally reaching enough maturity to begin putting on a show, my Chaenomeles 'Cameo' just keeps getting better and better. Love that peach color.

Speaking of nearing a point of perfection, my Aloe striata is about to show why its nickname is Coral aloe. Its flowers are about to color up, soon to produce coral-orange flowers. Amazing how fast the flower spike grew.

Magnolia stellata 'Royal Star.' I call this species the 'fingers magnolia' for its finger-like petals. For some reason, my specimen has spread out low rather than getting some height. Oh, well, its delicate white flowers contrast nicely with the large, vibrant green leaves of Alpinia 'Zerumbet.'

Here's a picture of my Iris confusa 'Chengdu,' warts and all. Also known as Bamboo iris for its bamboo-like stems. It's a multi-branching, floriferous, lightly fragrant iris that is very vigorous once established.

To quote the Beatles -- No. 9, No. 9, No. 9. Those familiar with this deciduous shrub will get the reference, as the common name for the Physocarpus genus is Ninebark. That's a reference to the way the bark on mature specimens will peel multiple times. This golden-leaved variety is P. 'Nugget.'

Finally, here's a Pandorea species (P. pandorana 'Golden Showers') that has one of the great all time common names - Wonga Wonga vine. BTW, as best as I can determine, the name Wonga is of Australian aboriginal origin.

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