Thursday, April 14, 2016

Faster than a Speeding Bullet

No, not Superman (speeding bullet) but the curious and delightful bird known as an Oaktit. Part of the titmouse family, it's distinguished by having a more pronounced crest (or Tyrolean hat as a birder friend describes it). They're around my garden a lot these days, flitting back and forth from a close by tree to the window seed feeder. They're so fast that the human mind can't quite process the microsecond it takes them to get from limb to feeder. They're excitable birds and have a very sweet song. So today's post is dedicated to this garden friend (as well as all birds of course).
And now the photos ...

Salvia 'Sao Borja.' Though an annual in climates that get a hard freeze, here in temperate Oakland, this part shade tolerant Salvia has prospered. Love those burgundy flowers!

This shot is a bit darker than I'd prefer but too much sun simply bleaches out the subtle butter tones of Camellia 'Dahlohnega.' As you can see, it's a double form camellia, with a hint of pale yellow at its center. This proved to be the last of my ten camellias to bloom. Don't know if that's due to its own nature or the fact that it's still a youthful shrub.

Certain things may not have a "snowball's chance in hell" of doing well, but this Snowball viburnum is quite happy in the sun (at least some). The flowers start out green then mature to a blinding white in no time. And it's prolific. No sense in crowding this bush into a tight spot. It's a freedom lover baby and it gots to roam.

In the same area but in front is my equally vigorous Sambucus canadensis. I chose this species for its berries. For the birds. It's on the side of the house with the bird feeders so it's ideally located to tempt our avian friends. That said, elderberries have been used to make wine for centuries.

Aquilegia chrysantha 'Flora Pleno.'  This super cool and rare variety of the chrysantha species makes petite, fully double, red and yellow flowers. Proof indeed that good things come in small packages.

This new lily (L. Black Eye) has made a nice stand in its first year. Despite its name, I'm guessing it's a lover not a fighter.

The bright colors of Mimulus 'Bronze' help it stand out in a 'jungle' of Dutch iris stems, Echium Blue Bedder and yes a few stubborn weedy grasses. Most of my sticky Monkey flowers have begun a new bloom season.

This is probably the last of my flowers this year on the late winter blooming Luculia pinceana. Those that follow this blog know how much I love it, mainly for the intensely fragrant flowers.

My second time around of growing Correa 'Wyn's Wonder' has met with greater success. It's filling out nicely, even if it doesn't bloom this year.

There's a relatively new line of Petunias called 'Surprise.' Here's the 'Surprise Moonlight Bay.' I love how the cross breeding has created a kind of scalloped burgundy pattern, outlined by the butter yellow. Surprises are a cascading type of petunia. I guess I'll see; mine is at the front of a low rock wall.

Lovers of Eucomis will immediately recognize these new shoots. They're from a E. 'Sparkling Burgundy.' The color is most vivid at this point of first appearance, gradually aging to a burnished dark green. Central flower stalks will follow, with distinctive (and popular) waxy flowers.

Okay, not the most dazzling photo but that little peach-colored flower is an Ixia bellendenii 'Peach' bulb. Hard to find these days, I'm glad that at least one of mine has survived.

From the sublime (Ixia flower above) to the ridiculous, here a Passiflora actinia. Last week I posted a photo of it having ascended to our second story roof. Here's a close up of it's showy flowers. Or rather of its showy filaments, as the petals are a plain white. Sometimes it looks more animal than flower, like some sea creature scuttling about the ocean floor with its hundred legs.

Here's a photo of a little terrarium I did. The feature is a Tillandsia but there's also a little blue metal lizard in there (to the left).

Speaking of tillandsias, here's one of unknown species/variety that has produced not one or two but five flower spikes!

My Eriogonum giganteum has lived up to its species name, especially when it sends out its multi-branching flower stems. I love everything about this plant -- its intensely silver foliage; its huge sprays of white flowers; its popularity with pollinators and its toughness. But that's CA Buckwheats for you.

As advertised! That description should appear on all labels for Campanula 'Blue Waterfall.' This vigorous, spilling, long blooming bellflower has become one of my favorite garden plants. Here it is, doing its thing. 

Okay, another entry from the show What's My Line? Are you old enough to remember it? One of the tag lines was "Who Am I?" So, any ideas on this week's celebrity entrant? Did you start by deducing that it's a Verbascum? Good. It's a lesser known species called thapsus and it's native to Europe and northern Africa. I love its heavily textured leaves and that grayish-green color.

When the omnipresent weedy grasses took over my Dwarf conifer bed I gave up on my idea of letting the 'floor' there be just pine needles from above and some Viola labradorica that I was waiting to self seed. Nope, the grasses were way too fast. So I've resorted to microbark, which is way too bright right now but will soon age to a more natural light brown. 

Here's a riddle. When can you have both sunlight and moonlight out at the same time? You do when you have a Grevillea 'Moonlight' in your garden. Here's one of its massive flowering panicles. My favorite Grevillea and one of my favorite garden denizens, no qualifications needed. Hard to find!

Exbury azaleas are a true treat for those of us that like our azaleas with orange, gold and orangish-red tones. Sun lovers and deciduous, their spring glory is all too brief but entirely worth the effort.

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