So this is a bit of an 'In Between' period for many of us, as we wait on late spring and early summer blooming perennials, shrubs and trees.
That doesn't mean there isn't a lot going on in our gardens and of course the timing of early, mid and late spring is relative to the zone that one is gardening in.
The plant of the week for me is Mimulus aurantiacus, better known as Sticky Monkey flower. I keep adding new ones (there are so many varieties) and it doesn't take them long to start blooming. They of course like dry heat, though a bit of regular water makes them even more floriferous. Good drainage is a must but given this and enough sun they practically 'run themselves.' Add bees and hummingbirds to the creatures that love them, making this genus/species one of the most popular in our nursery.
Today's flowers are, as always, a snapshot in time of my garden. Again, I encourage everyone to take photos of their garden. It's fun, it's rewarding and one is then blessed with a record of one's work and accomplishments at different times of the year and different years. Heck, these days even cell phones take sharp photos.
Okay here are today's photos.
Dicentra scandens. I've spoken often about this wondrous plant - honorary member of the ten most fabulous plants you can't find to buy -- and here it is scrambling up my new metal trellis.
Passiflora 'Lady Margaret.' This deep red passion flower is a new fave, especially since it hit the ground running! While the flowers aren't large and the corona isn't as showy as some, the intense color of the petals is more than enough.
Double yellow gazania. Gazanias are one of the gardening world's greatest underappreciated flowers. Often taken for granted -- "Oh, them ..." -- they are colorful, tough, adaptive and long blooming. This somewhat unusual double form was particularly appealing.
Though this Sweet Pea may look an awful lot like Cupani, it's actually one from Annie's Annuals called North Shore. Great color combo and the flowers are particularly large. And fragrant of course.
Pineapple lilies (Eucomis) are one of those plants that I'm surprised isn't in everyone's garden. Super easy to grow, reliable (they return every year), with striking flower columns and in this case of this Sparkling Burgundy exquisite foliage, well, it's one of those 'Checklist' plants (beautiful - check; striking - check; easy to grow - check).
Though this photo doesn't do justice to the beauty of Papaver 'Lauren's Grape,' one of the very first breadseed poppies that Annie's Annuals propagated, I couldn't pass up photographing the first flower to emerge.
Continus 'Royal Purple.' I once said to a friend and neighbor, about her cat, that she was so amazingly friendly that she must have swallowed the whole bottle of 'Friendly pills.' Well, my Smoke tree is kind of like that this year in terms of its flowering. You can hardly see the leaves under all the 'smoke.' Gorgeous.
Speaking of shrubs that tend to go overboard, that describes my Streptosolen (Marmalade bush). As soon as it warms up and given the occasional deep watering, it's smothered in orange/peach/gold flowers. Not only that but it's an absolute favorite of hummingbirds. I love working next to it because the hummers will zip up to it, sometimes not more than two feet from my face, for a hit of nectar.
Echium Blue Bedder. Where my Marmalade bush is a magnet for hummers, this annual Echium is a must see destination for all manner of bees. That and the true blue flowers mean that I grow it every year. This year I didn't have to buy a new specimen as it self-seeded, producing four plants.
This Echeveria species is taking over the world, just very, very slowly. The 25 or so rosettes all started from one 4" plant.
Forget tea and biscuits, this teacup is growing a Crassula alba v. parvisepala. This crassula is notable for it's dramatically spotted foliage. And like many crassulas it blooms fairly readily.
Though not planted yet, this is a Heuchera 'Fire Alarm.' Here's a tip about the darker-leaved Heucheras -- they need a good amount of sun to hold onto their color. Not midday heat in the warmer climates but a decent amount of sun makes them happy.
Calceolaria 'Kentish Hero.' Everybody's favorite Pocketbooks, at least those who love the color orange, this perennial (not annual like C. mexicana) form forms a small bush and is pretty good at returning each year.
One of the things I like about Mimulus is that there's a certain wildness to them. Here my M. aurantiacus 'Bronze' is scrambling, having initially had to get above some weedy grasses and one of the Echium Blue bedders that I eventually yanked out.
A new addition, this Cistus 'McGuire's Gold' is making a bold statement. I love rockroses, as many do, for their beauty and toughness.
Speaking of gold, here are two more. The larger specimen is Caryopteris 'Hint of Gold' and the low grower to its right is Teucrium 'Summer Sunshine.' When the Caryopteris finally blooms, its purple flowers really pop against that foliage.
Mimulus a. 'Ray's Tangerine. One of my first mimulus and still going strong. In front is a dwarf Buddleja called CranRazz. It's just starting its bloom season.
Though it's not in bloom yet, this Epilobium canum is filling out very nicely and doing a good job of softening the wrought iron railing. A wonderfully tough high ground cover that is showy once in bloom (and spoiler alert, the subject of one of my upcoming SF Chronicle columns).
Clematis 'Niobe.' To my mind, still THE go to clematis for this color. Very vigorous and tough, it's put up with being in a pot for six years (soon to be transplanted).
Duranta 'Gold Mound.' This little known shrub is a tough customer and Gold Mound is a dwarf cultivar. It has yet to bloom but am loving the foliage in the meantime.
Most people don't think of Campanulas of plants that colonize but this C. punctata has done just that in my garden. It goes deciduous in the winter but returns with vigor in the spring.
Amorphophallus kiusianus. Related to the Giant arum, this vigorous and unusual plant produces these unusual spathes (the mottled white cup) and the wicked looking black spadix.
This closeup of Abelia 'Kaleidascope' throws off the perspective of what size it is, shrub or ground cover or ?? Of course, Abelias are shrubs and this is the variegated form tha many people covet.