Thursday, July 28, 2016

Let it Roll

Summer rolls on and those of us with gardens filled with diverse flora know all too well that gardens don't have to be "Spring or Bust." That is, the 'garden life' rolls on into summer and beyond. Summer can in fact be every bit as colorful as spring, assuming color is your thing (it is for me). And there's no reason for abandoning the common sense approach to gardening (ie. water use) as there are an almost infinite choice of colorful, drought tolerant plants to add to your garden.
Nuff said. Here are photos from my garden, taken over the last two days, catching the garden being a bit of a showoff.

So, after that intro about color, the first four photos feature foliage. Here it's Scrophularia auriculata 'Variegata.' Although it does flower, the blooms are tiny. Meaning this lovely variegated foliage is the real show. It can handle a bit of shade too.

Begonia rex 'Escargot.' Love photographing this plant and its leaves keep getting bigger. I'm beginning to think of calling this plant 'Dumbo,' as the huge leaves look a bit like elephant ears.

Dianella 'Yellow Stripe.' Love this new brightly colored dianella.

Ladies and gentlemen - Ipomoea 'Jade Masquerade.' This new sweet potato vine is super cool. 

Petunia 'Honey.' I'm loving this colorful petunia. Very cheerful and it's held its form very well. 

I didn't get what I was after with this shot but I kind of like how the Ageratum flowers seem to emerge mysteriously from the shadows. I was after the contrast of the orange Hibiscus 'Cherie' and the purple ageratum flowers but it turned out differently.

We've had decorative leaves and sunny flowers but here it's the seedheads of Amaranthus that are the star attraction. 

The waxy, star-shaped flowers on Eucomis are always interesting and here their 'backing band' is my Marmalade bush.

Another shot that didn't quite turn out as I'd hoped but tiger lilies back-lit are always lovely.

One of my favorite Campanulas, P. primulifolia sends up sturdy stalks that eventually sprout dozens of open purple flowers. Love 'em.

Gloriosa lily. Okay, I admit to having a bit of a Gloriosa fixation. Hopefully this photo shows why.

There was a vexing issue for me regarding this Helichrysum 'Ruby Clusters.' Most helichrysums have yellow or white flowers and I'd never heard of one with pink flowers. Now I have the answer. This plant's flowers appear as pink buds (thus Ruby Clusters) but open to more familiar yellow blooms.

Crassula alba v. parvisepala. Crassulas are one of the easiest succulents to grow and they are one of the quickest to bloom. Heads of red buds soon pop open to reveal little lavender flowers.

Fuchsia 'Nettala.' The thing I love about these flowers is that the lower spoon-shaped pink petals dangle below the upper tepals. I think of these four symmetrical petals as being dancers doing a do-si-do. 

Ampelopsis. Porcelain Berry vine to most people. Mine's finally got a toehold in year four and despite not enjoying full sun has nonetheless produced a huge crop of berries.

Echeveria pulvinata. Red-tinged leaves. Quick to bloom. Okay with a bit of water. What's not to love about this showy succulent.

Duranta 'Gold Mound.' In the 'good things come to those who wait' dept, this shrub didn't really develop till year 4 or 5. It's happy now though ...

Another shot of my Helenium 'Mardi Gras.' One of the great long bloomers, a huge favorite of bees and drought tolerant too. (I knew I shouldn't have said "Show a little enthusiasm, will you!")

Salpiglossis 'Chocolate.' Love this color. And I'll bet if you asked ten people what color this is, you'd get ten different answers.

A wide angle shot of the front of my Aussie natives bed. It's gradually being populated by succulents of all kinds.

A wide view of the western most of my median strip beds. The show right now is the Tecoma x smithii on the left and the Alpinia 'Zerumbet' center-right.

Alpinia 'Zerumbet.'  Though I mostly added this ginger for its striking foliage, it does flower. The shape and color of the fragrant flowers have earned this variety the common name of Shell ginger.

Finally, one of the showiest of all CA native perennial flowers. Here it's a hybrid Mimulus called Jelly Bean Scarlet.  I keep adding more mimulus (is there a 12 step program for that?)

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Come a Little Bit Closer

The subject line is a Fleetwood Mac song reference for all you Christine McVie fans out there but it's also fitting for this post. I've been without my Nikon D40 camera for awhile now as two successive lens have gone awry and then I just wound up buying a Nikon Coolpix camera. It's an auto and it can't pick out a small object to perform its auto-focus function. I do have a zoom lens for my D40 however and today I took it out in the garden. The main problem is having to be at enough of a distance for the manual focus to focus properly and I don't possess the steadiest hands (I'm also without a tripod now). So keeping steady enough and eye-balling the manual focus is tricky and I got to the point of getting too frustrated so I stopped. I did however have some success today so here are the fruits of my labors. I love to shoot close-ups of individual flowers and that's what this set is.
Incidentally, for those of you who are on my friends list that I send the blog link to, there are two entries today so make sure to read the one that follows this entry.

Here's our 'butter yellow' Scabiosa mentioned in the following post (which has an intro on Pincushion flowers). S. ochroleuca is a vigorous little mid-summer to fall bloomer. The flowers aren't as large as other species but that color is so sweet.

Gloriosa lily. There's another photo and description in the following post but this is one of my favorite lilies and this shot caught it illuminated by the sun.

Cuphea Vienco. This variation on the Bat-faced cuphea has six 'ears' instead of two but has a similar purple 'snout.' Colorful and vigorous!

Here's a close-up of my Agastache foeniculum Golden Jubilee. The spikes are comprised of dozens of tiny purple flowers that the bees and hummers both love.

Scabiosa causcasia 'Fama Blue.' There's another shot in the following entry but my zoom let me get a closer look at this one flower.

Digiplexis 'Illumination Flame.' A closer shot of the hooded flowers. This close-up makes the golden throats even more apparent, contrasting nicely with the rosy-red exteriors.

Cuphea schumanii. This hard to find Cuphea's flowers are the same shape as C. ignea, only larger. It also features sturdier stems and definitely possesses an upright habit.

Over the years I've taken lots of photos of my exuberant Helenium 'Mardi Gras.' Here's one that captures a honey bee foraging for nectar, a common event on this plant.

There's a shot in the next post that captures the foliage of this Begonia Mocha Orange plant. Here I wanted to capture the brilliance of the orange flower, not an easy task for a camera as the color is so saturated.

Dudleya gnoma. Yes, as in Gnome. That's due to this being a dwarf variety. 

Lovers of true blue flowers know this plant, the bluest of all the Salvias (S. patens). It has one of the largest flowers in the genus as well, so good all around.

Tried to get a bit of back lighting on this Petunia. It looks as much painted as grown.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016


Scabiosas, sometimes known as Pincushion flowers due to their domed flowers, are one of those garden 'staples' that nonetheless are often overlooked. The common foot high lavender-colored varieties only hint at the diversity of this genus. They can range in height from 6" to four feet, with colors that include bluish-lavender, pink, red, dark burgundy, butter yellow or even white. One thing these varieties all have in common is their being a magnet for butterflies. Besides the common hybrids, there are the tall S. atropurpureas, which can easily reach three feet and produce intense red or burgundy flowers in great numbers. For something softer, there's the low mounding S. ochroleuca, with its butter yellow blooms. Like the bluish varieties but want something taller? Check out S. caucasia 'Fama Blue,' with its especially large bluish-lavender flowers. And just when you're sure you've seen everything, along comes Scabiosa 'Black Pom Pom.' Not only does the flower promise to be something eye-catching but the crimped foliage is one of a kind.
All of this proves that what's old can indeed be new again.

Scabiosa caucasia 'Fama Blue.' Here's our 'leading lady,' just beginning its bloom season. You get an idea how elevated the flowering stems are, waving in the breeze with their floral wares.

Petunia Supertunia Honey. I love how this petunia offers a range of colors, from yellows, to apricots to peaches. 

Gloriosa lily. To those in the know, just Gloriosa and nowhere is a plant more aptly named than with this vigorous lily. Though it can be finicky mine seems to have settled in and is very happy. 

Everybody's favorite orange-blooming shrub, Marmalade bush (Streptosolen) is slow to establish but once it gets going it's unstoppable. Pass the scones ...

Here are the first pink fuzzy flowers on my Helichrysum 'Ruby Clusters.' Dense silver foliage and little clusters of flowers that sprout like mushrooms? Yes please.

Calibrachoa 'Spicy.' A new Million bells, with orange tones and a dark eye.

Going for the gold? Yes, with this Caryopteris 'Hint of Gold.' It has loved this sunny location, with just a bit of midday shade provided by a Magnolia 'Butterflies.' Soft pale purple flowers will soon complement the gold tones.

If you look closely you'll see many upright spikes on this Campanula primulifolia, which are about to burst into bloom. One of the tall, sun-loving bellflowers, this one is my fave due to those rigid flowering spikes and masses of starry purple flowers.

There's red and then there's RED. The latter is on display with this Bouvardia ternifolia. It was suffering a bit so I hacked it back hard last winter and it has really responded. 

Dwarf Conifer bowl. It contains two Chamaecyparis obtusas -‘Mariesii and ‘Melody’ plus a

            Cryptomeria japonica ‘Ryokogu Coyokyu.’

Laurentia axillaris. One of my favorite plants, the aptly named Blue Stars really starts getting going in mid-summer.

Tillandsia tectorum - my so-called Silver Spider - and to its right the red-spotted Crassula alba v. parvisepala, which is getting ready to bloom (upper right).

Begonia 'Mocha Orange.' Love the dark foliage on the this begonia and the intense orange flowers as well.

Mystery fern. Still haven't figured out the identity of this mystery fern. Love its look through, the dense fronds and the way they radiate out at different angles.

Finally a picture of my mature Japanese maple in the back yard. It's now a fixture  in my yard and is a great habitat tree for birds.
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