Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Nodding Clematis

The title of this blog doesn't refer to a clematis that's nodding off (Do clematis dream of electric sheep?) but rather to a group of Clematis species whose flowers are bell-shaped or tubular. They resemble small down-turned bells (thus the nodding reference) and they are early fall bloomers. Which means this is their time of year. I just brought home one of these types, a Clematis integrifolia hybrid called 'Roguchi.' I've posted a photo of my new arrival. These types don't get as large as most other clematis so they're a good choice for a trellis or scrambling up an arbor. These charming plants are a reminder that there are often exceptions to a genus's usual flowering season.
And now the photos.

Clematis integrifolia 'Roguchi.' Though not the ideal shot, here's a photo of my newly arrived clematis. Integrifolia hybrids want a bit more sun that many clematis so make sure to allow for that.

Euphorbia characias 'Glacier Blue.' "Is it cold in here or is that a Glacier Blue euphorbia?"  I love the cool tones on this variety and it's great for lightening up a shady spot. That said, many Euphorbias, including this variety, can take a fair amount of sun in milder climates (where it doesn't have to deal with 100 degree days).

Echeveria gibbaflora decora. This outstanding Echeveria offers up white and gray tones and will eventually, like most gibbafloras, make rosettes comprised of large leaves. This is a 4" pot specimen so still a modest size.

Here are two shots of the singular Dianthus chinensis var. heddewigii. As you can see below, each flower is layered with ruffled petals and bordered in white. Very striking, especially given the eye-catching maroon color. My specimen went mostly dormant then returned in June. As you can see it's making up for lost time.

Coming at ya! This shot of my Calibrachoa 'Superbells Spicy' seems to be reaching out to shake your hand. Love those colors!

Senecio barbertonicus. Gardeners naturally think of most succulents as being small, slow-growing plants. This senecio is the exception. San Marcos Growers says "It is described as one of the largest of the finger leaved Senecios (to 5' tall and wide) and its green coloration easily distinguishes it from the other finger leaved plants with gray leaves in the Senecio talinoides group, such as Senecio mandraliscae and S. serpens."

Though the light is diffused, here's a shot of my new Phlomis fruticosa. This Jerusalem sage is one tough customer and here I've added it to my 'Yellow' bed. Like many sage-like plants it has a very pleasing scent.

Epilobium canum. I took this photo because I wanted to show the plant's fluffy seedpods. That's something we don't normally think of when talking about this California fuchsia but here they are, in great numbers because, well, where there are a ton of flowers there are a lot of seedpods.

Fuchsia 'Golden Gypsy.' The leaves didn't stay golden but the flowers are exceptionally pretty. It's happier now that I've moved it into more sun.

Dianella tasmanica 'Yellow Stripe.' I haven't always had the best luck with dianellas but this one is prospering. That'a bed of Plectranthus 'Troy's Gold' underneath it.

Normally it's the flowers that are the main attraction for begonias but this Angelwing variety shows off some dramatic spotting on its leaves and is pretty enough on its own.

Here's my Gazania 'Nahui.' I almost lost this guy during the late spring but it has finally bounced back, is healthy and beginning to flower.

Gaillardias may be common but that doesn't mean they aren't beautiful. Plus they're a bee and butterfly magnet and are in bloom easily half the year. This one is G. 'Arizona Sun.' 

Heliotropium arborescens alba. I was after the deep contrast offered by the momentary sun on just a part of the plant, giving it almost a painted look. Not a perfect shot but the leaves especially really jump out.

Speaking of paintings, this composition could be 'Still life with Begonia Nonstop Salmon.' Though in truth there's nothing 'still' about this begonia. It has more than earned its name 'Nonstop.' And given its small stature the large and endless blooms are especially impressive.

Chocolate anyone? That would be Cosmos atrosanguineus, better known as Chocolate cosmos. Love that deep, almost dried blood red color and of course the aromatically enticing fragrance.

Lepechinia hastata. In baseball, they talk about a five tool player (one who does everything very well). In gardening one might call the 'perfect' plant a four tool plant -- beautiful, tough, fragrant and with year round appeal. Such is the case for this 'Pitcher sage.'

Aloe deltoideodonta 'Sparkler.' This spotted aloe is one tough customer, having survived being buried by weedy grasses, getting at times too little or too much water and being in more shade than it would prefer. Incidentally this species name derives from the Greek letter Delta, which means triangular.

My newly planted Delosperma 'Jewel of the Desert Ruby' is finally getting a toehold. My intention is for it to both spread and cascade over the sides of the metal tub.

Felecia amelloides variegata. Felicias (Blue daisies) are surprisingly tough sub-shrubs once they get established. My specimen is a little late on the blooming this year but then again like some other plants which prefer warm weather, they are just now kicking into blooming gear with the recent warm weather.

"He's baaaack!" That would be my enthusiastic Asarina erubescens 'Bridal Wreath' after I hacked it back in June. There are two common Asarina species, the delicate-leaved scandens (Joan Lorraine, Sky Blue) and the larger, velvety-leaved erubescens. Both are vigorous, late summer to late falling blooming vines. 

And lastly there's my 'Be patient, more patient, finally!' Passiflora 'Coral Seas.' Here you see the fully opened flower that's beginning to fade and to its right one of richer hue that's about to open. This species is one of the hardiest ones and performs well in the cooler regions of the Bay Area (where other Passifloras may suffer).

Friday, September 23, 2016

October Calling

Wait, October? How can that be? Wasn't it July only last week? I'm sure of it. And it kind of seems like it with the warm weather forecast for the weekend. Ahh, life in NorCal.
After two weeks away from the garden I've had a little catching up to do. Friends kept it watered in my absence and I'd done some cleanup before leaving town so it's in pretty good shape. Today it's the visuals not the thoughts so here goes.

Calceolaria calynopsis + Begonia Nonstop Deep Salmon. The Calceolaria may not come back but at least pinching off its spent blooms has encouraged it to put out more flowers. 

Dudleya gnoma. This cute little dwarf species is multiplying nicely. It's taking over the world (like another short guy named Napolean), just very, very slowly.

My ever changing collection of succulents and tillandsias. 

Salvias are tough and many are vigorous but this S. elegans 'Golden Delicious' is near the top of the list. I hack it back - it grows back. It's definitely a fall bloomer, as it's just now producing those distinctive red flowers so loved by hummers.

I recently bought a ceramic blue globe and though I haven't decided where to put it, for now it's nestled in among my variegated Star jasmine. Boche ball anyone?

My Helichrysum bracteatum (Paper flower) continues to put on a show. I think I may cut a dozen and bring them inside to put in a vase.

I love my sweet little Calylophus and the way it scrambles. Bees seem to love it too.

Love the play of light on my Verbascum thapsi and in the rear my Correa Wyn's Wonder.' 

This figure was a gift from a friend so not sure if she's a Quan Yin or maybe a Tara figure. Contemplative.

Lotus jacobaeus. My black lotus continues to bloom like crazy, plus it's rooted down through the pot. One of those easy as pie success stories.

Coleus 'Glennis.' When the plant was small I didn't like it much. But now that it's larger it's become quite showy. Funny how that goes.

This has been the year of the begonia for me. First the Pacific Hort magazine article I wrote on cane and shrub begonias. Then my ever increasing collection. Here's my B. 'Gryphon,' gradually filling out and holding onto its 'spots.'

Heliotropium arborescens 'Alba.' I still don't know why the alba variety is so much more fragrant than the straight species but wow it's a heavenly delight.

This cute little heather-like plant is Fabiana imbricata violacea. A little water has spurred it into some later than usual blooming. Love these tiny cup-shaped flowers!

Okay, not a great (or good) photo of my Rain lily but I find these simple white flowers infinitely charming. Their common name comes from the fact that the fall rains spur the bulb to bloom. Mine's getting an early start, no doubt because I do water it semi-regularly.

I still can't seem to get a photo of a Hibiscus trionum flower that shows off its subtle butter yellow color. This is one unusual hibiscus. First off, it goes completely dormant. Before it does, it manages to self-seed vigorously. Flowers appear at the tips of slender branches (it's not the sturdy shrub that most hibiscus are). But I love it and the dark eye is fantastic.

Can you guess what plant this flower belongs to? Kudos to those who said Oxalis. This is O. latifolia, a winter blooming species (it's starting early). It's one of the so-called Shamrock oxalis, as the vibrant green leaves are clover-like.

This scary looking plant is a Dyckia marnier-lapostle. Normally, dyckias are indeed very thorny and one you don't want to mess with ('living barbed wire' someone once called them). But this guy's teeth are sharp but not cutting or thorn-imbedding. Love that silvery color.

And we end with one of my very favorite passion flowers - Passiflora 'Oaklandia.' Though the center filaments aren't as showy as some the flowers are very large and that color is magnificent!

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

After winter, summer

After the stretch of unseasonably cool weather, at times winter-like, we 're now having a mini heatwave. Welcome to Bay Area weather, climate change and perhaps Mother Nature having a little fun at our expense. It does provide challenges for we gardeners. What to plant and when? How much to water? Will it still be 75 at Thanksgiving or 50? All that said, it's nice to see the sun again and I think that sentiment is echoed by most of our plants.
Today's garden photos cover a wide spectrum, from my burgeoning collection of begonias to some summer-blooming perennials to succulents and even a shrub or two.

Ipomoea 'Jade Masquerade.' This new Sweet potato vine is a real stunner, with each leaf a different pattern of deep brown and green. The signature heart-shaped leaves can reach 5" in length and as most morning glories will do, it can either climb or cascade.

Here's a photo of my specimen, still in an early phase. I hope to train it to climb on the fence behind it. Look for my column on this plant in Sunday's Chronicle.

I happened to catch a bee foraging for nectar on my Helichrysum bracteatum 'Monster Red' flowers. This plant is better known as the 'Paper' flower, as its flowers feel already dry.

Hibiscus 'Cherie.' Although this isn't the greatest composition (wouldn't it be great if you could tell your plants/flowers "If you could just move a little to the right and oh could you open three flowers at once, close together") I wanted to share the beauty of this particular hibiscus.

Justicia fulvicoma. Another shot, this time showing more blooms, of my exquisite Plume flower plant. Though they're considered a semi-tropical plant, my three species have prospered here in Oakland.

Mimulus 'Jelly Bean Scarlet.' I swear, mimulus are flowering machines, just pumping out what seems like an endless amount of flowers. The Jelly Bean series seems especially floriferous, though I have not found them as long lived as the M. aurantiacus types.

Along the theme of 'decaying plants/flowers' (a new interest of mine), here are the fading seed-heads of Amaranthus 'Giant Purple.' These particular seed heads hold up surprisingly long.

Abelia Kaleidoscope.' My variegated Abelia is happy as a clam and has begun producing its first pale pink to white flowers. It seems that Abelias are an under-appreciated shrub, though they are both tough and pretty.

Two new begonias for my garden. First is this lovely B. Illumination Apricot.' A floriferous variety, it blooms pretty much nonstop through late summer and fall.

And here's my new fave, Begonia 'Nonstop Salmon.' Love the peachy-salmon colors and how quick it was to flower. Time will tell how durable this series is.

Here's a wider angle shot of my Red paper flower bush. Here they look like little spaceships hovering in the air above my garden bed.

Got milkweed? (That was a lame reference to the Got Milk? commercials). Here's my Asclepias curassavica in full seed dispersal mode. I just love how the 'fluff' holds the tiny seeds within it, waiting on a burst of wind to disperse them.

Adenanthos sericeus, better known as Wooly bush. Or in this case Wooly tree as my specimen is now about 20' tall! The foliage on this Australian native is still soft as a feather. It certainly would make a good entry in an article on 'tactile' plants.

Calylophus drummondianus. This sweet little low growing perennial offers up the cheeriest yellow flowers. Almost a translucent yellow. It's already beginning to scramble.

Here's a shot of my walkway bed, this time shot from the top down. Color, color everywhere and the bees love all the flowers.

Three guesses what this little guy is. It almost looks like a Pelargonium at first glance but in fact it's a Malva sylvestris 'Zebrina.' This member of the mallow family produces masses of very striking purple patterned on white flowers. Much less prone to rust than other members of this family (such as Hollyhocks and Lavateras), it's a little pint-sized wonder.

Here's a little comical relief. The puffer fish on the left seems to be keeping an eye on the Fuchsia flower to its left. "I'm watching you bub!"

I took this shot of my Hedychium greenii just to remind myself to find a better shot from my archives but you do get a good idea of its exquisite color against the backdrop of the foliage so I left it in.

Nothing spectacular about my Nandina domestica but I love my Heavenly bamboo shrub. I've not had any of the problems that sometimes afflict them (like powdery mildew). It just keeps pumping out lovely new foliage, flowering when it feels like it and anchoring the back fence between my Ribes sanguineum and Black bamboo.

Not the ideal shot of my Deppea splendens flowers but they do tend to hide within the foliage like this. Rescued from the wild, where it is nearly extinct, its beauty has meant that several growers are now giving us Deppea lovers a steady supply of this marvelous shrub.

Bidens Hawaiian Flare Orange Drop. Here are the first flowers, with masses more to come.

Echeveria peacockii. One of my favorite succulents, especially for that dreamy bluish-gray color. It's been a regular bloomer too.

Papaver atlanticum. This evergreen perennial poppy is one tough customer, surviving dry conditions then prospering when there's a bit of water. This is the semi-double 'Flore Plena' variety.
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