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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