Thursday, October 13, 2016

Before the Rains

While it may not be the great flood, the forecast rains this weekend in the Bay Area is certainly welcome news to gardeners. It isn't just the precipitation itself but rather the prana that the rain brings to both plants and the air. There's no doubt that gardens benefit more from natural rain than the water coming out of our hoses. In any case, the rain will freshen the air, clean the streets and mean we'll be able to skip watering this weekend.
October is often a transition time in our gardens. Summer flowers are fading but winter shrubs such as camellias have yet to begin blooming. Vines are prominent now, as are fall-blooming shrubs such as Salvias. For those of us with diverse gardens, there's always a bit of wonder to discover.
Today's photos reflect that diversity, with a mix of later perennials, some shrubs showing color and some Passiflora vines in bloom. October is also a "preview" period for an assortment of bulbs, the earliest ones already poking their heads up.

Faucaria. The so-called Tiger Jaws is one of most readily blooming succulents. Here's one of its yellow flowers just starting to close. I love the rubbery 'leaves' and how nonchalant it is. It grows, it flowers. Repeat.

Lunaria annua 'Rosemary Verey.' The dark-spotted form of the 'money plant' appreciates being in some sun, which seems to bring out more of the darker blotching. This is one of the plants I chose for my Interesting Seedpods in the Fall 2016 issue of Pacific Horticulture magazine. The wafer-thin seedpods look like coins, thus the common name.

It wouldn't be autumn without Rudbeckias so here's a shot of my Autumn Colors variety. 

Where the rudbeckia is all bright colors and a showoff, this Abutilon palmeri offers soothing, silvery-gray tones. The leaves are felty, adding another dimension of softness. There is color here though, as the flowers are a saturated golden yellow.

Speaking of my recent articles, my next SF Chronicle column will be on Salvia 'Amistad.' This recent addition is a real showstopper. I also mentioned a few similar varieties and one was this beauty - S. 'Love and Wishes.' It's a version of the well know S. 'Wendy's Wish.' Dark bracts and vivid burgundy flowers make for a real show.

Teucrium fruticans 'Gwen.' This new variety of the popular Germander is just beginning to bloom. T. fruticans is a tall, upright species, so good for adding some structure to a planting bed. It maintains its silvery foliage throughout the year.

Another shot of my ever evolving Aussie natives bed, with the front sidewalk-facing area populated by succulents. 

There's nothing quite like the blues offered by certain conifers. Here's it's a Cupressus glabra 'Blue Pyramid.' It's taken up temporary residence in my Dwarf Conifers bed.

Okay, so who am I? First clue is that these are flowers not berries. Got it? It's Solanum sp. 'Jalisco.' This variety was brought up from Jalisco Mexico and is proving quite vigorous. It is supposed to be long blooming and the flowers lightly fragrant, reminding some of Heliotrope. 

Begonia fans will recognize these flowers. In this case they belong to B. Irene Nuss, one of the showiest of all cane begonias. That's as much for the foliage as for the flowers, though there's no denying the beauty of these pink and white temptations.

Another shot of the fabulous Passiflora 'Oaklandii.' Love the color and even though the filaments are largely absent, the size of the flowers and the fact that the petals and tepals are the same rich color makes this variety a keeper.

I once thought this Calceolaria calynopsis was fragile but this specimen is proving more durable than expected. Pinching off spent flowers has brought on a new wave of blooms. 

This morning glory - Ipomoea 'Sunrise Serenade' - is unlike almost any m.g. I've seen, in part because the flowers have a ruffled, almost double petal form. Unique and vivid, always a great combo.

Hunnemannia fumariifolia. Hunny what? you may ask. This little known poppy is a real charmer. Related to CA poppies but bigger (it gets to 2' tall and wide), it features finely dissected bluish-green foliage and vivid yellow flowers.

Buddleja 'Cran Razz. This guy is just now putting out its first flowers, obviously later than is the usual case for Butterfly bushes. Then again it's always had a mind of its own.

Kalanchoe 'Elk Antlers.' This new variety of Kalanchoe does sort of look like antlers. So many Kalanchoes, so little time ...

Kudos to those who can ID this very particular and unique flower. If your answer was Haemanthus albiflos then you get today's gold star. This genus has the name 'blood lily' due to the H. coccinea having red flowers but here the albiflos has white 'shaving brush' flowers ('albi' signifies white).

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