Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Exploring Through Gardens

Every garden has its own beauty, from the simplest to the most sweeping. That's the power of gardening to me, that the humblest garden can be life affirming and satisfying. Whether you spend an hour a week in your garden or have the time (and passion) to practically live in it, the garden gives back in so many ways. I often tell gardeners coming into our nursery that gardening magazines are all well and good with their lovely photos of elaborate designs but that doesn't have to be you. Follow your own heart. That said, there is something to be said for being adventurous, for trying new things, be that with a fresh look at design or by exploring new plants. I used to work in the book business, at a book wholesaler, and one of the joys of the job was surveying new titles that arrived in our New Releases room. Similarly, working at a nursery allows me to see new varieties or entirely new genera as they first arrive. You don't need that advantage; gardeners can simply spend a little time at their local nursery, peruse the aisles, even ask the people there What's new?
It's that kind of curiosity that got me in the 'mess' that I'm in today, having a 'one of everything' garden. I could certainly put my garden on one or more of the tours (as friends have suggested) but I'm afraid my garden wouldn't neatly fit into any current tour's theme. Maybe I'll change my mind in the future. In the meantime, I have the luxury of sharing my garden via photos in this forum. So here are this week's windows onto one collector's garden.

I have gotten to appreciate succulents more than ever during my ten years at Grand Lake Ace nursery. I am currently enamored with gray and silver tones, a few of which are displayed here.

If this were a painting, would this be called 'Blue Pot with Butterflies'? Of course that's a nemesia in the pot and the butterflies here are cloth ones but it does have a rather painterly effect, n'est-ce pas?

Although I'm not a big fan of mums, I do like this coppery-orange color.

Here's a bit better photo of my new Salvia 'Love and Wishes.' BTW, look for my article on Salvia 'Amistad' in this coming Sunday's Chronicle (10/23). This new salvia is also mentioned. 

Winter is a great time for Protea family members. Here's my fabulous Leucospermum 'Veldfire,' already greening up in preparation for late winter blooming. The silver bush in front is the CA native Eriogonum giganteum. 

This pretty clover-like Oxalis is O. latifolium. It's a summer dormant, winter flowering type and I love the contrast between the lime green leaves and the orchid pink flowers.

Look, up in the sky, it's a bird, it's a plane, it's ... well, my Tecoma x smithii. It's used a street tree for support and climbed a good twelve feet. There are dwarf varieties of Tecomas but this cross is clearly a full sized one.

Last week I presented a photo of my Solanum 'Jalisco,' where the flower buds had yet to open. Here you can see that the first of them have begun to open, revealing the yellow stamen.

Impatiens congolense. This plant has its own mind as to when it flowers, though in recent years it's choosing to bloom later in the season. 

Here's a photo of my rain lily flower, now fully open. Though I'm not big into white flowers, I do love the simplicity of this flower and the fact that its flowers literally pop up overnight once the rains come.

I finally was able to get a decent photo of my Hibiscus trionum's flower. Though the flowers are smaller than most other hibiscus, it produces great numbers of them.

I've now learned to prune back my Luculia pinceana in the summer, before it enters its fall and winter bloom season. I'm too late this year as it's getting an early start. I've written quite a bit about this plant in the past and it's no exaggeration that it's one of the MOST fragrant plants on this sweet earth. And for some reason I love the fact that the eventual flower first appears as a little round pink ball.

African boxwood may not ring a bell for many gardeners but this resilient shrub - Myrsine africana - is a lovely specimen. This variegated form won't get as large as the straight green specimen but hopefully will be just as hardy.

Finally, in honor of my recent article on Curious Seedpods in Pacific Horticulture magazine (Fall 2016 issue), here's a new favorite of mine. This waxy seedpod belongs to Cassia phyllodinia. But you knew that, right? Seriously I'd never heard of this Cassia species until it showed up in our nursery. I'm a big fan now.

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