Okay, not summer summer but the summer blooming bulbs have arrived in local nurseries and garden centers. You may not feel like shopping for summer bulbs when it's 45 degrees out but this is the best time and will offer the widest selection. Besides the Big 3 - Gladiolas, Dahlias and Lilies - there are Begonias, Calla lilies, more Freesias and Sparaxis, Crocosmia, sweet-smelling Tuberosa (Polianthes) and many more. And with the exception of the Dahlia tubers, which don't like cold wet soil conditions now, the rest of the summer bulbs can be planted straight away.
One nice thing about bulbs is that you can 'hide' them under existing plants or in planting them in an open spot leave room for some other lower growing plant that they can pop up through. To me they are like long lost friends that return unexpectedly in spring (or summer). No effort on our parts needed. So, we get the double pleasure in the next month - enjoying the early spring-blooming bulbs while we plant the new summer bulbs. All our other gardening should be so easy!
Here are the first photos of my garden in the new year. While it is still mostly dormant, there are always little things going on. And of course it has loved all the recent rain.
Leucospermum variety. This is actually my neighbor's bush but as its first flowers are beginning to open I couldn't resist sharing it. Of all the Protea family members, Leucospermums are my favorite.
Leptospermum lanigerum. This silver-leaved New Zealand tea tree is more about the soft, downy foliage than the little white flowers. It is growing surprisingly fast, much to my delight. It's supposed to top out at ten feet so we'll see.
Speaking of attractive silver foliage, you get that in spades with Geranium harveyi. Not widely known, this beauty looks good cascading out of its bright blue pot. No flowers yet but that's okay. It's the foliage that caught my eye.
Beschorneria albiflora. Beschornerias are great landscape plants, getting to a generous size and featuring wide, strap-like leaves. The foliage is appealing to me, a good thing while you're waiting for the tall arching stems filled with waxy red and green tubular flowers.
Kalanchoe 'Chocolate Soldier.' I've been pleasantly surprised at how well my ground-planted succulents have held up in all our rain. Kalanchoes grow a little more quickly than many succulents and the variety in leaf form is quite amazing ("Wait, that's a Kalanchoe?")
The yin and the yang. Here a bright red primrose shares a bed with my newly planted Myrsine africana variegata. Myrsines are known as African boxwoods, which I always thought was a bit of a stretch comparison wise. Myrsines generally have smaller rounder leaves (usually a glossy green), providing to me a more pleasing look.
Finally a decent photo of my Melianthus pectinatus! This dwarf African honey bush has finally settled in and is in bloom right now. As you can see, it has much smaller, more delicate leaves than the more common M. major. Perfect for a smaller space and you still get that great peanut butter aroma from the leaves.
Somehow, a few years on from discovering the beauty of ferns, I suddenly have 25 different ones in my garden. The newest, not yet planted, is this Dryopteris koidzumiana (Japanese Wood fern). The new growth offers beautiful burnished ginger tones and a classic 'fern' look. You may be familiar with its better known cousin - Dryopteris erythrosora (Autumn fern).
The Bidens that ate Oakland. My B. HI Flare Orange Drop has kind of gone crazy in this hanging basket but its hard not to like the delicate foliage and those groovy flowers.
Couldn't resist this shot of my Pieris japonica 'Flaming Silver.' A lovely salmon-colored new leaf has appeared, kind of a 'more to come in early spring' sentinel.
Here are two shots of my Billbergia 'Hallelujah,' which has for the first time put out its flower 'spears.' The reddish-pink sheath is the bract and then it sends out the off-white flowers with the purple tips. I know there must be some way of predicting when bromeliads will bloom but I haven't discovered it. For me the blooming is always a major event.
For some reason this Euphorbia 'Glacier Blue' looks more like a painting than a photograph. Maybe it's the soft colors or the perfect geometric composition. No matter. Beauty is beauty.
Although the sun somewhat washed out this shot I'm including it to say that you can grow this Goldfish houseplant outdoors. As you can see, it's prospering. And if you want you can tell a friend "Hey, did you know that goldfish can fly?" Then return their puzzled gaze with "Yeah, my hanging goldfish plant has little orange flowers that look like they're flying."
Though this Mother Fern is perhaps the most common of all ferns it's still beautiful nonetheless. I'm choosing to grow mine outdoors and it's found a home in a part-morning sun location.
Although I've displayed several shots of my beautiful Camellia reticulata 'Frank Hauser,' I thought a side-angle view was interesting. You see the depth of the flowers and get a different take on its wavy petals.
Okay, no beauty awards for this shot of my Begonia 'Wild Pony' but two things. First I rooted this from a cutting and it immediately took hold. Second it has stayed evergreen. This is a variety you grow for the textured almost crinkled foliage. Can't wait to see how big it gets.
A photo of a bare tree? Yes and no. It's my Magnolia 'Butterflies' and it won't be long till it bursts into bloom. You may already have seen some mature Magnolia soulangianas in bloom. BTW, magnolias are one of the oldest trees on our planet.
There's soft and then there's soft. The foliage on this Phylica plumosa is just unbelievably silky soft. It's one of many South African plants in my garden.
I love this little Fabiana imbricata violacea. A member of the Solanaceae family, it is native to Chile. The funny thing is, it almost looks more like a heather than something related to a Potato vine or a tomato.
It's sweet pea season so I've planted one of the new Annie's Annuals varieties in this ceramic pot, positioned so it can climb on the wrought iron railing.
Here's a closeup of the stand underneath the pot. Yep that's an elephant, guarding the entrance to the steps!
Callistemon viminalis. Callistemons are bottle brush trees or, in this case, a shrub. This species tops out at 6-8' tall and wide, making it easier for those of us with limited space to grow one in a pot.