Wednesday, February 15, 2017

What drought?

So were the previous five years of drought just a dream or has the last three months been just a reverie we'll wake up from. And now the Oroville dam is close to flooding out a huge population in NorCal, all the reservoirs are overflowing and sump pumps are suddenly in demand. Even our gardens aren't sure what the heck is going on. Spring rains are great for gardens, to a point. Too much water, like too much of anything, isn't good for our gardens either.
Still, the rains are certainly a blessing for spring bulbs and many of mine are appearing earlier than in past years. Ditto for my deciduous shrubs, which the rains have spurred to leaf out especially early.
Right about now though even our plants are hoping for a stretch of sun.
So here a few photos of new developments in the garden.

The two pots of pink flowers are from my collection of Lachenalias. Though they weren't tagged, I think the one on the right is L. rubida. It's one of the earlier blooming species.

Tillandsia tectorum + Aeonium Schwarzkopf. I love the contrast of silver and black. BTW, don't you think the Aeonium variety's name would be a great candidate for a spelling contest?

The little train that could. That's how I think of this dwarf Helichrysum bracteatum (Paper flower). It just keeps flowering through thick and thin. Some flowers just make you like them, don't you think?

I love photographing my Phylica plumosa in all kinds of light. This morning they remind me of furry jellyfish floating to the surface.

Two of my favorite shrubs. That's Westringia 'Wynyabbie Highlight' on the left and Grevillea Penola on the right. Both are very durable and bloom in late winter and early spring. 

My Calluna 'Firefly' has been especially colorful this winter. The small purple flowers are almost an afterthought when they appear. Callunas are a type of heather, which if you see the full size photo you can better appreciate.

Remember those 'Got milk?' commercials. This time of year one might change that to 'Got Quince?' That is, flowering quince (Chaenomeles). Here's my C. 'Kurokoji' with a backdrop provided by my Wooly bush. I love the blood red color of its flowers. It's almost as if the shrub really does have blood coursing through its veins and some has bled out onto its flowers.

My amazing Aloe striata (Coral aloe) already has two new nestled flower spikes. I swear, it's a blooming machine. Hummers love aloe flowers, another reason to add one or two to your garden.

Although this bed is a bit messy, it's the pretty lavender flowers here that are the subject. They're Iris confusa 'Chengdu,' better known as bamboo iris. It took a couple years to get established but now it's putting out a good amount of petite, lightly fragrant blooms. It's a tough plant too, doing equally well in sun or light shade, in moist or dry conditions. 

Speaking of tough, it doesn't get much more resilient than Chasmanthe bicolor. This vigorous South African bulb pops up in late winter and puts up a seemingly endless number of flowering spikes. The flowers are small, two-lipped red and yellow. People often mistake this plant for a Crocosmia, which also hails from South Africa. Both are members of the Iris family (Iridaceae).

Teucrium fruticans 'Gwen.' To rework that old phrase (two kinds of people), there's two kinds of Teucriums in this world, the lower ground cover types and the taller ones. T. fruticans belongs to the latter. Gwen is a dwarf variety, only getting to two feet not 4-6.' Still, it has all the virtues of a T. fruticans - lovely silvery foliage, pretty lavender flowers and it's just as drought tolerant and long-lived.

Nandina domestica. Here's a headline - "Nandina domestica goes wild!" You see, domestic(a) goes wild. It's a sort of joke you see. Okay, moving along. Actually though it doesn't go wild, this shrub is vigorous and will spread out. Here it's showing some of the lovely coppery new foliage that is part of this evergreen shrub's charm. Another tough customer plus it produces berries for the birds.

Scrophularia calliantha variegata. This species has the largest flowers of any figwort (though that's still only 1/2"). Most people buy this variety for the lovely variegated foliage (as I did). It can handle some shade though if it gets too much it will be straggly. It sends up tall flowering stems dotted with small but curious red flowers.

Abelia 'Kaleidoscope.' This multi-colored evergreen shrub is a four season delight. Spring foliage is a bright green and yellow. These colors mute a bit in summer when little bell-shaped pink flowers appear. The flowers continue on into the fall, which is when the leaves suddenly add red and orange tones. It's an abelia so it's tough.

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