Tuesday, March 21, 2017

The Rain in Spain

... falls mainly on northern California apparently. Just when we thought we were done, here it comes a-calling again. I think we're past the point where this is helping our gardens. The ground has soaked up plenty of moisture, enough to last for awhile. There's no denying that spring is here however. One look at one's garden, or for that matter the lines out the door at your favorite nursery on the weekend, and yep, that's spring.
Here's a pictorial snapshot of what that looks like in my garden.

Everyone's favorite mock orange, Choisya ternata is a blooming machine. Mine is just now starting to load up on flowers. Even more fragrant than the 'other' mock orange (Philadelphus) it's popular with bees and hummers alike. Give it morning sun and a bit of occasional deep watering and it's happy as a clam.

Abutilon thompsonii. Though I bought this species for the variegated foliage, the peach-colored flowers are really growing on me. This species is more of a bush type, spreading wider and not getting too tall.

This Scabiosa columbaria is one that sadly is getting harder to find in retail nurseries. It acts more like a ground cover, spreading out with dense, ferny foliage. This variety, Harlequin Blue, produces an abundance of pretty, lavender-colored flowers.

My Aloe striata (Coral aloe) is up to its old tricks, producing huge sprays of orange flowers. As soon as the tubular flowers open, there'll be an endless stream of hummers coming to collect nectar.

This is an unusual angle (looking up) of my Pelargonium crispum Variegated Lemon. Super vigorous and with those distinctive crinkly, curled leaves of crispum species, this specimen is slowly taking over this whole end of the fence.

Thunbergias are supposed to be late summer through late falling blooming vines but mine has pretty much bloomed nonstop for the last six months. Thunbergias are about as easy a plant to grow as there is.

This odd little fellow will soon be coming to a Pacific Horticulture magazine near you. He's a Cussonia natalensis and his claim to fame is his 'fat trunk.' Yes he's a caudiciform and one of the easiest to grow. That summer issue of Pacific Horticulture will have a piece I'm writing on this subject, with 16 different 'fat trunk' plants featured.

Exibit A of why I love Sparaxis. This deep red color isn't as common as others but it's blessing my garden as we speak. Always colorful, usually with a contrasting center ring, and easy to grow, it's no wonder they'r near the top of every bulb lover's list.

Is this a poppy you may ask? Mais oui! It's the double form of Papaver atlanticum called Flore Pleno. It's also sometimes referred to as the Taffeta poppy, for its crinkled petals. In any case it has many virtues, among them that fantastic orange color, the crinkled petals, it being a true perennial poppy and last but not least how drought tolerant it is.

There must be a term for plants whose flowers sprout from the sides of the branches, as this wonderful Calothamnus villosus does.  In any case, I find this type of flowering endlessly fascinating, as the whole idea of a woody stem suddenly producing little buds that then open to flowers is just so weird and cool.

Though they haven't opened yet, my Exbury azalea is budding up and getting ready for a spring show. Known as deciduous azaleas (Exbury hybrids simply being the most famous and widely propagated), their claim to fame is their flower colors - reds, oranges and golds not normally found on evergreen azaleas.

Speaking of reds, early spring is the season for flowering quinces (Chaenomeles). This blood red variety is Kurokoji and it puts on quite a show in the January to March period. 

If you're wondering what this little charmer is, it's a double form of Gazania. Just as tough as the other African daisy varieties but boasting that fabulous Sunflower Teddy Bear form, it hugs the ground and gradually fills in an area.

Do you have a Clu what this plant is? Yes, it's a Tulipa clusiana, one of the so-called Lady Tulips.This is a pink and yellow variety but they also come in white and pink. It's a species tulip, meaning it comes back every year, even in our mild winter climate. Smaller flowers but loads of them.

California Mist Maiden may seem like a kooky name for a plant (okay it is) but this Romanzoffia californica overcomes that drawback with its shiny scalloped leaves and dainty white flowers. Curiously, there is a mountain range in Alaska called the Romanzof mountains. Sounds vaguely Russian and as we all know you can see Russia from Alaska's back door.

Corydalis Blue Line. I didn't quite get this shot is perfect focus but wanted to show the otherworldly blue of the flowers. Wow!

Camellia 'Maroon & Gold.' The maroon part is the flower petals color and the gold is the group of stamens. This camellia has been slow to develop and bloom but this year I'm finally reaping the benefits.

This gorgeous flower is a South African gladiola called Lemon Moon. It is typical of many S. African glads - smaller flowers, patterned centers, thin stems. One of my favorite bulbs.

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