Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Springing forward

Well, to no one's surprise, lots of rain followed by a week of sun has equaled a real spurt in our gardens. That's been especially true for bulbs, which I've belatedly discovered really do benefit from a lot of rain, to deciduous shrubs, which all seemed to have leafed out in record time. For those of us with plenty of both, it's been a glorious week. And I echo many a Bay Area gardener's thoughts I'm sure in thinking "It's about time!" Spring often appears in late February in the milder zones here so the fact that it's a month late is certainly unusual.
There was much to photograph this week so I'll let the photos do the talking.

Ixias are one of the easiest bulbs to grow. I lump them in with Freesias and Sparaxis as three spring-blooming bulbs that are multi-colored and naturalize easily in one's garden.

Speaking of easy, Osteospermums are one of the easiest and most colorful perennials to grow. Sun lovers, they prosper when the heat arrives.

Aloe striata. Another shot of what has become the most commented on plant in my front garden. Somehow many who stop to admire it can't quite believe such a magnificent display is coming out of a succulent. Somewhere, there must be a dry garden filled with nothing but many different kinds of aloes and if so chances are many are in bloom at the same time. Now there's a photo to show to people ("See, aloes really do bloom. A lot.") And there's problem a hummingbird travel agency that would lead a tour ...

This is what I've now dubbed my Woodland bed. That low growing red and gold plant is a Fuchsia Autumnale; to its right is Aquilegia yabeana and further right and behind is a colony of Iris douglasiana. There's a Louisiana iris in back, plus several ferns, a Francoa and some sweet woodruff. Amazing what you can plant in a small space.

Amazingly, this petite plant is a lilac and it's in bloom! It's a Syringa 'Palibin' and it's hanging out in this pot until it's big enough to go in the ground.

Dianella tasmanica 'Yellow Stripe' situated in a bed of Plectranthus 'Troy's Gold.' This is at the head of my morning sun bed I call Shady Lane. 

Five finger fern (Adiantum aleuticum). This CA native fern somewhat dies back in winter so I just give it a full haircut and it grows back nice and fresh in spring.

Many people are familiar with Calceolaria mexicana (Yellow Pocketbooks) but this is a different and harder to find species C. calynopsis. Same shape and size of flowers but in a vivid red.

This sweet little guy is Aquilegia buergeriana, a hard to find columbine. I like the simplicity of its burgundy and yellow flowers. It's a short guy, topping out at 8".

Here's another sparaxis flower, this one a deep orange. These Harlequin flowers raise the question - What is the evolutionary advantage of having a squiggly yellow center, as opposed to a simple round center? And what about the black ring separating the colors? What is its purpose? Discuss among yourselves (very, very old SNL skit reference).

Okay, no photography awards for this shot and no beauty awards for the dogwood flowers themselves. So why take the picture? Just to prove that it really did bloom this year dammit, after waiting 8 years for it to do so. (I think all our winter rains helped).

On the other hand, this Iris pseudacorus Holden Clough flower is exceptionally pretty. Most pseudacorus flowers are fairly plain but this one not only showcases alluring ginger tones but prominent striping. Lovely!

Continuing with our triptych of unusually pretty flowers, here's one of my double hellebores, this one H. Double Patty's Purple. Remember way back when when hellebores were dull? Me neither.

A closeup of my new favorite, Corydalis 'Blue Line.' For some reason I've taken to thinking of them as little blue seahorses.

Though not properly lit (come on sun, just a little to the right please), the beauty of my Rhododendron 'Sappho' is apparent. I first spotted this beauty at Sonoma Horticultural Nursery and was so smitten I bought a specimen. It has proven surprisingly sturdy.

It's the season for spring annual natives and here's one charming example - Layia glandulosa. A little more heat tolerant than its better know cousin Layia platyglossa, it proves itself just as pretty. 

In the good-things-come-to-those-that-wait category, my Camella reticulata 'Lila Naff' has finally produced its first flower. This variety originated in 1967 in Slidell LA and was a chance seedling of Camellia 'Butterfly Wings.'

This curious shoot belongs to Beschorneria queretaro, a dwarf form that's a bit hard to find these days. Like most Beschornerias, it puts up tall arching spikes that eventually sprout, waxy, tubular pink and green flowers much beloved by hummers and bees. 

Dutch iris. So many colors, so many varieties, so easy to grow, it's no wonder that these Iris hybrids are by far the best selling iris. Now if only someone could work on getting the flowers to last for more than a day or two ...

Physocarpus opulifolius 'Nugget.' This fast growing shrubs seems to go from bare to flowering in about a month! The spirea-like flowers are very popular with bees and it won't be long before the colorful (red) and interesting seedpods form.

And last but certainly not least the first of my Clematis niobe flowers has opened. One of my favorites, that color is simply to die for.

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