Wednesday, May 31, 2017

What rain?

We all had this collective dream, didn't we? That it rained nonstop from November to April. That was a dream, right?
So nice to enjoy a stretch of sun and not be looking over our shoulders for the next rain storm.
Lots of photos to share today so will let the images be the entertainment. Enjoy!

Tillandsia tectorum. You could call this species 'Tumbleweed' or 'Silver Fireworks'  but in any case it's a real beauty.

This photo catches three Copper mum flowers in different stages of opening so was kind of fun to photograph. 

Platycodon. I caught this Balloon flower just as it was unfurling. They are easy to grow, look like little alien faces before they open and have that lovely color. Also, if you study Chinese herbalism you'll find this plant is used in several herbal formulas.

Here's the lower half of my walkway bed. It proves that you can take a narrow bed, this is only two feet wide, and pack a lot of color into it.

This is my newest Mimulus, Jelly Bean Dark Pink, and it's off and running. They are very drought tolerant once established but a little water at the beginning gets them off and running.

Agastache 'Tutti Fruiti.' This free flowering Hummingbird mint is a real delight. Bees like it too. 

This cup-shaped golden flower belongs to a California native Abutilon, A. palmeri. It features soft, felty, grayish foliage and in early summer through fall, two inch golden yellow flowers. 

2017 is the Year of the Lily in my garden and here is one of my new additions, the large trumpet lily Triumphator. I love the splash of pink and the slightly recurved petals. 

Another new lily is this burgundy pink trumpet lily, L. Pink Perfection. This one is fragrant too. 

Lathyrus Blue Vein. I don't see much of the blue veining yet but I love the orange color of the petals. This 'throwaway' barely survived the transplant but it's flowering now. Ahh, sweet peas.

Everybody's favorite blue Hydrangea, at least those that have seen one in bloom, Nikko Blue is one of the very few 'blue' hydrangeas that stays blue (that is, doesn't need Aluminum sulfate to stay blue). Love that robin's-egg blue color.

Clerodendrums aren't well known which is too bad because there are several really nice ones. This is C. ugandense, also known as Glory Bower. It forms a 6-10' shrub and produces two-tone blue, sweet pea-like flowers during the summer. 

Back to back are two of the most fragrant flowers you can grow. Above is Philadelphus Belle Etoile, for my money the most fragrant of all the Mock oranges.

And this blindingly white flower is Mandevilla laxa. Discard everything you know about the popular pink and red Mandevillas. This more modest-sized species produces some of the most fragrant flowers you'll ever have the joy to inhale. Its common name, Chilean jasmine, is well earned. 

Begonia boliviensis. This is one of the most vigorous of all begonia species, returning reliably each year and starting to flower almost immediately. The flowers continue well into the fall.

 Hebe speciosa. This tough, floriferous hebe is a real delight. We may enjoy its pink and white flowers but bees REALLY like them. It's rare I can take a photo of this plant without several bees not busy collecting nectar.

Clarkia Aurora. This is one of my favorite colors in the garden, what I would call an icy salmon-orange. This CA native is a prolific bloomer and as these are its first flowers I have many, many more to enjoy.

Hunnemannia. If this sweet flower looks a bit like a poppy it is, being a member of the Papaveraceae family. 

Cuphea Vienco. This bat-faced cuphea is a strong grower and a long bloomer. I use it as a kind of high ground cover and it rewards me with months of flowers with virtually no care.

One of my older lilies, this Honey Bee is an Asiatic type. Many of them feature the kind of prominent spotting/splashing you see here. They're usually early bloomers too.

I had a nice surprise yesterday in spotting my Epipactis gigantea up and flowering. For some reason it had been dormant the last two years. Stream orchids are well named so maybe it was all the rain this winter that spurred it to return. Love these delicate patterned flowers.

If one were to have a section in the nursery for 'Sex' plants this Amorphophallus kiusianus would certainly be there. Not many plants manage to work in the words 'phallus' and 'anus' into the same botanical name. The photo here gives an idea why.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017


Today's post is filled with photos so I'll keep my introductory comments to a minimum. Today's post title - Communion - reflects that for many a gardener, time spent in their garden, especially time spent in a kind of lost reverie, comes pretty darn close to a kind of spiritual communion. We talk to our plants, we nurture them, we heal them in our own unique ways, we bring forth their full glory. If that isn't communion I don't know what is.
So here's to 'getting lost' in our gardens, in all the myriad and glorious ways.

Begonia boliviensis variety. This type of begonia is perfect for a hanging basket. It's a tumbler and the dark green, veined foliage provides a nice backdrop to the flame-orange flowers.

Penstemon 'Dark Towers.' This hybrid penstemon features darker leaves and pink-blushed white flowers. One interesting feature is the prominent hairs on the stems and the flowers.

I've recently been buying some beautiful glass objects and one of them, this green tray with a looped handle, was perfect for displaying some tillandsias outside.

Though common and bought as annuals, common mums can actually come back and flower the next year. Here's my copper mum starting to put out flowers in this its second year.

Another of my many Mimulus aurantiacus varieties. I love Sticky Monkey flowers. They're beautiful, long-blooming, drought tolerant and disease-resistant.  That pretty much covers it.

2017 is going to be the year of the lily in my garden. This year I added 12 new varieties and now have 24 different ones. This Lilium Trebbiano is always one of the first to bloom.

Royal blue is a good description of Anagallis flowers. If you look closely in the center-right part of the image you'll see a black bumblebee foraging for nectar.

A new addition to my garden (I just planted it today), this Hydrangea 'Glowing Embers' offers exceptionally pretty rose-pink flowers.

Though not the best of photos, my Kalanchoe Elk Antlers has turned an unexpected deep brown. 

Though this is my neighbor's Calandrinia spectabilis, it's looking so wonderful I thought I'd include a photo.

Anyone know this flower? It's Franchoa sonchifolia. Not as well known as it should be, this partial shade lover can be a prolific bloomer. My two year old plant currently has 7 flowering spikes in various stages of growth, all off the one plant. Exceptionally pretty and exceptionally tough, always a good combo.

The sun shining on my Lilium 'Pink Perfection' doesn't show off how deep the burgundy-pink color is on this trumpet lily. Like most trumpets, the stalks are tall (4-6') and the flowers large (5-7"). A real showstopper.

Fuchsia Autumnale. People buy this scrambling fuchsia for its colorful foliage, though the pink flowers are pretty too.

The latest 'love of my life,' this dwarf fir bush (Abies koreana Kohout's Icebreaker) is very difficult to find and often expensive. I ordered mine from Oregon. One of the most striking of the extreme dwarf firs (or any conifer).

Japanese Garden. This is my own miniature Japanese Garden. It's populated with dwarf species. It's hard to see but on the far right is the new Icebreaker dwarf fir.

Lathyrus 'Almost Black.' Well named, this deep, deep purple sweet pea kind of disappears into the shadows.

Phacelia minor. Less common than the other Phacelias but just as beautiful, this one is more of a scrambler than a bush and has flowers that are the most pronounced in tubular form of any Phacelia.

Those light lavender star-shaped flowers look like a Campanula but in fact they're a Wahlenbergia 'Blue Cloud.' It's related to a Campanula but it more drought tolerant, blooms longer and is more tenacious.

Want a bit of gardening nirvana? Plant a Philadelphus 'Belle Etoile' in a semi-enclosed spot, where its intensely sweet smell can congregate. Mine is planted along a narrow walkway, and against a wall, and its perfume is simply intoxicating.

Clarkia 'Salmon Princess.' So many clarkias, so little space ...

There's nothing quite like Centaurea 'Blue Diadem.' That purplish-blue cornflower color is simply dreamy. This is my specimen's first flower so I have many more to enjoy in the month ahead.

Gilia capitata. This CA native wildflower is vigorous, colorful and sort of fun. Its common name, Thimbleflower, owes to the thimble-shaped domed flowers. Always popular with butterflies and bees, this is an annual I grow every year. It also reliably self seeds.

Hibiscus rosa-sinensis 'Cherie.' Who doesn't love Hibiscus?

I wanted to take more of a closeup of my Cotinus Royal Purple flower/seedhead. The airy, smoky cluster is a vehicle for the dispersal of the actual seeds, which you can identify here as the dark brown 'dots.'

Another, older, Hibiscus rosa-sinensis variety. They're blooming early this year.

Hibiscus trionum. This unusual hibiscus offers up pale butter-yellow petals with a magenta center ring. It goes deciduous in the winter but then pops back up in the late spring as the weather warms. 

Asarina erubescens 'Bridal Bouquet.' Vigorous, a long bloomer, soft, felty leaves. Lots to like about this easy to grow climber.

Calceolaria Kentish Hero. Everyone's favorite orange-blooming 'pocketbook.' This one is a short-lived perennial, as opposed to the annual Calceolaria mexicana, though the latter species is known to self-seed.
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