Thursday, May 4, 2017

Water, sun ... action!

Gardening is simple. Everyone knows that. Okay, stop laughing (or crying, depending on what kind of gardening day you're having). But sometimes it can really be as simple as - Take one part rain, add in one part sunshine and ... go! Our recent week of sun, following all that rain, put the timer on fast forward and suddenly it's spring and summer all rolled into one. So, that's it. No great epiphanies except, to paraphrase that real estate maxim, with gardening it's "prep, prep, prep." All that soil amending, composting, weeding and the like creates the ideal conditions for plants to make the leap forward. And here's some of that leap forward ...

Mimulus variety. This is one of the water-loving types, easily IDd by the foliage and the larger, wider flowers.

Finally a decent photo of my favorite sweet pea (Nimbus). There aren't many purely purple sweet peas and the veining is particularly pronounced on this one.

A little instant color for a sunny bed, this multi-color six pack of annual salvias are an easy way to pop in some pint-sized reds, peaches and pinks.

There's a (relatively) new Mimulus series called Jelly Bean and this new addition to my collection is JB Dark Pink. Very floriferous!

California poppies are of course annuals; it's just that they reseed heavily so it seems like they're really a perennial. Here is one that is a true perennial, E. californica ssp. maritima. Yellow with orange centers, it first flushes out lots of attractive glaucous foliage then when the warm weather arrives it begins popping out flowers.

Speaking of series, Annie's Annuals has done well with their Chantilly snapdragon series. Here's Chantilly Bronze. The series is a vigorous bloomer and a little hardier than your bedding snap.

Felicia amelloides. Better known as Blue Daisy, this tough customer is a real showstopper when fully in bloom. Loves the sun, is drought tolerant and well, it's like coming across the blue section in a wildflowers meadow!

There's nothing quite like the color of Clematis 'Niobe.' Ablaze with burgundy? Yep.

Can you ID this native annual? It's a Phacelia minor and there's nothing minor about this scrambling phacelia. Not as well known as the upright P. viscida or the cascading P. campanularia, which is a shame as it has a delightfully rambling habit.

Streptosolen jamesonii. Marmalade bush is one of the great common names and in this case an apt description of this prolific blooming bush. Just give it sun and a deep occasional watering and it will reward you with 8 months a year of yummy blooms.

Calylophus drummondii. Not as well known as it should be, this great ground cover or cascader has some of the most cheerful flowers around. Tougher than it looks too.

Speaking of tough, most Coprosmas are pretty tough customers. Mine is perking along nicely, holding onto that great mix of colors. Another sun lover.

This is one of two shots of my Papaver Flemish Antique (the other, which was supposed to follow is further  down). Here the dramatic flower just seems to pop out of the black background.

My favorite Campanula, this C. 'Blue Waterfall' is a sun lover that stays low. A prolific bloomer, it produces masses of starry lavender flowers from spring through fall.

Cotinus 'Royal Purple.' The 'flowers', in reality the seedheads, of Smoke bushes are some of the most dramatic and unusual in the plant world. Plus that color!

You have to look close but the dark purple leaves in the center belong to a South African bulb called Eucomis. Better known as Pineapple lily, this is the Sparkling Burgundy variety. Plants will eventually produce tall sturdy spikes whose length will be dotted with waxy flowers. Always a fun plant to grow and it's reliable too.

Here's one of the Mimulus aurantiacus types, this one simply labeled as 'Bronze.' It's just the beginning of what will be a long bloom season for Sticky Monkey flowers.

Here's a color you don't often see in million bells (Calibrachoa). This one is named 'Volcano Sunrise.' I joke with friends that I want the drugs that the people who come up with these dramatic or silly variety names are obviously on.

Not the best shot of my Arisaema speciosum var. magnificum's spathe and that's because a second spathe is in front, getting ready to open.

Here's a more conventional shot of my Papaver 'Flemish Antique.' Just the most amazing flowers of any peony-style breadseed poppy!

Got sticky? You do if you're growing the always delightful Salvia discolor. Both the stems and the leaves are sticky. Heck even the calyxes that surround the nearly black flowers are sticky. One of the easiest and toughest salvias you will grow.

Scrophularia auriculata ‘Variegata’ Though the flowers are tiny, it's worth growing this shade loving plant for its pretty foliage. It really lightens up a shady area, though some morning sun will really make it happy.

Right next to it is my tall Plectranthus zuluensis. This is a great plant for taking up some space in a shady area, as a low screen or just as something tough and pretty.

Though not an ideal photo, this is my Passiflora 'Oaklandii' that's climbed up into my apple tree. With this passion flower vine, it's all about the color and the size, as its filaments aren't showy.

Tolmiea 'Taff's Gold.' Thanks to Sherrie at California Flora Nursery for this wonderful shade loving native. It's a hardy little guy too.

This Abutilon (Lucky Lantern Red) was supposed to stay small but it's now 10' tall. Oops. I don't mind and the color is fabulous. It gets quite a bit of sun and is loving it.

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