Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Summer retreats

Gardening is an all season affair - or as long as one's gardening season lasts - but that said, summer is often a time when we've planted out most of our gardens, be that flower or veggie. If so, that allows us the time to simply enjoy it, share it with friends, do a little deadheading or fertilizing to give we flower gardeners a nicer looking Eden.
A few words about fertilizing for those who primarily tend flower gardens. If the majority of plants in your garden are perennials, then you don't have the opportunity to start over adding nutrition to the soil, as you would when you pull out an annual. Eventually plants do use up the nutrition in the soil and will benefit from a feeding. There are three options. Most people will utilize a granular fertilizer, one that feeds over an extended period of time. I use the EB Stone line of natural fertilizers for this purpose. Alternatively, one can employ a liquid fertilizer. This has the advantage of getting to the roots more quickly but the disadvantage of not lasting as long. Maxsea and fish emulsion are good choices. I tend to use granular for overall feeding and the Maxsea Bloom formula for blooming plants. Lastly one can top dress beds with a soil amendment such as Fir Mulch or Malibu Compost. The nutrition will seep down to the roots.
I sometimes joke to customers that plants and humans are more alike than you would think and that both need to be fed. Feeding your plants strengthens them and helps them to perform at their best.
Okay, here are this week's photos.


My Bouvardia is back. After looking peckish, I pruned it back hard last fall and it returned with vigor this spring. And it has responded to the recent sun, beginning a new bloom season


Jacaranda Bonzai Blue. It still amazes me that there is a dwarf Jacaranda but indeed mine is only 4' tall after 3 years. It looks and acts much more like a dense shrub than the usual tree. Which I prefer, as I love that delicate foliage and I get to enjoy the flowers at eye level.


To those who know Gloriosa lilies, their foliage is unmistakable.  That includes the little curlicues at the tip of each leaf. Of course the red and yellow flowers are the main attraction. I've found this plant to be very reliable and more appear each year.


If this looks like a Aconitum (Monkshood) but not quite that's because this variety, Blue Lagoon, is more blue than deep purple plus it has some green in the flowers. Still poisonous but it's a lovely flower that does well in some shade.


Though the gray skies made this photo a little on the dull side, I wanted to celebrate the first flowers of the year on my Solanum 'Navidad, Jalisco.' It's a very vigorous vine so if you add it to your garden make sure there's room. The flowers are so pretty though that it's worth finding some room.


Impatiens congolense (I. niamniamensis). This unique Impatiens produces waxy bicolor flowers that sprout off the stem. Mine hasn't been lush on the foliage front but it sure blooms easily enough.


Here I thought the purple and gold made for a pretty combo. That's a Choisya 'Sundance' and a Clematis viticella purpurea 'Plena Elegans.'  Though the flowers are small on this clematis, the vivid color and the double form gives it plenty of impact.


'First up then out' might be this Begonia luxuriens' motto. It's shot up quickly but hasn't begun to fill out yet. So, basically, he's my 14 year old son ...


I've taken plenty of photos over the years of my Helenium 'Mardi Gras' but that's because it is one of the most vigorous and floriferous plants in my garden. I consider it a near perfect plant - easy to grow, reliable, a prolific bloomer and very popular with bees (and some butterflies). 


There's nothing much that can match the vivid purple of Trachelium caeruleum flowers. Butterflies love the flowers almost as much as I do. 


I love the colors on this sweet little Dianthus Super Trooper Orange. 


Though a bit shaded, my Eriogonum crocatum is in full bloom now and kind of snaking its way in and around other low growing plants in this median strip bed. CA buckwheats are one of the most valuable plants for local pollinators, so planting some in your garden will help our local birds, bees and butterflies.


I took this shot to show two stages of Phlomis fruticosa's fl;owering. Above, the flower petals have yet to open and below the telltale curved golden flowers have made their first appearance.


Speaking of CA buckwheats, here's my Eriogonum giganteum flower heads. They're about to open their tiny white flowers, an event the bees have on their calendar. They'll soon be swarming the 'patch.'


Calibrachoa 'Grape Cartwheel' Yes, that really is the variety name of this million bells plant. A friend and I have this theory that people who come up with these names are ... umm ... ingesting some mind altering things and then just picking the most outrageous name they can think of.


Hibiscus 'Cherie.' Who doesn't love Hibiscus flowers and this one is one of my faves. Sun lovers, they really do need lots of sun and some regular water to be happy.


Here are two shots of my Lilium regale (Regal lily). Easily one of the MOST fragrant lilies around, it features a yellow throat with green 'landing strip' lines and then the pink ribs on the exterior. Lovely!



Although the common fortnight lily (Dietes vegeta) is seen everywhere (it's a favorite for city crews to plant in-between city streets and along public access areas, there is a better behaved (and some say prettier) species - D. bicolor Here's a photo of one of its flowers, the nearly black 'eyes' offsetting the creamy yellow petals very dramatically.


My Tecoma x smithii has begun blooming and if last year was any indication, there'll be another huge show of flowers this year. Love that orangy-peach color!


I've filled our main walkway with fragrant plants and none more so than this white-flowering version of Heliotropium arborescens. Much more fragrant than the purple-flowering version, it's also longer lived. 


I've shared a shot of my tumbling Begonia boliviensis before but it's just so beautiful it deserves a second showing. Encore, encore!


This CA native Tolmiea's common name is Piggyback plant and that has to be one of the most charming names in the gardening world! Tough and pretty, it makes itself at home in the shade.


Impatiens may be common but that doesn't mean that they aren't lovely. Here a lavender-flowering double Impatiens has made itself at home in my Shady Lane bed. 


Here's one more shot of the unique and pretty Clematis 'Roguchi.' This is as much as the flowers open, making them like a collection of tiny purple bells.

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