Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Two New Vines

Today's post looks at two less common vines that have found their way to my garden recently. The first is Aristolochia chilensis. Native to, yes, Chile, it produces large flowers that have prominent hairs covering the 'mouth' of the carrion flower. It does well in our compatible climate, at least in the milder zones. Hard to find, Annie's Annuals is the one reliable source right now, it should make an outstanding 10-15' climber for mostly shade.
The second new arrival is Lonicera pilosa, known as Mexican honeysuckle. Though it's not fragrant, the red tubular flowers open to a golden-orange color, making this one of the most colorful climbers you will grow. Hardy and floriferous, it is, like all honeysuckles, a magnet for hummingbirds.
I've attached photos from the web so have visuals of these two fabulous vines.
Following those are today's photos from my garden, representing the bounty of summer.

Aristolochia chilensis. Simply one of the coolest looking flowers out there. Perhaps not Dutchman's Pipe but Dutchman's Fur Collar?

Lonicera pilosa. Just the most scrumptious colors. 

Nepeta faassenii. This newly planted Cat mint is meant to spread out and fill in a newly weeded, amended and barked bed.

Lilium tigrinum splendens or in plain speak - Tiger lily. I'm a big fan of lilies with recurved petals. We could call them 'yoga' lilies, as they mimic that yoga pose.

Thunbergia 'Arizona Red.'  I've taken photos of individual flowers but here's a shot of it slowly making its way along, and cascading down, the fence.

Deppea splendens. Splendid indeed, golden flowers emerging from burgundy bracts, all held by micro-thin stems makes for an intriguing flower cluster.

Plectranthus coleoides variegata. Here the foliage is the thing on this low spreading Plectranthus species.

Here's a better photo of my Cotyledon orbiculata var. orbiculata that I posted last week. Photographing isn't for sissies. I had to lay on my back to get low enough to capture the lower portions of this succulent's wondrous flowers.

Agastache rupestris has such delicate foliage and flowers it's hard to get a decent shot of the plant. This attempt is so-so but it's such a pretty flower I had to try.

Lilium Flore Pleno. This double form Tiger lily is one of my favorites. The rear petals are recurved whereas the front layer lay flatter for an extra 'roar.'

Yet more lilies. I bought this in bulb form and it was listed just as an Oriental mix. As you can see, they're all pink and upward facing, making them a Stargazer type of lily. And that means they're also sweetly fragrant.

Eriogonum crocatum. My favorite California Buckwheat, both for its ultra-silver foliage and its sweet sulphur-yellow flowers.

Fuchsia 'Golden Gypsy.' The leaves didn't stay golden but this hanging basket type Fuchsia has nonetheless been a consistent bloomer.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

The Variety of Summer

It may just be me but as someone who orders plants for our nursery I'm aware that in spring gardeners are filling their gardens with spring color. Whether that's annuals or perennials, we tend to purchase larger quantities of a smaller selection of plants. Come summer, however, the spring annuals are done and mostly pulled from our beds and certain growers turn to a more eclectic range of plants to tempt gardeners with. Spring is spring and is always exciting. To veteran gardeners though summer and fall can be an equally exciting time, as interesting perennials begin showing up in our local nurseries. For those of us that have a great variety of plants in our gardens and are always on the lookout for something new and wondrous, summer is the best season.
On that note, here is a sampling of the diversity in my garden.

Neomarica caerulea. My walking iris has been especially prolific this year. This genus is surprisingly hardy and long-lived and it produces one of the most striking flowers you'll ever grow.

Lilium philippinense followed by Lilium regale below. As you can see, these two lilies are very similar. As its name implies, L. philippinense is native to the Philippines. Both trumpet lilies are sweetly fragrant and attract hummers.

Dietes bicolor. This charming iris relative produces butter yellow flowers with dark burgundy 'eyes.' For some reason, I find these simple flowers particularly enchanting.

Who doesn't love Cannas? Here is an orange blooming variety with striped reddish  leaves. They're sun lovers of course but this variety, planted originally by my neighbor but now spread with my blessing onto my property is prospering with only a few hours of later afternoon sun.

Cotyledon orbiculata var. orbiculata. Whew, that's a mouthful! That's a Aloe striata in the background but the foreground flowers belong to what Annie's calls the Pig's Ear plant. It also features red-limned silver leaves that spread out like a very slow incoming tide.

Cuphea schumannii. Fat cigar flowers are bright orange with green tips and the bright green leaves are a bit stiffer and glossier than most Cuphea species.

Though just a simple 'tub' of Calibrachoas, I liked the old world look of this planter.

Is there a richer blackish-burgundy in the plant world that Aeonium Swartkop? So striking!

Although it's growing a bit more wildly than in previous years, my Begonia Illumination Yellow is still stunning in its display of color. 

Although not in the sun to show off a bit more of its golden tones, my Aralia cordata 'Sun King' is very happy indeed and is taking over this newly created raised bed. I had questions as to how sturdy it would be but that question has been more than answered. 

Though they are tiny and only really seen when you look at this photo full size, my Dianella 'Yellow Stripe's tiny blue flowers are quite charming. They will soon produce sparkling blue berries.

Extravagant is the only way to describe the flowers of Ipomoea 'Sunrise Serenade.' It's a rare double form of an annual morning glory and one I grow every year.

Crassula alba v. parvisepala. The main feature of this succulent is its red-spotted leaves but as with many crassulas, it blooms prolifically. You can pick out the heads of soon-to-be vivid red flowers forming here.

There's nothing quite like Begonias for exquisite color. Proof positive is my B. Nonstop Deep Salmon. So rich, so vibrant.

A new project completed yesterday, this hanging basket is still at the beginning of its life. That's a Sphaeralcea coccinea inside and since it's a spiller, the idea is that it will be the perfect hanging basket addition.

I'd previously posted a photo of my vigorous Gloriosa lily's unique foliage but here's the main reason people fall in love with this bulb. Wavy red petals are bordered in yellow and are folded upward in a kind of open basket formation. Fabulous!

Here's a further along shot of my Eucomis 'Sparkling Burgundy' flower spike. Pineapple lilies are easy to grow, are drought tolerant once established and are reliable bulbs, returning each year. The rows of waxy flowers make it one of the more interesting flowers in my garden.

Every year I fret that my Tecoma 'Bells of Fire' won't bloom and each year it does. It's just that my T. x smithii starts blooming in early April, while my Bells waits until mid-July. As you can see, it's well named, offering up tubular reddish-orange flowers.

Limonium. Statice may be a common plant but that doesn't mean it isn't pretty. There's a bit more blue in this variety, which since it was just planted from a 4" pot, is still pretty small.

Nandina 'Fire Alarm.' Yes, that really is the name of this Heavenly Bamboo variety. Here you can see some evidence of the reddish-pink foliage. It's still in its gallon pot, awaiting a permanent in the ground.

Sometimes it's the flowers and sometimes it's the foliage. It's the latter that's the star with this Pelargonium 'Frank Headley.' Cool and calm as a shady spot on a summer porch.

Here's my 'Shady Lane' in its latest incarnation. It's an example of how with a little planning and care, one can plant a walkway pretty densely and have it work.

Thursday, July 13, 2017


Say the word 'heather' to a gardener and s/he is likely to think of the genus Erica. There is however another increasingly popular type of heather making its way into nurseries. That's Calluna vulgaris. This tough sub-shrub, native to northern and western Europe, as well as Siberia, Turkey and Morocco, is the only species in the genus but has spawned an almost endless number of beautiful varieties. Also called Scotch heather, it is actually the true heather, if one wants to be precise. Varieties show a great deal of, well, variety. Some are very low ground covers, spreading out among rocky areas in northern climates. Others can reach two feet in height, where conditions are more favorable. The tiny, scale-like leaves are born in opposite and overlapping pairs and can vary considerably in color - from various shades of green to gold or a dark chocolate color. The tiny urn-shaped flowers typical of heathers are either red, pink, purple or white. For most Calluna lovers it's the foliage that is more of the attraction and many will acquire a darker or brighter tone in colder months.
Okay here are some recent photos and I'll start by repeating two photos of recent Calluna purchases to refresh your memory.

Calluna vulgaris 'Bradford.' This new arrival is as you can see in full bloom. 

Here is the Bradford beside the lime foliage variety 'Winter Chocolate.'  Here is an example where the foliage is the main attraction. Like most bush Callunas, these varieties are dense and compact.

Eriogonum giganteum. This St. Catherine's Lace CA buckwheat is in bloom and being swarmed by bees. As you can see, it's a prolific bloomer, giving bees a virtual 'field' of nectar rich flowers.

The black-eyed Susan vine that ate Oakland. Yes, this vine really does cover everything near it. I'm keeping mine in a pot and letting it scramble on a fence. This one is Thunbergia 'Arizona Red.' Sounds like a bad dude from an old Western movie ...

Speaking of vines that scramble and take over, my Dicentra scandens is slowly covering not only the metal trellis but the wall to its right. Love this plant, love sharing photos of it and continue to be amazed that nobody sells it any longer.

I'm a begonias fan and that includes this gorgeous B. 'Illumination Apricot.' It's one of those flowers where light seems to be emanating from inside it.

Here are two shots of my newest lily to open. 'Mister Cas' may be an odd name but it's certainly a lovely lily. A little more subtle than some, it has a spotted golden orange throat that sets off the creamy petals.

My shady 'dynamic duo.' Polystichum seiferum 'Plumosum densum' and Tolmiea menziesii. Love the contrast and textures. 

Begonia rex Mocha Orange. So many begonias, so little room ...

I was just aiming for a backlit shot of my Ipomoea 'Heavenly Blue' but what came out of it was something that reminds me more of a Georgia O'Keefe painting than a photo. Some 'accidents' just turn out so wonderfully! 

Pavonia missionum. This five foot shrub with the small coral-red flowers is a Mallow family member that's not widely available. The colors are exceptionally lovely and like most mallows, it's a tough durable shrub.

Gazania 'Nahui.' What can you say about gazanias - beautiful, drought tolerant, tough and long blooming.

My vote for Lily of the Year. This Lilium 'Fujian' has the richest colors I've ever seen and the flowers are HUGE. My garden is filled with lilies and this is Exhibit A why.

If Chrysocephalum apiculatum doesn't ring a bell then how about the common name of Common Everlasting? This charming ground cover with silver foliage and button-like yellow flowers is easy to grow and a nice way to add a dash of silver to a sunny bed.

Scabiosa atropurpurea 'Black.' This Annie's Annuals pincushion plant is a favorite destination for bees and especially butterflies. 

Regular readers of this blog know that I'm infatuated with dwarf conifers. Here are three more, to be grown in a bowl for now. I don't have the full botanical names at hand but one is a Cryptomaria, one a Chamaecyparis and the other an Abies (pine). Now I just need to live long enough to see them mature ...

This pint-sized Hebe is H. 'Raspberry Ripple.' It's supposed to top out at one foot so it really is a little guy. It's just begun to bloom and now I see where the variety name came from.

This Spanish-themed metal wall art is a new and much appreciated piece of art in my garden.

Liberty may have been taken in naming this Begonia variety (Wild Pony, as if the plant is about to gallop off at any moment) but its textured foliage is certainly a delight.

Begonia boliviensis. Another shot of my floriferous hanging basket begonia.

Pieris japonica 'Flaming Silver.' The new growth is sometimes bright red, sometimes this almost translucent pale green.

Eucomis 'Sparkling Burgundy.' Here are the first waxy pink flowers starting to open on a stiff upward stem.
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