Thursday, July 13, 2017

Callunas

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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