Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Patience, grasshopper

I am not a patient person and that extends to gardening. I can be the person watching the proverbial pot, waiting for it to boil. I once found an engraved stone in a garden shop that sums up my gardening persona - "Grow Dammit." That said, I have learned through the years to be more patient with my plants/beds/garden. I give my plants what is hopefully optimal conditions but I have learned that some plants just take their time. To state the obvious, a plant's timetable is directly affected by temperature, amount of light and moisture, condition of the soil and its ability to fight off disease and insects. If it's a cool spring like we had this year, that's going to delay plants that need sun and heat. On the other hand, all that rain made my shrubs and trees go into overdrive. I tell customers this all the time but sometimes it can be a matter of 'Do as I say, not as I do.' I am learning. Slowly. And as we all know, the hard won battles can be the sweetest. You've stuck with it, not given up hope, kept the faith, paid attention to what is going on with the plant, nurtured it and in the end, success!
And now photos of a few of the successes, some that came easy and some where I was the 'grasshopper.'


I thought the patterned sun on my Heliotropium 'Alba' gave it a mysterious look. This shrub is tougher than it looks and after deadheading gets down to the business of blooming again.


Not the most elegant shot of my Sophora prostrata 'Little Baby' but this shot gives you a hint of its delicate beauty. This is a small tree/shrub that should be better known. As the variety name suggests, this is a dwarf form.


Helleborus argutifolius Pacific Frost.Though it's the 'off season' for hellebores, the foliage on this variety looks attractive year round. Lenten roses are one of the great versatile plants for the garden.


Okay, last shot of my Portulaca 'Rio Scarlet.' I just love that color and here it's matched up with my equally colorful Ipomoea 'Sunrise Serenade.'


Mirabilis jalapa. Though the yellow flowers aren't open, I thought the little bursts of gold against the green gave this specimen an interesting look. There isn't anything easier to grow in the world than Four O'Clocks and they self-seed like crazy. Oh and they grow quickly and flower readily. Other than them bringing you waffles in bed, how much more can you ask of a plant?


Celosia argentea Sunday Wine Red. A little time in the sun was all it took to get this Celosia to acquire that marvelous color. This is the 'real' celosia, not the tiny bedding ones you see in garden centers which are hybrids. Did you know that Celosia seeds are edible?


With my zoom lens on the fritz, this is as close as I could get to my Vigna caracalla, better known as Snail vine. That common name owes to the purple and white corkscrew flowers. If you can get close enough to the flowers to smell, they have a wonderfully heady fragrance.


As the saying goes - "What?" As in, what is this a shot of? It's a spent stalk of my gorgeous Lilium Flore Pleno (a double form tiger lily). Those black "berries" are called bulbils and it's one of the way that certain lilies self-propagate. Once they begun to form tiny roots, they can be 'harvested' and used to grow new lilies.


One of my favorite Salvias is S. guaranitica 'Black and Blue.' I'm not alone in loving that intense purple color and the characteristic black bracts (say 'black bracts' real fast ten times). It's fast growing, quick to bloom and of course popular with hummingbirds. 


Quick, name the ten plants that have the softest foliage. One of them would surely have to be Phylica plumosa. Soft doesn't even do justice to how silky this South African's foliage is. Easier to grow than its reputation, it really just needs good drainage and lots of sun.


Blechnum gibbum 'Silver Lady.' This New Zealand native is often referred to as a shorter tree fern. It can reach a still considerable size of 4-6.' It's one of the so-called "shuttlecock" ferns, a shuttlecock being the thing that badminton players hit. Alternately, it can be considered to have a vase form. Any way you describe it, it's a beauty.


I show the glowing Bouvardia ternifolia not only for its scarlet beauty but as an example of the virtues of pruning. It had gotten straggly last year so in November I pruned it back hard. It took awhile but it eventually began to sprout new leaves, which became branches, which became flowering branches! With its tubular red flowers, it's a hummer favorite.


Speaking of red and hummers, my Epilobium canum is enjoying a prolific bloom season. The bees find it irresistible too. California fuchsia as it's known, is drought tolerant and long lived, if it's given good drainage and adequate sun.


My Aralia cordata 'Sun King' would be a terrific addition to any part shade garden even if it never bloomed. But if you look closely, you can see sprays of tiny green flowers. These will eventually turn a creamy white color, followed (if I'm lucky) by black berries.


My Impatiens congolense (syn. niamniamensis) has outgrown its container (thus the straggly growth) but that hasn't stopped it from blooming prolifically.


Though Nicotianas are thought of as shade plants, that hasn't stopped my N. grandiflora from reaching out to grab as much sun as it can in this otherwise filtered sun bed.


Speaking of white, my Mandevilla laxa flowers are about as pure and as intense as white gets. A perfect addition to any white or moon garden, especially since the flowers are sweetly fragrant.


Speaking of 'shade or sun,' this Hakonechloa macra aureola, often used in shady beds, is in my garden planted in quite a bit of sun. So far so good. More sun is thought to bring out more of the golden colors, while in shade the greens have more of a presence.


Being a lover of true blue flowers, I never get tired of photographing my Evolvulus. Related to ground morning glory (Convolvulus, which as you can see is virtually the same word), it slowly spreads and has, for me, filled in densely.


Though a zoom lens could have provided a closeup of this Manulea altissima's flower, I mostly include this photo to introduce this little know plant to readers. This South African perennial's claim to fame is its unique fragrance, described as sweet and sour at the same time. I've smelled mine and, well, it's a bit more on the sweet side but there's an undertone that's a bit wrinkly to one's nose.


There's something I love about Hunnemannia fumariifolia flowers. The pure lemon yellow petals? The frilly orange centers? Incidentally, someone loved double letters in naming this plant. The genus has two sets of 'n's' and the species has back to back 'i's'.


I love peach and apricot tones and this lovely Hibiscus 'Cherie' has that in spades.


Deppea splendens. Splendid indeed, this now extinct native of Chiapis Mexico has the most amazing flowers, appearing in bunches like the most delicious fruit. Mine has prospered more now that I've moved it into a bit more sun.


Amorphophallus konjac. This arum family member has yet to mature enough to form its spectacular flower/spathe but here the backlit leaves have a beauty all their own.

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