Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Mystery Month

I always think of October as the Mystery Month here in the Bay Area. On any given day or in any given week, the temps can be in the 80s or in the low 50s. Sunny or, occasionally, rainy. Seemingly always windy. We humans can protect ourselves from the weather but our gardens alas cannot. Then again they're generally tougher than we are. Good thing.
October in our gardens is also sort of a grab bag. Some late summer blooming plants like Mimulus are still in bloom. It's the season for Salvias so there's plenty of those around to bring home or enjoy in our gardens. The same holds for Dahlias and Hibiscus, two colorful fall bloomers. Then again some early winter bloomers are already making their presences known. I see buds on most of my camellias; my late fall/winter blooming Canarina canariensis has its first flowers and the first of my winter blooming South African bulbs, Ferraria crispa, has sent up shoots. It does seem that it's especially during the fall that the dividing lines between the seasons is especially blurred.
Okay, enough philosophizing. Here are this week's photos.

Our walkway to the back apts, with a narrow planting strip on the left side, has made for an interesting planting arrangement. In the foreground is the succulents and/or winter bulbs display table. Beyond it is a golden Duranta, a Salvia elegans Golden Delicious and a red-flowering Abutilon. I have to keep trimming them so they don't spill over the walkway. 

Pink Floyd fans rejoice. This dark-leaved Dahlia is named 'Dark Side of the Sun.' It's opened its first simple orangish-red flower, with many more to come.

Easy to grow, drought tolerant, a prolific bloomer and popular with bees? Sounds like the perfect plant and I tend to think this Wahlenbergia 'Blue Cloud' is just that.

No shrinking wallflower this, my Hibiscus 'Cherie.' Brassy golden-orange flowers light up its corner of the garden.

Salvia 'Ember's Wish.' Following in the very popular footsteps of Salvia 'Wendy's Wish' this hybrid Salvia has lovely raspberry-coral colored flowers. 

Justicia fulvicoma.  This Mexican Plume flower, alternately called Mexican shrimp plant, is a tough little customer and blooms over a long period in the late summer and fall. Colorful red bracts eventually sprout two-lipped golden-orange flowers. A favorite of hummers.

Speaking of orange, the first of my bell-shaped Canarina canariensis flowers has appeared. I thought I'd take a shot of its interior, to show off its interior ribbing and the interesting center ring. Endemic to the Canary Islands off the North African Atlantic coast, this bulbous perennial in the Campanula family has slowly found its way into the trade. 

One look at this pretty, variegated plant and you're probably thinking "I want one." But what is it? It's a Leucothoe fontanesiana 'Rainbow.'  Early season creams, greens and pinks are replaced by plum-purple color in winter. A great shade plant that features a graceful arching habit.

Not the best photo, in part because this Tricyrtis 'Gilty Pleasure' (yes, Gilty) hasn't found a home in the ground yet and is very young. Purple-spotted flowers really pop against the golden foliage. 

I wasn't after a 'dark' shot here but in looking at this photo of my Clematic 'Belle of Woking' flower, with the Thunbergia Arizona Red next to it, almost has the faded elegance of a Peter Greenaway film.

This spiky but somewhat nondescript guy is my Puya mirabilis. It's suppose to bloom much faster than other puyas but we'll see. This is still year one.

To paraphrase the White Rabbit "You're late, you're late!" That would be my Bessera elegans, a bulb that normally blooms in July or August but this year waited until end of September. Better late than never for this Coral Drops plant?

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