Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Summer/Not Summer

Those studying climates will tell you that our northern California climate is best described as having two seasons - the dry season and the wet season. It's almost always dry from May to October but that period can sometimes stretch from late February to November, as it did for many years in the recent drought. This is relevant information for gardeners and especially for those who have planted gardens less reliant on additional human watering. It is especially relevant for local wildlife, who depend on the seasonal rains to help stimulate growth of their preferred foods. Rains also affect pollination of plants, in that delayed precipitation may alter when a certain plant blooms. And that may mean that pollinators arrive too early or too late for this key function.

 Here's a new Salvia, S. subrotunda (great species name!). It has small but very pretty reddish-orange flowers. So many salvias, so little space ...

One of a kind? Almost. This is a sport off another popular Azalea, discovered by Kenny at Moraga Garden Center and nurtured now for 3 years. The parent plant was solid purple; this sport is, as you can see, white with purple streaks. 

Besides the charming orchid-pink flowers, Oxalis hirta features petite, crinkled, lime green leaves. A real charmer that pops up in the late fall.

We're always telling Ace Garden Center customers that basil is an annual, dying off when the weather gets cold. That's not true for this African Blue basil as it's a perennial. And that means you can let it flower, which you most certainly want to do as the flowers are a magnet for bees!

There are so many pretty colors these days for Dianthus. Plus they are so hardy, drought tolerant and adaptable.

Rudbeckia 'Chim Chiminee.' One of the 'quill' rudbeckias, here's a side view that shows off the narrow tubular petals. Rudbeckias are also a must stop for bees and butterflies.

Okay, here is today's quiz. Do you know what this flower is? Hint: it's a bulb from Mexico. Second hint: it's sometimes called Coral Drops. Yep, it's Bessera elegans, one of the prettiest flowers out there. I've turned this one over to show off its cream ribs but normally they nod, looking like little parasols. 

I only take a picture of this tiny Bouganvillea 'Raspberry Ice' because, well, I bought this in a 3" container!! It was in with our bonzai plants, not sure why, but I'm going to try to grow it out.

My collection of Mimulus are all still blooming, including this light yellow selection from Susan Ashley. Prolific bloomers, very drought tolerant, beloved by bees, Mimulus aurantiacus types are nearly the perfect plant.

Big and super green, one might not at first glance realize that this is a succulent. It's Senecio barbertonicus, one of the 'bush' senecios. It can get 4-6 tall and wide. Mine's grown quickly. And it does flower, with clusters of small bright yellow flowers.

Correas are also one of those nearly perfect plants in my opinion. Here's my C. 'Wyn's Wonder,' notable not only for its variegated foliage and eye-catching orchid-pink tubular flowers but for its lower, semi-spreading habit. One can even use it as a high ground cover, as I'm doing in this bed. Correas can take some shade but generally are happier in mostly sun.

Primula obconica Libre Purple. Obconica primroses have larger leaves which are a lighter green. The flowers tend to be more in the pastel range although this purple has lots of color.

Most people are buying stock for the spicy fragrance but the colors are pretty fab too.

Here's another ID quiz. Do you know who 'I' am? The answer may surprise you. It's a Persicaria, but not the species with the burgundy foliage that's more common in nurseries (P. microcephala). This is P. amplexicaulis. It features subtle veining to the leaves and maroon-red flowers. Incidentally, Persicarias are commonly called Knotweeds.

Lastly, here's a picture of Albuca spiralis taken from the web. Although mine has begun producing the lovely green-ribbed yellow flowers, the stems aren't as curly as is normal and this photo does a better job of showing that off.

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