Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Winter approaches

Fighting a cold today so this lede will be brief. It does seem that even in the Bay Area, famous for its late falls, we are starting to see the beginnings of winter. Rains coming this week; colder nighttime temps and the first snow in the Sierras. Those of us lucky enough to live near water, with its milder temps, can still enjoy a lot of late fall color in our gardens. Such is the case for mine. Here are a few of the plants still in bloom, either defying the changing of the season or fall blooming shrubs coming into their own.

One of those plants defying the season is my Begonia Calypso. It has rugged, textured leaves and as you can see, pink kissed, ruffled yellow flowers. 

Okay, okay to the average viewer, this is just a pot of green shoots. But to bulb lovers like myself, this is very exciting news. This one of my many Lachenalias, one I divided last year, spacing out the individual bulbs so they'd have their own space to grow. December flowers to follow.

Nicandra physalodes (Shoo-fly plant) grows quickly, flowers quickly and kind of gets big before you can say 'Wait a minute.' All part of the charm for this Solanum family member. Very pretty lavender open-faced flowers complement the serrated green leaves nicely.

Euonymus japonicus aureo-marginatus. Whew, that's a mouthful. Wintercreepers as they are known might be thought of as the Rodney Dangerfields of the nursery business. They just get no respect. They're workhorses, adapt to many environments and almost always look good.

An odd photo, compositionally, but this Pelargonium 'Raspberry Twizzle' flower just happened to be sticking out near the boundary of the fence. Included the photo in part because I like typing the words Raspberry Twizzle.

Thunbergia Arizona Red. The variety name makes this plant sound dangerous ("Don't mess with Arizona Red!") and in a way it is. It's gradually taking over the entire length of the fence. That's okay, that's what I want it to do.

One last hurrah for my Begonia 'Illumination Apricot.' This flower has even more orange in it so I guess you could say that this plant is going out in a blaze of glory.

Though Dianthus are sometimes thought of as a summer bloomer, they tend to bloom well into the fall and given sun and mild temps they can bloom till nearly Christmas. 

Here I thought that the coral blooms of Justicia fulvicoma were set off nicely by the silver foliage of Teucrium 'Gwen.' But it does make me wonder, which Gwen out there is blushing after having a plant named after her?

It took awhile but my Salvia horminum is finally adding more and more flowers. So here's a little way you can trip up your gardening friends. Ask them "Aren't the purple flowers on this Salvia pretty?" When they concur, you can say (modestly of course) "Well, those aren't the flowers actually; they're the bracts." This plant is an oddity, with its tiny flowers along the stems separate from the much larger bracts at the tips of the branches. 

These handsome new leaves belong to a member of the Arum family, in this case Arum pictum. The leaves certainly are reason enough to grow this ground cover but it's the burgundy spathes that for many are the real show.

This plant has a name as long as the alphabet (Cotyledon orbiculata var. orbiculata) but that shouldn't stop you from adding it to your garden. It positively glows in the sun with a milky turquoise color plus there's the pink rim. 

Caudex lovers may recognize this 'baby.' It's Brachychiton rupestris, otherwise known as Queensland Bottle Tree. I say baby because the photo below shows it as a full grown tree. It can get to 40' tall with the fattest part of the trunk getting to 6' in diameter! Of course it won't reach that height in a gallon container haha. For a caudiciform it can grow relatively quickly so that's the good news.

It may only be November 8th but my XMas cactus wants to start showing off its lovely coral colors right away. Tough as nails and very reliable, XMas cactus are one of my favorite cacti.

I had a wonderful surprise in doing my weekly walk through yesterday - my white-spotted, dark-leaved Billbergia had sprouted not one but three new flowers. Like most billbergias, the flower is composed of long pink or red bracts, then a fistful of tubular flowers with reflexed petals at the tip. Here the tubes are white and the petals a deep blue. The lower photo shows one of the reflexed petals.
Billbergias, sometimes known as Queen's Tears, are one of the showiest bromeliads out there. And one of the most reliable yearly bloomers.

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