Thursday, November 16, 2017

With a Little Help From Our Friend

Today's rain may cause motorists some problems and those working outside headaches but it is certainly welcomed by our gardens. There is no substitute for the life force that rain brings. A good soak like we're getting today penetrates the soil and nourishes both our plants roots as well as the beneficial organisms in the soil. And for those with bulbs in their garden, the rain stimulates new shoots to pop up. Of course the rain also cleans the air. There's nothing quite like walking out in the garden after a rain.
Today's photos cover a wide spectrum, with diverse groupings such as shrubs, succulents, bromeliads, flowering perennials and fall trees making an appearance.

Unlike most Japanese maples, whose fall leaves turn a bright red, Coral Bark maples offer a stunning display of gold. Here's my 3 year old tree offering up a wonderful fall show.

One more shot of my spotted Billbergia and its vivid flowers. From this angle it looks for all the world like an exploding star. I urge all of you who haven't explored the world of bromeliads to do so. Tough. Easy to care for. Colorful. 

For some, air plants are just ... well ... air plants. They are of course another type of bromeliad (Tillandsia) and their variety is something to behold. Here's a less common one - T. tectorum. It's really like nothing else out there, with its silvery-white slender branches.

Art is a great way to both add color to your garden and in the case of animals invoke their spirits. Although this new acquisition is listed as a gecko, his colors make him look much more like a chameleon.

I'm a lover of caudiciforms (Fat plants) and this new addition is a Pachypodium lealii v. saudersii. He's still a baby so hasn't undergone the swelling on the lower trunk that's representative of many caudex plants.

"When at first you don't succeed ..." I had no luck growing Canarina canariensis before but the second time is the charm. This Canary Island's bulb likes a dry summer and leafs out in the late fall. It's quick to add its distinctive orange bell-shaped flowers and this year mine is producing a good crop. I'm so glad I wasn't discouraged by my initial failure as the flowers are so lovely.

Beauty Berry bush (Callicarpa) is a familiar sight in winter gardens, being a plant that produces purple berries that often cling to leafless branches this time of year. Here's a white flowering variety, already despite its diminutive size (4" pot) producing a good crop of berries. It's
Callicarpa japonica leucocarpa and is hard to find in the trade.

Although most people buy Nicandra physalodes for its pretty purple flowers, it also produces highly decorative seedpods. They resemble closed, nodding paper lanterns, with a distinctive upper black blush. 

Hebes are still one of the better kept secrets in the world of shrubs. Compact and offering surprising variety of form, they can be used in a great number of ways. Here's a H. hinerua I've put in a decorative yellow pot. I love its soft, bright green foliage and bushiness.

Dogwoods are another great way to add fall color to your garden. This Cornus florida turns a deep red in the late fall before dropping its leaves. For those who may not already realize this, the color comes from the tree pulling the nitrogen in its green leaves back into the main body of the tree. That leaves a red color that indicates leaves about to fall.

Whether you call this color red, hot fuchsia or ?? this stock plant is making a bold statement. Vivid colors and a spicy fragrance are this fall and winter annual's calling card.

I thought the dappled light on my Salvia libanensis made for an attractive photo. It has grown quickly and time will tell whether it blooms in its first year and if so whether it does indeed bloom in the winter.

Hibiscus have such dramatic styles that it's fun showing them off in a photo. I'm still waiting for my Hibiscus schizopetalus to bloom, a species that has one of the longest styles of any flower.

Though I'm still waiting for my Caryopteris Hint of Gold to bloom, it has retained its burnished golden foliage. Here the leaves are reaching out for more sun, through a patch of Iris confusa.

Azalea Mangetsu. This is one of the latest blooming Azaleas I know of. It's just now producing its first pink-rimmed white flowers. This is one tough customer, having survived not one, not two but three attacks of thrips.

The Pelargonium that Ate Oakland! Well, almost. My P. crispum variegatus Lemon just keeps growing and spreading out. One of THE most fragrant plants you'll ever smell.

Phyllitis scolopendrium. Better known as Hart's Tongue fern, it's one of the simple or broadleaf ferns. I love its lime-green colors and wavy margins. Kind of looks like a sea star who just kept growing arms.

Has anyone seen my lipstick ... plant? It's not always easy to get this houseplant to flower but a little fertilizing seems to have done the trick. If this plant were outside, hummers would love it. For now that love will have to come from me.

I've always loved batik and this is a new addition that I've hung in front of a kitchen window. Those are two dragonflies.

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