Wednesday, February 7, 2018


For some reason this morning the word 'procession' comes to mind in thinking about this unusually warm sunny weather we're having this last few days. Procession in this case having to do with the advent of bulbs sending up shoots, the first of the deciduous shrubs beginning to leaf out, the first of the spring native annuals showing up in garden centers and more. Procession can be viewed as a kind of anticipation, which brings its own joy. Sometimes the promise of spring is every bit as sweet as spring arriving.
So consider today's photos a kind of visual 'procession.' One garden inching ever closer to the full-on glory of spring.

Speaking of bulbs, Lachenalias are usually one of the very first to bloom. Here's a new shot of my L. tricolor, one of the hardiest and most prolific of the cowslips. In a perfect world, Lachenalias would be as readily available as its S. African cousins Freesias and Sparaxis. 

Gazania 'Nahui.' I love the double form of this African daisy, as well as that rich orange color. 

Part of the 'Procession' is the winter appearance of Magnolia trees. Here's my M. 'Butterflies,' starting to open its first creamy-yellow flowers. This variety is a cross between M. acuminata (seed parent) and M. denudata (pollen parent) and has become many people's favorite yellow magnolia.

This unidentified Lachenalia not only has spotted leaves but spotted flower stems as well. They're sturdy, thrusting upwards at a nearly vertical angle, making it a bit different than most cowslips.

The Snap that won't stop. The Chantilly series of snapdragons are known for being hardy and long-blooming and that's the case for my A. Chantilly Bronze. It's been in continuous bloom since last June.

Leucadendron variety. This is my neighbor's Leucadendron and I couldn't resist including it in with this week's photos. What the casual gardener assumes are the 'flowers' (red tips) are actually bracts.

Many gardeners know that to say Magnolia doesn't even come close to hinting at the variety in this genus. This is a M. stellata 'Royal Star' and as you can see the narrow flower petals like more like fingers than the typical cup shape of M. soulangeana types. Did you know that Magnolias are one of the oldest plants on earth? Wikipedia says: "Magnolia is an ancient genus. Appearing before bees did, the flowers are theorized to have evolved to encourage pollination by beetles. To avoid damage from pollinating beetles, the carpels of Magnolia flowers are extremely tough. Fossilized specimens of M. acuminata have been found dating to 20 million years ago and of plants identified as belonging to the Magnoliaceae family date to 95 million years ago."

Not your mother's African Honey bush. Nope this is Melianthus pectinatus, a dwarf form with more finely dissected leaves and much, much smaller flowers. The flower buds are bright red, then open to become a rusty orange color. The leaves still have that distinctive peanut butter smell.

Iris confusa Chengdu. Also known as Bamboo iris, it produces loads of these pale violet, lightly fragrant flowers in spring.

Melaleuca incana. Just beginning its bloom season. There are two curious things about these flowers to me. First, the buds look an awful lot like little pine cones. It took me two years to even realize this is where the flowers emerge from. And when they do emerge, they seem to be doing their best to imitate bottlebrush flowers, only much smaller and a soft yellow. One of my favorite plants.

Iris reticulata. This short-stemmed species Iris features vivid purple colors and though the flowers don't last long, they don't disappear quite as quickly as Dutch iris flowers.

Ribes aureum. This yellow flowering, red berry-producing species has yet to bloom for me but it's off and running this year so I'm optimistic!

Speaking of Magnolias that have a different look, this M. 'Black Tulip' flower doesn't open any further than what you see here, making it different than M. soulangeana flowers that splay open.

The year's first Freesia. To quote Jackie Gleason "How sweet it is!"

There's nothing quite like Phylica plumosa for the look and the softness of its flowers. Silky. Not as difficult to grow as its reputation has led some to believe. Lots of sun + good drainage = a happy specimen.

 Chaenomeles Fuji. One of the prettiest of the flowering quince.

Osteospermum Blue-eyed beauty. No blue eye but a beauty to be sure.

One final shot, more in the sun, of my Bamboo iris.

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