Thursday, April 26, 2018

Spring's Abundance

Today a picture is (hopefully) worth a thousand words, so just photos of my spring garden with a few thoughts on each plant. Enjoy!

Dappled light on my hard to find Asarina procumbens. Thanks to Barb Siegel for growing this little charmer. It goes completely deciduous but leafs out reliably in spring. If you look closely, you'll see the soft white tubular flowers.

Tricyrtis variety. Toad lilies are nothing if not vigorous and mine always gets an early start leafing out. Apart from the charming spotted flowers that appear in summer, toad lilies are a nice way to add lush green foliage to a morning sun bed.

Clematis 'Josephine.' This double form clematis is gradually opening its inner layers of petals. I accidentally severed its wiry stems the first two years (arghh!) so this is the first bloom I'm getting to marvel at.

I'm slowly amassing a caudiciform collection and this addition from last year, Pachypodium
lealii v. saundersii, is beginning to leaf out.

Want blue flowers all summer? Evolvulus is a good choice, putting out a seemingly endless array of little 1" true blue flowers from mid-spring through late summer.

We don't normally think of Scabiosas (Pincushion flowers) as ground covers but my S. 'Harlequin' has stayed low and spread. As you can see, it's in full bloom and always has bee visitors gathering nectar. Tough, durable, pretty and loved by pollinators. So, basically, all good.

Papaver Orange Chiffon. Quite possibly the most saturated orange in the entire world of flowers. Vivid!

Speaking of orange, here's a new Geum in my garden. It's G. 'Georgenberg.' I love the foliage on geums almost as much as the flowers.

Any regular reader of this blog knows I'm a bulb fanatic and more specifically a big fan of lilies. Here's a new one - L. 'Orange Electric.' Though it looks at first like it has orange petals, a closer look reveals that the petals are white with prominent orange ribs plus dark spotting. Lovely!

My Cotinus 'Royal Purple' is a bit late leafing out is making up for lost time and already has the beginning of the famous 'smoke' flowers that give this tree its common name.

I know I'm biased, feeling that this Veldfire variety of Leucospermum is the most beautiful of all the Pincushion shrubs but this photo gives you an idea as to why. 

There's nothing quite like the red of Ladybird poppies (Papaver commutatum), especially since a single plant will produce dozens of brilliant red flowers in its short lifespan.

Chamelaucium 'Bridal Pearl.' An Aussie native so you know it's tough, this evergreen shrub puts out tiny pink flowers in spring. Blooming last over a 3 month period, giving gardeners (and bees) a good long while to enjoy its delicate charms. 

For those of you who know your Irises, I. pseudacorus normally has a fairly plain yellow flower. Here, this I. 'Holden Clough' variety offers much showier flowers. This Iris species likes moist conditions so is good near a pond or in a semi-bog area.

Now well established, this Abelia sp. 'Chiapis' offers the loveliest lilac-colored blooms. Surprisingly sweet-scented too.

Everybody loves columbines and I'm one of those. Here's a simple purple and white variety called 'Rocky Mountain.' 

Speaking of hardy and reliable irises, here's another shot of my Iris douglasiana. Simple but charming and it is great for colonizing a filtered sun or bright indirect light bed. 

My Dicentra scandens is back and already has its first lemon-yellow flowers. I've written extensively about this plant but there's a reason for that. It is far more vigorous and reliable than most bleeding hearts; it's the only one I know of with yellow flowers; it's likewise the only climber and it is such a prolific bloomer over a much longer period than other Dicentras.

Abutilon thompsonii. Here I tried to catch the sun outlining the delicate veining in this flowering maple species. Such a beautiful color too.

Fallopia japonica variegata. It's all about the speckled foliage with this deciduous perennial. It likes some shade so I have mine in the back yard where it gets a couple hours of morning sun.

Here are two shots of my Snowball viburnum (V. opulus). Apart from it being one of the most unusual flowering shrubs - how many other shrubs have masses of perfectly round 'balls' that turn from green to pure white? - it is incredibly quick to flower after leafing out. Hey, where's the fire? The close-up below shows the first of the flowers acquiring that pure white hue.

Hydrangea quercifolia (Oakleaf hydrangea). Here's the first stage of the conical flower clusters. This species is tough, liking more sun and able to stand periods of dryness better than mophead or lacecap Hydrangeas.

Camellia 'Black Magic.' One of the deepest reds in the world of Camellias. And it has a waxier, sturdier flower to boot. Unique and beautiful!

Geranium phaeum. I love the 'matte' finish of the purple flowers. 

Tolmiea menziesii 'Taff's Gold. The golden form of the Piggyback plant. Charming and tough.

Syringa meyeri 'Palibin.' The mighty mite of Lilac bushes, this dwarf form nonetheless is putting on a nice show only in year two from a 4" pot. 

Allium cernum. One of ornamental onions that puts out sprays of tiny star-shaped flowers (in the case of A. cernum the flowers are white). Petite charmers.

Centaurea 'Blue Diadem.' One of types of annual Bachelor's Buttons. If you're wondering where that common name came from Wikipedia notes "In folklore, cornflowers were worn by young men in love; if the flower faded too quickly, it was taken as a sign that the man's love was not returned." They also note "its edible flower can be used for culinary decoration, for example to add color to salads. Cornflowers have been used and prized historically for their blue pigment. Cornflowers are often used as an ingredient in certain tea blends, including Twinings' Lady Grey tea. 

Dianthus variety. I like carnations not just for the dizzying array of flower colors but for the bluish foliage of certain types.

Papaver atlanticum 'Flore Pleno.' This Moroccan poppy is set apart from other poppies by it being perennial, very drought tolerant once established and for its crazy long blooming season.

Justicia brandegeeana. I once joked that this plant was polyamorous. He (or she) has three lovers - Brandy, Gee (a filipina name) and Ana. Okay, moving right along ...

Pulmonaria variety. This tougher than it looks deciduous perennial likes some relief from the heat of midday. It produces bluish-pink flowers in spring and as you can see, features heavily spotted leaves.

The color of this Aquilegia 'Blue Barlow' is really shown off by the sun back lighting its deep maroon petals. A small double form, it is proof that good things do come in small packages.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Spring, is that you?

Well, after fitful starts and stops, it seems like spring is finally here. I want to use this intro to introduce a new plant I've discovered. It's Arenaria Lemon Ice (photo below). Commonly known as Sandworts, given they are often found in sandy or rocky environs, the Lemon Ice variety of this sun-loving ground cover offers very pretty, lightly ruffled lemon flowers, sitting atop finely textured green foliage. It's always fun to discover a new treasure. Now the photos!

Arenaria Lemon Ice (from the web). Sweet, sweet flowers.

Iris douglasii. Everyone's favorite CA native iris. Slow to establish but hardy and now a nice colonizing addition to a woodland bed.

Though still growing, here's my rare Arisaema ringens. Unlike most Jack-in-the-Pulpits, it has a wide thick spathe. It's a bit late this year, though I'm not sure as to why.

Chamaecyparis lawsonii Van Pelt's Blue. One of my favorite varietal names (I wonder who Van Pelt is or was?). In any case, this false cypress has nearly reached its full height of 6-8 feet. Love the color.

Helichrysum Ruby Clusters. Yes this is a Helichrysum and no those ruby clusters aren't the flowers, but rather the pink buds that the yellow flowers will eventually emerge from. 

My Physocarpus Amber Jubilee is much fierier in year two than in its inaugural season. It displays an eye-catching range of colors, from chartreuse to golden to amber to orange to fiery red.

Hard to believe that this Japanese maple was once a young sapling. Like most maples, it leafs out in a hurry.  There's something elegant and stately about the larger Japanese maples.

I'm still waiting for my Ribes aureum to flower (and potentially fruit). Forget what you know about the most popular flowering currants when you're considering this Ribes. The foliage is different, the flowers are yellow (not pink, red or white) and it produces yellow fruit (not red). Thus its common name Golden Currant.

Fallopia japonica variegata. This charming deciduous perennial likes some shade. It goes completely dormant then returns in late spring. The small white flowers are less of an attraction than the interesting foliage.

Choisa ternata. Of the three most common 'mock oranges' (Philadelphus, Pittosporum tobira and Choisya), for me the clear winner is this intensely sweet smelling vigorous evergreen shrub. Easy to grow, sometimes a repeat bloomer in the fall and pest and disease free, well, case closed.

Here's a close-up of my Viburnum plicatum. Love the ridged leaves, as well as the flat cymes of Hydrangea-like flowers. 

Begonia Gene Daniels. I like the way the light brings forward the dark red undersides of the leaves, almost as if there are glowing embers behind them.

Dwarf lilac. This Syringa meyeri Palibin has all the charms of a lilac bush, only in a dwarf package. I hadn't expected it, however, to bloom this early, especially during our cool spring.

Trachelium Hamer Pandora. That's a lavender Scabiosa in front and then the purple-leaved Throatwort in the rear. It will eventually produce large sprays of tiny intensely purple flowers.

My favorite plant of 2017, Fabiana imbricata violacea. Not a heather but a member of the Solanaceae family, it nonetheless sports masses of ultra-cool tubular purple flowers that remind many of heathers.

Callistemon viminalis. This dwarf bottlebrush has finally settled in and now is ready for a full flowering season.

Berberis 'Orange Rocket.' Umm, not orange but a very lovely blood red. The spring color will gradually fade to a dark green but for now I get to enjoy these rich tones.

My unstoppable Aloe striata is blooming again, this year with three strong flowering stems.

Pulmonaria officinalis. From Wikipedia "The scientific name Pulmonaria is derived from Latin pulmo (lung).[1] In the times of sympathetic magic, the spotted oval leaves of P. officinalis were thought to symbolize diseased, ulcerated lungs, and so were used to treat pulmonary infections."

Despite this Cistus McGuire's Gold being listed as a sun lover, when I moved it into dappled sun it was much happier. It's rebounded and now in its third third it's looking much happier.

My front yard bed, with Maritime CA poppy in the foreground and the deep blue flowers of Phacelia campanularia in back.

Hebe speciosa's common name, Showy Hebe, is well deserved. My specimen is just starting a new bloom season. Bees adore hebes and this species is no exception.

My Cussonia natalensis lost all its leaves, making this caudiciform lover a bit nervous, but look, it's starting to leaf out again. Phew! I swear, some of us gardeners are worse than helicopter parents!
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