Monday, April 2, 2018

The 'Disappearing' Azalea

What you might ask is a 'disappearing' azalea? That would be one of the Exbury deciduous azaleas that have become increasingly popular over the last decade. For these azaleas, it's all about color. Where most evergreen azaleas offer colors in the white, pink and red spectrum, Exbury azaleas offer a glorious range of yellows, golds, ambers, peaches, oranges and coral-reds. In the spring, these shrubs are literally ablaze with color, creating spectacular shows of color, especially since they are sun lovers.
I have three varieties in my garden, one a coral-red, one a bright orange and the other one with peach tones. Today's photos offer up shots of coral-red and the peach specimens. Like certain other shrubs/trees, Exbury azaleas produce their flowers just in advance of the leaves. That fact only intensifies the display.
Okay, here are the photos.

Azalea Exbury hybrid. Here's the red flowering variety, showing off its brilliant colors. 

Azalea Exbury hybrid. And here is the multi-colored peach one. It has more orange tones on the ribs and at the ends, with more gold in each flower's throat. 

Speaking of oranges, there's nothing quite like Clivia miniata for vibrant orange colors. They are shade lovers of course and are perfect for ground or pot, as they like to be a bit root-bound. 

I was trying to get an angle on this Arisaema thunbergii var. urashima to show off its whip cord. Some Jack-in-the-Pulpits feature this thin, curling appendage coming out of the top of the spathe and this species is one of them. Here, the spathe shows a less distinctive ribbing than on others, including the A. nepenthoides shown further on in this post.

This ever changing bed in my front yard has been converted into an herb bed, with Thyme, Oregano, Arugula (now gone), Nepeta, Lemon Balm and Agastache (Hummingbird mint). Within are daffodils (now in bloom), with Babianas and Lilies to come. The bed contains the golden-leaved ninebark (Physocarpus Nugget), a purple sweet pea and now a host of nasturtiums that have self-seeded. Those flowers are edible as well so I guess they're a good fit for this bed.

Dutch Iris 'Bronze Beauty.'  The lower 'falls' show a lovely bronze color initially then age to a purplish-brown. Dutch iris are one of the easiest bulbs to grow and they can last 3 or 4 years or more.

Here is your classic purple Dutch iris. They always look prettier in a stand, where they can exhibit a fuller show of color. 

Can you ID this flower? First clue is that it's a bulb. No? Second clue is that it's a lily. You'd really have to be a lily expert to ID it, especially since it's one of the few lilies I know of that has this rounded, semi-double form. It's L. 'Apricot Fudge.' And, umm, somebody was maybe hungry when they named it?

Daffodils are one of the easiest bulbs to grow and though they're not always the longest lasting bulbs, especially in our mild winters here, they sure are cheerful!

Speaking of that old adage 'Don't name a variety of bulb when you're hungry,' this species tulip T. clusiana 'Taco' might have been better served (served, get it?) by a less food-ish name. They sure are lovely though.

Though the flowers are small on Salvia melissodora, they're both pretty and very fragrant. Not for nothing is this sage known as 'Grape-scented sage.' Sometimes those writing about plants take liberties when it comes to fragrance but these flowers do smell very strongly of a sweet grape smell. 

I swear you could set your clock by the regularity of my Aloe striata blooming. Every March and April, right on schedule, it puts out huge sprays of orange tubular flowers much beloved by hummers.

Here's another picture of my Banksia rose, now a bit more in bloom. Delicate flowers but a sturdy climber.

Baby Blue Eyes with my Chantilly Bronze snapdragon. Bees love them both so it's a one stop destination for them.

My various Mimulus are getting an early start in blooming this year. Here's my M. Jelly Bean Gold. The Jelly Bean series seem to be especially floriferous.

The recent sun has helped a lot of my Leucospermum Veldfire flowers to burst into bloom.

Phacelia campanularia. Normally this CA Bluebell stays lower and sprawls but this specimen has decided to be more upright for now.

Ixia hybrid. Corn lilies are one of the easiest bulbs to grow and naturalize readily. Which is a polite way of saying that once you plant them, you'll never get rid of 'em.

Here's the aforementioned Arisaema nepenthoides. You can see that the striping is much more pronounced here than on the above A. thunbergii var. urashima. It's taller too, getting to two feet. 

Scilla peruviana. Another type of bluebell, this bulb produces loads of bluish-purple nodding bells in spring.

Chaenomeles 'Cameo.' An unusual color for a flowering quince, this salmon beauty offers up delicate colors on a very sturdy plant.

It's not often that the seedpods are more colorful and/or interesting than the flowers but that's the case with Melianthus pectinatus. This much smaller species of the African honeybush has waxy, colorful seedpods.

Kalanchoe Fantastik. The flowers on this Kalanchoe aren't so much showy as curious. The small, almost closed flowers form a tight cluster up and down the 2' high spike. They're cream on the outside and a delicate yellow on the inside.

I'm guessing that Nasturtiums are polyamorous. They seem to cross pollinate with any other one close by so that you somehow wind up with a whole range of color combinations.

Physocarpus 'Amber Jubilee.' A pretty, coppery variety that looks good against my stucco wall.

Tulipa clusiana Chrysantha. This species tulip, known commonly as Lady tulip, offers charming flowers that are pink on the outside and yellow on the inside. Like other species tulips they naturalize in your planting bed.

So, yes, it's true. Bees do love Scabiosas. That's certainly true of bumblebees, which are the generalists of the bee family. They'll collect nectar from nearly every flower. BTW, it is indeed a myth that heavy bumblebees shouldn't be able to fly (duh, they do). Here's an explanation from a science page. "Bees fly by rotating their wings, which creates pockets of low air pressure, which in turn create small eddies above the bee’s wing which lift it into the air and, thus, grant it the ability to fly."

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