Monday, May 28, 2018

Blue skies

I know there's flooding in the mid-west and a hurricane is pounding Florida but I for one am so glad to see the sun the last couple of days. It feels like the first week of sun all year. I'm pretty sure our gardens have a similar feeling, as many of our plants have been waiting for some warmth, if not the sun itself. I'll gladly put in the extra time to water to wake up to sunshine for the next while.
I want to put in a good word for Agastache today. Hummingbird mints as they are sometimes called, they have an astonishing range in leaf form, flower form and color, variety of scents and uses in the garden or kitchen. And that's not all. Most are tough, thriving in a variety of environments, can handle poor soil, are quite reliable in returning each year and of course attract hummingbirds (and bees too!). I think of them as one of the 'super plants' in a flower garden. And they're easily found at your local nursery/garden center, often in inexpensive 4" pots.
And now here are this week's garden photos.

Philadelphus Belle Etoile. A very fragrant Mock Orange member, this 8-12' tall guy blooms seemingly in direct proportion to the amount of water it gets during its bloom season. Did you know that the genus name owes to an ancient Greek king of Egypt, Ptolemy II Philadelphus? Sounds like a good Jeopardy question to me!

Speaking of fragrant shrubs and more particularly other mock oranges, this Choisya Sundance is in its glory now, offering brilliant gold foliage.

I know I photograph my Dicentra scandens frequently but I keep thinking some reader will discover the blog and in particular this plant for the first time and go 'Wow!' Wow, indeed.

Okay, most of you are wondering, what the heck is this photo for. First off, it's a Lilium martagon 'Claude Shride' and on a personal note, it's one of the plants that Annie's Annuals asked me to write a sign for. I opened that sign with 'Tall, dark and handsome, this 4' high European lily produces masses of 3" flowers.' Martagon lilies are a type of Turk's Cap lily, known for two things: their spotted flowers and the fact they face downward on arching stems.  You can already see here that the start of the flowering stem is beginning to curl.

My herb bed has had a couple of additions this spring. To the right is a tall Centaurea Blue Diadem and back center is a Clarkia 'Salmon Princess.' Truth be told, both clarkia and centaurea flowers are edible but I'm growing them for the vivid flowers.

I'm always being prodded by friends to take photos of whole beds, not just individual flowers. Okay, okay. Here's a shot of the first of my three median strip beds. It's ringed by potted plants but there's lots planted, including a Chantilly Purple snapdragon, two ornamental quince (Chaenomeles), a lovely yellow flowering CA Buckwheat (Eriogonum crocatum), a Phlomis and anchoring the center a yellow blooming Magnolia (M. Butterflies).

If this looks like a sea holly, well, it is. You don't normally find golden-leaved varieties. This one is Eryngium x zabelii 'Neptune's Gold.' The metallic blue flowers will really jump against this background!

My favorite tree, and one of my favorite plants period, this Cotinus Royal Purple has burst into bloom. Smoke bushes are much easier to grow than people think and this variety can be kept smaller if desired.

There are plenty of 'Tiger lilies.' This handsome guy is from a variety mix and I love its rich orangy-red color. Lilies - easy to grow, fantastically beautiful flowers, return reliably each year. Case closed as to their appeal.

Here's another tiger lily from that variety mix. It's a pale pinky-orange and not quite as spotted.

There's nothing quite like the blue of Tweedia caerulea. Would you then call a hummingbird that comes to this flower for nectar a 'Tweedia bird'? Okay, moving right along ... As many know this is a member of the milkweed family and in fact the seedpods look remarkably like this group's most famous member, Asclepias (the host plant for Monarch butterflies).

Gladiolus nanus 'Halley.' I just love this species glad. Pale peach colors plus the bright pink lips that almost look painted on.

Here's exhibit A why people love Arisaemas (Jack-in-the-Pulpit) so much. This is my A. speciosum var. magnificum and the spathes on this variety are particularly vivid. 

Though it's just getting started, the first flowers on my Echeveria setosa deminuta are nonetheless colorful and seem to be seeking the sun. Hummers will soon find them.

The common name for this Hebe speciosa - showy hebe - kind of says it all. Like other hebes, its flowers are a magnet for bees.

One last shot of my Black Eye lilies. The Asiatic types tend to be lower, quicker to bloom and multiple quicker. 

Calibrachoa Mini-famous Pink. These smaller but double flowers are a real delight. Good things do indeed come in small packages sometimes.

I'm sure you've read on many a plant's label 'Reseeds' only to discover it doesn't. No worries with Nigella damascena, better known as Love-in-a-Mist. Heck, sometimes it'll reseed twice in one season. 

My Ornithogalum Coconut Cream has been a success story this spring. Its flowers have ranged in color from alabaster to what you see here, a kind of buttery yellow. Beautiful!

Mystery shot two. This is my Lilium philippinense and I show it before blooms appear to offer an educational moment that the leaves on different kinds of lilies can be very, very different. Incidentally, this wonderfully fragrant trumpet lily reminds me of Lilium regale (Regal lily).

Euonymus japonica aureo-marginatus. This shrub form of wintercreeper is as you can see a mix of golds and greens. Right now it's mostly golds. It's formed tiny little flower buds which have yet to open. 

My Helenium 'Mardi Gras' is just getting going for the year. It's a blooming machine much beloved by bees. 

And finally a new addition to my caudiciform collection - Senecio kleinia. It would get very big if planted out (over time) but I'll keep mine in a pot.

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