Thursday, May 3, 2018

Waiting for Godot ... or is that Guffman?

Yep, any day now, spring will arrive bringing warmer weather. Any day now ... should be here shortly. If there was such a thing as 'your Spring (check) is in the mail' this year would be it. I know parts of the country are just now shedding snow but here in the Bay Area the weather usually warms up in early March. Not early May. Among other things, this means that many of the plants in our gardens are late. Or not. Some plants growth and blooming cycles are triggered as much by the length of the day as by amount of sunshine or rain.
On a completely different note, I wanted to let people know about the Amazon Spheres, 3 work/greenhouse domes in Seattle. Here's the website. The two photos I've included here will give some idea of these amazing structures and interior design but I encourage going to the article.
Today, once more, it's photos of my garden, as the cornucopia of spring continues.

No shrub is more aptly named than the Marmalade bush (Streptosolen jamesonii). Like that famous jam, this evergreen shrub produces flowers in an array of colors - from golden yellow through brilliant orange. One little know fact about this shrub - it's irresistible to hummers.

"Is that a Eucomis 'Sparkling Burgundy' or are you just happy to see me?"  The new shoots of this pineapple lily certainly are a vivid burgundy. They'll age to a dark green but for the first month the leaves hold onto this rich tone.

Speaking of vivid burgundy colors, this Chantilly Purple snapdragon from Annie's offers velvety colors. One of the deepest colors in the world of snaps.

I've mentioned my love of lilies. Here's a closeup of the first one to bloom this year, an Asiatic type called Orange Electric. Love the color and pattern.

Yellow Ixias (corn lily) are less common but here's a new one in my garden called 'Yellow Emperor.' Don't know about the emperor part of the name, though Napolean was like 5' tall, n'est-ce pas?

Blechnum gibbum 'Silver Lady.' This is one of the so-called 'shuttlecock' ferns, which you get a better idea of from this top down shot.

Cyptomerias often have lovely golden new growth and that is the case this spring for my C. Sekkan-Sugi. Commonly known as Japanese cedars, did you know that the genus name translates as "hidden parts." Beautiful and varied, there are a number of dwarf varieties, this being one of those. 

When you say 'milkweed' most gardeners will immediately think of Asclepias. Fewer know that this blue-flowering charmer - Tweedia caerulea - belongs to the same family (Apocynaceae), making the same fluffy seedpods and having the same milky sap. Robins-egg blue anyone? 

Believe it or not you can buy conifers in 4" pots (usually in your nursery's Bonzai section). Here I've put a Chamaecyparis pisifera ‘Plumosa Compressa,’ Cryptomeria japonica ‘Black Dragon’ and Pinus contorta v. murrayana in one pot.

Yes, Tillandsias DO bloom. Here's an unidentified species with a very popular color combo for air plants - pink and purple.

"I spathe, therefore I am." That could indeed be the motto for most Jack-in-a-Pulpits (Arisaema). Here's my A. griffithii v. pradhanii. This species has a particularly unusual and vivid spathe so I can't wait!

Choisya 'Sundance.' It took awhile but this golden Mock orange is now flowering every year. New leaves are golden then fade to a ever changing pattern of green and gold.

No one can seem to ID this fern but that's okay. It's beautiful. Here you see the new fiddleheads unfurling. 

My Clematis Josephine continues to unfold, adding new rings of petals. Here the filtered light gives it a softer appearance. 

Thatza California! Here are two CA natives, the patterned gold leaves of Tolmiea 'Taff's Gold' and the solid green leaves Of Maianthemum, with its radiating lines. The former stays evergreen while the spreading latter goes dormant in winter. 

Phacelia viscida + bumblebee. I always tell people - Ace customers and neighbors alike - that there's no reason to be afraid of bees (unless you're deathly allergic of course). Bees are intent on collecting nectar and nothing else. You literally can stick your face inches from them while they're harvesting nectar and they'll ignore you (pretty amazing when you consider the scale - our faces would be as big as skyscrapers). 

Callistemon viminalis. This dwarf bottlebrush shrub is hitting its stride here in year three. The flowers wouldn't seem to be ones that hummers would like but I see them on my plant every day.

One nice thing about putting bulbs in pots is that you can plant something low growing on top. Here I've put a sunrose (Helianthemum) over some species gladiolas. You can see them poking up. 

Most people are familiar with Tea trees. They get big and usually feature pink or red flowers. Here's the exception, a 10' high, white-flowering species (Leptospermum 'Lanigerum'). Although the flowers are pretty, I bought this one for its soft, silvery foliage.

To paraphrase the Bard "To Variegate or not to Variegate." This Euonymus aureo-marginatus is supposed to have patterned green and gold leaves (it did when I bought it) and if you look closely the lower leaves are indeed variegated. The question is: are the golden new leaves going to stay golden or will they acquire their intended variegation? 

File this Fuchsia autumnale under the category 'Don't care if it flowers.' Such pretty leaves!

You can be forgiven if you don't recognize this plant as a wisteria. It's a dwarf, bush type variety called Kofuji. It's supposed to only get 2-3' tall. It didn't bloom in its first full year in my garden but that's okay. I love the delicate foliage.

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