Wednesday, June 27, 2018

That Chantilly Thang

My upcoming SF Chronicle column will be on a wonderful series of snapdragons that some of you may have discovered - Antirrhinum majus Chantilly. There are five colors in this series - Peach, Bronze, Velvet, Purple and Pink. This series is much taller (30-36"), much fuller (my C. Bronze is a full two feet wide now) and much longer blooming (nearly year round) than your typical snapdragon. They are quite simply nothing like the weak little hybrids you buy at your corner garden center.
That said, here a few photos of plants in the series, the Bronze and Purple from my garden and the Pink courtesy of Annie's Annuals. These are followed by photos from my garden. Enjoy!

Chantilly Pink snapdragon. This orchid pink color reminds me of some of the Oxalis species, especially O. hirta. Vivid.

Here is my Chantilly Bronze snap. This is it back in March, right before I cut it back. It had been in nearly continuous bloom for ten months at this point. 

My Chantilly Purple really is more of a deep burgundy color but certainly offers a saturated tone. 

Papaver Frosted Salmon. Grown from seed, this breadseed poppy offers a color not easily found in the trade. Incidentally, I've discovered that bees love breadseed poppy flowers.

Hibiscus 'Cherie.' This rosa-sinensis variety offers up lovely salmon-orange flowers, plus a red eye. Hummingbirds are very fond of Hibiscus flowers.

Neomarica caerulea. This Iris relative has perhaps the most vividly colored flower in the Iris family. And though not obvious from this photo, it has an intricately patterned nectary.

Another variety in my Summer Garden Asiatic lily mix.

What goes on with Vegas stays with Vegas. This species Gladiolus is called Las Vegas and it is indeed colorful.

Sesbania tripetii. This tropical tree can get big but I'm keeping mine in a container to somewhat dwarf it. Vivid orangish-red flowers that look like pea flowers betray its legume family heritage.

There's purple and then there's purple! Trachelium 'Hamer Pandora' sports Hydrangea-like heads comprised of tiny purple flowers, much beloved by bees and butterflies.

Cynoglossum amabile is one of those rare plants that simultaneously looks like a weed AND offers up the prettiest sky-blue flowers. Sometimes known as Chinese or Tall forget-me-nots, it puts out a seemingly endless amount of those tiny, star-shaped flowers.

Laurentia axillaris. This perennial should be known as the lavender stars plant. A reliable deciduous perennial, it comes back faithfully each year, till it eventually poops out. Totally charming!

For some reason this Bells of Ireland plant, with its green flowers against a backdrop of green leaves, reminds me of the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (HGG). In that Sci-fi book, our heroes wind up stealing a futuristic black spaceship from the Restaurant at the End of the Universe. Inside they discover  that everything is also midnight black. When one of the gang tells Zaphod "Hurry, if we're stealing this ship we have to do it. NOW" he says "Give me a minute. There's black controls, on a black panel, on a black station inside a black spaceship. How the hell do I turn it on?" And I think that's the charm of green flowers. They're there but you have to look really closely to see them.

Speaking of hidden things, the soft yellow flowers on my Eriogonum crocatum are kind of hiding within the foliage of my ornamental Quince plant (Chaenomeles).

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Happy Solstice

It's hard to believe but we've nearly reached the summer solstice. Ostensibly the beginning of summer, here in the Bay Area it can mean nearly anything weather wise, though of course it does absolutely mean the longest daylight of the year. For those of us who like to be outdoors, this is 'one of our most favorite things.' I don't often stroll out in the garden at 8 pm but knowing I could is nice. It also means I have birds coming to my window feeders till past 9 pm. And to those of us for whom 'light therapy' is a real and tangible thing, the long days are really the very best blessing.
Those salutes accomplished, here are this week's photos. Lilies are ruling the day in my garden so they provide some of the visual highlights.

This new type of Hibiscus, H. longiflora HibisQs, is noteworthy for having its flowers stay open an astonishing 3-6 days, not the 1-2 of most Hibiscus. It is just in the testing phase here but hopefully we will see it on the market next year. This one is Adonis Pearl but they come in a host of bright colors too.

Speaking of bright colors, this Calceolaria calynopsis features bright red pocketbooks. It's a more compact species than the more familiar yellow-flowering C. mexicana.

Ornamental onions (Allium) take many forms. Here, this A. Red Mohican has a spherical head with dozens of tiny, half closed tubular flowers. This head is about 2" in diameter.

Here's the raspberry red lily that's part of my Summer Garden mix. It's an Asiatic type so not fragrant. Gorgeous color though. 

Lilium pardilinum. This California native lily is a type of Tiger lily - notice the recurved petals and prominent spotting. Though not always thought of as a destination for bees, in truth lilies are rich in nectar.

Lilium Triumphator. This huge trumpet lily is just awe-inspiring. 

The subtle colors on this tiger lily and not much spotting means that we're not in Kansas anymore, Dorothy.

My Centaurea Blue Diadem and Clarkia Salmon Princess were hugely successful this year. That golden-leaved shrub is my glorious Physocarpus Nugget. 

Begonia boliviensis hybrid. These begonias are amazingly durable and long blooming, not to mention an easy way to bring orange into ones garden.

The star of the lilies parade this year is my new Lilium martagon Claude Shride. This is one that I wrote the sign for Annie's Annuals and for that contribution they kindly gifted me a single bulb. Martagons don't always bloom the first year but luckily mine did and wow, it produced 11 buds. They assume a nodding form, with partially recurved petals. The photo below, where I lift up the flowers, shows some of the spotting closer to the center. Though only 3" across and not fragrant, martagons are still highly sought after by collectors and usually command a dear price.

Walkway bed, upper portion. Here you can see a few developing tiger lilies, the Gloriosa lily shoots and the developing patch of Helenium Mardi Gras. There's also a patch of Lotus jacobaeus, otherwise known as Black Lotus for the deep burgundy (almost black) flowers.

Though it's still filling out, here's the first flower head on my Trachelium Hamer Pandora. Nothing says 'purple' like this deciduous perennial. A real butterfly magnet. btw, have you ever wondered how butterfly got its name? Wiktionary has several ideas. The old English 'buterfleoge' literally translates as 'butter' and 'fly.' The Low German word 'botterlicker' means 'butter licker,' as it was thought that butterflies landed on and ate butter. But the funniest derivation by far is the Dutch 'boterschijte' which means literally 'butter-shitter.' Apparently a few ancient Dutch thought butterflies excreted a butter-like substance.

Silver foliage is always an attraction and this silver-leaved Tanacetum haradjanii is a real treat. Tanacetums are feverfews and the one most gardeners are familiar with is the golden-leaved variety. This species stays low and acts more like a ground cover.

My Sea Holly is slowly acquiring its metallic blue coloring but here a honey bee is interested in the center flower.

It took awhile but my Chantilly Purple snapdragon is finally hitting its blooming stride. That's a Clarkia Aurora next to it, providing a pretty salmon contrast.

These are the yellow lilies in that Summer Garden asiatic lily mix. Such a vibrant yellow.

Lower walkway bed. I've mentioned it before but this bed demonstrates that you can densely plant a narrow strip, with a little planning and some judicious trimming.

Trachelospermum asiaticum tricolor. The genus is the familiar star jasmine, while the species and variety indicate this is the multi-colored more low laying type. I rarely get the deep reds you see here and when I first looked, they almost seemed to be red butterflies alighting on the cream and green leaves.

Hakonechloa macra Aureola. Though you can grow this Japanese grass in the shade it seems to prefer the sun, which brings out its golden colors more.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

The JPEGs and nothing but the JPEGs

Today I have so many photos to share - and I'm feeling a bit lazy in this heat - that it's all images and no text today. Except to hold up three fingers for the Warriors. Actually 3 1/2 fingers cause we all know that without Green being suspended during the '16 playoffs the Dubs would have won that year too.
And now the many and wonderful ways in which gardens (and Nature) are grand.

Everybody's favorite true blue Hydrangea (Nikko Blue). It was first introduced into the American market in 1932, making it one of the oldest Hydrangea cultivars in continuous supply here.

Papaver somniferum 'Lilac Pom Pom.' Grown from mail order seed, this breadseed poppy lived up to its billing. Huge fluffy lilac flowers much beloved by bees. A close-up of the flower is further down.

Lilium 'Golden Splendor.' THE find of my early blooming lilies. It's a Trumpet type, as you can see by its shape. Heavenly fragrant as most trumpets are. 

Eucomis 'Sparkling Burgundy.' Everyone should grow at least one pineapple lily (I've got five). This one features rich burgundy leaves and eventually waxy pink flowers scaling a sturdy flowering stem.

The other lily find this year is the golden form of a tiger lily (part of a mix). Notice however that this one has streaks not spots like most tiger lilies.

This Raspberry Summer Agastache has been a blooming machine, by far the most floriferous of any hummingbird mint I've grown. It always seems to be in bloom, which pleases the bees and hummers to no end.

I love the common name for this easy-to-bloom cactus - Peanut cactus. I guess that owes to its stubby fingers. It does like to bloom, especially if given a little water now and again.

Rhipsalis variety. Known as mistletoe cacti, the scientific name derives from the ancient Greek term for wickerwork, referring to the plants' habit. It is the largest and most widely distributed genus of epiphytic cacti.

A new CA native Brodiaea from Annie's Annuals, this B. 'Rudy' has proven to be a vigorous and colorful specimen.

Cynoglossum amabile. This Chinese Forget-me-Not offers up very delicate robins-egg-blue flowers on taller stems. It also prefers sun unlike regular forget-me-nots.

Epilobium canum. Better known as California fuchsia, this native high ground cover is happy as a clam poking its heads through my wrought iron railing. Another hummingbird favorite. 

Though the leaves are looking a bit peaked, there are steely blue flowers forming on my golden Sea Holly. One of those unique and 'fun to share with passersby' plants.

Here's the closeup of my Lilac Pom Pom poppy. Extravagant! 

I thought the unopened flower on my Magnolia grandiflora 'Little Gem' looked rather like a white tulip, don't you think? This evergreen southern magnolia works well in our climate.

A simple Alstromeria but pretty nonetheless.

Phylica plumosa. Here the furry, delicate new growth contrasts with the spent seedheads. Native to South Africa, it's one of THE softest plants you'll ever feel.

Though I accidentally wound up with the white form of Echium 'Blue Bedder,' the plant is doing the two things it does best - flower profusely and attract a million bees. I don't know how the bees find them (Echiums in general and this annual type especially) but I'm convinced they have a special radar for these flowers.

One last shot of my native Clarkia 'Salmon Princess.' It went wild this year and the bees have practically been living in it.

Although not the most inspiring photo, I've started a Sedum Lemon Coral in a hanging pot. It will soon fill out and spill over the front.

One of my oldest lilies, this Asiatic lily Honey Bee is still flowering. That's one of many fine attributes of lilies - their longevity.

One of the fun features of Love-in-a-Mist flowers is their seedpods. Here my Nigella African Bride is already producing the first of its distinctive seedheads. They are often used in dried flower arrangements. 

Clarkia amoena 'Aurora' and Snapdragon 'Chantilly Purple.' A nice color combination and when the annual clarkia is done the snapdragon will soldier on.

Though it's just starting to flower, this lesser known Calceolaria calynopsis is slowly finding its way into the trade. Unlike the more common yellow-flowering C. mexicana, this species likes the sun. 

One of my lily mixes planted this winter, the Summer Garden mix, first issued two canary yellow Asiatic flowers. This new color, a vivid raspberry, is nothing short of gorgeous!

There are of course many species Geraniums but this one, G. pratense Mrs. Kendell Clark, is one of the loveliest. It has delicate ribbing, which is shown off nicely in this back-lit shot.

My Euonymus japonicus aureo-marginatus is still going strong. It has formed clusters of tiny, tiny flowers but those have so far remained closed. They are reputed to be a pale green.

Here's my initial dwarf conifer bowl, containing Chamaecyparis obtusa ‘Mariesii

and ‘Melody’ plus Cryptomeria japonica ‘Ryokogu Coyokyu’.
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