Thursday, July 19, 2018

For the Birds

Although spring is the busiest time for birds - most birds nest in the spring - summer still offers a wide range of avian visitors to our gardens. Besides the ever present sparrows, chickadees, finches, bushtits and scrub jays, there are, depending where you live, occasionally bewick's wrens, thrushes, mockingbirds, woodpeckers, brown creepers, juncos and phoebes. This time of year they're busy harvesting seeds, tree buds and for birds that are fruit eaters, like mockingbirds and Hooded orioles, various fruits. And of course, let's not forget our hummingbird friends. So it's time to enjoy their presences in our garden. Some are brave enough - hummers and chickadees especially - that they don't mind if you're quite close by.
Okay here are this week's photos.

Lilium Mister Cas. This hard to find lily has soft but spellbinding yellow spotting and flared petals. Case closed!

Speaking of less common varieties, this variety of Gloriosa lily is called Sparkling Jip. Not sure if 'Jip' is a Dr. Doolittle reference or short for Gypsy but in any case, this variety colors up with pronounced red on the backside and red-ribbed yellow on the front.

My Evolvulus has turned into Mrs. Reliable, blooming every summer. I love true blue flowers so I'm very happy that this is one of the ol' reliables in my garden.

A lot of people have heard of the '7-Up plant' but not everyone has seen it bloom. The leaves are the source of the delightful sweet and fizzy scent on Stachys albotomentosa but the flowers are also lovely.

The sun somewhat washed out the pale violet color on this Prunella grandiflora variegata's flowers but at least you can see the cool yellow and green variegation on the leaves. Though not obvious here, the leaves look more speckled than other forms that variegation takes.

Eucomis Zulu Flame. I wish they wouldn't come up with such boring variety names lol. A friend and I like to make fun of certain variety or common plant names and this one might qualify. That said, it does feature dramatic spotting on the leaves and colorful pink flowers arising on vertical flowering stems.

As to the opposite of above, this incredibly dramatic Lilium 'Fujian' could use a more dramatic variety name. The flowers are an astounding 8" across and as you can see, a rich wine-red. The most amazing lily I've ever grown (and I've grown a lot).

Bouvardia ternifolia. One of the reddest flowers in my garden! Its tubular flowers are much beloved by hummers. Found mostly in Mexico, its called Firecracker bush, an all too apt description.

I'd posted a photo of my numerous Conca d'Or lilies but here's a close-up of one flower, giving a better idea of its butter yellow ribs. Many lilies are rich in pollen and you can see that here. Even a bit of jostling deposits some of that pollen on the petals, as it's done here.

Tiger lilies. It is posited by some that the recurved petals are an evolutionary development to expose their stamen to various pollinators.

Luculia pinceana.  This tender but prized Hydrangea-like shrub hails originally from North Vietnam. Mostly evergreen (zones 9 and higher) with clusters of pale pink flowers, it offers the most intense jasmine-like fragrance.

Adenanthos sericeus. My Wooly bush, advertised as getting 6-8' tall, is now close to 20.' I never believed the 8' limit but this specimen has certainly exceeded my expectations.

Though the photo here doesn't quite show the golden tips of my Cryptomeria Sekkan-Sugi to full effect, it nonetheless has outperformed my expectations. A lovely addition to my Japanese Garden.

Dicliptera suberecta. What, the name Dicliptera erecta was taken? Just kidding. The Uruguayan Firecracker plant is grown for both its silvery foliage and its coral flowers. 

Calling all bees! Once the flowers mature on the enormous heads of Eriogonum giganteum, the bees are there in great numbers. Want to study local bees? Just plant this species of California buckwheat and when it flowers, pull up a chair, with your camera and notepad.

Monardella macrantha Marian Sampson.  Grand prize winner for smallest plant with the biggest flowers. The leaves here are so small you can barely see them.

Three plants with red tubular flowers in a row. A strange coincidence but a coincidence nonetheless. This is the eastern honeysuckle - Lonicera sempervirens. What it lacks in fragrance, it makes up in color. As the Orbit gum woman says - "Fabulous!"

Holy Crinum, Batman! Okay, Robin never said that but ... maybe he did and we just never heard about it. Crinums are certainly worth exclaiming about. Here it's my C. moorei 'Rosea.' I'm still waiting on the flowers but the leaves are a vibrant chartreuse and getting bigger by the week.

This strange monster is a Galtonia viridiflora. The viridiflora species name refers of course to the green flowers. A fast grower, with huge strap-shaped leaves, this plant just screams vigorous in every aspect.

My Hakonechloas have all been doing well. I know they're often thought of as a shade grass but really in our mild Oakland climate they prefer some sun. Which is what I've given mine.

This 'golden waterfall' (okay it's growing up not cascading down but it kind of looks like a waterfall, doesn't it?) is my Duranta repens 'Gold Mound." Love it!

This is one of my mixed bonzai conifer bowls. I cheated and put a holly plant (Ilex) in it.

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