Sunday, July 8, 2018

H2O or not H2O?

So, the dry summer is upon us once again. This is a particularly vexing time for gardeners, who struggle with what to plant and thus how much water to use. Should I plant something that will need regular water one muses. Or perhaps more to the point, should I plant 10 or 20 things that need regular water? It's a question each of us must answer separately. Certainly if one hasn't thoroughly mulched one's planting beds then now is the time. I even mulch, bark chips or gravel depending on the look I'm after, most of my medium and large-sized pots to preserve water. Make sure to water shrubs and trees deeply and thus much less often. Perhaps I am being selfish but I don't want to give up the diversity of my garden, though that includes a certain number of plants that need regular water. I'm careful with water use within my home, which helps. It is worth reminding ourselves that we live in a very dry climate, with the limited amount of water being stretched thin. Then again, I remind myself that 80% of all water use in California goes to businesses and only 20% is used by the 40 million people living in this state. That gives one pause when one thinks of water conservation.
Okay, on that cheerful note here are this week's garden photos. Enjoy!

Lilium Double Sensation. This fabulous semi-double lily offers rich red tones with creamy yellow centers and an inner set of upright petals.

My Summer Garden Asiatic lily mix initially offered pure yellow and then pure raspberry red flowers. Finally, it produced this delightful bicolor flower, borrowing the best of each.

Horticulturists know that in the final analysis it's the characteristics of the flower that is the final word on plant ID. One look at this flower and you know it has to be a Solanum family member. It is. It's Nicandra physalodes and people grow it for its lovely lavender flowers.

One of my favorite lilies this summer - L. Montego Bay. Apart from its beauty it has an intoxicating scent.

Hibiscus 'Cherie.' One of the loveliest hibiscus flowers I've come across in awhile. And many of you probably know that the flowers are edible (Hibiscus tea, anyone?)

Upper walkway bed. This upper portion is populated with Agastache, lilies (coming soon), Helenium Mardi Gras, Black lotus and Gloriosa lilies (stalks forming flower buds as we speak).

Something new in the Pel world!! This Pelargonium cordifolium 'Caroline's Citrine' doesn't even resemble most geraniums with its large soft leaves. Each has a central green blotch to add interest. Very pretty!

Not the most brilliant photo but this little known plant - Emilia sonchifolium - has the prettiest orange puff ball flowers. It's a short-lived annual but worth the 'short and sweet' experience.

Laurentia axillaris. One of my personal favorites, largely due to the great abundance of lavender 'stars', it has proven to be a reliable deciduous perennial.

File this Bells of Ireland under the category titled "Oh, I thought those were the flowers!" The green 'flowers' are in fact this plant's bracts and just now it has produced its tiny white flowers at the center of each green 'cup.' 

Cuphea llavea Vienco Burgundy. Sometimes known as bat-face cupheas, this burgundy version puts out an endless stream of flowers between July and October.

Why we love CA buckwheats, reason # 6. This Eriogonum grande rubescens goes wild in the blooming department during the warm days of summer. One of THE best plants for pollinators and birds.

My Asclepias curassivica self seeded in my pot of Pavonia (of course it did) and now is in full bloom. One of the great self-seeders in the history of plants, Asclepias can colonize nearly every area where it gets a foothold. Much to the delight of Monarch butterflies.

My favorite new plant of 2018, this Tanacetum haradjanii offers the most gorgeous silvery foliage of any plant going. It's a low growing spreader and that's what it's doing in this pot.

Another type of bat-faced cuphea, this C. purpurea Firecracker offers vivid red 'ears' and an equally vivid purple 'snout.' Cupheas are much beloved by bees and hummers.

Everyone knows this guy (Tiger lily). It turns out there's all kinds of tiger lilies. I've previously shared a few, as with the golden yellow variety. More to follow.

Everything except the pizza. Okay a bit of a huh? joke but this is a pineapple lily (Eucomis) and y'know, pizza, pineapple ... Okay, moving along. This is the first white-flowering variety I've grown.

Another shot of my prolific Lilium Montego Bay.

Speaking of edible ornamentals, the seedheads on this Amaranthus Hopi Red Dye weren't just used as a dye by the Hopi Indians. All of the Amaranth seedheads were used in cooking, the seeds ground down into a meal for tortillas or some other cooked bread.

Though I'm not generally a big petunias fan, I like this prominently veined variety.

Winter Wonderland White Fairy orchid. Yep, that's the actual variety name of this orchid. It's proven to be very reliable, blooming like clockwork every year.

Got intoxicating-oh-my-god-is-that-really-its scent? You do if you have this Clerodendrum fragrans. It's a bit of a zone denial plant but I've been able to get it to work here in zone 9. The flowers exude a one-of-a-kind sweet fragrance that's almost overpowering. 

The Convolvulus genus is kind of interesting, with many different species and varieties. Here's a C. tricolor 'Blue Ensign.' It features vivid purplish-blue flowers with yellow centers. Like other members of this morning glory genus, it tends to stay low and spread.

For those new to this blog, this is my Jacaranda 'Bonzai Blue.' As the name suggests, this is a dwarf form of the 50' tall tree that is so popular around the Bay Area. This bush-type only gets 5-6' tall and wide but features the same vivid purple flowers.

I lost my Conca D'Or lily a few years back and when I saw it offered in a bulb catalog I had to order it again. It came as a set of five, so all the better. Here's what all the excitement is about. First off the flowers are HUGE, some of the biggest in the world of lilies. Check out the vibrant canary yellow color at the center. That gives way to a softer yellow and eventually to white tips.

It's a bird, it's a plane ... (okay, only people over 50 get this reference). It's actually the 'helicopter' flower cluster on my massive Eriogonum giganteum. Aptly named, these plants get really big and the flower clusters, each comprised of a hundred tiny flowers, are magnets for bees, flies and wasps. 

Here is my sun-dappled Neomarica caerulea. An Iris family member, it has some of the most vivid flowers in the family.

I somehow had the good idea, not all my initial ideas are good ones, to plant this Epilobium canum right next to the wrought iron fence that lines our front walkway. It looks great growing through the vertical slats and it both softens and adds brilliant color to the walkway's west side.

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