Thursday, September 20, 2018

Falling into place

Hard to believe we're on the cusp of the Fall Equinox. Time flies, unless of course you're waiting for that Amazon package ...
Today more photos of my garden. It will soon have a new visitor, as my newly adopted cat will soon be transitioning to the outside. She'll love the garden. Pictures to follow.

Clematis Rooguchi. This fall blooming clematis nearly died in the late spring but now has rebounded vigorously and is putting out its first waxy purple flowers. 

Sedum Lemon Coral. This delicate looking but vigorous sedum is a popular item in our nursery. It mounds up to ~ 6" then spills over a container, low wall or hanging pot. Very versatile and a bit more forgiving about water than many succulents. Yellow, star-shaped flowers appear in summer.

Platycerium veitchii. This less common species of staghorn fern actually prefers some sun. It features slightly grayer leaves but in all other respects likes the same conditions as the more common staghorn. 

One more photo of my unusual Bigelowia nuttallii. What looks like fine golden 'hair' are actually the rayless flowers. You'd think that bees would have a very difficult time collecting pollen out of these slender 'tubes' but I've seen them on the plant so they must have found a way.

Hibiscus Cherie. The sun somewhat bleached out the color on this photo, as the flowers are considerably more orange than the golden tones seen here. Hibiscus are much favored by hummingbirds and moths.

Salvia madrensis. There aren't many true yellow-flowering salvias but this one, hailing from Mexico, puts out tall stems with opposing two-lipped canary-yellow flowers in the fall.

Rainbow bush may seem like an odd name for a succulent but this Portulacaria afra ‘Aurea’ is actually well named. You have the green and gold colors of the petals, then pink to red stems that stand out on this small sub-shrub (2-3'). It may be slow to flower but when it does, the pink flowers really stand out against the golden foliage. Very drought tolerant.

This slightly redder flowering form of Justicia brandegeeana is a recent addition to my garden. The common name Shrimp bush owes its name to the reddish bracts that look like the body of a shrimp. If you look closely you can see small white flowers emerging from each individual bract.

Though simple, I love the pure red flowers (and delicate foliage) on this morning glory relative called Cardinal Climber (Ipomoea sloteri). It has proved just as vigorous as other annual morning glories, a good thing given its pretty flowers and effortless climbing habit.

Tweedia and Scabiosa atropurpurea Florist's Blue. Though I didn't intentionally plant these together, I think they complement each other very well.

Though my Amorphophallus paeoniifolius hasn't yet produced its dazzling spathe, one bonus is its rough textured, pebbled stalk. Very coarse and rigid. Unlike any of my other species in this fascinating genus.

Not the best shot of my Salvia Marine Blue but you can see its vivid purple flowers, each containing a contrasting white blotch. Very pretty.

You kind of get a hint that a certain plant is fragrant when it's named Monardella odoratissima! And indeed this less common Coyote mint is one of the most fragrant, and sweetest smelling, of the entire genus. Same pretty purple flowers.

I never get tired of photographing my sticky monkey (Mimulus) flowers. They apparently cross pollinate very easily so new colors keep appearing.

Here's that same Scabiosa, showing off its rich lavender tones. Though sometimes known as Butterfly flower, it's equally popular with bees.

This new Justicia betonica features very cool green ribbed white bracts and pale pink flowers.

Begonia Torch. I love the dark foliage as much as the vibrant orangish-pink flowers.

This morning my climbing bromeliad looks like red birds in flight! It's loving its location.

Here's my front yard Sun King bed. It has a certain 'wild' look, especially with the Epilobium canum having run amok.

Here's my Ceratostigma plumbaginoides, slowly filling in a front yard bed, around the base of a bird fountain. It's beginning its fall and winter bloom season.

Monday, September 10, 2018

Begonias, begonias, begonias

Remember the 'old days' when you said the word 'begonia' all that came to mind were the ubiquitous bedding types or the small but colorful tuberous begonias? Want an update? Type in begonia in a search box, hit images and you'll get an immediate visual representation that 'we're not in Kansas anymore.' You'll see Rex types with their colorful and often spiraling leaves; angel types that often feature speckled leaves; cane types like Irene Nuss that are large and showy and then shrub types whose leaves can be as much as a foot long! As you dive deeper, you discover that it's often the foliage that holds the real appeal. I now have 20 different species/varieties in my garden and a few make it into today's photos.

Senecio kleinia. Looks more like a Euphorbia doesn't it? This guy gets quite big,  5-10' when mature. It not only has the sausage-like branches but showy fluffy seedpods!

Another uncommon (and recent) plant in my garden is this Bigelowia nuttallii. It has grass-like foliage and then in late summer it produces rayless golden needle-like 'flowers.'  That's the upper golden portion of the plant. Sometimes referred to as the goldenrod of the SW.

Yet another uncommon plant - Phylica plumosa. Native to S. Africa and possessing some of the softest 'leaves' in the plant world. 

Sphaeralcea Childerley. A new variety in this mallow genus, I love the salmon-colored flowers.

Here's more of a closeup of my bloomiferous Justicia fulvicoma. Here are some fun facts about the genus from Wikipedia. "Justicia is a genus of flowering plants in the Acanthaceae family. It is the largest genus within the family, encompassing around 700[2] species with hundreds more as yet unresolved.[3] They are native to tropical to warm temperate regions of the Americas, India and Africa. The genus serves as host to many butterfly species, such as Anartia fatima. Common names include water-willow and shrimp plant, the latter from the inflorescences, which resemble a shrimp in some species. The generic name honours Scottish horticulturist James Justice (1698–1763)."

Because I love flowers that are a true blue I never get tired of sharing photos of my Evolvulus. Do you think if we snuck in the White House and planted a bunch of these that would help 'evolve' our current president? ...

Speaking of 'true blue' and then things called blue which are not, here's Scabiosa 'Florist's Blue.' Looks pretty much a lavender color to me. Oh well. Scabiosas may be called 'Butterfly flower' but it turns out they're even more popular with bees. Here's one feasting on this recently opened flower.

It's not uncommon for flowers to show their deepest hue as a bud, then more subtle colors as they open. Here's my Mandevilla Sun Parasol Apricot flower just starting to unfurl and showing its deepest color.

I was finally able to get a photo showing the true colors of my Prunella grandiflora. Lovely!

Plumbago auriculata. The big bushy plumbago has pale blue, some say robin's egg blue, flowers and in great abundance.

A bit too much in shade this shot but it does allow the true colors to emerge on this variegated form of Plectranthus coleoides.

Here's a shot of my new Melaleuca armillaris, sometimes known as the Bracelet honeybush. It will eventually produce small white flowers.

This raspberry-red flowering celosia adds a nice pop of color to a bed that was recently cleared of spent lilies.

Trichostema lanatum. Wooly Blue Curls, as they're known, is one of my favorite common names. The fuzzy purple flowers are a magnet for bees plus it's a CA native.

And now the Begonias portion of our show. On the left is a tuberous type with yellow flowers and on the right the showy B. Gryphon, where the leaves are the main attraction.

This is my newest addition, the richly colored B. 'Angel Glow.' C'est magnifique!

Here's a Rex type begonia called Fireworks. Rex types usually have a two tone leaf, with a darker center and a lighter perimeter. 

Here's a closeup of the tuberous begonia's foliage. Subtle but beautiful and it has a soft, almost velvety feel.

Finally there is this Begonia Funky Pink. From Park Seed: "This is an interspecific cross of two of the very best Begonia species: tuberosa, which is responsible for the extra-large, richly colored flowers; and boliviensis, which is far more heat tolerant than other types. The result? Big double blooms and plenty of 'em from early summer through fall on easy-to-grow, super-tough plants!"

Every garden needs a lookout, a protector and mine is Gordon the Goat. Interlopers, you've been warned!

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Hold the Peanut Butter

Today I share some info and photos on one of the most fascinating creatures on our planet. That would be jellyfish (thus the reason for the post title - PB&J). What follows are some info shared from the ThoughtCo website page on jellies (as they are known).
"Jellyfish are extremely simple organisms, characterized mainly by their undulating bells (which contain their stomachs) and their dangling, cnidocyte-spangled tentacles. Their nearly organless bodies consist of just three layers—the outer epidermis, the middle mesoglea, and the inner gastrodermis—and water makes up 95 to 98 percent of their total bulk, compared to about 60 percent for the average human being."
"Jellyfish are equipped with hydrostatic skeletons, an innovation that evolution hit on hundreds of millions of years ago. The bell of a jellyfish is a fluid-filled cavity surrounded by circular muscles; the jelly contracts its muscles, squirting water in the opposite direction from where it wishes to go."
"Jellies have evolved specialized structures called nematocysts. There are thousands of nematocysts in each of the thousands of cnidocytes on a jellyfish's tentacles. When stimulated, they build up pressure and explode, piercing the skin of the unfortunate victim and delivering thousands of tiny doses of venom."
"Weirdly, box jellies are equipped with as many as two dozen eyes—not primitive, light-sensing patches of cells but true eyeballs composed of lenses, retinas and corneas. These eyes are paired around the circumference of their bells, one pointing upward, one pointing downward—giving some box jellies a 360-degree range of vision, the most sophisticated visual sensing apparatus in the animal kingdom. Of course, these eyes are used to detect prey and avoid predators, but their main function is to keep the box jelly properly oriented in the water"
There are four main groups of jellies. "Scyphozoans, or "true jellies," and cubozoans, or "box jellies," are the two classes of cnidarians comprising the classic jellyfish. There are also hydrozoans (most species of which never getting around to forming bells, instead remaining in polyp form) and staurozoans, or stalked jellyfish, which are attached to the sea floor."
So that's the skinny on jellies. Now for the fun part, the photos!

Lion's Mane jellyfish. The largest known type of jelly, the largest recorded specimen had a bell that was 7' in diameter and with tentacles that stretched for an amazing 120' !

Another shot of a Lion's Mane jelly.

Yet another shot of a Lion's Mane jellyfish.

One of the most colorful and spectacular jellies is the oddly named Flower Hat jelly. Found off the southern coast of Japan, this 6" wide jelly's sting is painful but not deadly.

This extremely rare Halitrephes maasi jellyfish was only recently found in deep Mexican waters. Its bioluminescence is only activated when a light shines on it. Otherwise it swims unnoticed in the dark.

Moon jellies are one of the most common of all jellyfish - and one of the most prolific. Huge blooms of them have clogged warmer ocean bays, causing problems for fishermen.

Sea nettle jellyfish.  Different species of this widely distributed jelly can be found in the Atlantic (the more colorful types) or in the Pacific ocean. The bells are about a foot across, with tentacles as long as 30'. In this photo, juvenile fish swim inside the tentacles for protection from larger predators.

Here are two more types of Sea nettle jellyfish (above and below).

Here are two more photos of the wildly colorful and totally weird Flower Hat jellies. I think my initial reaction is probably pretty common "THAT'S a jellyfish?!"

I couldn't find an ID for this jelly but it's so cool looking I decided to include it. It could be a type of box jellyfish.

No positive ID here either but I think it may be a Blue Blubber jelly. No, I'm not making that name up and in fact Blue Blubbers are fairly common.

Not sure which jellies these are but loved the photo. They are clustered under a kelp forest.

Box jellyfish. This longer view shot gives you an idea of just how long a jelly's tentacles can be.

Compass jellyfish.  These common visitors off the coast of Britain get their name from the distinct brown pattern on their bell - a radial pattern that resembles a compass. Bells are about a foot across and the tentacles pack a nasty sting.

Crown jellyfish. Crown jellyfish are able to make light through bioluminescence. When they are touched, their bells will light up. Otherwise, the bell of a crown jellyfish will look transparent when undisturbed. When they are attacked, crown jellyfish are able to startle, mislead, and distract their predators with the light that they produce. They may also use their bioluminescence to lure or dazzle their prey.

Fried Egg (Egg Yolk) jellyfish. Monterey Bay Aquarium says: "Like a large bird egg cracked and poured into the water, that three-foot, translucent bell is yolk-yellow at the center, with hundreds of tentacles clustered around the margin. The egg-yolk jelly is one of the larger species of jellies commonly found in Monterey Bay. This massive jelly usually drifts motionless or moves with gentle pulsing. Acting like an underwater spider web with a mild sting, an egg-yolk jelly captures other jellies that swim into its mass of tentacles."

Giant jellyfish (Stomolophus nomurai). From Wikipedia "Growing up to 6.6 ft in diameter and weighing up to 440 lb, Nomura's jellyfish reside primarily in the waters between China and Japan,. Population blooms appear to be increasing with frequency in the past 20 years. Possible reasons for the population increase include climate change and over-fishing (of predators)."

Another shot of the Giant jellyfish. The swimmer gives some perspective as to this jelly's monstrous size.

Unknown jellyfish species. I suspect it's a Compass jelly (look at the radiating lines at its top).

Golden jelly (Mastigias papua etpisoni). From National Geographic - "Found near the remote Pacific island of Palau, these jellies actually follow the sun's path. Solar rays nourish essential, algae-like organisms called zooxanthellae, which live symbiotically in the jellies’ tissues and provide their hosts with energy as a byproduct of their photosynthesis."

Unknown jellyfish. I love the speckling on the bell of this very pretty jelly.

Moon jellyfish. Although most commonly Moon jellies are translucent, they can actually be pink or blue as well. Here's a very pretty one. 

Purple jellyfish. From Wikipedia - "This species is known in Europe as the mauve stinger.  It is widely distributed in all warm and temperate waters of the world's oceans, including the Mediterranean Sea, Red Sea and Atlantic Ocean. It is also found in the Pacific Ocean, with sightings in warm waters off Hawaii, southern California and Mexico, as well as other Pacific locations.

Versuriga jellyfish. From EarthTouch news - "Versuriga jellies are part of the order Rhizostomae, a group of jellyfish with no tentacles at all. Instead, they have eight highly branched "oral arms" – masses of spongy tissue used for filter feeding. This jelly doesn't have one mouth, but rather many small ones, like some kind of ocean-dwelling hydra. The mouths sit along the lengths of the arms, and gobble up plankton as they swim by. If you look closely you'll see some juvenile slender yellowtail kingfish using the jelly for protection against the predatory trumpetfish lurking nearby.
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