Sunday, October 13, 2019

Who's Zoomin' Who?

Aretha Franklin fans will catch the title of this blogpost but for me it's about the matter of today's photos. Today I used my zoom lens to take close-ups of flowers. Ironically, a lens that's usually used for long distance shots turns out to be good for photographing smaller flowers. And now that I have a body that supports Auto-focus, it can focus itself, rather than me relying on a steady hand.
So, that said, here are some mid-October photos showing that yes, it's still late summer, no matter what the calendar says.

Azalea Court Jester. This sport is from Kenny at Moraga Garden Center. The flowers can be all different, one from the other, with some showing more orchid pink streaking and others less.

Hibiscus trionum. Still one of gardening's best kept secrets. This lovely, herbaceous hibiscus is a prolific bloomer, with buds seeming to develop overnight. Though there's just the one color - a creamy white with burgundy centers - they bloom over a long season in summer and fall.

I think some people naming varieties of plants must be doing so after fasting. So many food names. Here's another one - Justicia Fruit Cocktail. It too is a prolific bloomer. Love the chartreuse bracts!

Nerine humilis.This South African bulb has the prettiest coral flowers.

Opuntia species. Still have yet to nail down the species or variety of this prickly pear cactus and am still waiting for it to bloom.

You need a zoom to catch the petite charms of the small Evolvulus flowers. One of the truest blues and for me a reliable and long blooming perennial.

There are summer oxalis and winter oxalis. Here's a winter blooming type that's come up a bit early. Love the contrast of the white flowers against the mint green leaves.

Monardella odoratissima. This long blooming Coyote mint has been a real standout in my garden. Seemingly always in bloom, it attracts a variety of butterflies and moths.

Agastache Blue Fortune. This Hummingbird mint also attracts bees (as do most of my Agastache). I seem to be in a purple phase these days.

Santolina Lemon Fizz. This diminutive herb/ornamental has its own charm, from its petite form, to the bright chartreuse color to its scent (which some like and others do not).

My Mandevilla Apricot is late to bloom this year (as are many things in my garden). Here's its first flower of the year. Incidentally that streak of white on the right side is sap from the towering Asclepias cancellata above it. I'd snapped off a couple of leaves for a less obstructed view and they bled onto the flower.

Digiplexis Illumination Flame. I seem to alternate between good years and bad for this plant. This year's been a good one and I'm sure there's plenty more flowers to come.

Cussonia natalensis is considered a caudiciform and here's evidence of that. This fattening trunk still holds some gnarly charm.

This Hibiscus Adonis Pearl is part of the HibisQs line, a new hybrid of Hibiscus whose flowers stay open much longer than traditional Hibiscus (5-6 days as opposed to 1-2 days).

My Sphaeralcea Newleaze Coral has been nothing short of amazing. In bloom continuously since February, it just keeps pumping out these sweet half inch coral-red blooms.

I'm thinking of naming this Freylinia 'Shelley', after the Sesame Street turtle. That's because it's one of the slowest growing plants I've ever had in my garden. Month to month this Aussie native hardly seems changed.

My Tecoma x smithii is the opposite to the Freylinia. Quick to grow, quick to take over an area, quick to bloom. Which is all good for me as it can't escape anywhere. Here's a close-up of its richly colored flowers.

A zoom lens is needed to do justice to the tiny but oh so blue flowers of Ceratostigma plumbaginoides. The low growing form of Plumbago, it adds tints of red to its leaves in winter.

Emilia. This annual offers up the orangest flowers going, even if they're tiny. Here my auto=focus couldn't quite get it right so not a perfect shot.

My Begonias are all late this year, including my Irene Nuss. Here's a late spray of its signature two tone pink flowers.

My Angelwings begonia is also late and in need of repotting but still has enough beauty to photograph.

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

The bell has struck October!

Hard to believe it's already October. Our usual signs of this time of year - much warmer weather, lots of wildfires, gardens still flush with late summer flowers - are all largely MIA this year. As to the fires, well that's obviously a good thing. Our gardens seem to march to their own drummer. I still have groups of plants in bloom, most notably Salvias, Mimulus and Agastache. My Epilobium is in full bloom, keeping the bees and hummers happy. While the Begonias didn't do as well this year, my small collection of Calibrachoas has.
Here are a few of the garden's treats, shot over the last three days.

Nerine humilis. It took 3 years for this bulb to bloom but I love the color and the spidery petals. 

One of my three Calibrachoas that's done well, this Holy Smokes has benefited from a sunny location and regular water.

Rhodocoma capensis. This lovely Restio has done well and it nicely softens this alcove between cement steps and stucco walls. 

Epilobium canum. Though I have to keep trimming it back, its nonstop flowering and bright colors make this the perfect plant to soften a wrought iron railing. 

This Teucrium aroanium and orange Snapdragon are compatible neighbors. Sun lovers situated at the front of our walkway, they take up the task of greeting visitors. 

Petchoa. This cross between a Petunia and a Calibrachoa has been a blooming miracle. To quote Michael Nesmith (shout out to you Monkees and/or alt-country fans) "And the hits keep comin'!"

Those orange tubular flowers belong to Aloe rooikappie. This new addition to my dry garden bed is sure to attract lots of hummers. 

My marmalade bush has bounced back from a severe pruning 18 months ago, back stronger and more floriferous than ever. Speaking of hummers, this is one of their favorite destinations. Maybe they're English hummers. (Marmalade ... England ... Oh, never mind).

My lovely Agastache Blue Fortune is just getting going on the blooming front. Here's a bee coming to check out the flowers.

Though Staghorn ferns get their common name from the antler-shaped fronds, for some - me included - the basal frond is just as interesting. Here it is on my still growing Staghorn.

Mossy soft shield fern. This guy bounced back from a bad case of thrips and is looking good.

Here are my two favorite non-flowering Begonias right now. That's a B. Gryphon on the left and a B. acetosa on the right. 

Here are two of my recent Billbergias. Though it's hard to tell from this photo, the one on the right is whiter than it looks, leading to its variety name Billbergia Casablanca.

I finally had some luck with seeds this year and one of them was this Mirabilis Marbles Mix. The close-up photo below gives a better view of its marbled colors. Pretty!

I cut my Hibiscus 'Cherie' back hard last year and it was slow to recover. Believe it or not this is its first flower of the year! In October! Hopefully it will make up for its late start. 

This Salvia leucantha 'Danielle's Dream' offers fuzzy white bracts, from which bright pink flowers eventually sprout.

Hibiscus Adonis Pearl. This is one of the first in the HibisQs series, which feature flowers that stay open much longer than traditional Hibiscus flowers. It returned nicely here in year two.

My Dwarf Conifers garden continues to prosper. 

This is a new Opuntia variety someone sold to our Ace nursery but then forgot to include hort info for. So I've put a word into our dry garden expert for the proper ID. I liked the chartreuse coloring.

Begonia Irene Nuss. Also late but now starting to flower.

The Rex begonias are all late this year (at least in my garden). This new B. rex Festive Celebration is perking up and has sprouted its first flowers.

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Heirloom Expo Santa Rosa

Well, I made my first trip to the Heirloom Expo in Santa Rosa this week and came away impressed. It's much more than heirloom seeds or even local growers. It was craftspeople, bookstores, all kinds of horticulture resources and of course food. Plus speakers on a wide variety of topics spread over 3 buildings. My friend and I spent a full 3 hours there and that only included one talk. I didn't go crazy on the picture taking but here are a few photos that give a flavor of the event.
Also, after a bit of an absence with all the garden or event visits, here are more photos from my garden.

Here's my friend in front of the now iconic mountain of squashes. 

This shot gives you an idea of how big the main hall was.

They had a cool mural on the back wall.

There were many tables like this devoted to one kind of veggie. Here it's corn varieties from Peru.

Here it's various kinds of peppers.

And here a collection of colorful tomatillos.

Found a man in the main pavilion who carves squashes of various kinds. The photo below is a closeup of some of his work.

These two photos are of a display where the person had repurposed some wooden pallets to make a tiered planter. 

And now my humble garden. Here's my Lobelia fulgida, with its burgundy leaves and deep red flowers.

Rudbeckia Autumn Colors. 

My Cuphea purpurea Firecracker is a blooming machine!

Ditto for my Petchoa, the cross between a Petunia and Calibrachoa.

I've observed that the bees just adore my Cunonia capensis flowers!

My little Calibrachoa Mini Famous Roe keeps on blooming.

Though there are dwarf, well-behaved varieties of Tecoma, my T. x smithii isn't one of them. As you can see it's climbed to the very top of a 20' high street tree.

Still waiting on my Sideritis cypria to bloom. Or rather for it to produce its showy lime-colored seedpods.

Teucrium aroanium. This little guy is a prolific bloomer and popular with the bees.

Here's my yellow Mirabilis (below) and Holy Smokes Calibrachoa.  They make a nice combo, don't you think?

There's a new series of Echinaceas called Sombrero. Here is the Sombrero Golden Yellow. Love that color!

Despite being hacked to the ground - twice - my Dicentra scandens is back to climbing the metal trellis and putting out a few last flowers.

My Crassula falcata, better known as the Airplane or Propeller plant due to its wide smooth leaves, is in full bloom. Bees love the flowers!

Here are two photos of my large Bird's Nest fern. The one below especially shows off the decorative dark ribs.

Finally there's my Nandina domestica (Heavenly bamboo). It's a force of nature. Thrives on benign neglect.
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