Thursday, March 21, 2019

Stop and Start

It's spring, it's winter, it's ????. Welcome to March in the Bay Area. Or in any part of the country where the weather is changing its mind in more extreme ways.
I'm a little under the weather today but did have some nice photos to share so will leave off any further ruminations. Lots of bulb photos adding some spring cheer.

Sparaxis variety. Most of my Sparaxis have come up that familiar reddish-orange with a yellow center but here's a pink one.

Narcissus Shrike. One of my new daffodils this year. Love the color of the 'cup.'

Sparaxis variety. Here's that popular color combination for the Harlequin flower.

Tulip Pinocchio. This is one of many species tulips in my garden this year. Quite large flowers and you can see the pink ribs and gold centers. 

Osteospermum Blue-eyed Beauty. Not sure where they're getting the 'blue' in the name but nonetheless this variety of African Daisy is indeed a beauty.

Tulipa chrysantha Cynthia. Another charming little species tulip.

Walkway bed. Lots and lots of bulbs crammed in here plus Mimulus, Trachelium, Erysimum, Helenium, a low spreading Scabiosa and Black lotus.

Dutch iris. So easy to grow; so lovely.

Lathyrus Solstice Crimson. A new bright red sweet pea that Annie's is growing this year.

Wonga-wonga vine (Pandorea pandorana). This has turned into a beautiful monster, climbing high into my neighbor's fir tree. Cute little flowers completely different than those of the typical Bower vine.

Camellia Lila Naff. Love that coral color!

Camellia Jury's Yellow. Not many true yellows in the world of camellias. This selection's yellow is concentrated more in the center. 

Bromeliad variety. This one has climbed to 10' tall, putting out reddish-green clusters along the way. It's also sprouted quite a few burgundy bracts, though few pale violet flowers have emerged from them.

Yet another species tulip, this one T. kaufmannii Johann Strauss. You can't see from this angle but the backsides of the petals are pink.

Narcissus Taurus Split Cup. Another new entry and here the 'cup' is flattened more so and the colors range from pale peach to a stronger pink.

A wider shot of my collection of Narcissus Shrike. 

Narcissus Orangerie. This variety has a neat trick, with the flattened cups starting off bright yellow then aging to an peach color.

Phoebe spotted a crow trying to extricate food from a plastic wrapper and kept an alert eye on it.

Trachelium Hamer Pandora. This variety is known for its 'purple' leaves but here this spring the leaves are almost black. Soon heads comprised of tiny vivid purples will sprout from the tips of branches.

Just as there are species tulips, there are species Gladiolas. Here's one I planted last year called Las Vegas. Seems suitably named given its splashy colors.

Though the flowers are tinier than I expected, the blooms on this Muscari azureum are a lovely robins-egg-blue.

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Sad News to Share

Well, it gives me great pains to share that the San Francisco Chronicle is discontinuing its Gardening section. There wasn't much left - my column and occasional pieces by Pam Pierce - but I was notified Monday that Sunday will be the last printing. It seems hard to believe that the major newspaper in northern California will be without any gardening articles at all. I began writing my column in '05 or '06 and for the longest time it ran weekly. But then the Home & garden section got folded into the Home section and then Home into the Food section to become Food + Home. Now that section will be titled Food + Wine. I guess the paper is going where the ad revenue is. I always considered it a blessing to write for the paper, never took it for granted, but it seemed a reciprocal relationship. I covered a lot of plants and gardening topics during that period and for many of these there wasn't much information available, even online.
I'm not sure where that leaves me. I'm taking this week to process the news.
Meanwhile here are some photos from my garden. Things are finally beginning to pop and this upcoming week of warmish sunny weather should really help.

Iris reticulata Harmony. Probably the most popular of the smaller-sized species Iris.  Though only 3-6 tall, the flowers are a good size and offer up vivid purples. Though they're short-lived, they provide a nice early spring show.

Luculia pinceana. The flowers don't look like much but are intensely fragrant. A sweet perfume!

Physocarpus 'Nugget.' This golden-leaved ninebark leafs out early in the spring, almost always by late February, providing a nice show of color. Leaves will soon be joined by fuzzy white flowers and then by curious and decorative red seedpods. The common name owes to the constant peeling of the bark which adds another visual appeal.

Phylica plumosa. This South African shrub has possibly the softest leaves and flowers of any shrub. It has a reputation for being finicky but if given good drainage and lots of sun then it should thrive. There are some beautiful specimens at the U.C. Berkeley Botanical Garden.

Melianthus pectinatus. This dwarf African honey bush still has leaves that smell of peanut butter but the leaves are smaller and more highly dissected and the flowers, pictured here, are smaller and redder. It springs to life in mid-winter, prompted by rains, and blooms late winter/early spring.

Rhododendron 'Sappho.' No sun to show the sparkle in these flowers but since is the first cluster of the year I couldn't help sharing a photo. First found (and bought) at Sonoma Horticultural Nursery (which I highly recommend for a visit). 

Helleborus 'Peppermint Ice.' One of the doubles that Annie's Annuals grows. If I tipped the flowers up you'd see pronounced veining on the petals. 

Arctotis 'Opera Fire.' One of the African daisies, it tends to form a low mat and slowly colonize an area. It's more of a winter and early spring bloomer so a good thing for that purpose, when not much else is blooming.

Curiously all of my colorful hybrid Freesias reverted to the species form this spring (the color you see). No matter they've populated the eastern wall of my walkways bed, providing a close-at-hand intoxicating fragrance.

Phlomis fruticosa. Sometimes known as Jerusalem sage. This is from a 4" pot three years ago so you can see how it's filled out. A popular destination for bees and hummingbirds.

Oxalis spiralis aurea. This sturdy oxalis makes a great ground cover or, as here, a wonderful way to add spilling colorful foliage. 

Species tulips. The four on the right are Tulipa 'Little Beauty' and the one on the right either the straight T. saxatilis or bakeri Lilac Wonder. They were part of a species tulip mix. Species tulips can handle our mild winters and still bloom the following year.

Arbutus Marina variegated. Here's a flower cluster that will eventually mature into berries. This strawberry tree as it's called (the fruits resemble strawberries and are much beloved by birds) is perhaps best known for its peeling bark, which reveals shiny reddish-brown bark beneath.

Magnolia stellata Royal Star. Mine has stayed small, being in unfavorable median strip soil, but these bushy Magnolias can easily get to 15' tall. They're one of the earliest tulip trees to bloom.

Chamelaucium Bridal Pearl. Buds form in winter then gradually open to the tiny waxy flowers that lend it the odd common name Geraldton Wax Flower. Native to Australia.

Here's another Aussie native - Melaleuca incana. Bees come for the flowers while hummers come for nectar in the feeder. A bird bath at its feet makes this little area a real hub of activity.

The first Sparaxis of the season.

Ferraria crispa Dark Form. I call this my 'chocolate ferraria.' Such a fabulous color on such a weird and curious plant. From South Africa (natch), it's sometimes called Spider Iris.

Camellia Anticipation variegated. My favorite camellia this year. The photo doesn't fully capture the wonderful mix of light and dark pinks on this fully double form.

One more shot of my Helleborus Peppermint Ice.
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