Saturday, April 27, 2019

An interrupted spring

Well, first the month of March it rained nearly every day and that was followed by being down for the count health wise for the month of April. Springus interruptus indeed! The garden has continued on without me, as gardens will and now it's a pleasure to go out and stroll through all the changes. The following photos were taken today and while they won't rate as the most exciting, they will give an idea of some of the spring color. That said, I'm anxious to add some new spring annuals/perennials, to fill in a few empty spots.

Allium roseum. This sweet little 'fireworks' allium offers up umbels of delicate pink flowers. 

Not sure which Allium this is but it's similar in form to the roseum only white. Ornamental onions, at least these smaller types, are easy to grow and return each year.

Mimulus variety. Not sure which one this is, Jelly Bean Bronze perhaps, but no matter it's a beauty. 

I have quite a few Dutch iris in my garden and this pure yellow is one of them. 

Chantilly Purple snapdragon. The Chantilly series is very hardy. This is the start of year 3 for this beauty.

Papaver Drama Queen. Bicolored AND fringed? Sign me up!

If only this Narcissus 'Tahiti' would take me home ...

Tritonia variety. A vigorous genus, Tritonias multiply with ease in one's garden.

Though in too much shade to show off their magnificent colors, this Dutch Iris Bronze mix has put forth a show of ginger colors.

It looks like an azalea, it blooms like an azalea but it's actually an ... Azalea! An Exbury hybrid azalea that is, the deciduous type that offers up a stunning color range of reds, oranges and golds.

Leucospermum Veldfire. Still my favorite pincushion bush, with loads of gold 'down'  right before the flower opens.

You may not know it but you're looking at one of the rarest dogwoods in these parts. It's Cornus florida ssp Urbiniana. Its claim to fame is its pure white, dramatically recurved flowers. 

Iris douglasiana. Everybody's favorite CA native species iris. Easy, prolific once established, tough and adaptable, it's great for colonizing a part shady bed.

Nepeta tuberosa. This larger-sized catmint is just now adding its first flowers. Of course, bees, hummers and cats are all beating a path to its door.

Sunday, April 14, 2019

My Chron column returns!

Good news learned just yesterday morning. The Chronicle is resuming my Plant Scout column. As most of you know, I got word a month ago that they were discontinuing it, along with the entire Garden section. Not sure what has caused the reversal but it's certainly good news. It will be in the Food + Wine section. They ran the last of my old columns there today. So I'll need to get going on ideas for new columns. I also continue to write signs for Annie's Annuals so have at least two creative writing outlets, on top of this blog.
Here's a few more photos of the garden, showing off their early spring colors.

Arisaema thunbergii var. Urashima. Here's the fully open spathe. A lovely purplish-brown. One of my favorite Jack-in-the-Pulpits.

Clivia miniata. Just love the brightly colored flowers on this ancient plant. One of those benign neglect plants that actually benefit from some crowding. 

Acer Beni Maiko. Love the bright red new growth on this Japanese maple. The leaves age to green but acqwuire the same fire engine red color in the late fall.

Scilla peruviana. Not the most elegant picture but this is one of many pots that had to be moved this last two weeks so it's now in a bit more shade and is reaching out for the sun. 

Gladiolus Volcano. One of many species glads out there. This photo doesn't do justice to the lovely orchid-pink colors, and the white throats. 

Babiana stricta hybrids. There is a great variation  of color in these hybrids, from dark purple to purple & white, to wine colored to pink to pure white. A good clumper that returns every year, it's one of the easiest South African bulbs to grow.

Dutch iris. Here too there is a great range of colors and many of the falls have prominent veining. 

Wish I knew the variety of this double Narcissus (it was part of a variety pack). It has to have THE most fragrant flowers of any daffodil.

Scabiosa Harlequin. I never knew there were 'ground cover' Scabiosas before I grew this tough, floriferous beauty. Stays very low (4-6") and spreads. 

Though I had to trim my Leucospermum Veldfire for sightlines to the house street sign, there's still enough flowers for a nice little show. 

My Aloe striata gets a bit more water than it absolutely needs but that only seems to make it bloom more profusely. A hummingbird magnet!

Though common, sometimes Nasturtiums can do interesting things. Like act as a vine as this variety is doing, climbing up a Laburnum tree.

Callistemon viminalis. This dwarf variety of bottlebrush tree is finally opening its flowers. 

Halimium lasianthum Farral. This rare golden-flowering Halimium is one lovely and sunny addition to the garden.

Ornithogalum umbellatum. A ground cover type Star of Bethlehem, this little charmer pops up faithfully every spring. 

Wisteria Kofuji. This extremely dwarf wisteria (1-2' high) didn't bloom this its second year but has filled out more densely. 

It's taken awhile after a major pruning in 2017 but my marmalade bush (Streptosolen jamessonii) is finally blooming again. 

Physocarpus Nugget. Quick to leaf out and then quick to flower, this golden-leafed Ninebark bush is already filling up with fuzzy white flowers much sought after by bees.

Helenium Mardi Gras. This tenacious perennial never seems to not be in bloom. Another favorite flower for all manner of bees.

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Are We There Yet?

So, we were tantalized with two days of sun and now the rain/clouds have returned. I know that showers are part of our spring weather but damn it so is sun. Hint, hint. Don't know if it's the lack of sun or maybe the cooler than usual weather in March but nearly everything is behind schedule in my garden. In fact I have to keep reminding myself it's actually April. As in 'sunny 70 degrees April.'  Oh, well, the sun will come when it comes. My collection of bulbs certainly like the recent rains; everything is up now, even if they're a bit late flowering. Still, I have lots of daffodils in bloom plus Sparaxis, late freesias, the first of the Dutch iris, a few exquisite powder blue Muscari azureum, some early species Gladiolas and the first of the Ornithogalums. That'll tide me over until the spring stuff begins to bloom.
Okay here are some photos taken during one of our sunny interludes.

Papaver atlanticum Flore Pleno. This double form of the Spanish poppy offers crinkled papery petals in a lovely peachy-orange color. A perennial, it returns without fail each spring and sends up wiry stems topped with a single orange bloom.

Phlomis fruticosa. The so-called Jerusalem sage  is a tough evergreen shrub that can handle very dry conditions once established. Produces stacks of yellow flowers that remind some of Salvia clevelandii in form.

Thought my Calluna Rosea had finished blooming but it's put out a new crop. Love the delicate urn-shaped flowers.

When people first encounter Bank's rose, they are of two minds. It sort of looks like a rose but not quite. Flowers are small and filled with petals, giving them more of a puff ball look. A climbing rose it is and mine is the yellow flowering variety. Prolific bloomers and sturdy once established.

I have yet to find a planting bed for my new Chorizema cordatum (flame pea bush). But it's already in bloom so will enjoy its first flush of flowers this way. Though it's semi-tropical, it's hardy enough to deal with our climate here.

Physocarpus Amber Jubilee. This bronze-leaved variety of Ninebark is happy in its walkway bed, where it gets some reflected sun from the main house's stucco wall.

Though it's a bit hard to see, my Tillandsia tectorum has finally produced a flower spike. It is however progressing VERY slowly so who knows when it will bloom?

Dutch iris. Usually a reliable bloomer each year, it's still good to divide the bulbs after 3-4 years. Otherwise the new bulblets are in too much competition for space and nutrients.

Though it doesn't at first glance look like a Gazania, this is a double form. It reminds me a bit of a miniature Teddy Bear sunflower (a seedless variety).

We're having some construction work done so I've had to move some pots around. This pot of Violas is temporarily nestled in among some Iris.

JoeJoe Yellow kangaroo paw. This dwarf variety will only get 18" tall. It's in a pot for now but hopefully I can find an opening in a planting bed for it later.

Can't remember the name of this Dutch iris but it opens with bright yellow falls and whitish standards. Gradually the standards color up to this lovely lavender color.

Not the best photo composition wise but I wanted to share the first flush of flowers on my low growing Scabiosa Harlequin. It's formed a dense mat of foliage and will bloom continuously through at least October. Drought tolerant too.

Babiana stricta hybrid. Love the purple splashed with white flowers, as well as the pleated leaves. A tough customer, this South African bulb returns each year.

These Taurus Split Cup daffodils are kind of hidden behind my Marmalade bush so hard to catch them with sun illuminating the flowers. Still lovely!

Micromyrtus ciliata. Noticed a cool new stage of the flowers that opened white. Now they're acquiring a pink glow. Surprising and delightful.
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