Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Sweet Smell of Honeysuckle

Honeysuckle is such a popular garden plant - who doesn't love that delicious fragrance? - that it may surprise some to know that there is a whole world of honeysuckles out there, including some that aren't even fragrant. The genus Lonicera is comprised of 180 species scattered throughout the world. The most common one is Lonicera japonica (Japanese honeysuckle), with its familiar butter yellow and white flowers. Two European species are popular, L. periclymenum (Common or Dutch honeysuckle) and L. x americana. Both feature bright pink buds, with the latter opening to pale yellow flowers and the latter having a multitude of colorful varieties. Vining and fragrant, like most honeysuckles, they are sun lovers that have long bloom seasons. America is represented by L. semeprvirens, a honeysuckle native to the east coast. Called coral honeysuckle due to its vivid Coral-red flowers, the trumpet shaped flowers also feature golden throats. This is one of the non-fragrant species but is so lovely I wanted it in my garden anyway.
Want to go big? L. hildebrandiana (Giant Burmese honeysuckle) sports yellow flowers that can reach an incredible six inches. My neighbor has it growing up on top of his carport and it's quite the sight when in bloom. Want something rare and beautiful? Annie's Annuals is selling Lonicera pilosa 'Strybing Honeysuckle,' an exceptionally colorful species hailing from Mexico. Huge clusters of slender red trumpets open up to golden-orange flowers. Long blooming like many honeysuckles, it blooms from spring to fall.
And just when you think you know everything about honeysuckles, along comes the bush type L. caerulea. Its calling card is the fact that it produces edible blue berries! Wow.
So, after that quickie tour around the world of honeysuckles, here are some photos from my garden, capturing another moment in time.

Mitraria coccinea. This woody climbing shrub hailing from Chile offers up bright green foliage and in late winter through early summer little orange tubular flowers. Totally charming.

For such a small succulent, this peanut cactus sure puts out large showy orange flowers. 

It's the start of lily season in my garden. I have over two dozen different varieties and usually the first to bloom are the Asiatic types. Though they are not fragrant like the Orientals, the color range is fantastic. This raspberry-colored one is part of what's called the Summer Garden mix from Easy to Grow Bulbs.

The yellow flowers are my Calibrachoa Lemon Slice, while the red ones belong to Pelargonium Fireworks Red & White. Both are happy campers it would seem.

 CA native Phacelia viscida isn't long blooming but does offer up vivid gentian blue flowers when in bloom. They contrast nicely with everything around them.

Speaking of lilies (and unusual flowers), this Lilium Apricot Fudge has a funny name and odd flowers to match. Yes, that's a lily. It's an Asiatic type as well but very unique.

Neoregelia Morcom. This easy to grow bromeliad is on its way to acquiring its red-spotted golden form. One reason neoregelias are popular is that they're beautiful even when not in bloom.

Alstromerias may be common but they are nonetheless beautiful and always remind me of spring.

Here's another photo of my Thunbergia battescombei. Sometimes known as Blue Clock vine, it actually grows as a shrub, producing curving, flared trumpet-shaped flowers. One of the most intensely purple flowers out there!

I pruned my smoke bush back hard last fall and then held my breath. Though it was late leafing out this spring (so was everything), it has come back nice and bushy, with good leaf color and now the first wave of 'smoke' flowers.

One would be hard pressed to identify this plant as a Wisteria but that's what it is. W. 'Kofuji' is a dwarf bush-type wisteria. No blooms yet but I love the foliage and its sprawling habit. 

I don't seem to have much luck with regular (hybrid) Gladiolas but have discovered a wealth of species glads. Here's G. 'Halley' and its sporting its distinctive red splashed on white flowers.

Gazanias are a dime a dozen but this double form is a bit trickier to find. It's proven just as hardy and long blooming as the single types. 

Here's the more typical Thunbergia, this one T. 'Arizona Red', and as you can see it's taking over my east facing fence. It's supposed to offer the darkest of the 'red' varieties.

Cuphea oreophila. This much larger bush cuphea hails from Chiapis Mexico and can easily get to 5' tall and wide. Now that it's settled in, it's blooming nearly year round.

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