Sunday, April 11, 2021

Spring springs forth

 It's been a case of start then stop with our weather this month but it looks as if we've finally turned the corner. At least here in Oakland. Today's blog has lots of photos but before we get to those I want to encourage everyone to visit their local botanical garden. Whether that's UC Botanic Garden or the Regional Parks Bot Garden (formerly Tilden Bot Garden) or the small but charming Lakeside Botanic Garden, all in the East Bay, or the SF Botanic Garden (Strybing), this is the perfect time to check out the glories of these botanic gardens. 

Okay, here are the photos.

The photos above and below are of my wonderful Tulip Apricot Parrot. I've never had luck with parrot tulips before so maybe it's just that I bought them from the excellent Tulip World.

There are many kinds of tulips and the one you see here is a Lily flowering kind. Notice the tapered petals that are indicative of this group. Very pretty.

Cistus McGuire's Gold. It took four years to initially flower but this rockrose now blooms faithfully every year.

Aloe striata (Coral aloe). Three bloom spikes this year and as I've mentioned, a great plant for attracting hummingbirds to your garden.

Layia platyglossa. Tidy Tips as they are commonly called are prolific bloomers and a good native annual for attracting bees and butterflies.

Scabiosa Harlequin. Though we normally don't think of Pincushion flower plants as ground covers, this variety has stayed low and blanketed the lower portion of my walkway bed.

Babiana stricta hybrids. It's been a great year for my Babianas. Though the flowers are mostly purple, there are some hot pink ones too.

Calceolaria Tiger Balloon. A lot of Calceolarias are annuals but this guy is back for its third year this spring.

One last shot of my species Gladiolus, G. Nathalie.

I planted violas on top of two rectangular planters containing daffodils, lilies and species glads and it worked out very well.

Dutch iris come in quite a range of colors but I'll admit that my favorites are the golds, gingers and dark reds.

This Campanula Blue Waterfall is the most prolific bloomer of all the varieties I've come across and just needs trimming back in the winter in order to freshen it up for the next year's blooms.

Choisya Sundance. The golden-leaved version of Mock Orange is lovely just for its foliage but the white flowers offer just as much of a heady fragrance as the straight species (Choisya ternata).

Most of us are familiar with dogwood flowers but hold on, this variety (Cornus florida Urbiniana) has slender white petals that loop back till they touch each other in the center. Fabulous!

My Japanese Lace fern has become my favorite fern (among the 20+ I have in the garden). I just love the look of it and it has proved durable.

Begonia Gene Daniels. Notable for its huge kidney-shaped leaves and their glowing red backsides.

Phacelias (Desert bluebells) are one of my favorite California native annuals and this one (P. campanularia) has the deepest blue flowers of the various members of this genus.

More Dutch iris. Tis the season....

Leucospermum Veldfire. I've taken many photos of this Protea family member but the flowers are just so eye-popping I can't help myself.

Phlomis fruticosa. A hardy sage relative, this guy produces joyful yellow flowers all summer long.

Snapdragons. Great for a splash of color wherever you want it.

Ditto for Million Bells (Calibrachoa). This one is newly planted so hasn't begun to trail yet.

I kind of think of tiny new Cotinus leaves as being like little flames dancing in the sun. Very pretty.

A closer shot of my Lily-flowering tulip.

Here's a shot of the east side of my Woodland bed. Those are Douglas iris on tall stems and the little nodding blue flowers are Scilla Excelsior.

Another shot of that low growing Scabiosa Harlequin. Of course they are famous for attracting butterflies but the flowers are popular with bees too.

Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Flower Power

 This week it's again all about the flowers so no need for commentary. I will only say that I encourage every gardener to take photos of their garden. Now, smart phones have such fabulous cameras that that's all you need. Which makes it easy-peasy.

Gladiolus Nathalie. One of the showier of my species glads.

A simple Dutch iris but love that rich purple color.

Ixia variety. Ixias come in many colors. I call this one Hot Pink.

Calibrachoa Cabaret Diva Orange. Not orange but no matter. It's already smothered in flowers.

Protea family members, such as this Leucospermum Veldfire, are much in demand as cut flowers.

Ranunculus may not bloom for a very long period but the flowers often display intense color.

Daffodil Tahiti. One of my favorite Narcissus varieties.

Eriophylla Siskyou + Mimulus Jelly Bean Gold. Two profuse spring bloomers.

Tulipa hageri Little Beauty. One of the lower-growing species tulips.

Feraria crispa v. nortieri. I finally managed to get a golden flower off this species. Yea!

One last shot of my Tulip Vincent van Gogh as they start to fade. They were a big success story this year.

Babiana stricta hybrid. I love 'baboon flowers as these guys are called. From South Africa.

Another one of my Doubles Mix daffodils.

The real excitement round here this year was the Tulipa Tangerine Beauty flowers. They turned out much larger than anticipated and this glowing red color. Wow!

Another Doubles Mix daffodil, this one with packed inner petals.

Scilla Excelsior. Scillas are a great choice for the woodland garden.

Bulbine. Whether yellow or orange flowering, this succulent is a blooming machine!

Fuchsia variety. This guy began blooming early (January) and has kept on flowering.

Yellow Banksia rose. One of the most prolific bloomers of all climbing roses.

Thursday, March 25, 2021

Spring ... regardless

 With everything going on in the world - the lingering pandemic, political unrest, people struggling to hold their lives together - it's easy to forget that our gardens know nothing of that! A garden is a garden is a garden. When the weather warms and there is sufficient moisture, plants will grow. Of course, so will weeds but let's forget that for now. There's still the opportunity for our garden's spring exuberance to lift our spirits. Be that flowers, deciduous shrubs leafing out or for veggie gardeners, the first tomatoes in the ground, the glories of spring are upon us. If getting absorbed in those glories for an hour helps us deal with the rest of the craziness, then all the better.

Here is part two of my 'Just the flowers, sir!' Color, color, color. Who doesn't like that?

Tulipa saxatilis. Possibly the easiest and most reliable species tulip to grow.

Sparaxis (Harlequin flower) have some of the brightest colors going in the spring bulb world.

It's no secret that I love orange and red colors (my Moon in Leo perhaps?) and quite a few of my bulbs are that color (like this red freesia).

Sometimes it isn't individual flowers but masses of tiny ones that provide the show. That's true for this Erica canaliculata 'Rosea.'

Here's another photo of my 'hard to find in the trade' Eutaxia obovata. It too uses masses of tiny pea-like flowers to catch our eye.

Next to lilies, daffodils are probably my favorite common bulb. There are so many wonderful color combinations, even if that is limited to white, yellow, orange, red and pink.

Herre's another daffodil in one of the doubles mixes I planted this winter.

Though I don't generally buy hybrid tulips - it's not cold enough in Oakland for them to reliably come back - I'll sometimes indulge in one or two varieties. This handsome fringed fellow is T. Vincent van Gogh. Wouldn't that name invite an early exit?

This curious double daffodil has inner petals packed tightly together. They remain that way, giving it a distinctive look.

There are many forms that daffodil flowers take. Here is a 'single with flattened cup' type. The orange cup does not jut out as far as most cups do on daffodils.

I wasn't going to include this photo originally but now I kind of like the contrast between shade and sun. It's as if we're discovering this Gladiolus Las Vegas in some far off forest corner.

Freesia purple. While Freesias do come in a variety of colors, purple is a bit less common. I love it!

Ferraria crispa v. nortieri. This is my favorite Spider iris. Hailing from South Africa, Ferrarias are some of the coolest flowers going, most with heavily crinkled edges.

Scilla violacea. What's not to love about Scilla's nodding bluish-purple nodding flowers?

I forget the name of this new cactus addition right now but it too is in bloom, with tiny little white flowers ringing the barrels.

Flowers come in all forms. This flowering spike on my Aechmea fulgens showcases orange bracts. Eventually little purple flowers will sprout from each bract.

Though I know this vine's botanical name (Pandorea pandorana), it's more fun calling it by its common name - Wonga Wonga vine. One of the more unique vines you will ever grow.

Daffodil Tahiti. One of the loveliest of all daffodils.

Yes, Aloes do bloom and in the case of this Coral aloe (A. striata), quite spectacularly! A must stop for hummingbirds who just love the tubular flowers.

Salvia africana-caerulea (syn. S. caerulea). It took awhile but this unusual African salvia is now blooming its heart out.

Lithodora. There aren't many flowers who exhibit such an intense gentian blue as do Lithodoras. They really pop in front of the camera too!

I end with simple violas, always a great cover plant over bulbs planted below. In this case, it's daffodils and lilies.

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