Category Archives: Bloom Day

Bloom Day May 2017 (and assorted garden projects)

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Photo taken last night, when I still hoped I could squeak this post in under the Bloom Day deadline, the 15th of every month, and be righteously on time, but it was not to be. Flash of red is from the ladybird poppies, P. commutatum, mostly over but left in situ for reseeding.

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Never loads of flowers but always plenty of rosettes.

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Still, if you look closely, the plants are procreating. Like the little echeverias that began to bloom while I was away.

Continue reading Bloom Day May 2017 (and assorted garden projects)

anyone seen Persephone?

Mrs. Lazarus, the blog is back from the dead, from whence malevolent forces dragged it deep into the underworld lo these past few weeks, to emerge again battered but triumphant, like Persephone in time for spring. Apologies to Sylvia Plath and Bullfinch’s mythology for the theatrics, but it was a pitched battle to which I brought a dull trowel, while my unseen, cowardly enemies wielded the unfathomable powers of their dark arts, hurling code of deadly viruses. More apologies to all visitors who were greeted by the malware warning instead of pleasant photos of plants.

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So let’s get back to talking about plants, shall we? In the back garden, which is increasingly given over to succulents and dry garden shrubs, with little to bloom for summer except grasses, I carved out maybe a 4X4 patch for some spring ephemerals. The bearded iris is a rebloomer from Schreiner’s called ‘Final Episode,’ a bicolor, unlike the last bearded irises I grew, which were solid orange (see here). If the summer tattiness of the leaves doesn’t get too annoying, and they rebloom as promised, I might continue the experiment next year.

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Some Eryngium ‘Jade Frost’ were found locally last week, irresistibly sporting precocious bloom spikes, along with some ‘Ascot Rainbow’ euphorbia in bloom as well.

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The gauzy, pale purple linaria was planted maybe a month ago, a selection from Annie’s Annuals called Linaria marocanna ‘Licilia Azure.’ The linaria and eryngium possess those desirable small garden attributes of slim and tall. Silvery shrub is a native buckwheat, Eriogonum crocatum.

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One clump of iris out of three planted is in bloom at the moment.

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In other blooming news, cocoa-colored nicotiana have self-sown around the tank of the variegated octopus agave.

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Grevilleas continue to bloom into spring. ‘Robyn Gordon’

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Grevillea ‘Moonlight’

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Long-time blog denizen, the Corsican hellebore, just the one clump now. A ferocious reseeder.

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Another blog old-timer, winter blooming Pelargonium echinatum.

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Aeoniums bloom in trusses holding galaxies of thousands of tiny yellow stars

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And my newly potted Euphorbia bravoana surprised me by blooming this year.

Missed you!

Bloom Day November 2016

Daylight Saving Time and the electoral college. I think we can agree that these are two areas worthy of further study.
May Dreams Gardens collects Bloom Day reports the 15th of every month.
My excuse for posting on the 16th? The DST ate my report. I don’t know how you all manage with these shortened days.

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For November we’ll begin with N, for nerines, truly a miracle bulb. I get it that all bulbs are miraculous, but they are not, unlike my nerines, kill-proof.
But go ahead and forget nerines in a dry bowl all summer long (like I do a lot of other plants, come to think of it).

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In the case of nerines, you will be rewarded, not punished. They require that dry summer dormancy. Think of nerines as bulbs that actually encourage bad behavior.

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Okay, nobody gets excited by the drab composite flowers of a senecio, but I do like how the blooms extend the leaf-stacked lines of the stems. And November is not a bad month for a shot of yellow. (Senecio medley-woodi)

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More November yellow from Tagetes lemmonnii, the Copper Canyon Daisy. What a great common name, right out of a John Ford western. Some plants get stuck with unfortunate names like “lungwort.” Maybe I’m weird (ya think?) but I actually like the smell of the leaves.

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Bocconia is sending forth those frothy bloom panicles. Acacia baileyana ‘Purpurea,’ the blue wash in the background, is also budded up with bloom. The acacia just underwent an intervention and had some Tanglefoot smeared around its trunk to stop the ants from massing cottony cushiony scale along its branches. As difficult as it is to imagine winners where climate change is concerned, there will be those who come out victorious, and I’m certain they will be bugs. Each one of those cottony, pillowy encrustations on my acacia holds over 600 eggs.

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I’m loving this tawny, oatsy look the garden has taken on in November. ‘Fairy Tails’ pennisetum in the foreground, oatsy-colored bloom trusses of tetrapanax in the background.

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One clump of melinus, the Ruby Grass, is still sending out rich-colored blooms. The other two clumps have only faded stalks. More oatsy theme.

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Once the grevilleas reach blooming size, look out. It’s just another ‘Moonlight’ mile, as far as continuity of blooms. It really does take on a lunar glow around sunrise.

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Grevillea ‘Robyn Gordon’ backed by the claret tones of ‘Hallelujah’ bilbergia. And since Dustin Gimbel burst into Mr. Cohen’s immortal song when he gave me these pups, that’s the gorgeous earworm I’m stuck with in their company. (I have to admit my earworm is sung by Jeff Buckley, though. I can’t help it — that’s where I heard the song first.)

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I don’t think I’ve given a shout-out to Plectranthus neochilus all summer. Ever stinky of leaf, but a sturdy friend to hummingbirds. The stump of the smoke tree ‘Grace,’ that improbably grew branches as thick and far-flung as a sycamore, still lies underneath. A little more decomposition of the stump, and I can dig it up and plant something more exciting. I know the hummers are going to hate me, though.

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And yet another entry in the category “Every Bloom Counts in November,” the little euphorbia that took containers by storm 5 or 6 years ago, now greeted mostly with yawns. Euphorbia ‘Diamond Frost’ is perennial here and doesn’t get into much trouble. Nothing eats it and hot, dry summers don’t faze it.

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Another view of it wrapping around the other side of the containers, with another survivor, a climbing kalanchoe. The euphorbia loves that root run between garden and bricks.

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Berkheya’s feeble attempt at a weak-necked bloom this November highlights why it’s equally appreciated for those great, serrated leaves.

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Aloe “Kujo’ is just about spent, but the red-tipped aloe to the left, cameronii, was discovered to have two buds still tucked in close to the leaves this morning. (Woot!) The other aloe to the right is allegedly elgonica. I’ve searched the blog and find no reference to a bloom yet.

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And the little passiflora ‘Flying V’ is still displaying all those fine qualities, unstoppable, indomitable, etc. this November, on the day after Bloom Day.

Bloom Day October 2016

This October the garden has already turned its back on summer, and all but the grasses have been cut back.
I’m curious to find out how long the summer grasses can be supporting players to the winter-blooming aloes before the grasses are cut back in late winter.
(Of course, if we get rain, the grasses might be cut back sooner, but I’m not holding my breath.
In fact, I think I’ll plan a rain vacation this fall/winter. Glasgow averages 4 inches in November, Amsterdam over 3 inches.)

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The ‘New Zealand Purple’ castor bean has a thick woody trunk and should be removed, because it’s left plenty of seedlings to take its place.
But it’s playing so nicely with ‘Moonlight’ grevillea I keep putting it off.

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And the Solanum vine, ‘Navidad Jalisco,’ has had a lot cut back off the lemon cypresses and out of the Acacia baileyana ‘Purpurea’ but is still throwing new blooms.

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Among other low-lying succulents, the aloes like ‘Cynthia Giddy’ shine unobstructed, but the big pennisetum grasses might have to be switched out for grasses of smaller stature.
Lomandras like ‘Breeze’ really would be preferable for size, although they lack the pennisetum’s sexy blooms.
(That ‘Ghost’ aloe on the lower left was recently added, a hybrid of Aloe striata that showed up at nurseries this fall. I love its almost agave-like chunkiness.)

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Here’s a photo I took the other day of a mass planting of lomandra. The scale is perfect for interplanting aloes.
Sun and water requirements are a good fit too.

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For example, Aloe ‘Topaz’ is struggling to be seen through Pennisetum ‘Fairy Tails’ and phormium. I need to cut back that Verbena bonariensis too.

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‘Topaz’ supposedly prefers/tolerates some summer irrigation so should work well among smaller grasses and shrubs.

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Aloe scobinifolia has bloomed in July in the past and is much later this year. One of its record number of five scapes was lost to a mishap with a cat.
That’s Plectranthus neochilus blooming in the background, as it’s done all summer.

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More and more, I find this time-share aspect to the garden so absorbing.
Every plant on its game year-round with something to contribute, or at least get out of the way.
I’m a firm believer that the emphasis on garden “style” is misplaced.
If it doesn’t make sense for your temperament, for your climate, ignore styles. (If you can even figure out what your climate is anymore.)
In zone 10 there’s no justification for the slow death and decay cycle so beloved by the New Perennial movement. (Not when there’s winter-blooming aloes!)
And it’s a safe bet here in SoCal that we’re looking at building dry gardens for the foreseeable future.
So I can stop dreaming about thalictrums and veronicastrums for summer. Sigh…that ‘Black Stockings’ thalictrum is so cool.
But Amicia zygomeris has the height and some of that purply, bruised coloration to its leaves. I should bring that back for next summer.

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Aloe ‘Kujo,’ the Huntington hybrid. I lost a small plant so jumped at this big 2-gallon size already in bloom.

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This plant caught my eye on a nursery bench recently too. With leaves and flower color so reminiscent of Lobelia tupa, I couldn’t pass it up. Justicia sericea ‘Inca Queen.’

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Said to bloom on and off all year, heaviest in early spring maybe. Drought tolerant when established. Might have a tendency for disheveled lankiness.
We’ll see. The hummingbirds are already thanking me.

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This Kelly Griffin hybrid aloe has been blooming on and off all summer too.

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Aloe ‘Rooikappie’ is another year-round bloomer, heaviest in fall. My little plants are just getting going.

Carol at May Dreams Gardens collects Bloom Day posts from gardens all over the world, an invaluable learning tool for what’s working where.

Bloomday September 2016

We’ve been babysitting a cat whose life had been previously confined to indoors. His love for his newfound garden kingdom almost matches my own.
But his ungainly enthusiam translates into tearing through the garden like a baby elephant, and stalking birds, so I’ve been cutting back a lot of the summer stuff much earlier than usual.
Depriving him of cover and maybe a bell for his neck should even the odds.

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But there remains a few blooms to report. Grevillea ‘Moonlight’ is a big, luminous presence now. almost always in bloom.
‘Robyn Gordon’ has been in reliable bloom all summer as well.

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The eremophila have grown into substantial shrubs in one summer.

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Sedums are in bloom. I don’t usually spring for the herbaceous sedums, but these new darker colors were too tempting to resist.
This one ‘Touchdown Flame,’ held the dark coloration without fading, and I so appreciate the yellow flowers versus pink.

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Salvia uliginosa and Calamintha ‘Montrose White’ both get the Most Attractive to Wildlife award this summer, in bloom for months.

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A summer-blooming aloe is what makes ‘Cynthia Giddy’ so special. I pulled this offset off the main clump just weeks ago, and it’s already throwing a bloom.

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Not a great photo but I got home late and was losing the light. This Plectranthus neochilus weaving around the Copper Spoons kalanchoe has been a friend to hummingbirds all summer.
Plectranthus zuluensis is also in bloom.

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A little potted crassula has erupted in pearly blooms.

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The grasses pretty much own the garden now. This is Pennisetum ‘Karley Rose’ with some agastache and bog sage in the background.

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But leucadendrons and aloes are biding their time to shine in winter.

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Glaucium grandiflorum keeps throwing trusses of blooms, this one a little beaten down (probably the cat again)

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The beauty and vigor of the vine Solanum ‘Navidad Jalisco’ continues to be simultaneously alarming and delightful.

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The slipper foot, Euphorbia (or Pedilanthus) macrocarpus, has been much more floriferous in the ground than a container.

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And that’s about all there’s light for. Happy Bloom Day!

Bloom Day August 2016

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It must be August, because the Euphorbia ‘Diamond Frost’ is billowing. This tender perennial becomes activated by the heat of August.
I pull it out by the handfuls when it gets too rambunctious but always leave a few roots. Any plant that likes this weather deserves a place at the table.
And I like what it’s doing with this potted agave. Remember when this euphorbia was the “it” plant several years ago?
It had a brief moment in the spotlight as a go-to annual for containers. Here it’s colonized the soil where the bricks meet the garden.

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Otherwise, it’s the grasslands of August and not much change since July Bloom Day. Same cast of characters.
Most of what’s in flower are oddball blooms only a bug would love, no real classic garden plants, so I’ll spare you the closeups. (And I got home too late.)
I’ve been cutting back, thinning the gomphrena, cutting Anthemis ‘Susanna Mitchell’ to the base, so more more buttery daisies this summer.
I’ve even cut back the brown eryngium flowers and Rudbeckia maxima seedheads. Everything looks fresh again.
I wanted to get some air circulation going in the jungle and deep water shrubs and stuff to get the garden through August and September and ready for winter-blooming aloes.
At least I hope there’ll be a good show from some youngish aloes this year. And there’ll be room to add the irises, which shipped today.
I think I’m cured of trialing big blue agastaches like ‘Blue Blazes.’ Coarse leaves, not bad from a distance, but not so welcome in a small garden..
Easy, stemmy, swaying bog sage, seen in the background, suits this garden fine and provides a film of blue all summer.

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One of the most startling blues in the garden comes from this Eragrostis elliottii ‘Tallahassee Sunset’ I just planted mid-summer.
Can you tell I’m seriously smitten with grasses lately? Plants’ leaves may age and yellow throughout summer, but grasses always manage to look impeccable.

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Buddleia ‘Cranrazz’ enjoying life in a deep container (trash can)

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All grevilleas are in bloom, this ‘Moonlight’ and ‘Robyn Gordon.’ An ‘Austraflora Fanfare’ bloomed lightly earlier this summer but is still a youngster.
Seen in the background, little aloe hybrids are sending out flares of orange flowers throughout the garden.
That’s the abbreviated Bloom Day report for August. More thorough chronicles can be found at Carol’s site May Dreams Gardens.

July Bloom Day, the sequel

How could I forget the Japanese silverleaf sunflowers?

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An international effort. Native to coastal southern Texas, it is known as the Japanese Silverleaf due to that country’s renowned work in breeding sunflower varieties.
I’m not sure whether this is the straight species or an improved-upon seed strain via Japanese growers. My source was Annie’s Annuals.

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They do attract attention. (Marty this morning: How many sunflowers are open today?)
You know how the annual sunflowers always have that descriptor “coarse” used when describing the leaves?
Not with these leaves. Silvery-green, slightly furry, tidy, neat. Never coarse.

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Now residing in my humble stock tank, which barely has the depth to support its exuberant growth.
If you grow it close to a table, no vase will be required to enjoy the flowers.
I added a length of rebar for insurance, and to keep the table clear for morning coffee.
Have a great weekend.

Bloom Day July 2016

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I’m going to try a systematic approach, so bear with me.
Right outside the office, the planting is getting some height from the bog sage, kangaroo paws, and Pennisetum ‘Skyrocket’ showing a few blooms way in the back.

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Using the bocconia as a reference point, swinging east, away from the office, the Crithmum maritimum, an almost succulent-like umbellifer, is in bloom at the base of the bocconia.
The grass in front of the crithmum, Pennisetum ‘Fairy Tails,’ is just getting started.

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Silvery plant to the right of P. ‘Fairy Tails’ is the Island Bristleweed, Hazardia detonsa, endemic to the Channel Islands off Ventura, Calif.
The tiny golden paint brush blooms are only interesting insofar as they elongate and further develop the plant’s architecture. I love the overall effect.

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Closeup of the crithmum

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Before leaving the office planting, I want to give a shout out to Calamintha ‘Montrose White.’ Frustratingly difficult to get a decent photo of the clouds of tiny white flowers.
But so cool and Grace Kelly elegant. The bees and I are wholly smitten. It is by far the best bee plant in the garden.

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A second clump of Glaucium grandiflorum has just started blooming behind the calamint.

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In the foreground of the first photo is this amazing, silver-leaved mat-grower whose name I never committed to memory. It may have once been known as a helichrysum. Hasn’t every silver plant?
Sold as a summer annual, it would be perennial here in zone 10. Even though planted spring/early summer during some easy-going temperatures, this one gave me the same trouble as Stachys ‘Bella Grigio.’
Both collapsed after a couple days in the ground. I pulled them out, set them in the shade, where they surprised me by fully recovering.
In both cases, the soil mix was incredibly fast draining. The heavier garden soil was wicking away all the moisture.
After recovery, the mat grower was moved back into the garden. Some careful hand watering has helped to reveal its true and sturdy dry garden temperament.
(edited to add mat grower’s identity: Chrysocephalum aplicata. thanks, Hoov!)

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The stachys will reside in a container for summer, and if it makes it to fall I’ll reappraise options for a spot in the garden.
I asked the nurseryman if this stachys was the real deal, as in is it trustworthy enough for use in landscaping projects? He assured me that it was. I remain unconvinced.

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Still near the office, Agave ‘Mateo’ with the Crambe maritima (that never blooms), orange arctotis, Ricinus ‘New Zealand Purple,’ succulents, sideritis.

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Verbena bonariensis finds support among aloes and agaves — as do I!
(Okay, I’m officially ditching that impossible systematic approach now.)

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Penstemon ‘Enor’ had the usual problems with budworms blasting the flower buds before opening, but the wasps seem to have sorted it all out now.
My theory is whatever insecticide suppressant is in use at nurseries wears off soon after planting. As ever, I’m always thankful for parasitizing wasps and hungry birds.

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Origanum ‘Rosenkuppel’ in the center, with yarrow and agastache.

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Yesterday I took out the largest planting of this oregano to try out Sedum ‘Blue Pearl.’
The oregano is a demure evergreen mat all winter but leaps into alarmingly expansive growth in summer. It suffocated a grevillea and threatened to do the same to other neighbors.
Like first world problems, similarly, these issues get filed under small garden problems.

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Calamagrostis brachytricha has about five bloom stalks. Prefers moist soil, but okay on the drier side.

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Ruby grass, Melinus nerviglumis, was recently added to fill gaps where I took out a couple clumps of Elymus ‘Canyon Prince.’
I love the elymus, but it also needs a bigger garden to develop and play out its rhythms. And possibly a more wind-exposed site.
One clump of elymus tentatively remains.

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And yes, Margaret, there is a fast-blooming puya. Not the sexiest, but the quickest to bloom.
And Puya laxa’s very prickly leaves are like silvery tillandsias for full sun. It’s a notorious spreader, so it remains in a pot.
Since this photo, a navy-blue flower has opened, barely discernible in the overall scheme of things.
Even though it’s not one of the flamboyant turquoise beauties, I do appreciate the quickness to bloom, tall, stemmy structure, and the gorgeous leaves.

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Bulbine ‘Athena Compact Orange’ blooming through a carpet of horehound, Marrubium supinum.

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A second clump of bog sage mid garden with Verbena bonariensis. The black bumblebees and hummingbirds go for the bog sage, the butterflies favor the verbena.
The bog sage, Salvia uliginosa, has elbowed out Crocosmia ‘Solfatarre’ this summer, so there will be some shifting around this fall.

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Just giddy about summer-blooming Aloe ‘Cynthia Giddy’

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Possibly Aloe ‘Christmas Cheer’ giving off some July cheer too.

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Mid garden crescendo with Agastache ‘Blue Blazes,’ Achillea ‘Terra Cotta,’ eryngium, glaucium, oregano, verbena, anthemis, bog sage, melianthus.

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Indefatigable Gomphrena ‘Fireworks’ bulwarked by Senecio medley-woodii. Anthemis ‘Susannah Mitchell, kangaroo paws.
Berkheya purpurea obligingly keeps sending up one bloom truss after another.

And that, give or take, is a wrap on July’s Bloom Day.
Check out our host’s site May Dreams Gardens for more blog contributions to July Bloom Day.

Bloom Day June 2016

In June, it seems like everywhere you point the camera, something is in bloom.

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Glaucium grandiflorum wants the entire garden for itself, so there’s been lots of ongoing, strategic pruning.

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The blooms of Eryngium planum eventually slide from silvery-green into blue.

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Berkheya purpurea has matured into several big clumps and probably won’t stop there.

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‘Enor’ was planted in spring from gallons, just two, plus a ‘Pike’s Peak Purple. I like the almost dierama-like effect from the the tall, smaller-flowered varieties of penstemon.
And I always fall for the darkest colors. ‘Blackbird’ and ‘Raven’ are similarly dark-flowered varieties.

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Salvia uliginosa is unapologetically robust. I’m already making mental notes to split this clump in fall.
I think this might be the salvia to interplant with big grasses.

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Chocolate Daisy, Berlandiera lyrata, unlike Chocolate Cosmos, really does scent the garden chocolate. As long as the sun is out, that is.

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Small, frost-free, the back garden chugs along year round, so summer must share ground.
And I’m partial to long-lasting flowers with a strong architectural presence. (Which means BD posts can be a tad repetitive.)
Gomphrena ‘Fireworks’ returns for at least its third year, same footprint, no reseeding, reveling in the driest, hottest conditions. It’s a performance so perfect as to be almost artificial.
Anthemis ‘Susanna Mitchell’ is the buttery daisy. Agastatche ‘Blue Blazes’ is barely noticeable, just starting to gain height. The latter two are both new this year, though I’ve grown them in the past.

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A similar effect can be had from the succulent Cistanthe/Calandrinia grandiflora (long-stemmed, screaming magenta flowers), but clumps of calandrinia seem to double in size overnight.

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Agastache ‘Blue Blazes’

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Anthemis ‘Susanna Mitchell’

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I thought the ‘Terracotta’ yarrow would never bloom. It was playing by the rules and waiting to make that fabled third year leap.

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The kangaroo paws aren’t nearly as tall as they should be. Steady irrigation before and during flowering seems to be key.
I put El Nino in charge of the irrigation this winter, and what a slacker he turned out to be. At least in Southern California.

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I’m loving the bright chartreuse new growth on Grevillea ‘Robyn Gordon’

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The Pittosporum crassifolium ‘Variegatum’ was a recent indulgence.

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Even in June, flowers just aren’t enough. Let’s give it up for leaves.

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June is a month not to be missed for Bloom Day news, which Carol collects for us at May Dreams Gardens.

Bloom Day May 2016

Welcome to the jungle. (Okay, so it’s a dry jungle.)

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This will be an abridged Bloom Day post, looking at the telescoped view through my office doorway and describing the big stuff that stands out in the frame.
Rudbeckia maxima on the left is nearly as tall as the pergola but not as tall as the tetrapanax behind it in this view. The kangaroo paws are starting to gain height.
Orange poppies on the far right are Glaucium grandiflorum,. Just one plant is at least a yard across this year.
It wouldn’t be summer without daisies, and this year there’s orange arctotis (right foreground near the sea kale, Crambe maritima).
And buttery yellow Anthemis ‘Susanna Mitchell’ with ferny, silvery green leaves, not pictured but at the feet of the glaucium.
The little white dots just to the right behind the dark aeoniums come from one of my favorite summer daisies, Argyranthemum foeniculaceum, a Canary Islander.
I never find it local, so this plant comes from a cutting I nabbed at a San Francisco park. Small, simple daisies with grey-green, finely cut leaves.
Purple and blues from Salvia uliginosa and Salvia leucantha. More Verbena bonariensis seedlings are coming into bloom.
In the foreground to the left of Yucca ‘Blue Boy’ I’m just stupidly excited to have the grass Stipa barbata coming into bloom.
Another grass I haven’t seen in bloom yet, Stipu ichru, way in the back under the acacia, has started flowering. I’ll be sure to grab photos for June.