Bloom Day May 2014

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Thank goodness, unlike me, some like it hot, such as Dalea purpurea, the Purple Prairie Clover. Zoned only as far as 8* and not recommended too far south, so zone 10 was a gamble as far as lack of winter dormancy. It might not be long-lived here, but it’s putting on a good show for a young plant. (*to clarify, for zones 3-8. I’m always concerned about a plant’s winter chill needs and heat tolerance.)

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I duplicated how I saw it planted at the Highline, close in to the walkway to admire its outline, but I’ll probably add more amongst the phlomis and other shrubby stuff. The bees will thank me profusely. Its deep tap root handles dry conditions beautifully. You can imagine how much water it’s getting planted amongst agaves and succulents, which is next to none. The legume family is full of such interesting characters. There’s a white form too, Dalea candida, but I’m fine with magenta.

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A succulent I like as much for its flowers as leaves, Cotyledon orbiculata var. flanaganii

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This annual grass doesn’t reseed much, but every bit of it is a treasure. Briza maxima

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Gomphrena ‘Fireworks,’ planted last fall, exploded into growth with the heat.

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Wonderful little pelargonium whose name I’ve misplaced, gets clipped back when it encroaches on Agave schidigera ‘Shira ito no Ohi.’ (If you need cuttings, just ask. And then let me know if and when you ID it. Possibly P. trifidum?)

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More heat lovers, gazanias and gaillardias

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Various iterations of self-sowing nicotianas shrugged off temperatures over 100, a rarity here a mile from the ocean, where we’ve previously never felt the need to install air conditioning in this old drafty bungalow.

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Solanum pyracanthum wintered over and got an early start in spring.

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Most worrisome was anything spring-planted, like this Glaucium grandiflorum

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But except for some sad heat damage on the big-leaved agaves, we all limped relatively unscathed through the second record-breaking heat wave of May 2014. My survival strategy for the next one involves researching old camping cots on craigslist. I’m planning a camping theme for the east patio. I haven’t slept outdoors in quite a while. When life deals you heat like this, might as well have a weenie roast.

So it’s finally here, May, the month that Carol dreams of all year. Some gardens are already cooking on all burners, some just waking up, but it’s all chronicled on May Dreams Gardens, where Carol hosts our Bloom Day reports the 15th of every month, or thereabouts.

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7 Responses to Bloom Day May 2014

  1. Kris P says:

    I wish I’d planted the tall Gomphrena ‘Fireworks’ in fall – I have no doubt it would have enjoyed the heat. After the lessons presented by these heatwaves, I’m focused on drought tolerant plants. Our temperature hit almost 105 yesterday afternoon. I strolled the garden early this morning and there are new losses. Some, like the last of the Violas and 3 Salpiglossis I was foolish to try planting in April, were not surprising but the shriveled Digitalis purpurea, planted in the fall, was a surprise.

  2. Denise says:

    Kris, I’m such a pessimist that I expect the worst. I’ve pretty much rid the garden of anything that’s not tough as nails. I have some stuff in pots I worry about, and then there’s always new plants to be babied until they’re mature and prove their mettle, so I still do a fair amount of hand wringing. Don’t feel bad about losing salpiglossis, it’s so touchy! I’ve babied it before in pots, dappled sun/shade, and it still faints and shrivels up. I think this gomphrena is the new rock star, like having drumstick alliums all summer long, wonderful with grasses.

  3. Scott Weber says:

    Love the Dalea…I need to find it somewhere…so charming 🙂

  4. Denise says:

    Scott, I’m pretty sure High Country carries it…yes, the do, and it’s on sale! And listed as D. purpureum:

  5. rusty duck says:

    I don’t envy you the heat.. but where is the perfect place for growing? Cold and wet are my main enemies. I do envy you frost free!
    Briza maxima seeds very freely here. Enough to be a pest. Can’t believe I paid so much for one plant and a year later have hundreds. I love the Cotyledon and the Glaucium, I suspect they would be greenhouse plants for me.

  6. Denise says:

    RD, I spent a lot of time in my youth wondering where that perfect place might be, not so much anymore. You envy the frost-free, and I wish for a bit of winter chill, not too much, just so plants that require a proper dormancy could thrive. Unlike protecting plants from the cold, like you might glaucium and succulents, there’s no way for me to add a necessary chill! About the briza, I’m always amazed at the reseeders. So far I haven’t added any that are too pesty. One season with macleaya reminded me of what a true pest can be, and that’s from running at the root, not seeds.

  7. John says:

    What a fun blog. Although we are zones apart, it was fun to see the plants you are interested in and your general approach to gardening. I grew up in Riverside, CA so I see a lot of overlap with my mother’s garden. But even referencing to our Maryland garden (which has lots of your winter chill) I can see plants that are worth trying from your posting. And then there’s always the greenhouse which tries to pretend that it lives in California.

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