The pitcher plant Sarracenia ‘Scarlet Belle’ is sending out more flowers than leaves this spring. I have no idea if this is usual, unusual, a sign of imminent demise, or what exactly.
But at least the pitcher plants made it to another spring. I’d find the slow-draining funnel glistening like a pond after some of the heavy rain this winter, so when the soil became thoroughly saturated the funnel occasionally waited out rainstorms tipped on its side under the pergola.
Last fall I planted lots of salvias in containers. Salvia purpurea struck me as the most promising for the garden, so it has been planted in the ground at the edge of the Acacia baileyana ‘Purpurea’ canopy. My salvia experiment involved a hunch that the so-called late-blooming salvias would probably bloom in the somewhat similar conditions of our zone 10 spring as well, and so it has been borne out for some. ‘Limelight,’ ‘Purple Majesty,’ and ‘Raspberry Truffle’ are all in bloom.
Of course, for a nearly year-round purple salvia we now have ‘Amistad,’ and ‘Love and Wishes’ is a ringer for ‘Raspberry Truffle’ but much more floriferous. So other than ‘Limelight,’ there are arguably newer salvias in similar colors for multiple seasons of bloom. But I love a good horticultural experiment over winter.
Last week I saw the Rice Flower in bloom in a display bed at Roger’s Gardens and was thunderstruck at its bobbly textured splendor. Ozothamnus diosmifolius used to be known as a helichrysum and is grown mainly for the cut flower trade. I gather the pink strains are most desirable (but not to me). All the references say it needs replacing after three years or so due to incorrigible lankiness. Being shortlived is not a disqualifier for me. None of the nurseries were carrying it, but surprisingly I bumped into this 3-gallon at a big box store. A potted watsonia sunk in the garden was finishing bloom and the rice flower was swapped in its place.
I had planned to keep the newcomer Berzelia lanuginosa in a pot but ultimately decided it would be safer in the ground for summer, when missing one day of water could be fatal. Shrubby plants with bobbly flowers seem to be a recurring theme lately. I’ve planted a couple dwarf santolina to replace the whale’s tongue agave, and the bobble-headed Cotula ‘Big Yellow Moon’ spills from a pot. I’ve yet to get a decent photo of its charms, but soon.
April’s bright light and coolish temps have been very kind to the poppies.
This stock tank’s main function was to cover the legs of the lemon cypresses against the east fence. At some point, all the odds and ends thrown into the tank have become distilled and clarified through attrition. Now it’s filled to bursting with a single flourishing astelia and bromeliads. The bromeliads are thickly multiplying and doing so well here that I’ve added some more reddish-leaved pups. (The plants to the left, pseudopanax, ponytail palm, Mexican pepper leaf Piper auritum, are in separate pots.)
In the interests of record-keeping continuity, I didn’t sow any purple orach this year and miss its bass notes. A notorious reseeder but not in this garden, it seems, unlike the castor bean. I’m missing lavenders too. ‘Goodwin Creek Grey’ was good but too big. If I trial another it will be an intermedia hybrid called ‘Phenomenal.’ The hoped-for tight cushions from my three plants of Euphorbia mauritanica have yet to materialize. How is it done? More sun and leaner soil, I’d wager, and possibly a windier site. Mine are not cushions at all but lanky and still not up to blooming much. Plants in the garden April 2018 that didn’t make it through last summer include Phlomis ‘Sunningdale Gold,’ lovely and sorely missed but not a strong grower here and simply faded away. Salvia fruticosa mildewed and was pulled but I’d love to try it again with better air circulation. Fremontodendron ‘Ken Taylor’ had too much competition from the cypresses, but wouldn’t it be wonderful to give the flannel bush everything it needs to thrive. Senecio palmeri merits another chance too. And in the fun but scary department, the nightshade Solanum valerianum is no longer allowed to romp through the lemon cypresses. Turn and face the strange, spring 2019!