Tag Archives: Anthemis ‘Susanna Mitchell’

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.


Bloom Day August 2013

Not too much of a change since July’s Bloom Day post, when I predicted the Persicaria amplexicaulis would own the garden in August, and the vibrant crimson spikes have done just that. This knotweed is the legacy of foolishly trialing just about every reasonably drought tolerant, classic border perennial in the early years of making the garden. A very quixotic notion in this dry-summer climate that would prefer plants just go dormant, like many of our natives do. Still, there are always surprises to be found, like the persicaria.


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It still amazes me that this persicaria thrives in my zone 10 garden, in full sun. A fabulous bee plant too.
These kinds of perennials are as rare a sight here as desert plants in a wet, zone 5 garden. It’s always about the challenge, isn’t it?

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Where the common red persicaria loves the dry, heavy clay of August, the other varieties always struggle. I’m trying the white-flowered persicaria again, so this is a new clump, and it’s just managing to squeeze out a few blooms against a backdrop of the unstoppable ‘Limelight’ Mirabilis jalapa which self-sows.

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Even though I long ago gave up on the concept of a summer garden of strictly perennials, I usually include a few stalwarts for late summer.
The ‘Monch’ aster is another surprisingly reliable perennial in zone 10. Finding perennials that can tolerate such a long, dry growing season with very little winter chill is a continual puzzle that still absorbs me. I like the seasonal “movement” they give the garden.

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But like everyone else, I have been trialing agastaches. I brought in a few kinds in spring and early summer. Planting agastaches in fall has always been problematic (they disappear by spring).
This one is the stalwart ‘Blue Fortune’ I grabbed at a local nursery.

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Agastache ‘Summer Glow’

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Other good daisies for summer here are the gaillardias, and ‘Oranges & Lemons’ citrusy colors makes it one of my favorites.

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The simple buttery goodness of anthemis is another continual favorite. This one is ‘Susanna Mitchell.’ If ‘Sauce Hollandaise’ is at all different, I haven’t noticed. I have read that ‘Cally Cream’ is considered to be more reliably perennial where this anthemis tends to disappear after a season. Not a problem here. Incredibly easy from cuttings in any case, and bulks up fast in one season.

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The anthemis with Salvia greggii

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A nice feast for insect pollinators and hummingbirds

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Speaking of summer feasts, I am in stone-fruit love with my neighbor’s peach tree. Or maybe it’s an apricot tree. (This is its first crop.) I’ve never experienced fruit-tree lust before, but now I’ve got it bad. Having to duck under its branches to sit at the table is a sacrifice I’m willing to make. Is this not the best of all possible worlds: A fruit tree taking up no space in my garden, within picking distance? Oh, hell, yes. The fruit is just starting to color up. Will they be edible? The suspense is almost unbearable. The branches were wall-to-wall with fruit, just inches apart, and some quick Internet research brought up the importance of thinning the fruits. I may have thinned my side too late. Common wisdom says to thin as soon as fruit has set after bloom to lessen the nutrient burden on the tree. Also saves the tree from weighty branches prone to wind damage. Some diehards even thin out the blooms before fruit set. The little tree was given a buzz cut, topped within an inch of its life last year, which was fairly alarming, but I’ve since read this is a technique some recommend for better fruit bearing. Possibly by next Bloom Day we’ll have sampled some fruit. My neighbor didn’t thin his side, so the fruit might turn out bland and insipid. Offering advice just seems a little too pushy for now.

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Self-sown Verbena bonariensis. The dwarf kinds actually seem like that rare good idea where dwarfism in plants is concerned, but so far they’ve been disappointing and weak growers. ‘Little One,’ ‘Lollipop,’ whatever the name, they dwindle and limp along, never very many blooms at one time. The self-sown species is robust and reliable.

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Cuphea viscosissima attracts lots of pollinators, has a lovely rich color, but some seriously ratty leaves. If it seeds around I’ll let some stay, but I won’t go out of my way to grow it again.

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Tall, knobby gomphrena in deep orange. Yes, please.

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Nicotiana are back, progeny from Nicotiana ‘Ondra’s Brown Mix.’ These are new plants that seeded into the bricks. The ones that bloomed all winter were pulled out in June to make room for early summer plants.

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Russelia is incredibly tough, long blooming, and beloved by hummingbirds.

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Nepeta ‘Walker’s Low’ is having a strong rebloom after being cut back hard in June. Eucomis were shaken out of their pots and grown in the ground this year. Much more upright in full sun and dry conditions, if just a tad singed on the leaf tips.

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The prairie clover, Dalea purpurea, just planted in July, lightly blooming.

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Lotus jacobaeus beginning to bloom again after a deep soaking in early August. I know what’s attracting flies to the garden this year.

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That would be Eryngium pandanifolium, whose blooms carry the light scent of old socks, noticeable mainly on still mornings. Possibly its one failing.

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The weight of the blooms is sending some of the stalks earthward. This stalk remains upright by leaning on a hanging caged tillandsia.

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The tillandsia has the scent of grape Sweet Tarts.

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Salvia chiapensis is rarely out of bloom.

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This little cutie was found at a local nursery this summer, the South African Crassula exilis subsp. cooperi. Very thyme-like in appearance, growing to just 2-3 inches high. To zone 8.

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A California native new to me this summer, Lessingia filaginifolia. I’ll probably move it to the gravel garden in fall.

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The garlic passionflower is blooming lightly in August and appreciates occasional deep watering.

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After wondering every summer how to prune this crazy tropical, whose new leaves push out like a mop atop a 6-foot trunk, the matter was taken out of my hands.
Here it is throwing new growth after having its trunk snapped off at the base in a garden mishap. (A tree fell on it).

Carol at May Dreams Gardens graciously hosts Bloom Days and gathers links of participating blogs there, 92 when I last checked.


scenes from the garden 6/3/13


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Some of the cast of characters this summer. First spikes of Teucrium hircanicum. Shaggy grass is newly identified Chloris virgata (thank you, Maggie!)

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The peachy ‘Terracotta’ yarrow lining the path are beginning bloom too.
The white umbels belong to Cenolophium denudatum. I’ve already noticed a self-sown seedling.
Sown just last fall with seeds from Derry Watkins.

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Self-sown Verbena bonariensis is already up on its hind legs.

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I love me some summer daisies, and buttery yellow Anthemis ‘Susanna Mitchell’ just nails it for me as the quintessential daisy of summer.

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More daisies. The first blooms of the ‘Monch’ aster, a daisy often making desert-island lists, 10-best-perennials lists.
A remarkably tough plant, even in perennial-averse zone 10.

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I never thought I’d see clouds of thistly eryngiums in bloom in my garden. Give them space and sun on their basal leaves, and the clouds will come.

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I’m a chronic shuffler. Pots gets shuffled and reshuffled constantly.
Succulents like the ‘Fantastic’ flapjack plant, Kalanchoe luciae, get to summer in the ground once the leaves have toughened up and are of no more interest to snails.

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Cussonia gamtoosensis stretching towards the sun. I’ll probably plant this in the ground in fall.
Which doesn’t technically break my no-more-trees rule since it’s slim silhouette should tuck in just fine, even at 10-plus feet high.

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More daisies, burgundy ones from the annual Coreopsis tinctoria ‘Mahogany’

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Why don’t I grow more lilies?
I have a paltry two pots of lilies this summer. They have no pests here, no scourge of lily beetles.
Growing them in pots keeps them safe from slugs — and from me, since I’m constantly reworking the garden and spearing unsuspecting bulbs.
Pots also make it easy to move them from sun to shade when needed and then whisk them out of sight when they’re done blooming.

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So I repeat, Why don’t I grow more lilies?


Speaking of scourges, the penstemon is succumbing to that omnipresent budworm, possibly the tobacco worm, that always afflicts and distorts the flowers. (If it even is the tobacco budworm — it has no interest in my nicotiana, aka flowering tobaccos.) I was hoping that by not growing penstemon for a few years this nasty piece of work would have moved on. No such luck. And they’re too tiny to find and hand pick or, my favorite method, bisect with scissors. I’m considering BT, Bacillus thuringiensis, a very pest-specific biological pesticide that interrupts the digestive process of tobacco budworms and kills them, and only on the plant where it’s applied. It’s even approved for organic food crops. But as a devout sci-fi fan, I can’t shake the plot twists involving the laws of unintended consequences. Penstemon are otherwise such great plants here, long blooming, drought tolerant. BT has supposedly been cleared as a suspect in Colony Collapse Disorder, that harrowing threat to bees and life as we know it. Since I rarely keep up regimens of any sort, more than likely it’s goodbye penstemon.

Which brings me round again to the question: Why don’t I grow more lilies?

Bloom Day March 2013

If it weren’t for the few stems of Scilla peruviana in bloom I’d feel completely out of step this March Bloom Day, when so many participating gardens are sending forth crocus and iris and so many other traditional spring bulbs and blooms. We may have flowers every month of the year, as Carol’s Bloom Day muse Elizabeth Lawrence declares, but we won’t all necessarily have the same flowers.


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I’ve been trimming away the lower leaves from a Geranium maderense to let some sun in on this patch of scilla.
Even in perfect conditions this bulb takes some years off and refuses to bloom.

What I’m most interested in this year is a little meadow/chaparral experiment that I’m hoping will bloom through summer in full sun, fairly dry conditions. It’s really begun to fill in the past couple weeks.

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Diascia personata is part of this experiment, three plants, two planted in fall and a cutting struck from one of them that has already made good size. Thanks go to Annie’s Annuals & Perennials for being the only U.S. source, via Derry Watkins’ extraordinary nursery in England. In the 1980s I reverently brought new diascia species and varieties home from Western Hills Nursery in Occidental, California, the only source at that time. Now all the local nurseries carry them as bedding plants every spring, and of course being a plant snob I don’t grow them anymore. But diascias can be very good here along the coast in the long cool spring and early summer, dwindling off in the heat of August. This Diascia personata’s height to 4 feet is a very intriguing asset.

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Also in the little meadow is Anthemis ‘Susanna Mitchell,’ and self-sown poppies, probably Papaver setigerum.
I like calling it my “meadow” when in truth it covers as much ground as a large picnic blanket.

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Blue oat grass, helicotrichon on the left, borders one side of the meadow/chaparral.

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Bordering a pathway elsewhere there’s a big swathe of this silvery gazania, maybe five plants, which counts as a swathe in my garden. In full sun they’d be open and you’d see what a shockingly striped and loud harlequin variety I chose last fall. Can’t fault those beautiful leaves though.

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More beautiful leaves to shore up what few flowering plants I actually grow. Senecio leucostachys is the big silvery sprawler. Small flashes of color from the Moroccan toadflax, Linaria reticulata, and the saffron-colored blooms of Salvia africana-lutea picking up speed, especially in recent temps in the high 80s. The phormium was bought misnamed as the dwarf ‘Tom Thumb.’ Whatever it’s true name, it’s stayed fairly compact and seems to have topped off at about 3 feet.

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Closeup of the salvia bloom.

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Euphorbia lambii began to bloom this week.

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The tree euphorbia really grew into its name this year.

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Kind of amazing to write that Nicotiana ‘Ondra’s Brown Mix’ has been in bloom all winter.
I’ve been cutting off old branches as the flowers go to seed. The brick paths are full of its seedlings.
Fresh basal leaf growth is coming in strong.

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Salvia chiapensis backed by Melianthus ‘Purple Haze’

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And a different view against a backdrop of sideritis and a big clump of Helleborus argutifolius.

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The yellow-flowered form of Russellia equisetiformis is just so very cool.

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Nasturtiums are ruthlessly thinned, but this climbing variety was allowed to fill in the bottom of a tuteur that supports the coronilla, which is still in full, aureate bloom.

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The coronilla with the nasturtium growing at the base of its support

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The seductive little species geraniums/pelargoniums are at their very best in spring

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Also beginning bloom is one of my favorite sedums. S. confusum.

Thanks again to Carol of May Dreams Gardens and all who participate in opening their gardens on Bloom Day.

clippings 2/26/13

Work has piled up, so there’s little time for much else. But something I can always squeeze in while under deadlines are small breaks to read catalogue descriptions of plants. And with impeccable timing, a great Australian plant nursery catalogue was introduced recently by Studio G, so I’m actually looking forward to two more days spent at my desk, stealing occasional visits to Lambley Nursery:The huge palette of rare but garden worthy plants you have featured on the DVD is food for the soul to serious gardeners...” — Simon Rickard

(a DVD?! have mercy! here comes that whooshing sound of another deadline flying by)

It’s a bit of a paradox that, while I look to new catalogues for something exciting and unknown, it’s when I find they tout a plant I already deeply admire that I feel I’m in safe hands and ready to be led anywhere they want to take me. Here’s Lambley’s take on Anthemis ‘Susanna Mitchell,’ a plant I’ve grown off and on for many years:

“This plant, a hybrid between Anthemis tinctoria and the grey leaved spring flowered A. cupaniana, combines the good points of each. Flattish mounds of greyish fern like leaves are covered in the loveliest creamy lemon daisies for months on end from mid-spring to autumn. It makes a great display in our dry garden. A drought tolerant plant growing best in full sun.” Lambley’s photo.


http://lambley.com.au/plant/anthemis-susannah-mitchell

I’ve committed to this anthemis in a big way, making five plants the mainstay of my little “meadow” outside the office.
My anthemis, just budding up now, were planted last fall and come from that excellent nursery on California’s Mendocino Coast, Digging Dog Nursery.

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Aside from plant catalogues, there’s lots to distract out in the garden now too. This thistly beauty, Argemone munita, also planted last fall, is a California native offered by Annie’s Annuals & Perennials: “Large crepey pure white blooms 3-4” across with big round central golden “buttons” (much like Matilija Poppy) appear numerously from Spring to mid-Summer on multibranching stems 2-3’ tall & wide.”

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More distractions: first blooms are opening on Salvia africana-lutea. Minutes evaporate contemplating its color. Tawny, rusty, sable-ish.

Now, where’d I put that grindstone?