Tag Archives: Bloom Day

Bloom Day April 2011

Southern California, a mile from the ocean, zone 10, spring a couple months ahead of most of the country.

With the grasses joining the frothy euphorbias in bloom, there’s now a supercharged atmosphere that animates the garden.
I love it when plants start to inhabit planes other than just ground level and do so with very little bulk. The see-through plants. Aerial fizz.

Pennisetum spathiolatum shooting skyward amongst anigozanthos.

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Luzula sylvatica ‘Aurea,’ the golden woodrush. The bluer leaves are the Tradescantia ‘Concord Grape,’ now blooming, this photo taken a couple weeks earlier.

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Euphorbia ‘Ascot Rainbow’

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Continue reading Bloom Day April 2011

Bloom Day March 2011

Carol at May Dreams Gardens hosts this exciting monthly event, inspired by garden writer Elizabeth Lawrence’s urging that “We can have flowers nearly every month of the year.” Some days are so bleak, it seems astonishing that flowers could bloom at all, but indeed they always do. Some newer things in bloom in my garden here in Southern California, zone 10, a mile from the Pacific Ocean:

Geranium maderense ‘ Alba’ opened its first flowers this Bloom Day morning.
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Variegated Solanum rantonnetii, now pruned into a standard, to cram more plants under its skirts. Amazingly long-blooming shrub.
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Euphorbia mellifera
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Shrublike Impatiens sodenii, flowers so sugary sweet they make my teeth ache. Bit of overkill by Mother Nature.
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Anigozanthos, a good winter bloomer, with new blooms still coming for spring
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Not in full bloom yet, just this one inflorescence on Echium gentianoides ‘Tajinaste.’ I shouldn’t have moved it a month ago. Oh, well.
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Self-sown Nicotiana langsdorffii, seedlings found mostly in dry paving, where I pry them up and plant in the garden.
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Ein passing by the poppies near the porch, Papaver setigerum
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Thanks again to Carol and all the bloggers participating in this Bloom Day, whose blogs I’ll gratefully read while toggling back and forth between news reports about the crisis in Japan.

Dedicating my Bloom Day post to the good people of Japan.
(Huntington Botanical Gardens, Japanese Garden, photo from HBG site)

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Foliage Follow-Up January 2011

I missed contributing to January’s Bloom Day, the 15th of every month, hosted by Carol at May Dreams Gardens, but can’t wait to check out the participating blogs, over 100 from all over the world. In my own zone 10 garden in Southern California, there could be a huge variety of plants in bloom, but my 800-square-foot back garden has little new to report for January. There are some blooms, like Begonias luxurians and hybrid ‘Paul Hernandez,’ that made the cut for this January bloom day, but not much else. Pam’s blog Digging hosts the Foliage Follow-Up on the 16th, which seems the closest fit for this post. Warm thanks to Carol and Pam for hosting these memes, which will provide lots of good reading for the upcoming week.

(For record-keeping’s sake, Salvia ‘Waverly’ has made every bloom day post, including January’s, but another photo seems wearily gratuitous at this point.
It’s a sad truism that good, dependable plants inevitably become boring, but constantly taking a chance on the rare and untried has more than once left me with a garden with not much thriving and lots of bare ground. And the hummingbirds would never forgive me if I gave this salvia’s place to anything else.)


Begonia ‘Paul Hernandez.’

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Both of these large begonias were planted at the base of the southern boundary, a 6-foot cinder-block wall that continues to “grow,” aided and abetted by the creeping fig, Ficus pumila, previous owners planted to cover the wall. I welcome this extra privacy to an extent, but the wall has now reached an unruly height of 10 feet tall and is decidedly overdue for a winter trimming. I watched a possum snuggle into the fig’s maze of branches a couple mornings ago after a night out on the town, the urban equivalent of a hedgerow. The shade against the wall is almost too deep for the begonias, but increasingly I’m preferring to find homes for plants in the garden as opposed to keeping them in pots. Watering containers 12 months a year quickly becomes the worst kind of ball and chain. I may dig up both begonias for summer and give them seasonal cushy container quarters. The roots of the creeping fig are probably too much competition for them. Whether they stay planted or get potted again depends on how many other containers the terraces have to contend with this summer. (For reasons too tedious to untangle, I can’t bring myself to use the word “patio,” most likely because my parents had patios, but “terrace” does seem out of place for Los Angeles. What else can we call these places where people and plants sit during warm months?)

The corsican hellebores temporarily have the run of the garden. They’re all seedlings from one plant, providing ribbons of incredible acid-green coloring as if to taunt, “You want spring? I’ll give you spring! How’s that? Green enough for you?!”


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Anigozanthos ‘Yellow Gem’ and Pennisetum spatiolatum. It’s time to cut this grass back, but it has such incredible energy, like little missiles being launched, that I’m enjoying it for as long as possible.

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This young winter-blooming clematis, C. cirrhosa ‘Wisley Cream,’ threading through a coprosma, will probably sit out 2011.

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Astelia chathamica ‘Silver Spear,’ silver pony foot, and Lotus berthelotii are suitably chilly for winter. I wonder if I’ll enjoy this pot as much in spring.

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Bloom Day December 2010

(Actor Slim Pickens riding the bomb in Kubrick’s Dr. Strangelove.)

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A December Bloom Day post begs for a little goofiness. No other word describes prowling a drizzly garden for photos in non-existent light searching for non-existent blooms.

The roster for this month is pretty thin. The paperwhites are budding. (The single most important factor for success with bulbs is foresight, foresight, foresight.)

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Erysimum linifolium ‘Variegatum’ loves zone 10 winters.

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The bracts of the ‘Waverly’ salvia color up duskiest in December.

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Amicia zygomeris surprisingly putting out lots of fresh growth through winter, as well as these almost hidden, pale yellow, bruise-like flowers. My first year growing amicia, planted in fall, a favorite of the late Christopher Lloyd at Great Dixter. Any plant that flourishes in zone 10 winters is instantly suspect for being unable to endure zone 10’s dry summers.

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I’ve been deadheading Queen Anne’s Lace, Ammi majus, to bulk up the plant for spring, but it insists on throwing out blooms.

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Being a cloud-forest sage, Salvia chiapensis prefers the cool temps in fall, winter, and early spring.

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Pelargoniums. (If Kathy sees this, she’ll know I’m stealing Filoli’s scheme of potted pelargoniums for the porch steps.)

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The reed-stem orchids, epidendrum, are throwing a few blooms. They’re blooming like crazy all over town, which they might do here if I wasn’t so stingy with fertilizer. Run-off into storm drains is behind the stinginess, not money.

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Copper Canyon Daisy, Tagetes lemmonii ‘Compacta’

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Some succulents in bloom.

Graptoveria ‘Fred Ives’ harassed by one of the predators of winter.

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This one came labeled as Echeveria elegans ‘Grey Red’

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Amidst all the drizzle and grey, it looks like there’ll be roses for Christmas this year.

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May we all ride Old Man Winter as joyfully as Slim Pickens atop the bomb and trust to expanded garden pickings ahead. Happy Bloom Day!

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Of Elephants and Mobile Homes

If one morning I was presented with a list of the garden tasks I would ultimately end up accomplishing that day, I would probably consider it an absurd amount of work and pitch the list in the trash. That’s the inherent paradox of puttering in a garden: it never seems like work at the time, yet you know something very similar to work must have taken place to have caused so much soreness to sweaty and dirt-coated limbs by the day’s end. And this in a garden without frost deadlines, no vegetables, none of the usual labor-intensive gardening activities. Yesterday I wanted to get planted some of the winter-blooming salvias I purchased at the Fullerton Arboretum, which necessitated moving a Tradescantia ‘Concord Grape,’ a variegated symphytum, then finding homes for those two, digging, more digging, locating tools, losing them, hauling compost, and on it goes. Garden tasks always come in multiples of at least three, and some days the ripple effect can go on, unplanned, for an entire afternoon.

Mid-September provided unanticipated and unwelcome disruptions, causing me to have to, gasp, leave the garden for a few days. I’ve missed both Bloom Day, the 15th of every month, hosted by May Dreams Gardens, and Foliage Followup, the 16th of every month, hosted by Digging, and even though I’m late to the party I’m adding just a few photos to the collective blog record of what’s in bloom and leaf mid-month.

Salvia broussonetii, of the Canary Islands, from the recent Fullerton Arboretum salvia sale. Nice crinkly leaves like S. sclarea. Amazing how many good plants hail from the Canary Islands, an archipelago off Spain named by the Romans “canaan,” or “the ones who worship dogs,” inspired by the early inhabitants’ reverence for dogs. What sensible people.

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The Xanthosoma ‘Lime Zinger’ is getting that late summer, buttery thickness to its leaves.

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Colocasia ‘Diamond Head’ has a distinctive shine to its leaves that sets it apart from other, mostly matte-leaved elephant ears.

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The castor bean ‘New Zealand Purple’ is finally showing strong growth after a rude, early summer transplant. The chartreuse blur in the background lower left is a golden-leaved ceratostigma. (I”m pretty sure this cultivar is ‘My Love.’)

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Salvia ‘Limelight’ opened its first blue bloom while I was away. I broke a branch of this very brittle salvia just leaning in to get a photo. If the fall Santa Ana winds hold off for a month, it should be a good show for me and a new source of nectar for the hummingbirds.

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Pots filled with the little maple-leaved begonia, B. partita, the cordyline trademarked Festival Grass, fatshedera, pelargoniums, grown against a backdrop of Vitis vinifera ‘Purpurea.’

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And a glimpse of the newly acquired elephant pot. My mom has recently downsized to a mobile home park, which is a charming blend of brand-new prefab homes alongside 1950s-era mobile homes. (The charm for me was in the older mobile homes.) We stayed in this mobile home park on Alamitos Bay during the termite tenting, when I had ample opportunity to explore while walking the corgi. A good amount of succulents are grown in what little space there is available to garden, mostly in pots. It was one of the older mobile homes, what I’d call a “trailer,” that had been hastily evacuated, whether due to illness or some other misfortune, that had a handwritten sign taped to the siding indicating “Free stuff.” Most of it was animal and travel themed, a collection of an adventurous spirit, now shoved into meaningless disarray on the porch. I hope this elephant pot brought its owner good luck for as long as he needed it. I had left my own disordered mess behind at home but, unlike the owner of the elephant pot, was fortunate in being able to push it all back into some semblance of order and meaning once again.

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August 2010 Bloom Day

Bloom Days are hosted by Carol at May Dreams Gardens.
For next summer I’m already planning on lilies again, this time for pots. Just an example of the power of Bloom Day posts.

Another atypical overcast morning in Southern California for August. I dutifully grabbed my camera for Bloom Day but the light was abysmal for photos.
I know how much we all love inventory lists (kidding!), but it’s the best I can do with this marine-layered sky, so I’m sprinkling in some recent photos of plants in bloom today throughout the list.
For those names without photos, an AGO search will bring up many of these plants.

Tibouchina heteromalla
Catananche caerulea, almost finished blooming
Cannas
Calceolaria ‘Kentish Hero,’ reblooming. Bloomed in spring in pots, cut back, and planted at the feet of tibouchina
Solanum pyracanthum
Solanum rantonnetii (possibly ‘Lynn’s Variegated’), blooming all summer

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Continue reading August 2010 Bloom Day

June 2010 Bloom Day

A 2-year-old mossed basket with sedums, agave, and oregano ‘Kent Beauty.’ I was surprised to see the oregano return this year. Life in a mossed basket can be rough.

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The urns of arctoctis. Hopefully, the next time I replant the urns will be the day after Thanksgiving, to fill them with tulips. July is not too early to get a tulip order in for the best bulbs!

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Salvia verticillata ‘Purple Rain’ and Libertia peregrinans. This libertia actually is in bloom, tiny and white, but it’s the tawny leaves I’m after.

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Crocosmia just budding up, different kinds of forgotten names. Running in ribbons throughout, not in big clumps. I’m always amazed they find their way up and through at all in June.

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Continue reading June 2010 Bloom Day

May Bloom Day

May is a heady month for gardens. Check them out at Carol’s host site for Bloom Day, May Dreams Gardens.

The pale lavender heliotrope is responding to longer and warmer days, sprawling over Oxalis vulcanicola, both perennial in zone 10. The heliotrope looks ratty in winter, when the oxalis billows and flourishes, while the reverse takes place over the summer.

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Nicotianas, Salvia chiapensis, and Lysimachia purpurea:

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A bigger view, including the white-flowered rehmannia and some gaillardia leaning in. The S. chiapensis is a young rooted cutting and will need lots more space than available in this spot, but it blooms well enough when small and keeps the hummers happy. The dark orange flowers in pots are Calceolaria ‘Kentish Hero.’ (Cover the autumnal, dark orange calceolaria with your hand and see how the other colors hold together better with just the lime green, burgundy and gold, but I do like that “kick” of orange. Does the orange go or stay?) The two dark-leaved shrubs are Lophomyrtus ralphii ‘Red Dragon’:

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Miracle of Peru, Mirabilis jalapa, is self-sowing throughout the garden and comes true for the chartreuse leaf in the selection ‘Limelight.’

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I’m not sure how much longer these Senecio stellata/cineraria will keep on going, but the cannas and castor bean plants are clamoring for elbow room.

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And because there’s a big plant sale at the Huntington tomorrow, I’m sneaking in a “Foliage Followup,” the “shrubby” corner. Not very photogenic but some of my favorite plants are these tough, small-leaved shrubs and subshrubs. Potted agaves nearby add some needed heft, but I love the busy work, the fine patterns the small leaves give against the dark green, creeping fig-covered wall. Silvery Teucrium fruticans azureum and the furry, celadon leaves of Ballota pseudodictamnus make a nice backdrop for the cobaea to flaunt its blooms. A variegated solanum, Solanum rantonnetii, weaves through and is just starting to bloom quarter-size purple flowers, and the low-growing golden clump is Tanacetum vulgare ‘Isla Gold.’ Solanum pyracanthum is barely visible in this telescoped photo, but its orangey thorns are the blur just behind the potted sotol, next to the dark Canna ‘Intrigue,’ where orange arctotis pools at the base of its snail-chewed leaves. ‘Waverly’ salvia, just visible in the lower left corner, in bloom for months already, will probably need a rest by August. I’ll either cut it back or remove it after taking cuttings, since this plant is getting very woody at the base. But what a mainstay for the hummingbirds.

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The Lespedeza thunbergii in the front garden is just beginning to bloom, always an early bloomer here rather than late summer. Gaura is waking up, one overwintering, plus two more bought blooming in their nursery pots. Verbascum, verbena, valerian, scabiosa, lavender, diascia, arctotis for pots and the garden, Calandrinia spectabilis still going strong. The climbing rose ‘Bouquet d’Or’ is in a second flush of blooms. Also in the front garden, the slackers dyckia and hesperaloe have bloomed this year for this first time. Now head over to Carol’s site and check out the amazing diversity of bloom in May.