Tag Archives: Geranium maderense

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.


 photo P1018250.jpg

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.

 photo P1018172.jpg


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.

 photo P1018180.jpg

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.

 photo P1018210.jpg

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

 photo P1018223-001.jpg

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.

 photo P1018219.jpg


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.

 photo P1018176.jpg

Closeup of the salvia bloom.

 photo P1018239.jpg

Euphorbia lambii began to bloom this week.

 photo P1018233.jpg

The tree euphorbia really grew into its name this year.

 photo P1018227.jpg

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.

 photo P1018188.jpg

Salvia chiapensis backed by Melianthus ‘Purple Haze’

 photo P1018185.jpg

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

 photo P1018171.jpg

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

 photo P1018203.jpg

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.

 photo P1017801.jpg

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

 photo P1017477.jpg

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

 photo P1018195.jpg

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.

Lunaria annua

I’ve finally discovered the identity of the little clutch of seedlings under the smoke tree.

Photobucket

Lunaria annua, which I saw lining the pathways of *Western Hills, the former plant nursery in Occidental, California.

Western Hills photo by MB Maher.
Photobucket

I’ve been hoping to entice lunaria to naturalize and bloom with spring bulbs and Helleborus argutifolius, which also throws its seed around with wild abandon. A single Geranium maderense that bloomed last spring carpet-bombed the area with seedlings, so initially I mistook the lunaria for more late arrivals from the geranium. The lunaria’s seedlings also came from just a single plant, a variegated selection that bloomed under the smoke tree Grace this past spring. Rather than bring the transparent seedpods indoors for a vase, I tore them apart and shook them over the ground.

Photo found here.

Photobucket

Lunaria annua is a biennial known, strangely enough, as both Honesty and the Money Plant. Although not a rarity, still the possibility of getting a self-perpetuating colony going of this charming plant has me gleefully counting the little seedlings and moving them around to shady areas of the garden, which are admittedly few. The translucent seedpods or “coins” are an old-timey, dried flower favorite. If I’d taken a moment’s care, peeling back the membrane would have revealed the three flat seeds encased in each pod. Carol Klein discusses history and propagation here.

And in another lunaria triumph, seeds of the perennial Lunaria rediviva have also germinated. Source of these seeds was Derry Watkins.

Annie’s Annuals & Perennials is a mail order source of Lunaria annua, including the dark-leaved selection ‘Rosemary Verey.’

(*NB: In an update on this post on Western Hills, Chris and Tim Szybalski of Berkeley’s Westbrae Nursery have since become its new owners and will be preserving the garden.)