Tag Archives: Salvia chiapensis

Salvia ‘Love & Wishes’ (a salvia revue)

Yes, another salvia post. (You’re looking at a person for whom the ’90s publication of Betsy Clebsch’s master work A Book of Salvias, was a life-altering event.)
The two new salvias in my garden are so far living up to their reputation for sturdiness and early bloom, the ‘Amistad’ I mentioned recently and this one, ‘Love and Wishes,’ both planted last summer.

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I love trialing new salvias because:
1) in this vast, square-stemmed genus you’ll find a gorgeous bunch of plants, some very long blooming, and many capable of *innovative inter-species hybrids; and
2) they’re incredible hubs of action for pollinators and dive-bombing hummingbirds.
Their irresistible allure to hummingbirds means a vibrant kinetic energy always surrounds these plants.
Set up a camp stool nearby and grab a cold drink for a lively acrobatics show put on by these little Flying Wallendas in their iridescent finery.
The hummers eventually become acclimated to a human sitting quietly and will go about their zippy, enchanting business sometimes just inches away.
*‘Love & Wishes’ is a darker-flowered riff on the spectacularly successful Australian hybrid ‘Wendy’s Wish,’ thought to possibly be a cross between S. buchanii and S. splendens.
‘Amistad,’ from Brazil, may be a cross of S. guaranitica with S. gesneriiflora. Kinda makes one pine for a spontaneous salvia hybrid of one’s own, doesn’t it?


Salvia africana-lutea, from 2013, fantastic color, a little too big for my garden. Highly recommended if you have the space.


Another entry in the too-big department, Salvia mexicana ‘Limelight,’ from 2010, when there were a lot more summer containers to water:

And I don’t think there’s an affordable pot in existence roomy enough for a mature plant, except maybe the humble trash can. (On my budget anyway.)

The salvia flowers well in morning sun, filtered sun the rest of the day. During winter, full sun is tolerated, which this salvia receives positioned under a deciduous cotinus. As the seasonal light changes, it’s a simple matter of grabbing a handle and shoving it around to find the best light. Pruning it back hard in spring is also a good time for root pruning, basically running a knife a couple inches from the outer edge of the root ball, in situ in the trash can, removing the old roots, and adding fresh potting soil or even pure compost. This salvia loves rich soil. Eventually, it will be best to take cuttings and start the whole process over, since these big salvias get excessively woody with age.”


Salvia chiapensis, magenta madness almost year-round for me


Salvia ‘Waverly’ from 2011. Utterly dependable. One of the best for Southern California.

The search for the perfect salvia for my very small, zone 10 garden has turned up some gems like mid-sized ‘Waverley’ and Salvia chiapensis, both capable of season-long bloom, with a toughness and tolerance for dry conditions belying their exquisite looks. Many others I’ve trialed, though always beautiful, bloom only late in the season and/or bulk up into massive shrubs that quickly outgrow the garden
(see ‘Limelight’ above).


Salvia canariensis, beautiful for its leaves alone, then add in the persistent rosy bracts after flowering. Just stunning. Big and stunning.


Bracts on Salvia canariensis


Salvia verticillata ‘Purple Rain,’ June 2010, blooms most of the summer

The shrubby species from Mexico and Central America are much happier here than the perennial kinds so often used as matrix plants in Oudolfian meadows. I’ve had some success with Salvia verticillata ‘Purple Rain,’ but it doesn’t seem to enjoy the mild winter and usually needs replanting in spring every year. I see I made a mildly enthusiastic note in 2010 that it “blooms most of the summer.” I no longer explore the herbaceous kinds, but stick to the flamboyant shrub-like species and hybrids, not too big, not too thirsty — and because they are such prolific natural hybridizers, there’s always a new salvia to chase.

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.

Bloom Day July 2013

An extravagant display of blooms isn’t the overwhelming impression the garden is making this July, which is pretty typical.

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Though the Pennisetum ‘Skyrocket’ grasses are technically blooming.
In the dimming twilight, the ferny leaves of Selinum wallichianum can just be made out leaning onto Furcraea foetida ‘Mediopicta’ in the foreground.

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And the sideritis is also technically in bloom.

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Solanum marginatum’s white blooms are for all floral intents and purposes invisible.

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And there are blooms you have to move leaves aside to see, like with this little Aristolochia fimbriata. Since it reminds me of a tick, I don’t mind if the flowers stay hidden behind those very cool leaves.

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In the foreground lean in the bleached-out plumes of Chloris virgata. Eryngium pandanifolium tops the pergola in the background

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‘Monch’ asters are responsible for some of that blue.

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And ‘Hidalgo’ penstemon is the tower of lilac blue. So far this is a beautifully erect penstemon that I’d absolutely include in next-year’s garden if it decides to return or maybe seeds around. From Mexico, zoned 9-10, reputedly long-lived and not touchy about drainage issues. On that count, one of the first casualties this summer is the lovely shrub Phylica pubescens, pulled out yesterday. I pruned it lightly when I returned from being away a couple weeks. Immediate decline followed. Never, never prune touchy shrubs mid-summer. Will I ever learn?

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Peachy yarrows like ‘Terracotta’ line the path cutting through the border behind the pergola, now not more than a dog track.

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Salvia chiapensis flowering at the base of the eryngium.

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More closeups of Eryngium pandanifolium, the undisputed rock star of the garden this summer.

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Persicaria amplexicaulis will pretty much own the garden in August.

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In July I’m glad for every Verbena bonariensis I pulled out of the paving and planted into the garden in spring

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One of the “suitcase plants,” Pennisetum ‘Jade Princess.’

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Crithmum maritimum weaving into Senecio viravira. The senecio is starting to throw some more of its creamy blooms after being thoroughly deadheaded about a month ago.

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So far the crithmum has been the most reliable umbellifer to flower through summer. (Selinum wallichianum is struggling. to put it mildly.)
Crithmum with yarrow and Eryngium planum.

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Crithmum, yarrow, leaves of persicaria, calamint, anthemis, agastaches, anigozanthos in the background

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Some peachy Salvia greggii are building size for a late summer show with the grasses.

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I carved off some bits of the ‘Skyrocket’ pennisetum in spring to replace Diascia personata which I found disappointing, and the grass bulked up fast. Its slim tapers move quickly from burgundy to beige.

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Tall, sticky-leaved Cuphea viscosissima seems to love the heat.

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Plectranthus neochilus is starting to bloom heavily, just as nearby Nepeta ‘Walker’s Low’ slows down after being cut back

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Nepeta ‘Walker’s Low’ lightly reblooming

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In a border closest to the garage/office, early spring-blooming annuals and flopping penstemons were replaced with Gomphrena ‘Strawberry Fields’
and Gaillardia ‘Oranges & Lemons.’

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Russelia reminds me of a blooming restio, great for texture tumbling around nearby containers. It’s planted in the garden and does well with minimal irrigation.

There’s odds and ends I left out, such as eucomis and the passion flower vine which has been wonderful all summer, but that’s the sketch for July. Sending out solidarity to those suffering in excessive heat, or too little heat if that’s possible, unseasonal drought, too much rain. It’s always something in July! Thanks as always to Carol at May Dreams Gardens for hosting Bloom Day on the 15th of every month (and not minding those straggling in a day late).

Bloom Day April 2013

Spring is moving fast here in Southern California. I’ve already checked out some of the gardens on our host’s site for Bloom Day, Carol at May Dreams Gardens, and saw lots of traditional spring shrubs and bulbs and perennials like hellebores in amazing colors just coming into bloom. Slowly but surely spring is spreading across the land. Huzzah!

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Spring has had an unmistakably orange cast to it in my garden this year. A kniphofia in its current 50/50 bar coloration.

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Same kniphofia about a week ago.
I moved this one around and didn’t keep track of the name, but all my kniphofias come from Digging Dog, which has a great list.

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Nepeta ‘Walker’s Low’ is just starting to bloom, and hopefully the isoplexis will hang in there a little longer.
The grass Stipa gigantea was moved here last fall and hasn’t missed a beat, showing lots of bloom stalks.

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Tweedia caerulea/Oxypetalum caerulea may be a rare baby blue in color but it is a surprisingly tough plant.
This one survived forgotten and neglected in a container throughout the mostly rainless winter.
It’s climbing up a castor bean, Ricinus communis ‘New Zealand Purple.’

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The self-sowing annual Senecio stellata started bloom this week. Big leaves, tall, and likes it on the shady side.

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Another tall one, Albuca maxima.

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This South African bulb has been thriving in the front gravel garden, which gets very little summer water. Over 5 feet tall, it reminds me of a giant galanthus.

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More white blooms, Erodium pelargoniflorum, a prolific self-seeder in the front gravel garden.

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The fringe tree on the east side of the house, Chionanthus retusus, just about at maximum white-out.

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The fried egg on a long stalk near the Euphorbia cotinifolia tree trunk is Argemone munita. Hopefully better photos to come.
I wouldn’t mind about six more of these self-sown in the garden for next year.

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Self-sowing white valerian forming buds, with the lavender bells of the shrub prostranthera, the Australian mintbush.

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The mintbush with the succulent Senecio anteuphorbium.

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A gift pelargonium, no ID. The small details in the leaves and flowers of these simple pelargoniums get me every time.

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Closeup of the tiny flowers.

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The plant at its base is even more self-effacing, with a big name for such a quiet plant, Zaluzianskya capensis.

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Lots of self-sown nicotianas. The flowers are too small to be pure N. alata, so it probably has some langsdorfii in the mix.
Whatever its parentage, lime green flowers always work for me.

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Nicotiana ‘Ondra’s Brown Mix,’ with a potted begonia for scale. This strain of flowering tobacco has been keeping hummingbirds happy all winter.
This is the first begonia to bloom (again, no ID!), and the colocasias are just beginning to leaf out.

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The porch poppies, with lots more poppies in bloom in the garden.

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The anigozanthos might be a tad too close to the euphorbia, but I love the lime green and orange together.

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The last two photos are by MB Maher, who was in town briefly and tried to get more of the Euphorbia lambii from a higher angle.

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MB Maher’s photo of the Salvia chiapensis with a bit of purple in the center from Penstemon ‘Margarita BOP,’ planted from gallons a couple weeks ago.
I have a feeling that yucca will be in bloom for May Bloom Day. See you then!

Now that Google Reader is in the dustbin of history, I’m trying out Bloglovin for organizing blogs I want to follow.
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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.

Bloom Day October 2012

A nice little rainstorm rolled into town last Thursday. For a sweet, brief moment, it almost seemed like autumn, but the heat has returned this week. Still, the garden has had a reasonable soaking, a rare thing for October, which is helping to settle in the new fall plantings. Much of the summer 2012 garden has already been changed out and replanted. Tough choices have been made to kick out nice plants like Amicia zygomeris in favor of trying out newcomers like Diascia personata, and there’s quite a bit of soil showing, another rarity here, but lots of familiar faces have been left in place for next year.

Persicaria amplexicaulis continues its marathon bloom and will definitely be returning next year, two sizable clumps of it.


Melianthus ‘Purple Haze’ seems to be a much meeker sort of melianthus, not at all vigorous and prone to leaping to 6 ft in a season, which is a good thing here, but it may not be robust enough for iffier zones. I’m very happy with its performance, which lives up to its reputation for compactness, though it did seem to languish in the heat more than other melianthus I’ve grown. One tiny blue flower is showing, I swear, for this Bloom Day on that golden ceratostigma, which suffered horribly in full sun after the smoke tree was removed.

This is cheating, I know. I picked up this Zaluzianskya capensis a month ago already in bloom.


The scent of this infamously fragrant plant so far eludes me, but I’d grow it anyway for its trailing habit and those wine-colored buds that unfold into little white pinwheels.


Nicotiana ‘Ondra’s Brown Mix’ started from seed last spring generously donated by Nancy Ondra of Hayefield. The plants are just now bulking up and blooming. Nicotiana would probably rather be started in fall here, since they definitely bloom better in the cooler weather of spring, but they can easily damp off as seedlings over winter. A bit tricky to find the right balance for them. Nicotianas can be short-lived perennials here, and I’m hoping this nice strain will bloom a bit this fall then rest up over winter, to return next spring. That’s my plan anyway — we’ll see what they have in mind.


Although it’s been blooming for months, I haven’t included the tall Mexican succulent Pedilanthus bracteatus in prior Bloom Day posts because — well, it is so very tall now, over 6 feet, that it’s difficult to get photos of the blooms.


This is a marvelous plant for sunny, dry gardens, with a profile similar to ocotillo but without the spines.
It’s completely indifferent to a watering schedule.


The coloring on the bracts is not as strong as it could be, and it really should be moved out of its pot and into a patch of the driest, sunniest ground, which at the moment is in short supply. I’ll be pondering where to show this beauty off to its best advantage. It does lose all its leaves in winter.


Lotus jacobaeus has started blooming again in October.


As has the Gerbera ‘Drakensberg Carmine.’ I wish I could find the peach colors of this good garden strain, because it’s been an amazingly good plant here, blooming since early spring, only going bloomless in the hottest weather.

The salvias in bloom are Salvia chiapensis.

And the remarkably long-blooming Salvia ‘Wendy’s Wish’

I’ve been enjoying some fine blog reading all day from the linked blogs at the host site for Bloom Day, May Dreams Gardens. What an amazing diversity of shapes and colors are represented by the autumn gardens there. Thanks, Carol.

Bloom Day April 2012

April deserves a thorough Bloom Day post, but if I’m to get this in before midnight it’ll have to be brief. A big change here is that the poppies of Troy, Papaver setigerum, are over sooner than I’d like. I expect them to last at least all of April. The past two mornings countless confused bees have been aimlessly circling the air space once filled with poppies in bloom. The last rainfall was followed by ferocious winds which battered and ultimately flattened the poppies, so they’ve been pulled from the crevices in the dry-laid brick terrace in which they self-sowed, and now it’s like they were never there. Poof, and the terrace is once again just an ordinary terrace instead of a meadow of swaying, buzzing poppies. And it seems the garden has no other flowers to tempt the bees, though the hummingbirds are finding plenty to keep themselves occupied. Last pre-rainstorm photo of the poppies.


Papaver rupifragum in the front gravel garden, in a more protected spot, was safe from wind damage. And possibly the leaner soil here may have helped them to grow a little tougher.


One of the mainstay salvias in the garden, Salvia chiapensis, in bloom nearly year-round. I’m including yet another Bloom Day photo only because I liked this angle with the waterfall of yucca as a backdrop. In the blurry foreground is Melianthus ‘Purple Haze.’


The last of the Dutch iris, too, this one ‘Eye of the Tiger,’ hands down my favorite. Dark, smoky, moody.


Albuca maxima, a summer-dormant bulb from South Africa, flower stalks about 3 feet high, growing in the front gravel garden which gets little supplemental irrigation.


Always a surprise to have a grass bloom as early as Stipa gigantea. The albuca is just a few feet away, and fall-blooming nerines grow in this part of the gravel garden too, another bulb that requires summer dormancy.


Pelargonium ‘Splendide’ with an unidentified sedum species


Peachy thunbergia, just a little snail-chewed.


I prefer the clear orange of this Orange Clock Vine, Thunbergia gregorii.


A large pot of this oversized figwort, Scrophularia calliantha, was moved to a spot with less afternoon sun yesterday in the narrow inner courtyard off the front gravel garden, where coincidentally it also drapes and displays itself to much better effect. In probably the reverse of what’s going on in many spring gardens, I’ve been busy removing the clutter of winter pots to streamline the garden for summer, keeping just a few large pots which hold moisture longer. I don’t yet have any big plans for summer containers but am always open to temptation.


Geum magellanicum


I’m trialing a couple new kinds of foxglove this year, Digitalis ferruginea and this one, Digitalis ‘Goldcrest,’ a sterile hybrid of D. obscura and grandiflora reputed to be extremely floriferous.


For fans of chartreuse bracts, besides euphorbias, hellebores, and ornamental oregano, there’s sideritis.



The color of chocolate cosmos but with silvery leaves, Lotus jacobaeus in its first season has already earned a permanent place in my affections.


Sisyrinchium striatum ‘Variegatum’ is almost more excitement than I can handle in one plant.



Salvia littae grows in a mad, scrambly tangle. Brittle too, so attempts to tidy it up results in broken stems. A frustrating salvia unless allowed to drape down a wall, I’d guess. Brought home from the Mendocino Botanic Garden last summer.



Salvia macrophylla. I don’t think I’ve ever grown a salvia that clothes itself with leaves right down to the ground like this one does.


White blooms of Aeonium ‘Kiwi’


Tweedia caerulea, started from seed by Dustin Gimbel. I’ve crowded my plants so they’ve been slow to bulk up.


A little past midnight so time to put this Bloom Day to rest. Thanks again to Carol at May Dreams Gardens for giving Bloom Day a home.

Bloom Day January 2012

Bloom Day brought the rain back. A solid month of dry weather and blue skies was getting very tedious.
Thank you, Carol! And congratulations on five years of hosting Bloom Days at May Dreams Gardens.

Much of what was blooming in December still holds. The cloud forest salvias from Mexico like S. chiapensis flower well in a zone 10 winter. And there’s a handful of plants of Helleborus argutifolius now in bloom. (The fancy hybrids still scare me. I imagine a very expensive, painfully slow trial period with them, at the end of which I’ll inevitably conclude that they prefer more winter chill than I can give them.)


Although its leaves aren’t much to look at for the moment, Cotyledon macrantha’s flowers are doing their part to promote Pantone’s color of the year for 2012, Tangerine Tango. The new flowers on a kangaroo paw, Anigozanthos ‘Gold Velvet,’ are brushed in Tangerine Tango too. In fact, orange is old news to this garden.

Sophisticated, dramatic and seductive, Tangerine Tango marries the vivaciousness and adrenalin rush of red with the friendliness and warmth of yellow, to form a high-visibility, magnetic hue that emanates heat and energy.”


January is the month for peering in close at odd and subtle means of pollination, like the flowers on the String of Pearls, Senecio rowleyanus. In June I doubt they’d get a second look. And I’m wondering if the inflorescence on Pennisetum ‘Princess Caroline’ will consistently arrive this late once the grass settles in after a year or so.


Begonia luxurians in flower this Bloom Day, just as it was in 2011. Euphorbias are budding up, including E. rigida.


Centratherum punctatum, Brazilian Buttons, is always willing to bloom in January, usually overwilling. Just one plant was spared and allowed to grow. Some years the brick pathways are overrun by it. Nice, fruity smell to the leaves too.


The Gerbera ‘Drakensberg Carmine’ hasn’t mushed out or fainted in the heavy, cold soil of December and January but instead seems to be thriving, pushing out more blooms daily. I’m impressed, even though the blooms swivel in several directions like distracted geese.


Echeveria agavoides with twin antennae bloom spikes, annual linaria in the background.


And closing out Bloom Day January 2012 with broad bands of lantana and Helichrysum ‘Limelight’ from a local municipal planting.


Bloom Day November 2011

It can’t be November already. But the winter-blooming salvias don’t lie.
Rosebud-like blooms are forming on Salvia wagneriana, and the slender wands of Salvia littae from Oaxaca, Mexico are budding up.
The latter’s tall, lanky growth habit is very reminiscent of Salvia uliginosa, but in pink and without the crinkly, rugose leaves or funky cat-pee smell. I’m checking S. wagneriana’s buds daily, but it seems to take an agonizingly long time for the complex structure of flower, bracts and calyces to elongate and reveal itself. (A watched flower never blooms?)
The third pink salvia is S. chiapensis.


Many of the so-called late-blooming, tender salvias collide with early frosts outside of zones 9 and 10. Here in zone 10, these salvias are not so much late fall-bloomers as early winter-bloomers, when they will bloom from November to March. Of course, a gardener’s perception of the timeliness or tardiness of a plant’s blooms arises out of a narrow range of aesthetic considerations. From a plant’s point of view, it is always exquisitely on time.

Salvia madrensis started bloom late summer and gets continued support from castor bean plants. It needs it.
These winter-blooming salvias are nothing like the herbaceous salvias’ tidy, vertical forms, but huge, sprawling shrubs that need cutting back after bloom, and then even again mid-summer to keep them to a manageable size. I can fit in only a few kinds, or there’d be no room left for a proper summer garden.


Euphorbia ‘Diamond Frost’ continues its intricate weaving act, oblivious that most other summer performers have left the stage.


The Passiflora sanguinolenta is fulfilling its reputation as a dainty (maxing at 10 feet), prolifically blooming passion vine. I didn’t think it was possible, but now I’ve seen ever-blooming proof. Alongside is ‘Bouquet d’Or,’ the lone survivor of a one-time 30-plus collection of old tea roses and noisettes. Spring and fall are the seasons I miss these roses the most.


The Moroccan toadflax, Linaria maroccana, was added the last couple weeks to bloom fall/winter.
Apart from this Hakonechloa macra ‘Emerald Glow,’ very few grasses bloomed this year.
I’ve never grown Japanese forest grass before, assuming it preferred much moister soil than mine, but it did surprisingly OK.


With a rack rivaling Bullwinkle, the inflorescence on the tetrapanax must be 4 feet across, reaching for this aerial basket of succulents and bromeliads, including the trailing Crassula sarmentosa, its starry white flowers now in bloom.


A Thunbergia alata vine planted at the base of the tripod holding the basket of succulents has made its way to the top of the basket. The golden-leaved bromeliad is Aechmea recurvata ‘Aztec Gold,’ the darker green Vriesea gigantea.


Carol at May Dreams Gardens hosts the monthly Bloom Days, providing a look at what’s in bloom all over the world.