bloom day July 2019; what’s new

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Flowers? What flowers? This eastern end of the pergola is pretty much identical to last summer. Maybe a few more bromeliads — added a new one just yesterday, Bilbergia ‘Catherine Wilson,’ not in this photo

The blooming backdrop to July in my coastal zone 10 garden, the background fizz abuzz with winged creatures, continues to include grevilleas, horned poppies, flowering tobacco, Salvia chiapensis, Verbena bonariensis, little erodiums, and I’ve been adding a few odds and ends too like that new agapanthus ‘Indigo Frost.’ Summer is such a permissive time in the garden, isn’t it? Go ahead, grab that sexy thing and plant it is my July mantra. Planting in the ground mid-summer can be dicy, though I’ve been doing that too this marine-layered July, but pots can always be shuffled out of a heat wave if needed. There have been a couple surprises too, like Sinningia ‘Invasion Force,’ planted last year, with new blooms just noticed last night at the dryish base of a young Yucca rostrata (no photo). And how did I miss that bud developing on the night-blooming cereus? (last photo below) The grasses are blooming now too, one of my absolutely favorite things about summer. And despite these foliage-heavy photos, let me just affirm I do like summer flowers, especially little incidents of them, but they’re just not in the driver’s seat here. So let me point out some of them, because you’d probably miss them if I didn’t.

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new — Penstemon kunthii against foaming backdrop of the Euphorbia ‘Diamond Frost’ that is perennial here. Agave salmiana var. ferox ‘Medio Picta’ is finally starting to get those leaves off the ground and up into a graceful arch. Grass is Sesleria ‘Campo Azul’

Even before I visited Denver’s gardens filled with penstemons I was testing the beardtongue waters again this spring at home with old standby hybrids like ‘Midnight,’ just whatever I could find local. This little species penstemon from Mexico, Penstemon kunthii, looked like a baby phygelius sitting on the sales bench at Xera Plants in Portland, Oregon, during a July 4th trip up the coast. Lots of penstemons flowed through my garden decades ago, sourced outside the U.S. by Lester Hawkins and Marshall Olbrich of Western Hills Nursery in Occidental, CA. The hybrids inevitably grew too large and flopped, and then the budworms found them. Seeing some of the compact species in Colorado rekindled the old penstemon flame. Maybe I need to look at the smaller species and grow them lean among the succulents. I remember ‘Midnight’ in particular getting out of control as far as size fairly quickly.

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Also picked up at Xera Plants, Cypella herbertii. Closeup of its furled bud this morning. The open flower is an intricate wonder. A South African bulb often grown in rock gardens that may be a good fit for this little succulent garden. Blooms last just a day. And that’s completely okay. And then omg there are blue-flowered species too…
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Cypella bud is on the left. Dianthus ‘Single Black’ is beginning another flush of blooms and getting along well in the same conditions as its succulent friends. A small nepeta trialed this year with the succulents, ‘Little Trudy,’ is looking promising here too. The silver leaves belong to Dichondra sericea, which has a ground cover habit and larger leaves than D. argentea but not as rampant as the more familiar trailing Silver Ponyfoot. Dianthus ‘Charles Musgrave,’ ground-hugging with white flowers, is starting to bloom out of frame to the right.
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Slightly better photo of Dichondra sericea’s habit of growth, filling in around an aloe. It seems to expand its range in summer then retreat in winter. Really good plant.
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The grevilleas are always accompanied by a buzzing, thrumming soundtrack of beating wings.
Grevillea ‘Moonlight’
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the leaves are bluer on the orange-flowered Glaucium flavum aurantiacum than the yellow-flowered Glaucium flavum, but this much blue is a trick of last night’s evening light
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new to the garden the last couple weeks, Salvia microphylla ‘Heatwave Glow’ grown by Native Sons, bought in bud and ready to jump into end-of-summer action. I thinned out some Aeonium ‘Berry Exciting’ to squeeze in three 4-inch plants.
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new — Xera Plants’ Sphaeralcea ‘Hot Pink’ — I’ve got my own mini trial of globe mallows going. Trialed a couple years ago, ‘Newleaze Coral’ is a monster shrub that I wish I had the space to let rampage. I think there’s a globe mallow out there for all-summer bloom in a small, dryish garden. Also on trial this summer is peachy ‘Childerley.’
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Miscanthus nepalensis, verbascum leaves, globemallow, Adenanthos sericeus. Heart-shaped, deep green leaves belong to Salvia purpurea gaining size
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Miscanthus ‘Silver Sceptre’
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locally grown Tradescantia sillamontana throwing a few flowers, as if those incredible leaves weren’t enough
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brown tips on leaves resulting from a sidelong blast of strong afternoon sun. To keep the leaves pure silver, ditch the strong sun, but I’ve seen it grown both ways. Good dry garden ground cover
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Solanum pyracanthum seedling from the garden potted up — there’s a big plant that wintered over blooming in the garden too
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And actually there is a bloom in this foliage-dense scene. See it next to the Xanthosoma ‘Lime Zinger’? Pink frothy bloom is from Begonia ‘Red Fred’
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An artemisia new to me, the Maui Wormwood, Artemisia mauiensis, very silky and more finely cut than ‘Powis Castle’ and hopefully much more compact. From Lincoln Avenue Nursery in Pasadena: “In the wild it is only found
growing at elevations of 6,000-7,500 ft in Haleakala National Park on the island
of Maui in Hawaii. Its Hawaiian name is Ahinahina and refers to its gray color.
” — Bustani Plant Farm
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Yes, there are some summer flowers — just added a coreopsis with a name so awful I hate to use it (‘Lil Bang Red Elf’ — imagine asking your nursery person if they stock that plant?!)
The vine Senecio confusus is getting trained up fishing wire in the background. Just saw it grown spilling over a planter last week, so there’s always that approach.
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A stealth bloom from a night-blooming cereus branch discarded in a parkway that just recently rooted and was potted up. I hadn’t even noticed this bud form. The flower is flush against the fence because it was providing support while the cactus was rooting.

Wherever your floral ambitions lead you in the garden, May Dreams Gardens collects bloom reports the 15th of every month.

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7 Responses to bloom day July 2019; what’s new

  1. Elaine says:

    The first picture of all the plants around your pergola is gorgeous. What a variety of texture and colour with only the one little begonia bloom. I also love the penstemon genus. Have lots of Penstemon barbatus blooming everywhere. They are promiscuous and seed everywhere so lots of interesting colors and flower shapes. Due to the extra rain they are huge and floriferous.

  2. ks says:

    My Penstemon habit that was lost due to excessive floppiness (too rich soil, too much shade, too much water) was rekindled in Denver-I still have Midnight, but used to grow Garnet , Sour Grapes, Huntingtons Pink , Firebird and on and on. Time to figure out a spot ! ‘Lil Bang Red Elf’ ??? Who comes up with this crap ? That’s worse than Hydrangea ‘Pinky Winky’.

  3. Nell Lancaster says:

    I never realized there were peaks so high in the Hawaiian islands; no wonder there’s such biodiversity there. A compact grey Artemisia is about as far from my obviously stereotyped idea of a Hawaiian plant as possible; cool!

  4. Nell Lancaster says:

    The ‘Heatwave Glow’ is a pretty thing. ‘Heatwave Glimmer’ was a hit all last summer and fall, with me and the flying fauna. But like many wonderful salvias, it’s borderline as a perennial here; a winter as wet as last year’s spelled doom. I’ll gamble again next year; the dark calyces echoed surrounding foliage, ditto the creamy flowers other creamy flowers — both at a much smaller scale, adding some needed fine texture.

    It’s easier to take the loss because ‘Raspberry Royale’ amazed me by not only surviving, but growing in a much denser and more shapely way. Someday it will echo a pillared ‘Mme. Isaac Pereire’; I’m inspired by HoovB’s ‘Love and Wishes’/’Munstead Wood’ echo, and the significant drop in Japanese beetle pressure this summer (knock wood).

  5. Kris P says:

    It never ceases to amaze me that our gardens are so geographically close and yet so very different in terms of what grows. I killed Solanum pyracanthum last year and I never have the success you do with Salvias (except for S. clevelandii, which seems to love it here). Seeing your gorgeous ‘Moonlight’ Grevillea invoked a huge sigh as the one I bought in 2017 is now indisputably dead. It may have been poor timing (drought!) or poor placement (competing with roots of asparagus fern AND Agapanthus), though, so I’m committed to trying it again.

  6. Jeremy says:

    Extremely curious about that salvia microphylla–what claims are they making about its ultimate dimensions? Any concerns about the dichondra getting invasive? Everything looks so wonderful!

  7. Denise says:

    @Hi Elaine, I don’t think I’ve ever had penstemon reseed here in zone 10. Must love your cold winters!
    @Kathy, sounds like we’ve had the same experience. Yeah, I like the old style names of plants better too.
    @Nell, it’d probably stay compact if I grew it in rocky, volcanic soil! A lot of compost has been added to my garden over the years, not so much anymore. I hope your salvia and rose MIP works out — isn’t that the rose supposed to smell like raspberries?
    @Kris, I’ve seen that solanum fatter and happier in hotter, more humid gardens, but it does ok here, a lot more skeletal in growth! But then the orange thorns really stand out. I think Moonlight needs another try in your garden. It’s a pretty tough shrub. I staked mine with rebar for a few years and now keep it limbed up about 4 feet because of course I planted it in an already very crowded area…
    @Jeremy, I don’t get too excited about claims about all these salvias anymore. I’ll probably grow this one as a summer annual because their twigginess over winter gets annoying. When I visited England in Oct a few years ago (you just got back! how wonderful it must have been) these greggii/microphyllas were in astonishing bloom at so many nurseries like Derry Watkins’ Special Plants — I figured I’d be a fool to keep ignoring them just because I can’t figure out how to include them as perennials in a small garden. No concerns about that dichondra at all. It’s lightly creeping around in an area kept pretty dry.

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