bloomday February 2020

I could describe February as the Month of Tiny Flowers in my garden except, honestly, that pretty much describes it year-round. You’ll have to narrow your focus (and expectations!) just a bit for a gander at the offbeat odds and ends blooming in my zone 10 Southern Californian garden this February.

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Pelargonium echinatum

The pot of winter-flowering Cactus Geranium that’s at least as old as the blog keeps company this year with rhipsalis and other trailing succulents and small bromeliads in pots lined up atop the eastern edge of the laundry shed.

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trailing habit of the Cactus Geranium
Pelargonium echinatum
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ever so tiny air plant flowers — Tillandsia ionantha?
The bromeliad Billbergia ‘Hallelujah’ is in bloom too but missed the window for photos
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Budding up, pot-grown South African bulb
Veltheimia bracteata — I’m fairly negligent with this bulb and let it go very dry. But it can take year-round water if provided good drainage. Fabulous leaves
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The flowers (“branched terminal inflorescences”) of the shrubby Silver Teaspoons, Kalanchoe bracteata, surge upright as well as spill onto the ground
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Pruning Bocconia frutescens down to a 10-foot vase shape earlier this week took off a lot of the older panicles but a few fresh ones remain, always swarmed with bees as the day warms up. It’s about the same size as adjacent Grevillea ‘Moonlight,’ also in bloom
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Gooseneck flower stalks of Echeveria agavoides. This succulent has spread by both offsetting and seeding in the front garden. Other echeverias and aeoniums are also in bloom.
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Leucadendron ‘Winter Red’
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I’m blanking on the name of this weedy, tradescantia relative which is having a good-looking moment this month but otherwise looks mostly miserable, especially in summer. I rip out scads of it the rest of the year — just came to me, Tinantia pringlei
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One of the big pennisetums with the darkest leaves, ‘First Knight’ is throwing a few blooms but will need to be cut back to the base by the end of February
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Arctostaphylos ‘Louis Edmunds’
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The garden’s newest anigozanthos, a tall, dark red variety that’s supposedly a standout for its exceptionally good leaves – ‘Regal Velvet’
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Aloe conifera — though not its leaves, which are basal and bluish-red. It hated life in the garden and was moved to a pot. These leaves belong to an arborescens hybrid.

The genera I’m currently relying on most for tall, architectural blooms all happen to begin with the letter A: aloe, agapanthus, anigozanthos. They have similar water needs, with aloes being the most dry-tolerant, and they all appreciate generous spacing with good air flow at their bases. All three generally are low, clumpish growers that won’t obscure other plants when out of bloom — but you have to choose carefully with aloes as many can get quite large and shrublike. All three together can provide blooms year-round in zone 10. (And I’d love to add in another letter A plant, Alstroemeria ‘Indian Summer’ too — somewhere.)

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Another view of Aloe ‘Jacob’s Ladder’
Some of the splashiest blooms here in the garden any month of the year are the aloes — and there’s species and varieties that bloom winter, spring, summer, fall. Oh, for another acre…

Even though a lifelong So. Californian, I’ve only recently become a convert to the agapanthus camp. (Unbearably omnipresent bordering on municipal, I reasoned, why include them in a personal garden? Because (1) they add excitement to that difficult time in summer when new growth in the garden mostly shuts down except for the big grasses; and (2) I want to see if they can mix it up on the drier side with agaves, aloes, kangaroo paws, grasses. I’m betting they can. We’ll see…) I’m hoping the clumps will be big enough to become a presence this summer. But overall, what the garden lacks in traditional floral ambitions it makes up for with fascinating structural intricacies that keep the pollinators satiated and me continually intrigued.

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Acacia baileyana ‘Purpurea’ is a substantial 20-footer now and throwing shade (and debris) on lots of formerly sunny growing space. But trees are so essential in countless ways — heck, even the current administration recognizes the indisputable importance of trees and is vowing to join the One Trillion Trees Initiative
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Euphorbia rigida — just one clump this year, but there’s always potential for more from this generous reseeder
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Erodium ‘Whitwell Superb’ — I really need a better lens to capture all these tiny, tiny blooms.

(Some garden blogs follow the tradition of showing what’s in bloom on the 15th of every month, established by May Dreams Gardens. Some of us are irregular contributors and/or occasionally a day late — ahem!)

Have a great Sunday.

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5 Responses to bloomday February 2020

  1. Kris P says:

    You may be a day late but you didn’t come up short with your selections. I love that sweet cactus geranium. The Kalanchoe is new to me, or at least its blooms are. I just put it on one grower’s wishlist. I shared your feelings about Agapanthus for years – until I moved into a garden that had 40+ clumps and saw what a spectacular display they offer each summer with little to no effort on the gardener’s part.

  2. Elaine says:

    Beautiful flowers. Small flowers make you stop and look carefully so you tend to see more detail. I have 4 of the Veltheimia bulbs that I let go dormant from last fall. However, am having difficulty waking them up again. Is there a secret trick?

  3. Denise says:

    @Kris, the Copper Spoons K. orygalis has similar interesting flowers but chartreuse. I hope my ag’s are as little effort as yours! I wonder what variety that is that was planted years ago. I’m bringing in named varieties and I bet I’ll never get that show you do from that nameless ag.
    @Elaine, maybe this year your veltheimia will skip blooming. I’ve had that happen. Mine are in a shallow bowl, with the tops bursting out of the soil. I didn’t think this was optimal but I see that White Flower Farm says plant with 2/3 of the bulb exposed, so I got that right. Mine seem to enjoy being crowded too. I note from the blog that my single bulb was bought in 2010 and I recorded its first flower in 2015! So these have been kicking around 10 years.

  4. Thank you for joining me for the Day-After-Bloom-Day post. Your little flowers are just what’s needed in these quieter, less riotous months. Okay, I like a big, in-your-face flower sometimes, but the bloom reality in my garden is typically much smaller. Blame it on my increasing shade, like that created by your lovely Acacia baileyana; gorgeous foliage, and an early flowerpalooza – what’s not to love?

  5. hb says:

    tiny is good, too.

    same feelings about agapanthus; got one at joy creek during the portland fling; d@mn thing still hasn’t bloomed. i remember the one you got last year, it was a real beauty. the generic big box store ones, not so much.

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