Cactus, pelargoniums, agaves, mangaves, bromeliads — seems like everything is firing off blooms in May.
So that’s the quietly blooming, incidental stuff. On to the splashier flowers. In bud and in leaf, Alstroemeria ‘Indian Summer’ is intriguingly smoky and subtle, and this quiet phase enjoyably lasts a couple months. In full bloom, it’s like a flock of noisy Amazonian parrots have descended on the garden.
Thankfully, all the surrounding blue and silver leaves act as shock absorbers while this robust Peruvian lily blazes away. It cleans up well, with spent flowering stalks easily removed with a quick yank, to bring them full out of the ground, not broken at the base.
Alstroemeria ‘Third Harmonic’ is now jumping into bloom a few feet behind ‘Indian Summer,’ almost a foot taller, growing up through bronze fennel, Orlaya grandiflora, a dark-leaved crinum, and the Giant Spear Lily/Doryanthes palmeri. It’s more of an even gold, without the ruddy cheeks of ‘Indian Summer.’ Both are good strong plants, so I’ll take them in whatever colors they come. This alstroemeria managed to get established in very dry soil under the acacia, though now I’ve been irrigating regularly due to new plantings — trevesia, metapanax. (For recordkeeping’s sake, in this area near the fence, Romneya coulteri put out robust growth to 4 feet over winter/spring then collapsed overnight. I knew Matilija poppy was difficult to establish, but I didn’t expect this pattern of boom and bust. Bupleurum fruticosum mail-ordered from Dancing Oaks has already taken its spot.)
Now that Sonchus palmensis is reseeding in the garden, its next trick is a second flowering this spring. This exceptional performance could be due to the extra water it gets now that a hose reaches here into the back of the garden, it could be due to the mild spring we’re having, or it could be that this sonchus is happier here than other sonchus I’ve tried — like Sonchus canariensis. Or all of the above. Lilies are another reason I’ve been attentive to irrigation. After they bloom, it’ll probably be lean rations again.
The Grape-Leaved Passion Vine is meandering out of the sunshine to clamber into the deep shade under the pergola. At this point, it can do whatever makes it happy, since it still seems as if it’s tentatively adjusting to the garden. New leaf growth is finally looking good, shiny and healthy, after producing mostly crispy-looking leaves since first planting. The improvement in leaf growth seems a product of the extra water and compost I’m giving it — and that also benefits the tetrapanax growing nearby, which was suffering under very little supplemental irrigation and excessive wildfire smoke last summer.
Centranthus lecoqii leans more lilac in color than C. ruber, and seems to reseed less. This spring just a couple plants returned at the base of Leucadendron ‘Jester.’
Sowing Bachelor Buttons, Centaurea cyanus, and not the usual blue, was an odd impulse this year, but that’s what comes from poring over seed catalogues during lockdown. It’s been an easy spring for them, so we’ll see how they like their first real heat wave.
Tiny flowers opening on newly acquired Hechtia tillandsioides remind me of the style and coloring of thalictrum blooms.
I’d forgotten about these little brodiaea bulbs and haven’t taken care to avoid digging them up. But I do like their late May appearance so will be more mindful of them in the future. Dark leaves are eucomis, with gerbera and hunnemania blooming in the background. An aloe will be joining in soon, Aloe megalacantha from Piece of Eden’s garden, also the source of the hunnemania seed.
The big silvery rosette at the base of the tetrapanax, bromeliad Alcantarea odorata, is starting to bloom…sigh. That guarantees its eventual albeit spectacular demise, although there’s sure to be pups. But I will miss its stately presence. A couple Sonchus palmensis have self-sown into the gravel nearby, so there’s no dearth of newcomers waiting for its space. I noted a Stipa ichu has also seeded near this bromeliad, the first seedlings of this grass I’ve found.
I’ve always been a fool for chocolate cosmos, which I bring in yearly as annuals, here potted up with a newish silver-leaved plant, Didelta ‘Silver Strand.’ With Lomandra ‘Plantinum Beauty’ in the garden behind and a potted Euphorbia canariensis to the left.
Salvia ‘Big Pink’ was cut back, revealing the trio of ‘Beachball’ pittosporum that look none the worse for being swamped. I’m diligently clipping them to evolve into future spheres. Judging by past attempts, they may end up as one amoeba-like mass rather than three discrete orbs, but the pitts are a welcome shade of bright green whatever their shape.
The spartan, hedge-enclosed front garden has become even more minimal now that Agave ‘Jaws’ has been removed and a Yucca rostrata moved to the sunnier back garden. The flowering action in May is overhead — the parkway jacarandas.
Carol Michel collects bloom day reports from around the world at May Dreams Gardens.