Monday, May 14, 2018

Garden Bloggers Bloomday-May 2018

 It's hard to beat May for riches of flora. It's all growing, much of it is blooming and so far this late spring the weather has been mild. I probably could have taken another 20 photos of bloomers but I restricted myself to those I thought may not be around in June.
  I met Carol, our  gracious Bloomday hostess for the first time while Flinging in Lucindas Hutsons garden . I hope Carol comes to Denver so I can have the opportunity to chat with her again. I don't think I properly thanked her for her diligent attention to Bloomday for all these years, and the pleasure we all experience from seeing the flowers of others and sharing ours.

 So, here is what we have to offer in Northern California this May. I can start out with the roses. In May the first flush is winding up and the crappy summer foliage is still a month away. Maybe two, depending on the weather.

 Here is the radiant Davis Austin rose  'Golden Celebration' . Goblets of egg-yolk yellow petals. I've given many a rose the heave-ho but this one will be here as long as I am.

This is the exquisite 'Bolero'. I promised it more water this summer-I removed 3 mature roses in the last several months so 'Bolero' will get some of their moisture allotment.

  Sally Holmes has been dependable though all the years of drought-She is watered only occasionally and soldiers on.

'Eden' aka 'Pierre Ronsard'  is the black sheep of the family. I don't care. In a couple weeks it will look like crap with pustules of rust and blobs of black-spot. At that point I will cut it back hard and hope for a late summer re-bloom.

 Lady Emma Hamilton. She has red stems . I love red stems.

 The Clematis are still bloomy, and here we have Arabella, which will bloom here til frost.

 And Niobe. Niobe was late this year as I gave him/her a marine corp worthy haircut to enable the installation of a new support. I was surprised it bloomed at all.

 We had a wind event last week and Geum 'Totally Tangerine' was blown about and flopped for the first time ever.

I planted Verbascum 'Cotswold King' in fall. I am interested to see re-bloom potential but right now I'm loving it.

Just about every Gasteria  is blooming .

 I grow the yellow horned poppy 'Glaucium flavium', great foliage too !

Lots of stuff here-Phlomis, Echium, Sideritas cypria , Lavandula 'Meerlo' and Verbena bonariensis .

A close up of Echium gentianoides 'Tajinaste' .

 Sideritas Cypria. I love this plant. It  gets two photos.

 The Phlomis has spiraled out of control. Big cut-back will be needed.

 Orlaya -much pleasure out of this one ! I planted last year and it has re-seeded nicely.

 Make sure you pay a visit to May Dreams where Carol facilitates bloomers from around the world.

In a Vase on Monday-Saturday Edition

 It will always be a Saturday edition in reality-I've been cutting boquets for my house every Saturday morning for as long as I can remember, so why it took me so long to set sail on the VOM meme is anyones guess. I also have a vase collection habit. So here is my inaugural post, and hopefully I can at least manage to participate a couple times a month.

  There is plenty of inventory in the garden right now. Included with the roses are Watsonia, Orlaya, Achillea 'Moonshine' , a few sprigs of Eucalyptus 'Moon Lagoon' and a bit of Callistemon 'Tom Thumb' that hangs over a low wall from my neighbors yard. The vase is a vintage Bauer pillow vase .

 The white rose is Bolero , an impulse buy several years ago that I have never regretted , and the yellow is Molineaux , a David Austin rose that outperforms just about any other in my garden-but not in vase life. I will expect to see a puddle of petals on the table within a couple of days.

 And who doesn't love Sideritas cypria ?

 Be sure to stop by Rambling In The Garden for more vases to enjoy.

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Another Hateful Area Gets its' Come Uppance

 In my crusade to deal with garden neglect I can claim a modest victory. I first posted about these sad areas here, a confession that exposed the passed over regions of my garden to public view. Last November I shared my renovation of the the bed that was closest to the entry from the house  to the back garden. There has been more work done on that spot and I will post an update soon.
 My approach to these spaces was to start with projects that would require no infrastructure/hardscape improvements i.e. things I could do by myself without having to hire in help. There were two tree removals involved but that would have happened whether or not these garden projects were on the agenda-there were safety issues.

 Here is what I started with in 2016,  a pathetic empty berm in the corner with too much shade . When we bought the house in the early 90's this corner sported a ghastly 1970 era  fountain and a listing olive tree . Through the years I managed to get rid of both (getting rid of a concrete fountain is no easy task) and foolishly planted a Japanese maple which in combination with the neighbors ever-expanding Locust tree created deep dry shade. As you can tell, I was not spending much time trying primp this spot -in fact averting my gaze seemed like the best course of action.

   Last summer when I had the Japanese Maple removed  things took a turn for the better.The amount of sunlight increased significantly; deep shade became morning sun and dappled afternoon light. 
  I took this photo in May 2017, a couple days after the Japanese Maple went away. By this time , all that was left of the 'landscaping' was a snail-hole ridden patch of Hellebores , a  sad couple of Carex and a partially reverted Brunnera 'Jack Frost' . My goal was to make sure the fence was less prominent and the planting was dense with plenty of color contrast.

 Here I staged a 5 gal variegated red-twig dogwood  as a back ground plant. This  plant had been languishing in its' pot for a couple of years by this time, and needed frequent watering. I had (and still have) reservations about putting it here-it's really a plant that needs back-lighting to provide the best interest, so this location does not serve it well. I'll leave it for this year but I am pondering options, and in reality it would be nice to have something evergreen in this corner.

 The next step was the shopping. I had a list that I carried with me everywhere and it took me a few months to accumulate all the plants there-in, along with a few impulse buys. This is what I had last fall. There is an aggregate stepping stone in the photo above just below the green valve box and the turquoise pot of Hakone grass is placed there.

   This was in April this year. The Euphorbia wulfenii are all volunteers; I left them for now but editing is on the horizon.

   The autumn fern-Dryopteris enthrosora - has performed way above my expectations.

 A wider view. 

 I planted this Lunaria annua 'Rosemary Verey' from Annies last fall and I hope to encourage re-seeding. The seed heads are great as fillers in flower arrangements. 

This is my most recent addition. I had a dark leaved Plectranthus here last year but more contrast was needed so when I was in Socal in March I bought this Plectranthus 'Sapphire Dream' (hope I got that name right) that I think will be an improvement. I'll take cuttings in fall in case it doesn't make it through  the winter.
 Heuchera with Japanese painted fern (Athyrium niponicum).

This is a really crappy photo of Athyrium 'Ghost' (why didn't I move the plant stake ? ) which I was so happy to find locally.

 This project has been incredibly satisfying.The transformation from a dark plantless corner to a colorful shade garden has made me feel confident about a couple other renovations on the punch list.  I will post an update later this summer that will include the Fuchsias that were planted here-they are still a few weeks away from bloom. 

Saturday, April 21, 2018

It's Spring so Lets Go to Annies !

 Most years I take my spring road trip in April and my first Annies run happens in March. It kind of amuses me to see how my routine was disrupted just because I took the road trip in March. My Annies list was getting long and my garden had an abundance of empty spots-not a bad thing when you have a plant-shop habit. Today I packed up the camera and the plant list and headed south for my first Annies outing of 2018. It was way too sunny for photos but I took them anyway.

 It was a flowery day - the Digitalis was  in great form. I love Foxgloves and grew them for years until I had to make some space choices that bumped them off the team. There are so many interesting hybrids now -including the Digiplexis cultivars that created such a buzz when they were first introduced, that I have started to gradually bring them back into the fold.

 Lady Hillingdon , the tea rose that is among the small covey of roses that I would consider adding to my garden was in full peak bloom. I love the elegant buds and purpley stems.

 This Puya was in dramatic full bloom .

 The Flower Floozie is looking quite high fashion in this springs' ensemble. Notice how she is coordinated with the Puya. Her clothing consultant did a fine job.

 The edible section has expanded significantly over the last couple of years. Had I been in the market for veg I could have found just about anything I wanted. I did pick up a couple African Blue Basil which I have not been able to find in my area so far this year.

 The bloom on the Beschorneria 'Flamingo Glow' was insane. This pic does not really convey it's size. 7 feet ?

Echiums were blooming too.

 A nice speciman of Acacia c. 'Cousin Itt ' a plant that met a sad fate in my garden. Since I've only killed it once I have at least two more chances. Need to figure out the right spot.

Going to Annies always reminds me of my love of flowers -which is what prompted me to garden in the first place, so many years ago. It's tempting to want to replicate the abundance of the flowery borders in Annies display gardens, but I have to be realistic about the climate difference . It's hard when confronted with this glorious color. Annies is in Richmond which has no frost to speak of and much cooler summer temperatures than I do here in the Napa Valley. Careful selection and appropriate siting has been learned behavior. But I will on occasion push the climate envelope. The victories are all the better.

 I kept to my budget (almost ) and bought one flat only. It helps to use the Radio Flyer instead of the double-decker nursery cart. Once the radio Flyer it's full it's time to check out and go home.Planting commences tomorrow.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Lotusland Roundup

 I've posted previously about my March visit to Lotusland  which focused on the Bromiliad gardens and the Dunlap Cactus Collection. Today I'll share an overview of some of the other features of the garden. I come home from these  trips happy about the plethora of images I was able to take  only to be overwhelmed when  trying to sort through them and weed out the duds and the duplicates. I actually enjoy the process of sorting and editing photos, but sometimes it's hard to be objective . In fact I will suggest that objectivity is a dying art. I will do my part to keep the flame.
 Today I tried to select some decent photos that represented the areas I didn't cover in my previous posts. I took many many photos, both good and bad.Because I am a member I don't have to endure the restriction of a guided tour. The tour is ok for your 1st visit but after that  strolling around Lotusland as a member is worth the price. I would never have it any other way.
 The residence is surrounded by fantastically mature cactus with the backdrop of the  Santa Ynez mountain range. Shrouded in mist on this day, these mountains and their foothills were the scene of devastating wildfires in fall of 2017. How lucky that they dodged the bullet .


Right up to the entry

If you turn around the Golden Barrels continue to march on til they reach the base of the Dracena dracos which form a grove adjacent to the residence.

 The Japanese Garden is being renovated.The plans seem exciting, involving ADA compliance for paths that were a bit unsound and a completion of plans by the gardens designer that were never executed  in Ganna Walskas lifetime.You can read more about the restoration effort here  . I peeked through the safety fence only to see piles of dirt and excavated pond areas. But can you see the lanterns? I walked along the fenced off areas to try to get a better view.

 Madame Ganna Walskas collection has been carefully removed from harms way and staged along the path . I have visited Lotusland several times but never had an understanding of the depth and breadth of the lantern collection until I saw it all together like this, one after other in this gently curving row . These were all acquired post WW2 mostly in the 1960's, during the thaw in US-Japanese relations.

The Aloe Garden features the kitschy-est feature of Lostusland- the abalone and clam shell extravaganza that famously horrified Monty Don when he visited for his Around the World in 80 Gardens series on BBC. I am so very fond of Monty with the soothing cadence of his voice and his gentle approach to the world of gardens-and the dogs of course- but I fear Lotusland laid him low. I'm giving him a pass on this one.
Because Lotusland is closed from mid-November to mid-February I have to believe that peak Aloe blooming season is never experienced by the public. My visit was in March and most had gone over, with only Aloe striata and Aloe plicatilis in bloom. It is enticing to know that there are 140 different cultivars of Aloe in this garden, and one hopes that someday we would be invited in year round .

 The entry to the Blue Garden.

 I walked through the Cycad garden twice. I saw quite a few nice Cycad collections when I was on this trip, but this one is my favorite. The dense planting with the paths winding through, positioned before  the backdrop of mature trees and the peaceful crowd free environment provided a deeply calming experience.

The topiary garden flanks the great lawn.

  The Eugenia topiarys mark the entry to the fern garden.

 There were some pretty nice begonias in there but I only took these two photos.

 My palm ignorance will be confessed again here, but still I end this post with this magnificent speciman of well--a palm. Bismarkia nobilis perhaps ? 2018 is the year of the Aloe for me on the ID front , but my woeful palm identification skills must really be addressed. Maybe next year.