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.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

April Bloomday

 I managed to get some photos this morning before rain returned-I'm not  complaining , though I have to say I was on a roll in the planting-weed pulling-mulching department. At least now it is still light for a couple hours after I get home from the office so I can get some things accomplished mid-week.

   The spring bulb-y action is pretty much a done deal here, and the late spring plants are just coming into bloom. Cistus 'Mickie' however is in full boom, with it's bright white flowers , sunnyside up above the bright variegated foliage.

 Only one flower kinda-sorta open on the Phlomis.

 Sideritas cypria  is in a new location this year -dry  and  relentlessly sunny. The plant looks absolutely perfect right now and I will be curious to see if it exhibits the behavior of it's previous site. I'm hoping not-it was that lambs-ear-ish crappy beige foliage at the base.

 I've had this iris for many years-It's a dwarf so it's out of bloom presence is a bit less  ratty looking. I wish I had the space to plant lots of bearded Iris , they are so spectacular in flower , but the post-bloom awfulness does not work for me in my small garden.

 I'm afraid I allowed the Cerinthe to get a bit out of control this year. I seem to have a grove.

 Still , these blooms are worth looking at in all it's exotic glory-and it's so easy to pull up you may as well let it have it's way for a while.

 Niobe is usually the first Clematis to bloom here, but due to a change in it's support structure which required a draconian early spring pruning , this noid from the late great Chalk Hill has stepped up to the plate.

 The excellent Arabella is not far behind

 Speaking of excellent , Geum 'Totally Tangerine' will be likely to figure in Bloomday posts well into fall. It's a machine.

 I planted Orlaya last spring from plants purchased at Annies' , and hoped it would re-seed. Reseed it did , and this is the first flower to open.

 Another white flower (I am very attached to white flowers) is this Silene uniflora. It is reverted from the variegate form I planted originally.

 The blooming of the Weigela variegata is somewhat fleeting, but the  bright foliage holds its own all summer.

 And  every single Gasteria I own is blooming right now, with not a photo to share. But, there is significant sharing going on  at Carols blog May Dreams Gardens