Thursday, May 29, 2014

Shades of Spring - And Fall

 It doesn't take much to figure out what my favorite colors are in the garden this time of year. 

 The cool, misty mornings we are used to having in late spring have returned and the lovely purple and mauve flowers seem to add to the peaceful serenity that is punctuated by the birdsong and fluttering butterflies that they attract.

 Heavily scented blooms and soft textured foliage add to the sensual delights of the garden in the early morning.

 Soon these spring flowers will be joined by the more intense shades of summer as the weather warms up.

But suddenly, somehow there are rusty orange and brownish mums scattered throughout the garden beds! I was rather perplexed as to what these autumn flowers were now doing mixed in throughout my lovely purple spring perennials when I realized that they were a well-meant surprise from my garden helper who had rescued them as temporary three inch indoor plants from the compost pile last fall after I had tossed them when they had outlived their usefulness in my Thanksgiving house decor, and coaxed them into bloom only to replant them throughout the spring garden beds, where they add a "punch" of rusty color to my spring color scheme.

I must say I am touched by his quest to save every plant all the time (in my own defense, I usually do put them out to be replanted in a corner of the garden somewhere, it is just that I am running out of corners and I was very busy last year), and I realize he was just trying to help, and I should point out that I kind of have a vision that includes a color scheme (that evidently has escaped him) and that maybe we can find another spot for the lovely warm colored Chrysanthemums that shouldn't be blooming in the spring in the first place.

Until then I am just glad that my garden isn't on any garden tours this year!

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Moody Jacarandas

In Southern California around this time of year many of the streets are lined in blue tropical trees called jacarandas. They are considered by some as one of the most beautiful trees in the world due to their unusual color. They bloom for at least four or five weeks every May into June after shedding all their pretty fern-like foliage. They prefer hot weather and this spring has been ideal for them to produce very heavy blooms and the ones in our San Juan Capistrano neighborhood are putting on quite a show. They are like clouds of blue (and of course puddles of blue underneath them, perhaps the unspoken downside) as you drive down the street near us. These trees that are putting on the spectacular show are growing in the sidewalks along the main street in town, with barely any care, thriving on neglect I suspect. Then you look at our jacaranda that has been growing for about five years in the back yard and all you see are about a handful of blooms at the tips of the branches, barely noticeable! Either the sub-climate is too moderate for it to drop its foliage and produce a big bloom or else it is just too darn happy!

Friday, May 23, 2014

Lovely and Easy Going

I have to hand it to the daylilies (Hemerocallis) in the gardens here, they hold up to almost any kind of weather without showing any signs of stress. Last week we had temperatures in the 90's with dry winds for days on end. This week it is cool and cloudy and they just keep blooming as if they are impervious to any weather at all. They grow in the sun, in filtered shade and all combinations in between. Some of them go entirely dormant in the winter and disappear all together but always seem to come back in the spring. Others just send up a bloom  now and then all year round. They may not be as sexy as the roses or iris or as romantic as wisteria or clematis, but they are just as endearing as a flower can be in their own consistent, easy going way. I occasionally buy them from the local nurseries, but I usually order them from Oakes Daylilies where they have a wonderful selection and are very helpful with assisting me in choosing ones that will thrive in our zone. They do multiply but don't need to be divided very often to keep blooming. Mine thrive on neglect I must admit and we all are quite happy with the arrangement.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Milkweed Options

Asclepia curassavica

I have always thought of milkweed as the orange kind that I grow, like in the top photograph, but the other day I was out in the corner of the garden where I had planted some more milkweed in hopes of attracting more butterflies, when I noticed this other plant in the bottom picture. It sure looked like milkweed foliage, but I had never seen the dainty little pink and white flowers like those before on my milkweed plants. I am pretty sure it is one that my friend Jeff brought me when he read that I was having a problem attracting Monarch butterflies with my other patch of milkweed. I am not sure of the cultivar so I will not even try to identify it, but we'll keep an eye on it to see if it does a better job of bringing in the Monarchs than the orange and yellow ones have in the past. I do get a lot of butterflies now (it has taken a few years because at first there were none attracted to this property) but the Monarchs have never made a stop even though it seems like we are in their migration path and we could get at least a few.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

A Visual Break From The Heat

 It's way to hot to even think about working in the garden so let's just look at some pictures from last month that I took at Easter.

 Usually I would have filled beds with these spring time pretties but because of the drought I chose just to put a few of them in containers placed in strategic places where we will get the most enjoyment out of them for the holiday and the rest of the month.

 I will then plant the perennials like the clematis in a cool spot in the garden near other plants with similar watering needs and the geraniums will be no problem to find a home. 

Hopefully this week will be the last of this terribly hot weather and we can get back to our usual cool weather pattern for this time of year. Then we can complain about our overcast cloudy spring days like we are used to doing in May and June!

Monday, May 12, 2014

As The Temperatures Soar

It's hot and dry and very, very windy here. It's bad enough that we're in the middle of a terrible drought but now we have to have souring temperatures what seems like every other week on top of it. This time of year we are usually cool and cloudy. It feels more like September or October wildfire weather than the diddle of spring. I am thankful for the shade trees in the back yard that add a visual coolness to the yard as well as dropping the temperature in the area. Where the soil is exposed it is hard and cracked. Many of the roses have already been cut back after their first bloom and attack of sawfly larvae. (I need to seek out some worm castings for their soil.) But there are other plants like these natives that look like they aren't bothered at all by the 90 degree spring temperatures. The pretty pink Mexican Evening primrose (Oenothera speciosa) is a native that can be invasive once it starts reseeding, but it doesn't bother me. I welcome the pretty pink flowers in the spring that disappear altogether the rest of the year. They thrive in terrible soil with little water so they are perfect in a spot where nothing else will grow, like under this clump of palm trees. They are mixed in with another reliable native, Santa Barbara Daisy (Erigeron Karvinskianus). The threadlike stems and tiny daisy flowers grow year round and act as a filler almost anywhere in the garden. It is not easy watching the gardens trying to survive under trying conditions, so it is nice to see some plants that take it all with not much stress at all.