Sunday, March 29, 2015

Admiring Clivia

There are few flowers more showy in the shade gardens this time of year than the clivia.I know I am always singing their praises every year, but they truly do deserve to be considered for their ability to thrive where almost no other plants will in deep shade with little water. To prove it, here is a picture of some that are planted at the base of a eucalyptus tree way down at the bottom of our Laguna garden. They are lived like this for years. 

 The only thing that these troopers do not like is direct sun. Their beautiful green strappy leaves that look good all year long will turn yellow and burn in the sun. The flowers last for weeks and if orange isn't your color, (it isn't mine either, but I make an exception for these bold beauties once a year) try the yellow ones. 

Friday, March 27, 2015

Spring Bulbs

 There is all kinds of color in the gardens these days. Some wonderful and carefully planned. Others random and serendipitous. Like this beautiful red amaryllis bulb that was just kind of stuck in the ground and is now showing off year after year. However this year it is surrounded by a bed of yellow kalanchoe that my garden helper added in to cover the bare ground. Red and Yellow? Not my first choice in garden colors combinations, but it is healthy and happy and a bit out of the way so who am I to critique? 

 And then going from the biggest boldest bulbs to the tiniest, little blue muscari are coming up where I planted them a few months ago, rather naively, because they are lost in the landscape. I forgot just how tiny they are and one dog paw can crush them instantly. They are hard to work into the big garden beds, but the few I put in the raised planter with a rock garden theme seemed better suited.

 I always forget about the beautiful dutch iris that just multiply and bloom every year without much care. They do seem to be aligned with the Easter colors, but I think they will be spent by next weekend. Nevertheless, they are a delightful sight every year!

Although technically they are a tuber and not really a bulb, I must mention the wonderful alstroemeria that are also blooming this time of year. What an easy, forgiving plant that puts out tons of lovely flowers that last forever when cut. I really do need to add more to my gardens!

Friday, March 13, 2015

Buddha in the Garden

 Sitting quietly, way on the back of the gravel garden, is Buddha. Most of the winter he is surrounded by white azaleas. The rest of the year, by various cool shades of green succulents and tropical plants.
It is hard to see in this picture, but there is a perfect umbrella of duranta over his head. Duranta, if you are not familiar is a flowering shrub that has arching sprays of blue flowers (at least this one does). I always seem to miss it in bloom back here. Buddha's hands form a perfect cup to hold enough water from the sprinklers to keep blooms fresh for a few days and I try to keep them filled with long lasting flowers when I pass through this garden.

But Tilly seems to think that Buddha is there solely to offer her a little refreshment, for her own personal benefit, just like the rest of the gardens, and everyone else in the household for that matter.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Climbing Wild Roses

The first of my climbing wild roses are blooming on the front arbor. They are the earliest of the spring roses to bloom and are finished by the time everything else wakes up. You can see they are all tangled up with the wisteria which is just starting to bloom. Unfortunately the best view is from the bedroom balcony looking down on them. This is the curse of an overzealous garden helper that keeps everything trimmed neat and tidy. Somehow I haven't been able to convey the beauty of the juxtaposition of control and free form to him and as soon as he sees me trim one thing he takes over and trims everything within an inch of its life. Oh well, someday he will understand...

Monday, March 9, 2015

Crazy-Busy Season

 I met someone who told me they didn't plant spring bulbs because they didn't like the messy foliage they had to put up with after the flowers faded. I must admit, there are a couple weeks when this is what it looks like in a few flower beds that the daffodils live in and I know that there are some fastidious gardeners that are very tidy and braid or bundle the dying foliage up while it is gathering the all important nutrients for next year's blooms, but I never get around to that. Besides, there is so much else going on in the garden to look at this time of year you can hardly notice a little chaos here and there!

 The orange trees that were all but withering away due to a lack of water when a broken sprinkler was not detected for a long time at the back of the property in SJC have once again come back to their previous glory (well almost) and with a heaping help of fertilizer and lots of rain and consistent watering in between the rain are blooming and filling the air with the lovely scent of ummmm... orange blossoms! How wonderful!

 The sweet little 'Anna' apple trees are blooming like crazy as usual.

The camellias and azaleas are winding down their seasons, but still have a few lovely blooms to share the stage with the spring flowers that are just starting to flower. 

The honeysuckle vines are in full bloom, climbing up the giant bird of paradise, so very fragrant and pretty, attracting the hummingbirds like crazy! Now really, who can worry about some fading bulb foliage when there is so much else going on in the garden?

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Winter Blooming Succulents

 I don't know where the time goes, but it looks like spring is upon us based on the roses starting to bud and the wisteria that is showing color. I have been wrapped up in various house projects that have kept me busy but I need to take a minute to reflect on some late winter blooming succulents that are unique to our climate. The long goose neck blooms like the one above are showing up all over the place in the winter in Southern California and to visitors they do look like quite a curiosity. They are the blooms of the Agave attenuata, a very common plant in our landscapes. It takes about five or more years for the plant to bloom like this and then it will die, but by then there are usually many pups formed at the base ready to take over. This one is in my street-side garden and is putting on quite the show. Originally from Mexico, you can see where they get their common name, Fox Tail Agave!

 Kalanchoe blossfeldiana is a plant that I usually buy in pots for the colorful blooms in the fall and I use for indoor decorating, but my garden helper loves to propagate them because they are so easy. As a result I have tons of them all over the gardens (often to my dismay)! They are not much to look when not in bloom, but this time of year they put on a big show of color. I just found out their common name is Flaming Katy! I kind of like them a little better now!

Also in the Kalanchoe family is this plant, whose name I'm not sure of, some big lanky cousin of the Kalanchoe blossfeldiana that is tucked back in a corner of the Moonlight Garden. Very charming little flowers I think!