Saturday, January 31, 2015

One Minute in January

Jan. 30

I intended to begin displaying some views of the actual flower beds for the End of the Month View, but it was much too wet this morning.  Since the rain was fairly slow, I went out - hazarding my phone - and tried another idea I had had some time back: filming the raindrops on a few of the plants.  But when I uploaded the short clips to the blog, they were hopelessly fuzzy.

At this point there was a break in the weather so in theory I could have returned to my first plan.  Not to be.  Because by this time I was too intrigued with filming the plants...

My sister kindly let me borrow her video camera, and I tried again.  Results below.   Please excuse the extremely amateur filming and editing!  One has to start somewhere.

Small Sunny Garden: Russelia in January from amy myers on Vimeo.

So there is a one minute glimpse of the garden for the End of the Month View - barely in time for Helen's meme at The Patient Gardener.  I hope you enjoy this most unorthodox approach to the meme.

The other event of the day was the arrival of a large box.  Bella looked it over and approved.  So did I.
These are for the new rose border at the back of the patio, where the only things growing (intentionally) are a couple of palm trees and some lantana.  Varieties chosen are tall growers; and as more are added, they will hopefully produce a hedge effect the length of the patio.

Postscript in the Form of a Flower

Jan. 31 

The first Eremophila flower has finally opened.  Among the unopened buds, it creates a striking combination of pink and red.  It is aptly named "Valentine".

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

The Bush Ranger in the Boondocks

Anigozanthos, Bush Ranger, Kangaroo Paws, Bush Gems
Enjoying my second Anigozanthos, this time the hybrid "Bush Ranger" from the "Bush Gems" series.  The flowers are a marvelous warm red.  It stands out even against the pink-grey of the desert soil all around it.  I'm beginning to notice that strong, deep colours do have a better chance of holding their own in this land of intense sunlight. 
Anigozanthos, Bush Ranger, Kangaroo Paws, Bush Gems
The flower clusters form graceful lines...
Anigozanthos, Bush Ranger, Kangaroo Paws, Bush Gems
...all the better since the foliage clumps grow a little cock-eyed.  Still, their green has a rich tone that is a nice addition among the Southwest native plants (not visible in the picture).
Anigozanthos "Bush Ranger"
The furry flowers open into narrow tubes, green-mouthed, with tiny stamens.
Anigozanthos, Bush Ranger, Kangaroo Paws, Bush Gems
It is, besides, a plant with a great deal of personality.  If I let it get a little too dry, the clump keels stiffly over at an angle, and then promptly straightens up when watered.  Despite my watering errors, it is sending up a new bloomstalk and looking healthy.  My first Kangaroo Paws is still doing well in its pot, but Bush Ranger went into garden soil slightly amended with gravel for faster drainage.  It is in the "dry" bed next to the Acacia.

Some of its older flowers are now fading, but I seem to see a new bloomstalk coming up to carry on the colour - very fine colour and plenty of it!

Anigozanthos, Bush Ranger, Kangaroo Paws, Bush Gems

Monday, January 26, 2015

Monday Vase: Monday in Miniature

Monday vase meme, rose "sun flare", marguerite daisy

Four small rosebuds and a daisy went into today's vase.  This is a tiny one, made up in a miniature creamer with its own saucer.

The little pitcher is all of two and a half inches high (about 6.5 cm), and the saucer extends to 5 inches (12.5 cm).  Both are adorned with bright blue forget-me-nots, while butterflies and a dragonfly also make their appearance.  The set was given me by my sister, who has an eye for ferreting these things out in the most unpromising shelves of  "stuff".  (For those interested, both pieces are stamped "Limoges/France", and I have no idea on the date.)

As for the contents of the bouquet, the yellow floribunda "Sun Flare" gave a few buds - smaller than they were a month ago, but still nicely formed.  And since I recently planted a little marguerite daisy (Argyranthemum frutescens), I had one bright daisy for today as well.
Monday vase meme, marguerite daisy, argyranthemum frutescens
The foliage is also from a new addition to the garden: a young pineapple sage (Salvia elegans), whose aromatic leaves have a good yellow glow to the green.  The petioles are purple-red, providing an additional colour accent.
Monday vase meme, marguerite daisy, argyranthemum frutescens
 So for today, just a tiny little display of bright yellow in a jaunty, old china creamer set.

As always, it's great fun - if sometimes challenging - to join in Cathy's Monday Vase meme at Rambling in the Garden: a good place to go check out what others have created this week!

Happy Monday!
Monday vase meme, rose "sun flare"

Sunday, January 25, 2015

One Yellow Daisy (Tetraneuris acaulis)

Tetraneuris acaulis flower, desert garden groundcover
This little plant has already figured in a couple of posts: a flower in the tiny posy from early December, and the curly, bronze foliage from my last post.  Today it finally receives a bit of well-deserved attention in a post all its own.

Tetraneuris acaulis (formerly Hymenoxys acaulis) is quite a small plant.  It is one of many dry climate natives that produce bright yellow daisies.  But it has a unique charm with its low mat of foliage supporting the sturdy little blooms on long stems.  This gives the whole plant an airy look.
Tetraneuris acaulis
The yellow is vibrant and catches the eye from a distance...
Tetraneuris acaulis flower
...while the bronzy foliage (I am not sure the colour will remain as strong during summer's heat!) supplies a rich tone against the light soil.
Tetraneuris acaulis foliage
Tetraneuris acaulis, desert garden groundcover
Although the blossoms did not hold long when cut, they are so far very long-lasting on the plant.

Apparently this plant, flowers, and foliage can vary considerably in size and other characteristics.  This specimen was not a named variety, but it is proving highly satisfactory.  It is quite a cheerful little dry-climate subject!
Tetraneuris acaulis

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Looking at Leaves

Sedeveria "Sorrento"
Sedeveria "Sorrento"
I got a late start on Garden Bloggers' Foliage Day, but here is the January report.  Mostly pictures...

First the beautiful powder blue and green of  Senecio "Blue Fingers".
Senecio talinoides var. mandraliscae, Senecio "Blue Fingers"
Then the promise of spring flowers from the bulbs.  Dutch Iris "Blue Magic" is up...
Dutch Iris leaves
as is Star of Bethlehem (Ornithogalum arabicum).
Ornithogalum arabicum, Star of Bethlehem
Also there is Dietes irioides, commonly known as Fortnight Lily, whose handsome, deep green fans have just sent out their first bud stalk.  I have been happily impressed with the elegant presence of the Dietes clump and will be even happier as it begins to bloom.  By the way, my aunt recently recommended Dietes (as well as Argyranthemum frutescens, the Marguerite Daisy) for successfully growing under Eucalyptus trees, a notoriously difficult situation for plants.
Dietes irioides, Fortnight lily
All in all, the leafiest plant in the whole garden is probably still the Salvia greggii "Autumn Moon"...
Salvia greggii foliage
but it has some competition for the title from Eremophila "Outback Sunrise", which has yet to flower, but has held its lush green foliage fresh for months.
Eremophila "Outback Sunrise" foliage
Lastly, there are the bronze/purple foliaged plants, which I am learning to appreciate more and more in this garden.  Sedeveria "Sorrento" (see also my post on these earlier this winter) is thriving.
Sedeveria "Sorrento"
I love the purple hues of my newly planted Penstemon parryii.  I suppose the colour will change as the weather warms.
Penstemon parryii foliage
Another recent acquisition is the slightly curly leaves of the little groundcover Tetraneuris aucalis.  The yellow daisies perch on wiry stems some 12 in (30 cm) or more above the mat of leaves.
Tetraneuris aucalis foliage
And finally, once again, there are the smoky leaves of Eremophila "Valentine".  This is proving a superb addition to the garden.
Eremophila "Valentine"
Thanks to Christina for hosting GBFD each month at My Hesperides Garden and for encouraging a good look at the foliage that brings its own grace and beauty to complement the often more ephemeral flowers.

Last of all, a look (almost) upward at the leaves of the little Acacia tree (Acacia salicina, see also here), quietly evergreen... or eversilver...
Acacia salicina

Monday, January 19, 2015

Monday Vase: a Monochrome Monday

Monday vase meme
This morning's vase was initially conceived with the lovely purpled bracts of Salvia greggii "Autumn Moon" in mind.  The little shrub has bloomed continuously since its purchase back in October and is only now finally slowing down for a rest.  A few white and pink flowers still linger deep in the leaves, but mostly it is covered with handsome bracts arching above the bright green foliage.

Clearly it is time to deadhead so why not combine a little garden tending with making a vase?  (By the way, I have read that these plants should be pruned sparingly so this was more of a simple deadheading task.)  And the muted colours suggested use with a brown/black vase which I have used earlier.  And that led to the thought of using other material in the same hues.

The "other"material was apricot twigs which I saw immediately on stepping out the side door this morning.  Out came the clippers.  After all, we are always told to remove weak and crossing branches, of which there were more than enough to fill the centre of the small pot.  An added advantage was the deep red tone to some of the wood and the many swelling buds.
Having combined apricot twigs and Salvia bracts, I proceeded to make a brief tour of the garden, which, at this stage, does not take very long!  I noticed the smoky hues of the tiny Eremophila "Valentine" shrub, and I could not resist adding a single stem with the soft red buds and grey-tinged leaves.
eremophila buds, monday vase meme
So in all, there is a little bit of autumn (Salvia greggii), winter (Eremophila), and spring (Apricot buds).  Photographed out in the front patio...
Monday vase meme
 It has a nice, cottagey effect in the kitchen as well.  

Please check the other vases at Cathy's meme - always fun!

Happy Monday!
Salvia greggii, autumn sage, autumn sage "Autumn Moon"

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Garden Fragrances: Winter Foliage

Lavender stoechas "Madrid", lavender, fragrant
I adore fragrance in the garden.  So I was delighted to find that there is a new theme in the making: a monthly report on garden perfumes, thanks to Wellywoman.  I promptly set about to check the available fragrances in the small, sunny garden, only to find a curious fact.

As I say, I do love fragrant plants.  But oddly enough, although some are in bloom at present, they are nearly all plants in which the foliage is more noticeably fragrant than the flowers.

There is, of course, the Spanish lavender (Lavendula stoechas "Madrid"), still blossoming sturdily away and feeding pollinators.  But now I have a question: are the bees drawn by the odour of the leaves or of the flowers, or perhaps the deep colour is still the most obvious attraction.  (For pictures of the enthusiasm shown over the lavender on the first really warm morning after some frost, check my earlier Wordless on Wednesday post.)
lavender, lavandula stoechas "Madrid", bee, fragrance
Two other fragrant plants have a few blooms at present.  The Salvia greggii (Autumn Sage) "Autumn Moon" is nearly at the end of its three month blooming extravaganza.  Mostly there are only the maroon-coloured bracts left.  Fortunately, the foliage is still as fragrant as ever, with its minty sage smell, indistinguishable (to my nose) between blossom and leaf.
salvia greggii, autumn sage, fragrant foliage
Salvia greggii "Autumn Moon"
Salvia greggii, Salvia greggii "Flame", fragrant foliage
Salvia greggii "Flame"
And there is rosemary.  Given the size of the flowers, I assume most of the scent is coming from the leaves.
Rosemary "Tuscan Blue", rosemary, rosemary hedge, fragrant foliage
With some plants, there is no question.  The lemon thyme is bloomless; even the wonderful foliage fragrance is only released if the leaves are rubbed.
lemon thyme leaves, fragrant foliage, thymus citriodora
And the Chrysactinia likewise...
Chrysactinia mexicana, damianita, fragrant foliage
Such is my first fragrance tour around the garden proper.  On the patio, however, it is a different matter.  There the rose "Sun Flare", in full bloom just now, has a light, sweet fragrance deep in its classic yellow petals.
Rose "Sun Flare", floribunda rose, yellow rose, fragrant
But for all that, the best scent in the entire yard comes from neither leaf nor flower, but from fruit.  The sweet fragrance of ripe oranges is rich around the laden orange tree.
Orange tree, citrus tree, fragrant

Friday, January 16, 2015

From Brown to Green

garden seeds, peat plugs, starting seeds
Back in October, I was at the Lowe's garden center when I noticed they were once more well-stocked with such plants as tomatoes and peppers.  I asked the saleslady about the timing and was informed that winter was, in fact, the best time to grow these vegetables which I associate so strongly with summer.  I purchased a couple of token pepper plants.  I went home and looked up the seed catalog.  What's not to like?  Some of the seeds are on sale for a fraction of their spring price.

But after all, it is counter-intuitive to be starting the warm season plants for setting out in January.  My seedstarting efforts have therefore been haphazard and sporadic.  By the time the seeds arrived and I was ready to plant, I found I could no longer purchase flats for starting them.  I made do with an assortment of small, plastic pots.

I put the newly planted seedpots out in the front patio, raised off the ground to protect them from frost and the dog.  I felt it might be safer than trying to start them in the house, where my preferred ambient temperature is, I'm afraid, around 75 degrees F (24 C) - a fact to which I attribute many past cases of damping-off and other evils.  No, this group went out on the patio.  They started slowly, but they did sprout and they are growing.

To be honest, even my selection was haphazard.  The results are a small tomato, "Lady Bug", and a hearty group of Helipterum, which have grown rapidly enough that I have already planted a few out.  There is also some German chamomile...
German chamomile, Matricaria recutita, seedlings
...and the only perennial of the collection: Oenothera pallida "Innocence".
Oenothera pallida "Innocence", seedlings, seedstarting
And then just the other day I found seeding trays... at WalMart...  There was quite a selection.  My sister encouraged me to get this flat.  When watered, the peat plugs expand.  The plastic is a little sturdier than some of the others - great for reusing, except that now I will have to buy replacement peat plugs instead of using soil, which I prefer.  Here is the tray with half of the plugs watered.
starting garden seeds, peat plugs
Tomatoes, poppies, but mostly more chamomile seeds...
starting garden seeds, peat plugs
And a plastic lid to keep the moisture in effectively - all the more important since I am keeping this tray in the (warm) house.
Planting times, starting garden seeds
As a test of sorts, I also planted some of the poppy seeds (Park's Flemish Antique) outdoors in a peat tray.  The peat will allow me to plant the seedlings directly without removing them from the pots.
Planting times, starting garden seeds
None of this is a large project, just a trial run.  At this point all I can do is collect information and experiment with it.  So that is what I am doing!

As for the pepper plants, one was accidentally lost; but the other - still a bit small - has its first few peppers coming along...
Bell Pepper