Monday, March 30, 2015

Monday Vase: Flowers, Sun, and Water

osteospermum, monday vase meme, ceramics, amy myers ceramics
Today's "vase" is a quickly created one.  Six blossoms snipped from two Osteospermum plants (variety "Mimosa Sunset") were floated in water in a shallow dish.  The dish is one which I made, handthrown in stoneware and coloured with a copper green/blue glaze.  All photos were taken out in the patio; and as you can see, the sunlight is already very intense, even in March!

There was no arranging to speak of, as the wind upset any attempt to configure the blooms, generally driving them into a garland effect around one side of the dish, this way...
osteospermum, monday vase meme, ceramics, amy myers ceramics
...and that...
osteospermum, monday vase meme, ceramics, amy myers ceramics
I enjoyed the stark colour contrast between orange and blue.
osteospermum, monday vase meme, ceramics by amy myers
Actually, the most fun was in watching the flowers drift about as the breeze swung them, clustering, then floating apart, then back together again.  I should have shot this in motion...
Osteospermum, Monday Vase meme
...but I didn't...  But here is today's vase for the Monday Vase meme hosted by Cathy at Rambling in the Garden, where spring is in full bloom now.  Though it looks like we are on the verge of summer here...!

Happy Monday!
Monday Vase meme, stoneware by amy myers

Monday, March 23, 2015

Monday Vase: Silver and Glass

Monday Vase meme, Sterling Silver rose, lavender
The hybrid tea rose "Sterling Silver" is flush with blooms now.  There was a perfect one looking out at me from the top of the bush and another deep inside, demanding to be cut and displayed.  With Lavender "Blueberry Ruffles" still full of blooms as well, this became a quick monochrome combination.  With a delicious fragrance.
Monday Vase meme, sterling silver rose
The roses and lavender went into a small glass (one I have featured before) for a very simple effect.  
Monday Vase meme, rose, lavender
Last autumn I bought Sterling Silver on a whim.  The price was right, and I had enjoyed growing it once before.  It is proving invaluable for vase-making with its subtle colour and very elegant form.  I do still love the slender vase-shaped blooms which were the holy grail of mid-century rosedom.  And Sterling Silver's flowers have the slightest ruffle added to that form...  
Sterling Silver rose, Monday Vase meme
As ever, a big thank you to Cathy for hosting this meme, full of delightful contributions from gardeners everywhere!

Happy Monday!
Monday Vase meme, Sterling Silver rose

Sunday, March 22, 2015

A Few New Faces

young Aquilegia desertorum foliage, GBFD
It has been a very busy weekend, so this will be a brief post.  But I didn't want to miss Garden Bloggers Foliage Day with Christina!  And this seems like the perfect opportunity to introduce some new plants.

One of my recent tasks has been setting out the new arrivals from High Country Gardens.  Five plants were on order, and all are now duly in the ground and settling in.  By the way, the packing from HCG was superb, and all arrived well-hydrated and ready to plant.

There were two varieties of Agastache.  First, "Ava", a tall grower with flowers of brilliant purple-pink.  Just now it is a wee little thing, but the leaves already give off their signature fragrance...
young Agastache foliage does the foliage of hybrid "Apricot Sprite", whose leaves are a shade greyer, at least for the present, and whose flowers should be a bright apricot-yellow .  I look to these two additions to supply some late summer bloom, which should be fragrant and attractive to hummingbirds as well.
young Agastache foliage
One plant actually arrived with flowers on it: this was Phlox grayi "Shades of Pink", a small groundcover phlox native to northern Arizona.  I have no pictures of this one as it is a bit spindly.  I think the flowers took their toll; I have clipped them off and hope to coax this intriguing little perennial into enjoying my garden since most forms of Phlox will be impossible here.

Then there is Aquilegia desertorum, which photos show to have bright red and yellow spurred flowers with an arrowhead form.  Despite its Arizona provenance, this plant is not native to the low desert and is not expected to be particularly xeric,  but how could I resist a columbine with such a species name...?  It appears to be very vigourous, as it perked up immediately on being planted.  (This is also the subject of the opening photo.)
Young Aquilegia desertorum foliage
Lastly, there is a native sage: Salvia reptans, the West Texas grass sage, with its slender leaves, later (we hope!) to be adorned with true blue flowers.
young Salvia reptans foliage, GBFD
Not so new - though this is the first time I have featured them - are a couple of David Austin roses planted into the central bed some weeks ago.  They are thriving, healthily clad in new foliage; but the light was failing as I took pictures so I include only this one of "Wollerton Old Hall", just by the patio.  Full of promise!
New growth on Rose, GBFD

Thursday, March 19, 2015

The Hopeful Gardener

Ornithogalum arabicum buds, star of bethlehem
Anticipation plays an enormous part in gardening.  And now it is springtime: of all times in the gardening calender, the season which brings our anticipatory efforts in autumn and winter to fruition.

I have never been much of a hand at growing plants from seed.  But starting last winter and continuing through recent weeks, I've tried again; and this time I have some promising plants to show for it. If you read this blog regularly, you have seen Helipterum roseum several times so I won't go on about it just now except to say it has been a very successful project.  Annual Chamomile (Matricaria recutita) was started back in December (I think) and grown outdoors through the mild winter.  More was sprouted indoors later.  Some of the young plants are in the garden now and filling in lushly.  The first set to be planted out took a good deal of shading and watering, while the second batch settled in more easily.  I attribute this variously to the weather at the time (we had some fairly warm, sunny days for awhile) or possibly the fact that the second batch were still very small.  Both sets are doing well now.  I am waiting for buds...
matricaria recutita, chamomile
More recently, a couple of seedlings of Mirabilis jalapa, the old classic Four o-Clocks, with their fragrant, sometimes multi-coloured trumpet flowers, found their way from my starter plugs into the garden.  As it was very windy at planting time, I protected them with broken shingles.  I grew these at one time in my Midwest garden where, to my surprise, they survived several winters.  I look forward to having them around again, especially since they are expected to be fairly drought-tolerant.
mirabilis jalapa seedling, four o'clocks, marvel of peru
And I am rather proud of this one...
oenothera pallida "innocence"
Oenothera pallida "Innocence" started life in the front patio over the winter, then was planted out, with several specimens going into the central bed, and two into the south bed.  They have been astonishingly casual about it all, never so much as winking from transplanting stress or 82 degree (27.8 C) heat or wind or... anything.  Unlike the rest of my starts, these are perennials.  My previous experience with Oenothera was limited to O. speciosa, which I removed as it was smothering my lavenders!  I expect milder behavior from this variety.  It looks like the first open blooms may not be too far off.
Oenothera pallida "Innocence"
Other seedlings include some tomatoes (growing well and beginning to bloom in their pots) as well as peppers and bronze fennel, both of which succumbed to two missed waterings and some rowdy sparrows!  I have started a new batch from the seeds I had left but am not sure whether they will grow fast enough to beat the hot weather.

As well as seeds, there are the autumn-planted bulbs.  Results are mixed.  Iris reticulata "Harmony" has been the great disappointment, sending up one perfect flower and refusing to give any more.  One more bud has appeared and withered, though there are a number of leaves above ground now.  I have conflicting information on whether I. reticulata requires a cold period; but undoubtedly it might object to blooming during 80 degree heat, so perhaps I had better look elsewhere for bright blue in the desert garden.  Dutch Iris "Blue Magic" appears to be much more easy-going about the temperatures, with one flower open and others on the way.
Dutch Iris "Blue Magic"
Right in with I. reticulata, I planted Narcissus canaliculatus.  Now this is supposed to be a good choice for a hot, dry summer and, being a species tazetta, should not require a cold period for blooming.  But so far I only have some leaves up; they are taking forever to do more.  I have not given up yet though!
A somewhat similar situation exists with Iris bukharica: one green nose...  This is supposed to be a late-bloomer, however, so we shall see.
Iris bukharica leaves
On the other hand, Ornithogalum arabicum is thriving, almost in bloom, with clusters of buds inside curiously curled sepals.
ornithogalum arabicum buds
My summer bulbs are expected in the mail any day now, so they will help to fill out the bulb presence in the garden.

In the meantime, having managed to grow on some promising young plants from seed, it's tempting to collect what the garden offers, isn't it?  Obviously, I haven't been deadheading the violas too carefully!
viola seedhead

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Garden Fragrance: March

hybrid tea rose "Sterling Silver"
Running a little late for the Scents in the Garden meme this month, but here are the garden perfumes in the middle of March in the small, sunny garden.

As a matter of fact, the wonderful scent wafting through the garden at present is coming from the lemon blossoms just beyond it.  However, there are a number of fragrant plants in the garden itself.

First, the usual suspects: two Lavandula stoechas varieties and two of Salvia greggii.  L. s. "Madrid" does seem sturdier and markedly more drought-tolerant than "Blueberry Ruffles" (shown below).  Both are proving very free-blooming.  The bees adore them.
Lavendula stoechas "Blueberry Ruffles"
Salvia greggii "Flame" has a lax habit, not so bushy as "Autumn Moon".  I am still hoping this plant will prove a bit more robust, as the blooms are a delightful scarlet.  The fragrance is that of Autumn Sage: a clean combination of sage and mint - very nice.
Salvia greggii "Flame", Autumn Sage
Fragrance in Dutch Iris?  I did think I caught a little whiff, but it is difficult to tell since the iris patch is tucked in just beside S. greggii "Autumn Moon", whose scented foliage takes over the air around it. This is the first iris bloom - just opened this morning!
Dutch iris "Blue Magic"
Although I have mentioned Damianita (Chrysactinia mexicana) in several recent posts, I hadn't actually attempted to smell it - not the easiest feat because it is still little more than a groundcover in height.  I thought I had better check it this morning, and to my surprise there is a light, sweet smell to the flowers.  (The foliage is also fragrant.)
Chrysactinia mexicana, damianita
And the chocolate fragrance of Berlandiera lyrata is unmistakeable with the rising temperatures.  Forgive the photo; the plant is still blooming, but today's crop of flowers is a bit ratty.  Not so, their scent!
Berlandiera lyrata
There are also the herbs that are flowering.  Rosemary...
Rosemary "Tuscan Blue", Rosmarinus
...and lemon thyme.
Lemon Thyme, Thymus x citriodora
But the climax is the rose.  One bloom is open on "Sterling Silver" with more buds to follow.  This is a good, strong, rich tea rose perfume, one of the reasons for growing this variety.
Hybrid tea rose, Sterling Silver rose
And that is the fragrance tour of the garden at present.  Many thanks to Wellywoman for hosting the meme for this delightful subject!
Dutch Iris "Blue Magic"

Monday, March 16, 2015

Monday Vase: Dozens of Daisies

Monday vase meme
It must be admitted that just now I have a good many daisies blooming!  And today I combined them - five different types of daisy-form flowers - in one vase.
helipterum, berlandiera, tetraneuris, damianita, monday vase meme
There are four Tetraneuris blooms, some paper daisies (Helipterum roseum), a cluster of Damianita (Chrysactinia mexicana), a single Berlandiera flower, and a couple of Argyranthemums.  All put together into a small, unglazed, stoneware pot I made years ago.  I added a tuft of lemon thyme and some rosemary to fill out the posy.
Monday vase meme
I photographed it in the kitchen, on a counter...
Monday vase meme
...and in a window sill.
Monday Vase meme
After I brought all of the flowers in, I happened to go back outside and noticed that some suckers needed to be removed from the bottom of one of the lemon trees.  Out came the clippers and in came the stems (complete with a few blossoms) and - just like that - I had a second vase.  In some ways I felt it was better than the daisy vase, being simpler.  I decided I wanted to present both; but in order to allow each its own space, I have posted the lemon blossom vase to my recently created second blog, Journal of a Thousand Things.  (Yes, another blog...)   In any case, this is a good excuse to introduce the new blog!

But for right here and now, I have an assortment of daisies.  I know that Kris, at least, will approve ;-)  And I present it for today's Monday Vase meme with Cathy at  Rambling in the Garden, where some very fragrant flowers take the stage and links to many other vases may be followed!

Happy Monday!
Monday Vase meme, berlandiera, helipterum

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Blooming in March

Dietes iridioides, Fortnight lily, GBBD
It is March in the small, sunny garden now.  Several plants that went into the ground last autumn are only now coming into bloom, while others continue along at full speed.  A few, such as the two Eremophilas, "Valentine" and "Outback Sunrise", are slowing down.

At the moment, the plants with the most flowers are surely Chrysactinia mexicana and Salvia greggii "Autumn Moon".  Chrysactinia mexicana, or Damianita as it is called, is just coming into full bloom at the top end of the garden.
Chrysactinia mexicana, Damianita
It is still a small plant, but noticeably larger than when I put it in the ground last October.  As you can see, it is covered in open daisies and buds.  The flowers are small, but their colour is brilliant!  I wrote a more complete post on it just over a week ago when it first began to flower.
Chrysactinia mexicana, Damianita
Salvia greggii "Autumn Moon" has bloomed - with one brief respite - since planting last fall.  A couple of small Armerias are tucked in next to it, creating this little tableau...  At this stage the Armeria is proving much less xeric than the Salvia, though the Salvia did require frequent watering for a month or two after planting.  Not so now!
Salvia greggii, Armeria
Walking on down toward the east end of the garden, I come to Penstemon parryi.  This Arizona native is perhaps the most elegant plant in the garden at present.
Penstemon parryi
Nearby are a few more daisies from some Helipterum roseum seeds that I started during the winter.  They actually sprouted and grew on in the front patio, where temperatures, though cold, did not drop low enough to kill anything but my basil.  These paper daisies (from the old standby "Best Mix" courtesy of Park Seeds) have so far given me pale pink and medium pink flowers.  Now some whites are beginning to bloom as well.  At this point they are taking the sun and warmth well and not requiring too much water to put out their flowers, which are papery and fluffy at the same time.  These are classic everlastings, so I need to start cutting some for those flower-sparse times later in the year!
Helipterum roseum
Then around to the Dry Corner and Tetraneuris aucalis.   Like the Damianita, it is covered with flowers and buds - just not quite so many, and the flowers are, of course, larger...
Tetraneuris aucalis
They grow on long stems so the blooms are displayed well above the low mat of foliage.
Tetraneuris aucalis
Returning toward the patio, here is another plant which has been in full bloom for perhaps the last two months: Russelia equisetiformis.  "Coral Fountain" is one of its common names, and it is living up to it!
Russelia equisetiformis, Coral Fountain
And just beside it is the first flower on Dietes iridioides, the sturdy, dry-climate iris relative that cycles frequently in and out of bloom, earning it the name "Fortnight Lily".
Dietes iridioides, Fortnight lily
There are a number of other blossoms scattered around the garden - violas, lavender, osteospermum, rosemary, lemon thyme.  And Berlandiera lyrata is still sending up flowers though I forgot to catch any pictures!  It is a rich time for flowers just now.

Linking with Carol's Garden Bloggers Bloom Day meme for this month, where it is possible to see many other lovely plants as spring finally comes into its own...

One more picture of Dietes iridioides...

Happy March!
Dietes iridioides, Fortnight lily