Sunday, May 29, 2011


There are so many ways to do white!  I am loving all the variations in shading and color.  These are all blooming now. 

 Geranium 'Biokovo' has a pink tint, due to the pink stamens

Penstemon 'Husker Red' has both green and burgandy tints
Corydalis ochroleuca with green centers.

This hydrangea macrophylla opens greenish, my favorite kind of white.

Star jasmine which is not jasmine, but properly named Trachelospermum jasminoides.

'Star' zinnia

Calla lily, not a lily but Zantedeschia

Just opening, 'White Swan' echinacea.  The center cones eventually turn a deep copper.

 Lychnis coronaria alba, too white with pale gray foliage, looks out of place. 

Oakleaf hydrangea



Astilbe just opening next to hellebores which have faded to green.

Other whites not now blooming include viburnum, eupatorium 'Chocolate' which is more the color of cocoa foam, anenome, lilacs, other hydrangeas, phlox paniculata 'David' which is another too white white, orange blossoms, and cherry blossoms.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Watching and waiting

Blueberries and cherries are almost ready to eat!   We are finding the blueberries to be excellent shrubs with nearly year round appeal.  They are worth planting just for the fall color!  They do need quite acid soil, so I added peat to the soil, along with iron, which I will repeat each year.  We decided to keep this cherry tree low growing, so although cherries are the easiest of fruit trees, requiring next to no pruning at all, we will keep this one cut to 5-6 feet for ease in care. 

Monday, May 23, 2011


Whew, how is that for a flower name?  These annuals, also called Painted Tongue, are new to me this year.  I have tried growing them from seed to no avail, so bought a sixpack and got three to grow.  These come in assorted colors but I am glad all mine are this deep maroon.  I cut some penstemon 'Husker Red' this morning and was holding that when I thought about cutting the Painted Tonge and they blended so well I made this bouquet

Friday, May 20, 2011


This is a new perennial for me.  This is third year from a 4 inch pot, about three feet tall and two wide now.  I have read that they may have dozens of these flowering stalks.  The bloom is fleeting, already come and gone, just during May.  They have tap roots, like California poppies, so do not like to be moved.  The foliage is pretty, but overall a pretty so-so plant.  Probably as close to lupine as we will ever get in our gardens here though. 

Wednesday, May 18, 2011


Several changes in the garden focused my attention on clematis.  First, the back arbor fell down so I moved the clematis growing on it to the shady side yard.  I love these growing on each side of the side gate.  They get afternoon sun coming over the fence.

Clematis 'Violacea'

The post below shows the other clematis growing in this bed, 'Madame Julia Correvon'.  These are both viticellas which apparently are a type that does better here in the heat.  Sunset used to say clematis did not grow here, but I find these bloom on and off from May into fall, and if kept from the harshest sun do quite well. 

Another variety that does well in the heat is texensis.  Last night I went out and moved my 'Gravetye Beauty' from under my roses to the new trellis in the front yard.  I do not have a picture yet, the poor plant was not too happy to be ripped from amongst the roses.  I had thought it would be great seeing red clematis with the apricot roses, but they went unnoticed.  So we will see how they do in the new location.  Clematis are deciduous, and in spite of greatly detailed information on care and pruning, I find cutting them down in early February when they first begin to grow is all the care they need. 

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Color blending

Here is my Mother's Day present, a purple bedding dahlia in a burnt clay pot.  This composition is something I love to do, put several of the same or similarly colored plants together.  I just happened to have gotten the new gomphrena 'Buddy Purple' the day before I got the dahlia.  The clematis was there waiting.  Happy color blending! 

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

In from the garden

A few years ago I redid Robby's old bedroom.  It started out to be a blue and white guestroom.  That was the plan.  It ended up this color...

The beds moved to new homes so I thought the room would be an office for Jerry, but he never went in there.  Eventually it morphed into a sewing room.  The problem was I could not bear to sit in the coldness of that turquoise, even when livened up with orange and lime green.  So a couple of weeks ago I abandoned my sewing project and redid the room this color...

One thing I realized in doing this is the reality of the cost of small changes.  One gallon paint $28, a new ironing board cover $15, and framing for a 100 year old portrait of my great-gramma $40, which was a real deal.  But still, almost $100 to redo a tiny tiny room with basically no changes. 

I took out all the citrusy flower power accessories and brought in antiques from all over the house.  That is why I decided to hang the old portrait, other art work didn't look right. Now that it is too late I realize I could have brought in the old embroideries from the living room, but I like those there, and the portrait is more in keeping with the other old antique colored items.  The quilt is the one splash of color.  I think I may hang antique baby dresses over the quilt, I will need to dig those out and see.  Now to get back to the sewing.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Front yard redo continues

Our broom bush died over winter so Jerry took it out and then took out the old ugly holly bush, leaving a lot of bare space.  We decided something structural would be  different yet pleasing. So this is what Jerry came up with...

Note the openings between panels for the neighbor kids to use for ball retrieval. This is not yet finished, but it shows the idea.  New plants are ready to go in, including a ceanothus 'Tuxedo' with chocolate brown leaves and Australian Bluebell Creeeper, both of which I found at the nifty stall at Farmer's Market. 

More ideas yet to be decided and executed, one of which may be a fountain.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

ABC flowers in my garden

OK, so why did I do this?  It was a crazy stressy week and I had a headache all day and Jerry came home crashed and I just needed to do something fairly brainless that demanded focus.  They are upside down because I thought they would post the other way.  Crazy post for a crazy week.  : )

Z is for zinnia.  The only good thing to say about a zinnia is they bloom like crazy when it is over 100. These tiny orange and white ones are less obnoxious and go nicely with Jerry's favorite cosmos.
Y is for yarrow.  The millefoliums tend to make a tuffet which I do not care for but at least the one I have now, 'Walther Funke' is a nice deep red that fades gold instead of cerise. 

X is for ixia.  A South African bulb, ixia makes sweet little spires of flowers, although the foliage is floppy sloppy.

W is for watsonia. A South African bulb type plant, it grows into a two foot high and wide clump with many flower stems.  It dies down in summer. 

V is or violets.  The queen of the foggy weather and oh so fragrant.  I love seeing these all winter out the bedroom window.

U is for no flower I know...

T is for thalictrum.  These look a bit like columbine with blue green ferny foliage but get a good five feet high, or at least mine does.  

S is for scarlet runner beans.  A cute vine for summer, the birds and the bees love these!  Plus you can eat the beans if you choose.

R is for rudbeckia.  A real pain of a plant with a glaring school bus yellow color, they nontheless bloom all through the hot season.   

Q is for no flower I grow. 

P is for pelargonium, that cheerful in a pot plant...

O is for orange blossoms. 

N is for nigella. Love the seed pods. 

M is for monarda.  Crazy mopheads standing 3 feet tall. 

L is for lilies. 

K is for nothing I grow...

J is for Johnny Jump Ups, which evidently don't warrant a photo.

I is for impatiens.

H is for helenium, a favorite of mine...

G is for geum, a favorite sweet flower.

F is for freesia, an early blooming sweet scented bulb type plant.

E is for Eupatorium 'Chocolate' one of the few true late blooming perennials.

D is for digitalis commonly called foxglove.  Not a plant for children.

C is for corydalis a sweetly scented, long blooming shade plant.

B is for begonias a garden mainstay.

A is for astilbe.  This one said red... 

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Annuals for easy gardening

Breadseed poppies with larkspur, a favorite picture

Hah!  Annuals are not easy!  Their primary purpose is to set seed since they only have the one chance.  So for the most part growing annuals is a constant game of deadheading, then waiting long enough to pull the plant to make sure seed has set and spread.  And do not even get me started on over seeding.  : )   It's like poker, know when to hold 'em and know when to fold 'em.  Then there is the cost for setting out bedding annuals, should one choose to do that.  Annuals are not the easy way to garden. 
However, there are a few annuals that are actually easy.  Impatiens is one, although they pretty much need to be replaced each year, so there is the cost.  They do not need deadheading or any other care, and that makes them easy.  Waxleaf begonias is another, and for me they are perennial, continuing on year after year and, unless it gets really cold, blooming all 12 months.  There is a tiny single zinnia that comes in white gold and orange that likewise does not need deadheading.  And speaking of zinnias, they and cosmos are pretty much all that bloom here all through the really hot season.  We have learned to just yank cosmos when they get too seedy and let new ones grow.  They are Jerry's new hot season flower, following his crop of California poppies that grow all the rest of the year. Alyssum and bedding lobelia are two others that will just keep coming all year, although alyssum will seed as densely as grass if not pulled soon enough.  Others I love enough to justify include poppies of all sorts and larkspur.  They do leave huge gaping holes in the garden since they come up in the fall and die back as soon as the weather hits 85ish.  I fiddle with other annuals, and have learned a few pots well placed keep the color without a total commitment in space and labor. 

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Perennials for easy gardening

'White Swan' echinacea 

Perennials are my gardening love, the stalwarts of the garden.  Whether they die back each fall, leaving me to excitedly watch for their return in spring, or whether they are evergreen, serving as bones and structure for the ebb and flow of the deciduous and annual plants, perennials provide the mainframe of my gardens.  The really cool thing is that perennials can be no care plants.  For the most part the perennial season lasts about four months so people with a shorter growing season can do even more with them than we can here, but we can still get some bloom from February into September with some management.  Evergreens requiring next to no care include all the Mediterranean herbs such as rosemary, oregano, thyme, lavender, rue and so forth.  Of course those are perfectly suited to our climate.  Other easy evergreens include helleborus, some corydalis, geraniums, lambs ears, columbine, huechera, thalictrum, polemonium, geum, stokesia, and more I am not thinking of right now.  Easy deciduous perennials include peonies, Solomon Seal, astilbe, aster, eupatorium 'Chocolate', baptisia, monarda, echinacea and helenium.  All these require nothing more than cutting down the dead foliage at the end of the season, or as new growth begins, whichever you prefer.  Some of them can be manipulated to bloom later and all plants look better when dead headed, but these are really easy care plants.  I love my perennials.