30 April 2012

April 2012 Flowers In The House

Indoor flowers on the last Monday of the month
I brought in a few rhododendrons from the tangle of rhodies in the rear corner of the yard - otherwise known as the last frontier. This area has yet to be tamed, while the rest of the front and back have been cultivated. "Anything grows" is the motto for this dark inaccessible jungle. I keep promising myself to explore it someday, and eventually tame the savage plants that make it their home.

We can't have rhododendrons indoors without something to tickle the olfactory senses since with rhodies you just look, not smell. Thanks to a two month head start from the mild winter, the white nicotiana now blooming add a little bit of perfume to the arrangement. (Did I just call it an arrangement? I don't arrange - just stick in a container that holds water and plants.)

Now, if I can only work on lighting for these indoor shots.
Find other garden bloggers' Flowers In The House at Jane's blog Small But Charming.

20 April 2012

Bronze Beauty

From the title, I would expect to get a lot of hits on searches for this post, just like I did on my post titled, "Maximum Maggie," the star magnolia [posted 23.03.2009]. I could not figure out why my blog analytics showed that the number of searches for "Maximum Maggie" was off the charts. With a test search of my own, I found the top result on Google for Maximum Maggie was to a busty porn star's web site. I was disappointed to think people were looking for her site instead of my magnolia.

Bronze Beauty is what I think my Aguja (Ajuga reptans) cultivar is after comparing online photos of different cultivars to my plant. This ajuga is two years old, and was picked up at our annual neighborhood plant swap. I think someone was trying to rid themselves of the devil plant because of its spreading characteristics. I wanted something that would grow in the death valley dry brickyard clay otherwise known as soil under my ligustrum shrubs. I also planted some in the rear yard bed where it receives two hours of sun daily.

The plant that gets more sun, more water, and better soil is phenomenal. The other plant is sparse but growing. The 'good' plant does not behave itself in the summer and fall, spreading runners into the lawn area. (I like the emerging hostas in the left of the photo, as if they are saying, "Stay away!")

Ajuga, commonly called Bugleweed, is a member of the mint family, native to Europe and Asia. (We know about mint spreading.) It is an herb, although several sources have differing uses mentioned. It smothers the ground with a thick mat of leaves and is used in Europe as a ground cover for erosion control, although I don't see how with the shallow root system. I am guessing one could walk on this without much damage, (except to your feet.)

Leaves start out green in spring, and turn chocolate purple bronze in the summer. It is grown for its leaves and ground cover abilities, but the iridescent blue spring flowers on 6-inch high (15 cm) stalks scream, especially in large tight clusters.

For The Record:
  • Heavy clay soil with organic amendments
  • Light shade with 2 hours of sun
  • Small amount of fertilizer
  • Easily propagated and spreads
  • No major pests or diseases, although some overwatering rot

Garden Calendar:
  • Blooming: bearded iris, california poppy, salvia, dutch iris, ajuga, geranium

14 April 2012

April 2012 Bloom Day

Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day
What's blooming in the garden on the 15th of the month.

There are a few blooms in the garden this time, between spring and summer. Did I mean spring and summer? What season is it really, with frost the past few nights, and temperatures in the 80's (upper 20's C) tomorrow. Outstanding at the moment are the California poppies that overwintered. Their performance earns them a future post.

You can find other garden bloggers' April bloom days at the blog May Dreams Gardens.

California poppies (Eschscholzia californica)

Salvia 'May Night' (Salvia x sylvestris)

Geranium 'Bevan's Variety' (Geranium macrorrhizum)

Ajuga (Ajuga reptans)

07 April 2012

Color Me Happy

In the past few years I have become more aware of planning and consideration of color combinations. It probably stems from those dreamy magazine landscapes that grow the same plants that I have but don't look like a patchwork quit.

I used to gaze out the window at this time of year and see a yard full of several different shades of purple, with no other color. Only height, width, and season were really considered in any planning attempt. Although not yet adept at color planning, at least now colors are considered when deciding where to place the latest acquisition.

This spring I was able to see some results of my color strategy (or at least of my thinking about color). Firey Red Emperor tulips bloomed along side blue muscari at the same time. The blue sets off the red tulips more so than if red tulips were stuck by themselves. Imagine that.

Another color consideration was given to the Salome daffodils. Notice how they start out with lemon yellow cups, and a week later turn to peachy pink. These photos are of the same blossom.

Of course, sometimes we imagine great color combinations only to find that blooms come out at different times, or that (like the daffodils) change color over time, or that there are different shades of the same color. I planted a 'red' phlox once only to find that it was more mixed with magenta: in the purple family. (oops, wrong shade of red.) It was not attractive next to the yellow zinnias. I now pay closer attention to descriptions of 'carmine red' versus 'scarlet red.'

Garden Calendar:
  • Blooming: California poppies, poet & salome daffodils, dogwood, viburnum, azaleas, muscari, coreopsis, ajuga