Sunday, March 20, 2011

Late Bloom Day - to cheer me in the rain


It's been raining and raining and raining (repeat). I missed Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day this month, but I have a few pictures I took in between showers. If you've seen my bloom day posts before, you've seen these flowers before at different stages of their lives - but anyway, to cheer myself up with some color, herewith are some signs of spring, to keep me going during this late winter storm, and you too, if you are under the weather - I hope you enjoy them too.

And btw: What's on my mind today is - how to organize propagation and planting information for a private garden. I want a flexible and easy to use database that can take info from sources on the web, so I don't have to keep reinventing the wheel - and that lets me look at the information from different angles. I have a half a dozen Word files that have grown over the years, and I would really like to move into something more flexible, easier to maintain, and easy to keep developing over the years. Any ideas? - OK, on with the flower show...

First - I've zoomed out from the opening shot of that wonderful water drop that my camera caught unbeknownst to me, so you can see the redbud blossom. This Cercis occidentalis shrub is about 5 feet high and wide, and is just down the road from us. They are not locally native here, but are a lovely addition to a garden. Those I planted in the "wildlife garden" area area also blooming, but they are still only about 2 feet tall, after four years or so. Below you can see them mixed in a messy tangle with the Ribes speciosum (fuschia-flowering gooseberry) and Ribes aureum, golden currant:

Also along our road - and also in our North Garden but down in the soggy regions I'm avoiding for now - I'm enjoying the Cynoglossum grande, hound's tongue, one of my favorites.

I'll be gathering seeds and investigating why it's difficult to propagate e'er long.

The nursery-bought ceanothus bushes have been blooming like crazy and lasting and lasting. Below is the ceanothus 'Dark Star' cultivar, in the early morning sunshine. I've forgotten what that looks like!:


And here is Ceanothus 'Joyce Coulter':

Our local natives, Ceanothus thyrsiflorus, California wild lilac, and Ceanothus papillosus, wartleaf ceanothus, are just coming into bloom now. I'll show them in another post.

I have 10 beautiful Ceanothus thyrsiflorus plants in gallon pots in the greenhouse right now, from local seed. I'm going to bring them to the upper deck area and keep them there til fall. I'll plant some in the North Garden - and share the rest, hopefully with neighbors, to increase the presence of these lovely small trees in our area.

Right next to the ceanothus above is a flowering fruit tree cluster of some sort that was here before we arrived. They are a bit wild and untended - but I love their blossoms. Unfortunately since this photo, a hailstorm has knocked them all off, just about.


Another non-native plant I enjoy - and so does the rest of the neighborhood - is the daffodil. They are so cheerful. They don't spread, but come back year after year where they are planted. Nothing eats them! I'm not sure if anything even gets nectar or pollen from them. Each year lately I've been planting a few clumps along the road that runs through our property, and I'll continue to do so for a few years more, just for their ornamental value.


A non-local California native that is wonderful for dry (or wet) shade, is Salvia spathacea, hummingbird sage. The hummingbirds do indeed feed from these blooms:

These have colonised the small bed between our driveway and the house. They are native in the Big Sur area but I haven't seen any growing wild around here. Here's a closeup of one of those sculptured looking whorls:


Yet another nursery cultivar, Salvia 'Bee's Bliss' is starting to show it's light and airy pale lavender blooms.
Our local black sage, Salvia mellifera, is beginning to bloom - but I think the lack of sun is knocking it back. I predict that the April bloom day, though, will be fantastic here!

A local indigenous wild native that is also just starting to bloom is Mimulus aurantiacus, monkeyflower bush. You can see nibbled leaves where it's been feeding some chalcedon checkerspot butterfly caterpillars. When I find caterpillars on my baby plants grown from seed, I gently move them to a more mature mothering plant! We have plenty to help them along, and the babies can join in when they are bigger.


In the new pool garden ornamental plantings, this is the color star for sure - Erica cerninthoides, fire heath, a South African heath plant. It's only small yet, but look at these vivid scarlet cigar-shaped clusters of flowers!


Then there's the San Francisco native, Erysimum franciscanum var. crassifolium. It's another star, flowering profusely. Unfortunately one of the two I planted died - it wasn't looking well, and I tried cutting it way back. That finished it off, I think. I suspect gophers, but am not sure.


This Munro's globemallow Sphaerelcia munroana, of dubious origins as regards its native status, is still surviving in a pot:


And the abutilons too:


Finally, The Plant That Will Not Die, calla lily. I do love their sweeping white blooms and glossy green leaves. But they are too much. They spread and spread. I have to keep cutting and cutting at them, and I hate to do that. I've tried smothering them. I've tried poisoning them. But they are tough as nails. Be careful what you plant! We did not plant these, but before I knew how bad they are, I did spread them around a bit. Oh woe, oh woe - oh well what the heck. They are pretty and I have to live with them anyway!


Well, now you've relaxed and enjoyed a bit of color, please do read back to Town Mouse's recent posts - they are very good and interesting and quite thought-provoking.

9 comments:

Queer by Choice said...

Wow! That first picture of the water droplet on the redbud is the most stunning photo I've seen in a very long time.

Christine said...

I love that the Calla looks like an egg with a small yolk. I also have to say I love the word "whorls", especially when describing S. spathacea. But even more, I love your Spring blooms! Happy Spring and hang on- the rain will ebb soon enough.

Elephant's Eye said...

Do your arum/calla lilies go dormant in summer? Or do they get watered thru the heat?

Country Mouse said...

Thanks, QBC - I really was happy to capture that droplet!

EE - I haven't watered them in summer and every summer I yank out all the flopped and shrivelled ones - it's a chore. I also try to stop the flowers from going to seed. I have basically just admitted defeat on the callas - I would not recommend planting them in California! They also come back once or twice through the spring - fall.

Hi Christine! glad you liked the blooms :-)

Queer by Choice said...

I came back because I just realized I had meant to respond to your musings about wanting a "flexible and easy to use database that can take info from sources on the web." Since you used the word database, I suppose one obvious solution could be to use an actual database program such as Microsoft Access. Personally, though, I keep all of that sort of information in a gigantic Microsoft Excel file. If you'd like, I could send you a copy of it. It might at least give you some ideas for possible organizational structures, and I bet some of the data would come in handy, too. I only wish my Excel file could actually "take data from the web" automatically, without me having to painstakingly hand-enter it all. I spend about as much time updating my Excel file as I spend in the garden.

Country Mouse said...

Gayle that is very generous - i would love to have your spreadsheet - please do mail to countrymoosie@gmail.com - thanks a million - both for the form and the content, it will be interesting and valuable fer sure.

BTW for a database that is easy to get going on, a friend recommended I check out http://www.quickbase.com

sierrafoothillgarden said...

Wow, Country Mouse! That ' unbeknownst ' photo is fabulous as are the daffodil and the hummingbird sage. All great photos! You have so many plants, I like, I could use this for a shopping list.

As for the database question, besides what Gayle has said. I use Dave's Garden's Journal to enter each of my plants in catagories I name such as 'Front beds' or Front Hillside' It's searchable and each plant is linked to the Dave's garden PlantFiles. They also have a Blog tool you could use for propagation notes. I also keep photo files, one for natives one for cultivated plants and one for weeds! The file names have the Latin then common name of each. Windows 7 let me search those easily as well. I don't know if that helps?

Chandramouli S said...

With just few hot days I am already praying that we had rains.

Love that first photo with the water droplet with reflections! Way too cool. And the calla lily too. It's always a pleasure to visit your blog.

James said...

Happy belated bloom day to you and congrats on the additional rainfall. The callas don't seem to be soaking all of it all up, though, looking at your other enthusiastic plants. The Cynoglossum grande apparently doesn't make it south past Central California, so we don't see it down our direction. But it's quite the stunner!