New look - and an epiphany! Hairy honeysuckle budding out through a low shrub!

Hairy honeysuckle (Lonicera hispidula) just budding out now.
It's a local wild native that makes itself at home in my garden.

Open during construction - I'm playing with a new theme and haven't quite finished feeling my way round the Blogger boiler room (not a well-lit location). But I like it enough to use right away. So I do bless Blogger as well as curse its configuration complexities.

So there I was, sitting outside with my coffee this gray Sunday morning -- Mothering Sunday in Britain -- listening to the chickadees in the oak tree and taking stock of the long north border of the pool garden, which is a perpetual work in progress.

Suddenly, I noticed how the hairy honeysuckle is popping out so nicely through the Salvia leucophylla! Buds are just about to burst in fact --  down low where I can enjoy the show - and no naked stems! 

I love the messy exuberance of it all --
And the honeysuckle is all greenery and buds!

By way of contrast - look at this photo. This is how hairy honeysuckle looks elsewhere in my garden - the west end of the north border.

You're looking at the north west corner of the pool garden.
See that straggling brown stem wandering up the big bare fence panel? Yup. Hairy honeysuckle.
Wild on my property, it grows from the ground up to the tree (or tall shrub) canopy
 - then bursts into leaf and bloom.
(I'm in the middle of reworking the path to the gate that leads to the north garden, btw.)

There is some leafing out at the top of the fence but not what you could call really pretty --

Close up of the top of the fence - you can see it's still woody.

The experiment started out well enough. I planted three little honeysuckle plants close together and added little bit of a trellis later, hoping to guide them upwards so they would fill in that blank fence panel. Nope. Didn't happen.

Showed promise while growing up the fence...  But -- well you saw how it has developed in the first photo.

But look how nicely the leaves and buds are emerging from the mounding shrub of Salvia leucophyllaThe sprays of leafy stems are the only parts that stick out.

Purple sage (Salvia Leucophylla) is a grey-green mounding sage that looks good always.
Do you see the honeysuckle flower buds at the top of the picture?

Purple sage has pale lavender flowers in spring. One downside is that it roots where it sprawls.  I kind of like that, though. Purple sage grows natively farther south. You can see a map of locations here

Here's an overview of the honeysuckle and sage combination.
One joy of S. leucophylla is that chaparral birds love hanging out inside it.
A spotted towhee has taken up residence lately!
It was skritching about under there while I took my photos this morning.

I just recalled that this particular purple sage plant was a "mother plant" in our CNPS Santa Cruz County chapter's propagation stock. Appropriately - today is Mothering Sunday in the UK! I brought her home many years ago and as you can see she is living in happy retirement in my garden. I'm sure her clones (from cuttings propagated) are gracing many gardens around Santa Cruz to this day.

Okay - finally  - getting back to my epiphany. 

This theory that I have--that is to say, which is mine-- ... is mine.... So this theory which belongs to me is as follows. Ahem. Ahem. This is how it goes. Ahem. ... The next thing that I am about to say is my theory. Ahem. Ready? (The Dinosaur Sketch Monty Python!)

My theory is that hairy honeysuckle is triggered to branch and leaf and bloom by the transition from shade to light.

I figure it must be the transition that does it because the ones I grew up the fence at the end (btw they're behind the red non-native sage in the photo above) - they really don't have any transition - other than the top of the fence, which approximates a branch, perhaps. So maybe that is another trigger.

I'd love to hear from others on this! But it does seem like a potentially useful theory, if it's valid: if you've got a woody vine you like, maybe you can pair it with a low shrub that it would look good poking out of.

Now - I know it would have been better to wait till that honeysuckle is blooming but then it wouldn't be a fresh epiphany then, would it? And there's nothing like the smell of a fresh epiphany on a nice Sunday morning, wouldn't you say?

A bloom from last year

And then -- you get these lovely berries!


Ed Morrow said…
The new look is super - easy to read and eye-catching.
Country Mouse said…
Hi Ed - thanks for visiting and giving the new look the thumbs up. I take no credit for it of course - it's just a template I picked. I'm very happy with how this enables us to show larger photos and how it highlights other posts for readers to explore. Happy gardening!