Abies balsamea 'Nana'

Abies balsamea 'Nana'

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day, July 2014

Oops, late again for bloom day. Unfortunately, some of my major players in the mid-to-late summer garden are either greatly diminished or entirely absent this year, for various reasons. Most notably my Crocosmia 'Lucifer' and the orange lilies inherited with the house. Not that either of these were in any great variety, but they certainly had a large presence in the garden with their intense colors. The deer ate most of the flowers from the reduced clumps of crocosmia, and the lilies are diminished to a few small bulbs that will take years to reach blooming size.

Despite lacking these two significant shows of color, there's still plenty to see in the garden, though mostly on a smaller scale. Some of these flowers require closer examination to appreciate, which doesn't bother me in the least given my predilection for scrutinizing minute details.

My surprise double daylily provides spectacular color, though by the end of the day they get rather bleached. As the redbud they are planted under matures, it should provide some light shade to keep the blooms looking better through their short lifespan. The cage you see behind the daylilies is protecting the redbud until it is large enough to be safe from the deer.

My newly purchased and planted Clethra barbinervis from Windcliff has opened its fragrant blooms. I haven't lifted the protective cage to smell it, though. 

The lavender-pink flowers of lime thyme cover the bright foliage. I don't particularly care for the color, but I also don't feel like shearing them off. Besides, the bees would be furious with me. In the lower left corner you can see the developing  seed head of Carex comans.

Though with the first of the heathers starting to bloom, the bees will soon have more than enough to eat.

This is one of the many variants I selected from mutated trimmings that rooted. It seems to be about a week and a half earlier to bloom than any of my others.

Angraecum didieri is blooming indoors with a flower almost as large as the plant. It's beautiful, but carries a scent in the evening that combines gardenia with a heavy clove overtone and a hint of something else. Spiced meat, perhaps? It's not offensive, exactly, nor is it entirely pleasant when sniffed directly from the source. I prefer to admire the flower without putting my nose close to it.

I've been enjoying the slightly carrot-y flavor of these edible chrysanthemum (Chrysanthemum coronarium Garland Round-leaved) leaves for weeks. Now they're beginning to bear these bright yellow flowers that add some color to the vegetable garden. While the flowers are edible as well, I don't recommend them.

My Clivia miniata is blooming in July this year. I don't bother with the careful temperature regulation required to bring it into bloom during the "proper" season and enjoy it whenever it chooses to bloom. Usually it blooms once sometime after being moved outside in the spring and again in the fall after it comes inside.

The brilliant flowers are a spark of contrasting color on the back deck.

These pink Agastache were purchased as a 4-pack of seedlings. I vastly prefer the larger-flowered types in yellows, oranges, and corals, but these were purchased in a time when I was desperate for anything deer-resistant. Besides, my parents don't seem to mind the color and it's their garden, not mine.

The first calla lily of the year finally appears. I have another type that bears spathes in a mix of flaming reddish orange streaked with yellow that should be close behind. Eventually I should move them to a sunnier location to see if that brings them into bloom earlier. For now they are along the western side of the house, very hot in the afternoon but no sun until then.

The Liatris spicata has started to bloom. I also have a white cultivar that is just a little behind the purple form.

Origanum 'Kent Beauty' grows in numerous patches around the edge of the driveway island. I love the hop-like inflorescences and blue-grey leaves, but I'm not entirely sure what to think of them in combination with the burgundy and chartreuse foliage so prevalent in the bed.

Allium cernuum, collected on a hike, bears nodding pink bursts of flowers. I'll have to remind my parents in the future to cut the bloom stalks off before they go to seed. Otherwise it reseeds rampantly. But it's a pretty, deer-resistant native, so I keep it around.

Aster x frikartii 'Monch' is just starting to open its first flowers. I love the dark lavender-blue color and the fuzzy deer-resistant leaves. Easy color from now until frost!

After featuring Molinia caerulea 'Variegata' as a favorite, I wanted to try to get a better picture of the purple anthers that lend this fantastic grass the name purple moor grass.

The Cerinthe major 'Purpurascens' that I started from seed started blooming a couple weeks ago, but are finally hitting full swing now. I love looking at them up close, but I can see that these plants are really best when grown in a more densely-planted area where they form accents and exclamation points. Or maybe it's just that my seed-grown plants were started later than they should have been and look wimpy because I hardly ever fertilize.

There's some variation in the coloring of the flowers and the bracts. This plant has the darkest, most colorful bracts.

Echinacea purpurea has started blooming. I have three different cultivars, though the only one I'm sure has an actual cultivar name is 'Magnus', a classic old variety that can grow over 6 feet tall. I have two others, Powwow Wildberry and Primadonna Deep Rose (great names, I know). They're all essentially the same color, differing mainly in their growth habits. 'Magnus' is the tallest and least-branched. Primadonna Deep Rose is mid-sized with more branching, and Powwow Wildberry is nearly malformed in its dwarfed habit. 'Magnus' is by far my favorite of the three. The bumblebee in this photo seems to agree.

Good old Yucca filamentosa in full bloom. I love it in it's new location. Hopefully it doesn't overtake the entire bed before the cistus, manzanitas, and other plants get a chance to fill in.

I love the bright red and yellow flowers of Lobelia laxiflora var. angustifolia. I'm amazed at the toughness of this plant. I planted it from a bundle of rooted stems that looked more dead than alive the week of Thanksgiving this past winter. Then I moved the clump earlier this summer when I added plants to this bed. It hasn't missed a beat!

 Mimulus cardinalis continues to pump out blazing orange embers, much to the delight of the hummingbirds.

Salvia forskaohlei is a mixed blessing. I love the big leaves and blue-violet flowers on this deer-resistant plant that grows even in dry shade. However, it is a prolific self-sower, so be careful where you plant it. My mistake was planting it in a bed with some rather delicate treasures that couldn't compete with this big-leaved, aggressive plant.

Elsewhere its spreading tendencies and tough constitution make it a welcome addition. The details on the lip differ from plant to plant, This one is more speckled that most.

One of my epimediums decided to put on an encore performance. These flowers are on a shorter stalk than the spring flowers, probably because it's drier this time of year.

Planted this spring from a 4-inch pot, this Bletilla ochracea has put on a surprisingly good display. 

The flowers start off darker yellow before fading to palest cream. They don't last long, but they keep coming.

Daphne x transatlantica 'Blafra' (Eternal Fragrance) is starting its second round of blooms just as the last of the first wave are fading. 
And that's July Bloom Day in my garden. Lots of younger plants that will provide more of a show as they grow and plenty of things just starting or just finished. Phalaenopsis and Paphiopedilums are starting to spike indoors, the Hoya carnosa continues to bloom, and Hoya multiflora is about to burst open again. Outside Saxifraga stolonifera has a few blooms still hanging on, Hutchinsia alpina continues its non-stop bloom, chives continue to send up new flowers (I pinch them off because otherwise they'll go to seed before I know it), and I'm sure there's something else I'm missing. Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day is hosted on the 15th of every month by May Dreams Gardens.

Bloom Day also saw a special guest, a great horned owl. I know, it's not a flower, but I have to share.

 Upon hearing a cacophony in the backyard yesterday morning, I went to investigate what was disturbing the jays, robins, and other birds. I was surprised to see a large owl perched on a dead limb at the edge of the trees. I had to look several times to confirm that it was, indeed, a great horned owl, not thinking that such a reclusive bird would show itself so easily. I had forgotten that my father sighted one last year. Eventually all the smaller birds tired of pestering the sleepy owl, all except the crowned sparrow, that is. It continued a strident warning chirp hours after the other birds left.


I was surprised at the exposed location it chose. The branch it's resting on here is in an open area on the south side of a Douglas fir, quite visible from that side and only slightly less so from my viewpoint to the west.

I snuck out onto the back patio to try to get a better view and the owl quickly swiveled it's head towards me. "Whooo said you could photograph me?" I'm so glad I have a camera with 35x optical zoom. It really comes in handy with situations like this.
As the overcast cleared, around noon, the owl relocated. At first I thought it had left entirely, but I happened to spot it on my way back from adjusting irrigation in the vegetable garden. It had moved only about one hundred feet deeper into the trees.

As the afternoon wore on, it stayed until sometime after this photo was taken around 3:30. Once again it had chosen a location where the sun eventually shone on it. I think it retreated again to a more shaded roost.
I've always loved owls and this was my first sighting of a great horned owl. What a special bloom day!

6 comments:

  1. Your garden has a lot going on! I loved the photos of the owl - how kind he was to hang around long enough for you to take his picture. I occasionally hear what I think are owls at night but I've yet to see one.

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    1. I was amazed that the owl was there at all, much less in such an exposed location so I could get decent photos of it. It's shown up a few times since, as well.

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  2. Lots of gorgeous flowers. I have never seen a Bletilla that colour, it' s beautiful. Your photos are amazing. I love your owl, how exciting to get such good shots of him.

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    1. Thanks, chloris. I love Bletilla ochracea. The blooms are a bit smaller than Bletilla striata, but I love the color. The owl was a real treat.

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  3. I almost forgot my comment after the exciting pictures of the owl. He looks magnificent.
    I love the Yucca bed: hopefully it will fill in as you envisioned. My Cerinthe has gone to seed already, and the calla lily blooms are long gone, but aster blooms this early in they year? I don't have bud yet. I guess it's all about location and variety.

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    1. I have hope for the yucca bed. My cerinthe were started and planted late. Hopefully they manage to set seed before frost. My callas have always been late. I think part of it is the location and part is the variety. It's different from the big white ones I see earlier in the year. Aster x frikartii opens a handful of flowers pretty early, but the heat this summer has made them even earlier.

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