Abies balsamea 'Nana'

Abies balsamea 'Nana'

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Random Thursday

It's a random sort of day, and I've accumulated plenty of random pictures that haven't made it into other posts for whatever reason. Many of these are post-Bloom Day blooms most of which, given the warm temperatures predicted, I don't expect to last until next bloom day.

Leptotes bicolor is a cute little orchid with surprisingly large flowers almost 2 inches across (the longest leaves are only 3-4 inches long). Since many orchid flowers have long lives and these are inside, they may very well last until next bloom day, but just in case...

Turns out the inflorescence of Guzmania musaica does age from yellow to orange. And then the waxy, candy corn-like flowers poke out. I vastly prefer this candy corn to the edible kind. Never was a fan.

Prostanthera cuneata has started blooming. I love the odd white flowers with purple speckles inside. Their size always surprises me, given the tiny leaves. Since they've just started, you'll probably see more of these on Bloom Day in June.

 Big Red, which is what I'm calling this nameless, inherited rhododendron, continues to recover from the severe pruning it received several years ago in order to move it to its current location in the southeast corner of the property. Seems to be doing quite well. This picture is somewhat deceptive as to scale, I think. Maybe it's just me, but that rhododendron doesn't look like it's 6 feet tall in the photo. But it is. Now that it's settled in to its new home, it may well put on nearly a foot of new growth this year, too. It's a vigorous one, which makes you wonder why it was originally planted against the house. A classic example of a foundation plant faux pas.

Smoky has opened its rich purple flowers. They're actually a bit darker than in this photo, but you get the idea.

In addition to flowers, it's loaded with smoky red new growth that glows in the sun.

Had I more presence of mind, I would have timed this shot to get maximum back-lighting to show you how that foliage glows. It does give you an idea of the color this rhododendron provides. Smoky is another big, vigorous cultivar that, though gawky in youth, promises to be a big, beautiful mature specimen.

I was so happy to find Billardiera longiflora had survived the winter. I'm even happier that it's loaded with blooms! I'm so happy with the pairing of this vine growing on my Acer griseum. The fine, glossy green foliage of the billardiera contrasts with the larger, fuzzy leaves of the maple, and the greenish-cream flowers, followed by blue-purple berries, contrast with the peeling copper bark. Something seems to be chewing on the billardiera, though. Given my discovery with the poncirus, I'm thinking ants are the likely culprits. They appear to be chewing off the ends of some of the shoots, which I find annoying but not overly upsetting. Even though it's a small vine, I still don't want the billardiera to overwhelm the young maple, so maybe the ant-pruning is a good thing in this case.

The odd, double blooms of Rhododendron 'Fastuosum Flore Pleno' are sometimes described as "orchid-like." Possibly one of those gaudy, ruffled cattleyas that I don't grow. It is an interesting curiosity, though. This plant was the annual target of bucks rubbing velvet off their antlers, so it's been in a cage for several years and is finally blooming well and no longer looks like a mangled stump.

Not all rhododendrons are grown for their flowers. Though I don't dislike the dark pink flowers of Rhododendron 'Kimberly', the real reason I added one to the garden is this gorgeous new growth. The whole plant is covered in it. It also seems to be growing much faster than I expected and will likely outgrow the space I allotted for it, at least eventually. Isn't that the way it usually goes?

My Mahonia 'Indianola Silver' seedling is an endless source of beauty. The first flush of new growth was somewhat marred by hail, but this later growth will (hopefully) mature to its usual pristine metallic platinum sea green.

Medusa is fading, though she had a very long showing, with flowers popping out several times over winter during the several warm stretches. I finally took the trouble to get a shot without the cage. In fact, the cage is gone, since I don't expect the deer to bother this rhododendron except in winter when pickings are slim. I did spray it with deer repellent just to make sure.

The buds on Rhododendron rex are finally expanding. It looks like it's even going to branch, and I just planted this last year. I'm going to have lots of fun watching the big leaves grow.

I have to admire my variegated dove tree every time I walk by. Every leaf is unique. Several of the first leaves to emerge have these interesting green streaks in the central grey patch.

A new addition, Renanetia Sunrise has vibrant red and orange flowers. Actually, since one of the parents, Neofinetia falcata, has been reclassified as a Vanda, I suppose this should be called Renantanda Sunrise. Orchid taxonomy and intergeneric hybrid names. What a joy. The plant is blameless in all this, so I'll just call it beautiful. Sorry for the blurriness. No single bloom is on the same level and it was so hard to get them into focus.

My amsonia surprised me by blooming this year. I planted it last spring and it only had a couple small shoots. It seems to be happy in the terrible clay soil of the bed off the patio.

I mentioned before that I thought my new Erica arborea 'Estrella Gold' and Euphorbia 'Nothowlee' (Blackbird) were a great match. I took this photo to illustrate that. I think it's because the Euphorbia has some subtle olive tones that match the darker old foliage of the heath as well as its white flowers aging to brown (though it could also be the hazelnut shell mulch on the euphorbias that I'm finding complimentary). The new growth on the heath is bright chartreuse, which will contrast well with the dark foliage of the euphorbia. For some reason I just find this combo very striking and I'm so happy I found them.

The fence contractor finally showed up again! Maybe complaining actually works? No, better not encourage that kind of thinking. We'll see how far they get today, but actual fencing is being put in! Now I'm off for a Portland nursery adventure. Happy gardening!

14 comments:

  1. I'm so glad to hear the fence guys have returned. I was beginning to worry that your folks had fallen prey to an unscrupulous contractor. Hope you had fun in Portland!

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    1. Me, too! No, just a regular contractor. They're unscrupulous enough already.

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  2. Indianola Silver, just gorgeous!

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    1. I know, as if I hadn't already posted enough pictures of that plant!

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  3. Lots of juicy delights in this post have me drooling most unattractively. Portland nurseries? Can't wait to hear all about that excursion.

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    1. Don't worry. I do that, too when I'm reading plant blogs. Well, due to various factors, the biyearly negative of which was a late start, it turned into just one nursery.

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  4. Your comment today about appreciating the blooms on the Erica arborea makes total sense now that I see the plant again. And your right, that combo is wonderful.

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    1. Thanks! The only time the dead flowers are too much are when those big masses on the ends turn completely brown. That's when the clippers come out to snip off the biggest clumps.

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  5. The white-petalled orchid with the pink streaking on the lip is so gorgeous! And the Indianola Silver Mahonia has such amazing symmetry and color, both the new and older foliage. It reminds me of 'Soft Caress' that I've been wanting for a long time. The dangling white bells of the Billardiera are so cute growing on the oak, too. I hope to see your report on the Portland Nursery, too. The fence should be marvelous, I would love a deer fence and not have to put cages on everything. Some deer came by and bit the new growth off on my Canna lily that actually made it through the winter under mulch. So sad.

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    1. Thanks, Hannah, The Billardiera is actually growing on an Acer griseum. Portland Nursery wasn't on my list for that day and various factors resulted in only one nursery stop anyway. Sorry about your Canna lily. That's the kind of thing that really be infuriating for me.

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  6. I realize now the Smoky is named for the leaves rather then the flowers. Beautiful. And aren't we all a little gawky in youth? Are the buds on R. rex for leaves or blooms?
    I got me a blackbird after I saw it in your post; it contrasts well with many other plants. I'll be searching for Billardiera longiflora too: it has strange looking fruit.

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    1. I had almost forgotten the wonderful color of the new growth on Smoky, myself. The name is more fitting for the foliage, though the flowers, especially before they open when they're almost black, are pretty wonderful, too. The buds on R. rex are foliage. I don't expect it to bloom for a few more years. Isn't Blackbird such a wonderful blend of colors? I love the fruit on Billardiera longiflora. I think I got mine at Celestial Dream Gardens in Kingston, WA.

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  7. I can always rely on you, Evan, to find plants I've never imagined, much less heard of. I love the orchid at the top of the post and now you've put me on the hunt for that Prostanthera, which is unlike either of the 2 species that grow in my own garden. It's odd that I've never see Amsonia (of any species) in local garden centers as the genus seems to be adapted to this climate.

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    1. Happy to introduce you to new plants! Hope you find that Prostanthera. It's a cute little one. Maybe you'll have to order an Amsonia from Joy Creek or somewhere and give it a try.

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