Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day July 15 – Summer Weather Has Arrived

This old article was one of my earlier attempts at participation with a meme. Unfortunately, I could not keep up with it, although I may resume eventually. It would be nice to share more pretty pictures instead of mere utilitarian pictures. This particular meme appears on the fifteenth of every month, but since it is recycled, I do not mind being a few days (and three years) late.

Tony Tomeo

While so many of us in the Northern Hemisphere were contending with unusually warm weather, our weather here had been unusually mild. The weather only recently became warm for the past two weeks or so. It did not get unusually hot here like it did in so many other regions, but the warmth developed suddenly enough to damage many of the flowers that were blooming at the time. This included many of the new perennials that we happened to be installing at the time. Consequently, there were not nearly as many flowers to get pictures of as there had been in May, and some of the flowers in these pictures show damage from the sudden change in the weather. I am sorry that I neglected to participate in Bloom Day in June.

These pictures were taken at work, on the Santa Cruz County side of the Santa Cruz Mountains above…

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Six on Saturday: Integration





Brent, my colleague down south, scoffs at my predilection for white, as well as the exclusivity of the white garden from which I got pictures for Six on Saturday for last week. I suppose that he is entitled to that since he is a renowned landscape designer and I am not. White is my favorite color regardless; although I lack a white garden of my own, and have no intention of developing one. Exclusivity is no simple task. Some flowers that are not white are too appealing to easily dismiss. Some move in without invitation. Some are not what they should be.

1. Cestrum nocturnum – night blooming jasmine blooms pale white. After installing it, I learned that it might bloom pale yellow! Fortunately, it is next door, just barely beyond the landscape.

2. Bergenia crassifolia – pigsqueak has inhabited the space behind el Catedral de Santa Clara de Los Gatos longer than anyone can remember. It blooms pink, but is not visible from out front.

3. Bergenia crassifolia – pigsqueak should be groomed of old desiccated leaves. Incidentally, leaves blackened by frost are used as tea. I am unimpressed. These leaves are not frosted, just old.

4. Lychnis coronaria – rose campion is naturalized here, but is too pretty to pull while the landscape is still so sparse. It can bloom white, as well as red or pink, but I have not seen it do so yet.

5. Agapanthus orientalis – lily of the Nile was likely here about as long as the pigsqueak out back. Now that the first white lily of the Nile here was added at the road, the blue will be dismissed.

6. Hydrangea macrophylla – hydrangea got relocated to here from another landscape specifically because it was white. Now it is doing this. I do not know what color this is, but it is not white.

This is the link for Six on Saturday, for anyone else who would like to participate:

https://thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com/2017/09/18/six-on-saturday-a-participant-guide/

Coleus

No flowers needed with this foliage!

Out in the garden, coleus, Plectranthus scutellarioides, prefers partial shade where the foliage is less likely to get roasted during arid and warm summer weather. It is grown as a warm season annual instead of as a perennial, because it gets so tired through winter, and can be killed by even a very mild frost. Its sensitivity to exposure in the garden is probably why it is more familiar as a houseplant.

The flashy and sometimes deeply lobed foliage is variegated with any combination of green, chartreuse, yellow, orange, red, burgundy, pink, white, brown and almost black. Flower spikes should be snipped as they develop to keep foliage dense. The tiny purple flowers are not much to brag about anyway. Large plants can get to two feet tall and broad. Cuttings root easily in rich and regularly moist potting soil or just plain water. Seeds need sunlight to germinate, so should only be pressed onto the surface of damp potting soil without getting covered, and misted daily.

Houseplants Bring The Outdoors In

Many houseplants will not live outside.

There is someplace in the world for the brethren of each and every houseplant to grow wild. All houseplants do not originate from the same regions, and many were bred in cultivation, but all originate from somewhere. They are houseplants only because they are plants that can live in a house.

Most houseplants are from tropical regions, and many are understory plants that grow in the partial shade of taller trees. They are naturally tolerant of the mild temperatures and partial shade within the home. Not many deciduous plants will be happy without a winter chill.

Confinement is also a concern, since houseplants need to be potted, and stay below ceilings. Plants that need to disperse their roots will not work. Neither will plants that can not be pruned down as they grow. Some palms that work well in malls have leaves that get longer than the distance between the floor and ceiling in the home!

Most houseplants are grown for foliage instead of flowers, not only because a lack of seasons inhibits bloom, but also because their foliage is naturally so appealing. African violets are one of the more notable exceptions. Amaryllis is all flower with almost no foliage, but typically gets discarded when done blooming.

Coleus and caladiums have such colorful foliage that there is no need for flowers. Bloom actually compromises their foliar quality anyway, which is why flower spikes get snipped from coleus. Mauna loa lily is grown for excellent rich green foliage, but sometimes adds clear white blooms as a bonus.

All sorts of ferns are very good houseplants. However, a few, including the popular Australian tree fern, produce coarse fuzz that can be irritating to the skin. A few others, like sword fern, produce messy spores that can permanently stain fabric and carpet. Just because they can live in the home does not mean that they should.

The various ficus are excellent houseplants because they can grow quite large, but can also be pruned to fit into their particular situations. The popular weeping fig (Ficus benjamina) has an abundance of small glossy leaves. Rubber tree and fiddle leaf fig have big thick leaves. Creeping fig is even more distinct from the others, as a wiry vine that is popularly grown in hanging pots.

Horridculture – The Wrong Plant In The Wrong Place

The pyracantha in the illustration stayed for a while after this article posted three years ago, but was finally dragged out by a freighter truck that turned right a bit too sharply. It was actually rather gratifying to see its mangled carcass on the edge of the road a bit farther up. However, even then, the so-called ‘gardeners’ still did not bother to remove it, and might have even continued to shear it after death. Heck, it might even be there right now!

Tony Tomeo

P80627This is the opposite of the ‘right plant in the right place’. It is something that horticultural professionals should neither promote nor tolerate when feral plants appear in landscapes that they are getting payed to maintain. This example looks like it is more relevant to the topic of ‘Fat Hedges’ from https://tonytomeo.wordpress.com/2018/06/06/horridculture-fat-hedges/ , but there is more to this feral pyracantha than that. Yes, it is shorn too frequently to bloom or produce colorful berries. Yes, it looks like an upside-down and halfway buried Christmas tree. Yes, it contributes nothing to the landscape. What is worst of all is that it does not even belong there. It was certainly not planted there on the edge of the curb. There are others nearby, but they happened to appear in spots where they could have actually been assets to the landscape if they had not also been shorn into this weird upside-down…

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Star Jasmine

Star jasmine blooms with fragrant profusion.

This jasmine is quite a star. However, this star is technically not a jasmine. Star jasmine, Trachelospermum jasminoides, is instead related to mandevilla and oleander. For many years, it has been one of the most popular vines for home gardens as well as large scale landscapes. It works well either as a ground cover, or as a relatively docile climbing vine. 

As ground cover, star jasmine gets about two feet deep. It will be lower and more refined with shearing, but will likely bloom less. It tries to climb shrubbery and trees, so will need exclusionary pruning. However, on a chain link fence, star jasmine works splendidly as a shorn faux hedge. It grows fast to more than ten feet high, but can get significantly higher. 

The richly fragrant bloom is most profuse about now, and can continue sporadically until autumn. The inch wide and bright white flowers are shaped like stars, and hang in small clusters. After bloom, the distinctly glossy and dark green evergreen foliage is handsome alone. Individual leaves are a bit longer than two inches and a bit broader than one inch. 

Fragrance Is Out Of Sight

Lilies are both fragrant and colorful.

Flowers that are both fragrant and colorful are uncommon only because each tactic uses resources. Concentration of effort into one method of appeal or another is more efficient. Diversification generally occurs among flowers that must compete for pollination within a very diverse ecosystem. Otherwise, most fragrant flowers prefer selective specialization.

Consequently, most of the most fragrant flowers are not remarkably colorful. In fact, some are visually mundane. Where they mingle with more prominent bloom, the more visually evident flowers are likely to get credit for ambient aroma. Although many fragrant flowers are bright white, many more are uninterestingly pallid white. Some can be difficult to find. 

They are no less specialized than more colorful flowers, though. Dispersion of fragrance coincides with pollinating activity of preferable pollinators. It is no coincidence that many fragrant flowers are most fragrant in the evening or night for nocturnal pollinators who do not pursue color. Some pollinators may appreciate minor ultraviolet or infrared markings.

Also, fragrant flowers customize their fragrances for their favorite pollinators. That is why floral fragrances are so distinctive. Hummingbirds and most insects prefer rich fragrance during the day. Bats and nocturnal moths prefer sweeter fragrances of nocturnal flowers. Humidity and warmth enhance the activity of most pollinators, as well as floral fragrance. 

Fragrant spring bulbs, wisteria, lilac, mock orange and pink jasmine finished blooming in spring. Star jasmine, night blooming jasmine and various pittosporum should continue to bloom sporadically and fragrantly as long as the weather is warm. Sweet osmanthus and sweet box are a bit less fragrant. Gardenia, although finicky, is famously overtly fragrant!

Krispy Kritter

After the historically warm weather in the Pacific Northwest, I can guess that this is a common theme there.

Tony Tomeo

P80715KThis really is the best climate here. Winters are just cool enough for many plants that require a bit of a chill, but not unpleasantly cold. Summers are just warm enough for most plants that need warmth, but the weather does not stay too unpleasantly hot for too long. Warm weather here typically lasts no more than a week, and is accompanied by light evening breezes and cooler nights. Minimal humidity typically makes the worst of the heat a bit more tolerable.
While much of North America and parts of Europe were experiencing abnormally and uncomfortably warm weather earlier in summer, our weather somehow stayed relatively mild. For a while, it was significantly warmer in Portland than here. It certainly was nothing to complain about. Vegetable plants that crave warmth were not too inhibited by the mild weather. Flowers that typically deteriorate in warm and arid summer weather lasted a…

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Nature Is Messy

Although not a sequel to the sequel last Saturday, this recycled article is relevant.

Tony Tomeo

4This sort of weather pattern does not happen very often. Late spring is normally pleasantly warm, and the weather gets progressively warmer through summer, which typically includes a few unpleasantly warm days. It rarely gets too hot here, and when it does, it does not last for more than a few days, and tends to cool off at least somewhat at night. The air is normally arid. Humidity is uncommon in a chaparral climate.
While so many in the Northern Hemisphere were experiencing unseasonable warmth, the weather here was unusually mild. When the weather became warm, it did so suddenly. There was nothing unusual about the warmth. It was well withing the normal range for this time of year. The suddenness of the change was what made it unusual.
Humidity complicated matters. Again there is nothing too strange about humidity. Although rare, it does sometimes happen. The problem was that…

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Six on Saturday: el Catedral de Santa Clara de Los Gatos

To everyone else, it is merely the Memorial Chapel. I prefer to think of it as el Catedral de Santa Clara de Los Gatos. It is a long story. Not only is it my favorite building that I work around, but it is outfitted with one of my favorite landscapes. Floral color is limited to white! My favorite color! There is not much to the landscape yet, but there will be later, particularly as the removal of adjacent trees improves sun exposure. Relocation of lily of the Nile is untimely, but necessary.

1. White lily of the Nile are a perfect fit here. They will function like a low hedge between the sidewalk and the roadway, without getting high enough to obscure the façade of the small Chapel.

2. Since the roadway is more than five feet below the sidewalk, the dense border of lily of the Nile will make the retaining wall seem less precipitous. The shading Douglas fir will get removed.

3. Double white angel’s trumpet was also a perfect fit when it was relocated here from the same garden that the lily of the Nile came from, but got majorly distressed by spider mite infestation.

4. It is recovering splendidly now, and is even developing floral buds again. Its future is uncertain though, since mites may continue to be a recurring problem. It lives next door to the Chapel.

5. Zonal geraniums presently provide the most white bloom here, although I can not take credit for them. Someone else put them here. I merely pruned them back when they were overgrown.

6. This is not what it looks like. This gentleman may seem to be expressing his opinion of the exclusivity of the white garden, or perhaps my predilection for white, but he is merely being silly.

This is the link for Six on Saturday, for anyone else who would like to participate:

https://thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com/2017/09/18/six-on-saturday-a-participant-guide/