Six on Saturday: Lily Of Denial

‘Lily’ is such a vague designation. So many of the popular flowers that are known as ‘lily’ are not even remotely related to real lilies, which are of the genus Lilium. It is no wonder that many of them are confused about their obligations to the gardens that they inhabit. Some bloom unseasonably. Some develop unusual floral or foliar color. Their confusion can be contagious to flowers that are not even classified as lilies, such as #3 of these Six. Fortunately, the weird behavior of these flowers that live in denial of their true identities has been harmlessly and undeniably delightful. Such aberration is how new cultivars are sometimes discovered.

1. Lily of the Nile is in denial of its bloom season. After all others have been deadheaded, this one continues to bloom. It should be copied if its delayed bloom schedule is genetic.

2. Belladonna lily, or naked lady, followed its lead. Mr. Stephens of Garden Ruminations explained that it may be another variety or species. Other naked ladies have gone seedy.

3. Dahlia is the one of these Six that does not try to be a lily. However, it is trying to be a new color. It was simply yellow last year. Perhaps it got this idea from ‘Cleopatra’ canna.

4. Canna lily, or canna, is trying an unexpected foliar color. Its parent is a bronze Canna musifolia, like the other seedling at the top of the picture. I anticipated genetic stability.

5. ‘Cleopatra’ canna generally, although not always, displays weirdly random red stripes on spotty yellow blooms. It seems to have shared much of its red with the yellow dahlia.

6. ‘Wyoming’ canna bloomed exclusively orange until this richly orangish red appeared. Perhaps ‘Cleopatra’ of the Nile was seedier than naked ladies with more than the dahlia.

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

Garden Phlox

Pictures can not share the fragrance.

More than a dozen species of Phlox are native to various ecosystems of California. They are generally uncommon within refined home gardens though. The more popular garden phlox, Phlox paniculata, is native east of Kansas. It naturalizes in some regions, such as the Pacific Northwest. Locally, it might self-sow only where it gets water through summer.

Garden phlox can get as high and wide as three feet. Some modern cultivars should stay a bit more compact. Individual flowers are only about an inch wide, but bloom with many others on dense panicles that are as wide as six inches. This richly fragrant bloom is red, pink, white, pastel orange or pastel purple, and continues for almost a month of summer.

As its potential for naturalization suggests, garden phlox is not particularly demanding. It appreciates good exposure, but can tolerate a bit of partial shade. It enjoys richly organic soil but can survive within soil of mediocre quality if it is not too dense. Regular watering sustains bloom, but established plants can survive with minimal watering after blooming. Propagation by division of large or overgrown plants while dormant through late winter is very easy.

White Bloom Brightens Cool Shade

White might be an acquired taste.

White and black are supposedly opposites. White is a combination of all wavelengths of visible light. Black is a complete absence of such light. In other words, white is a mixture of all colors, while black is the absence of any color. This seems contrary to the common perception of white as a complete lack of color, and black as a complete mix of all colors.

It actually makes sense. The two really are opposites of both each other and themselves. This is about horticulture though, rather than physics. Black is quite rare as a floral color. White is not. The vast majority of flowers do not rely on color to attract pollinators, so are green or brown. Otherwise, most other prominent flowers in many ecosystems are white.

Like inconspicuous green and brown flowers, many white flowers exploit wind more than pollinators. Such flowers are generally profuse, but mostly diminutive and unimpressive. Other flowers that appear to be white utilize infrared or ultraviolet colors that are invisible to people, but colorful to nocturnal pollinators. Some of them are pale during the daytime.

Otherwise, the majority of white flowers that are popular within home gardens are just as flashy as their nonwhite associates. For many types of flowers, such as roses, camellias, azaleas and the countless types of annuals, floral color is more variable than floral form. White is simply another option for color. It serves various specific and practical purposes.

While brightly colorful annuals are appealing within sunny and exposed situations, white flowers brighten darker situations. They contrast nicely with dark green foliage and richly colorful flowers. Petunias that might be a bit too deep purple for a particular situation can mix with similar but white petunias to be more harmonious. White can be a buffering tint.

Colors should preferably be appropriate to their particular applications. Such selection is more aesthetic than horticultural. Some plants, such as gladiola, petunia, calla, oleander and some lily, excel at white bloom. Bougainvillea and crape myrtle excel at richer color.

Six on Saturday: White Trash III+

White is my favorite color, which is why I have featured exclusively white flowers for Six on Saturday at least twice already. I recycled the title of the older posts for this new post because it is less objectionable than the title of another post that expresses my proclivity for white. The first three of these six are from the exclusively white garden of El Catedral De Santa Clara De Los Gatos, which is actually the Mount Hermon Memorial Chapel, or simply the Chapel. For these first three, the direct sunlight was not conducive to pictures of good quality. The other three are from a small garden of mixed colors across the road. Incidentally, the garden adjacent to the exclusively white garden includes various colors, including various Pacific Coast iris, but any new plants there will bloom exclusively blue.

1. Catharanthus roseus, Madagascar periwinkle, was hastily installed to replace petunia that desiccated as redwood roots sneaked in from below to abscond with their moisture.

2. Pelargonium X hortorum, zonal geranium, was likewise hastily installed for its quick white bloom, but a few years earlier, and performed well enough to propagate and share.

3. Brugmansia candida, angel’s trumpet, is a copy of an old specimen at the Santa Cruz Civic Auditorium, which inhabited my mother’s garden, but then needed to be removed

4. Verbena X hybrida (or Glandularia X hybrida), garden verbena, was installed with a mix of color in a garden across the road from the exclusively white garden of the Chapel.

5. Lobularia maritima, sweet alyssum, inhabits the same garden, where it should ideally cascade over the low stone retaining wall, but never grows big enough through summer.

6. Phlox paniculata, garden phlox, mysteriously appeared in the background within this same garden, and was appealing enough to stay, and even got divided for other gardens.

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

Garden Phlox

Garden phlox is more popular in other regions than it is here.

In eastern North America where it grows wild as a native, garden phlox, Phlox paniculata, is modest but classic perennial that gets more than four feet tall with pinkish lavender flowers from late summer through early autumn. Modern garden varieties are mostly somewhat more compact with pink, red, light purple or white flowers. Many have fragrant flowers; and some have flowers with lighter or darker centers. Butterflies and hummingbirds dig them all.

Locally, garden phlox probably looks best with slight shade or among other lush plants, only because humidity is so minimal. Otherwise, it would be just as happy out in the open. In well watered gardens with rich soil, it sometimes self sows a bit, but rarely naturalizes continually enough to revert to a more natural (wild) state like it can in gardens on the west coast of Oregon and Washington. Garden phlox can be propagated by division of mature plants either after bloom in autumn or in spring.

Deadheading Conserves Resources

If not deadheaded, roses can put a lot of resources into production of seed and hips.

It takes quite a bit of effort for flowers to bloom. It takes even more effort and resources for pollinated flowers to produce seed and the fruiting structures that contain the seed. If the seed of certain aggressive plants get dispersed, we need to put even more effort into pulling up the seedlings. It just never seems to end!

Removal of deteriorating flowers, commonly known (even by those of us who missed that generation) as ‘deadheading’, can eliminate so much of this extra work. Not many plants benefit from deadheading; but most that do are really grateful for it. Others that do not care one way or the other simply look better without their deteriorating flowers.

It is of course impossible to deadhead large flowering trees or vast areas of ground cover. Regularly shorn hedges should never need deadheading because they never get the opportunity to bloom or develop fruit. Plants that are appreciated for the ornamental quality of their fruit should of course not be deadheaded.

Most roses get deadheaded as they bloom because the development of their fruiting structures, known as ‘hips’, takes enough resources to compromise subsequent bloom. Removal of these hips therefore promotes bloom. Only the few types of roses that are grown for their showy hips should not get deadheaded. Phlox, daisies, zinias, dianthus and all sorts of plants with long continual bloom seasons likewise benefit from deadheading.

Some types of iris that produce seed perform better with deadheading, not because they will bloom again during the same season, but because they can divert resources to vegetative growth (like rhizomes and foliage) that will sustain bloom during the following year. Most bearded iris (that do not produce seed) and lily-of-the-Nile do not seem to care if they get deadheaded, but are generally more appealing without their finished flower trusses.

Four o’ clocks can not be deadheaded without also removing developing flowers, so can only be allowed to bloom and throw their invasive seed all over the garden. It is easier to pull their seedlings later. We have a bit more control over crocosmia. Even though they do not need to be deadheaded, they are less invasive and more appealing without their scraggly brown stalks and seed capsules.

Six on Saturday: Mostly Summer

Seasons here are rather mild. People from more interesting climates may not realize that there are any seasons here. Some may believe that it is almost always summer, with only a few days of some other season that is not summer. In reality, climates here experience the same four seasons that occur throughout the rest of North America. The seasons are merely less distinct here. That confuses some plants. Many plants that do not mind mild climates set their own schedules. Some simply have extensive bloom seasons. Of course, many flowers, such as petunias, are totally aware of winter, but know how to thoroughly exploit summer.

1. Chrysanthemum does not seem to be aware that it should bloom for autumn. Actually, it blooms whenever it wants to, and after this bloom phase, may also bloom for autumn.

2. Roses should bloom from spring until autumn, but because of partial shade, generally finish with the best bloom by now. This year, their bloom continues as if it is still spring.

3. Lilies that grow from bulbs bloom only for spring, although many were still blooming recently. This one is a daylily. Like the chrysanthemum, it blooms whenever it wants to.

4. Petunia is a classic warm season annual for summer. This one is dressed up as Santa Claus for Christmas time though. Maybe it is actually dressed up like the flag of Austria.

5. This color is rad, even if I can not describe it. Is it purple? Is it burgundy? Perhaps it is irrelevant. I would not have selected it anyway. Such tasks require specialized expertise.

6. Ah, this is more my style. Even I can see that this is plain white. It is my favorite color, and is one of the two simplest. Only black is as simple; but it is very rare among flowers.

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

Mexican Heather

Mexican heather has finely textured foliage.

The minute bright pink flowers of Mexican heather, Cuphea hyssopifolia, are less than a quarter inch long, but are enough to get the attention of the hummingbirds who really dig them. Flowers can rarely be more purplish or even more rarely white. The limber stems are well foliated with finely textured and narrow leaves that are not much more than half an inch long. Mature plants are typically lower but a bit wider than two feet. Overgrown plants can be pruned severely at the end of winter to regenerate over summer.

Six on Saturday: Glad

Gladiolus hybrids are not reliably perennial locally. They might not be reliably perennial anywhere. I had believed that they could be so where they get more winter chill, but chill does not seem to help. I have been told that they are no more perennial in Pennsylvania, Oregon or Oklahoma. When I grew them many years ago, only about a third survived to bloom for a second season. Of that third, only about a third survived to bloom for a third season. This is one of many reasons why I am so ‘glad’ about perennial Gladiolus papilio , as well as Watsonia species, from Tangley Cottage Gardening. Although, strangely, a few hybrid Gladiolus survive.

1. Watsonia X pillansii ‘Coral and Hardy’, just like the Gladiolus papilio, was a gift from Tangly Cottage Gardening of Ilwaco in Washington. I learned that it blooms in summer.

2. Lilium of an unidentified cultivar is finally finishing bloom. Obviously, it is irrelevant to Gladiolus. It just happened to be so pretty precisely as I was in need of a sixth picture.

3. Gladiolus is mostly finishing bloom now. These few are blooming a bit late. These are merely the common hybrid sort that someone purchased from a retail nursery years ago.

4. Not only have a few of the Gladiolus hybrids been surprisingly reliably perennial for a few years, but this pastel yellow cultivar has actually multiplied, from one bulb to a few.

5. This Gladiolus hybrid blooms annually also, but unlike the pastel yellow cultivar, does not multiply. This and one other just like it are the only two, with neither more nor less.

6. This purple Gladiolus hybrid does the same. It would be nice if it could generate a few copies. Since it is the only specimen here, and might be fragile, I will not tamper with it.

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

Zonal Geranium

Zonal geraniums bloom colorfully through summer.

Where winters are cooler, zonal geranium, Pelargonium X hortorum, performs as a warm season annual. It is perennial only with shelter from frost. Locally, traditional cultivars are so reliably perennial that they can get congested without thorough pruning and grooming after winter. Frost occasionally ruins outer growth, but rarely kills entire plants with roots.

Modern cultivars bloom more profusely and more colorfully than old cultivars, but are not quite as resilient. They are more likely to rot during the damp and cool weather of winter. They bloom exquisitely from spring through autumn though, with bright hues of red, pink, peach, salmon and white. They stay lower and more compact, so require less grooming.

The more popular modern zonal geraniums should not get much more than two feet high and wide. Their small flowers bloom on globular floral trusses that can get as wide as six inches. Traditional zonal geraniums get bigger, with smaller floral trusses. Nearly circular and aromatic leaves generally exhibit darker halos between lighter centers and margins.