Snowball Bush

90424Long before hydrangea blooms with its distinctively round floral trusses of abundant small flowers, the snowball bush, Viburunum opulus ‘Roseum’, shares its own unique version of similar bloom. Although the cultivar name suggests that the bloom would be pink or red, it is exclusively white. Hydrangea will bloom later, mostly in pink or red, with some in blue or lavender, and a few in white.

The snowball blooms of snowball bush are about thee inches wide, so are smaller than those of hydrangea, and do not last quite as long. They bloom early in spring, without subsequent bloom. The two or three inch long deciduous leaves might turn surprisingly vivid orange and red before defoliating in autumn. Mature specimens easily get taller than ten feet, and might reach fifteen feet.

Snowball bush eventually develops a relaxed and unrefined style that fits nicely into woodsy landscapes. Autumn foliar color is better with full sun exposure, but a bit of partial shades promotes a slightly more open branch structure that displays the spring bloom better. Pruning should be done after bloom. Snowball bush prefers somewhat regular watering and rich soil, but is not too finicky.


Japanese Anemone

81128Here it is, three quarters of the way through November, and this Japanese anemone, Anemone hupehensis or Anemone X hybrida, is finally finishing bloom. It should have finished a month ago, but does not always stay on schedule here. Each cultivar exhibits a distinct responsiveness to the seasons, so others finished a while ago. The deciduous foliage will eventually succumb to frost.

Once they get going in a spot that they like, Japanese anemone slowly spread. Although not considered to be invasive, they can be difficult to get rid of if they creep into spots where they are not wanted. Because they bloom so late in summer and autumn, they get divided in spring. Even old colonies may never need to be divided, but can be divided if more plants are desired elsewhere.

The elegance of the foot high foliage seems contrary to its woodsy and unrefined compatibility with taller shrubbery and small trees, like rhododendrons, Japanese maples and hydrangeas. It is an excellent seasonal understory. The limber stems of the white or pale pink flowers get about twice as high as the foliage. The one and a half to two inch wide flowers are either single or double.

Japanese anemone wants rich soil, partial shade and regular watering. It can be happy in full sun exposure if it does not get too warm and dry.

Six on Saturday: Camellias on Parade


The camellias are STILL blooming! They may not bloom profusely, but they have been blooming for quite a while. I do not know how many different cultivars are here, but there are more than I can fit into just six pictures. There are six more for next week, although two might be the same. They are the dark pink or red camellias. For this week, we have two light pink and four white camellias. I did not get any picture of the sasanqua camellias. I have not seen reticulata camellias or any other specie here.

1. This clear pink camellia is probably my least favorite of these six, only because it is a bit too casual for my taste.P80421
2. This clear pink camellia looks more refined. I really like this form.P80421+
3. Now we have white, my favorite color, but the bright yellow stamens in the middle make this casual camellia look like a fried egg.P80421++
4. I happen to prefer this fluffier white, with less prominent stamens.P80421+++
5. Wow! This one really looks yummy!P80421++++
6. Now my favorite; so simple, and so white, although, the camellia in the previous pictures actually looks yummier!4bd5
This is the link for Six on Saturday, for anyone else who would like to participate:

Baby’s Breath

80328You might think that such a popular flower would be easy to get a picture of. Baby’s breath, Gypsophila paniculata, is everywhere, and almost a standard component of the mixed bouquets found in supermarkets. However, the flowers are so small and so sparsely arranged on thin stems, that they do not look like much in pictures. This picture is a closeup of a tightly bound bundle of bloom.

As common is it is with other cut flowers, baby’s breath is quite uncommon in home gardens. It is not often available in nurseries. Seed should have been sown by about now. Baby’s breath grows something like a tumbleweed about three or even four feet high and wide. The stems look too delicate to stand so tall. The minute flowers are usually white but can be pale pink and slightly fluffier.

While blooming in summer, baby’s breath is so handsome that no one wants to cut the flowers. It is difficult to take just a few good stems to add to other cut flowers without ruining the symmetry of a well rounded plant. Some people who grow it prefer to put it out of the way, or grow it amongst other flowers to hide the disfigurement of harvest. Baby’s breath blooms better if crowded anyway.


80321It looks like sweet alyssum, but is not even close. The tiny white flowers and finely textured foliage work almost as well for similar uses in the landscape. In fact, the plants are most often grown as short term warm season annuals. However, candytuft, Iberis sempervirens, is really a perennial that can be cut back in autumn, regenerate through winter, and bloom for spring and early summer.

One must really examine candytuft closely to see that it is related to cole crop vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage and Brussels sprouts. That is why is has an odd aroma when cut back. Mature plants have the potential to get nearly a foot deep, but typically stay lower. They can spread a bit wider than a foot. Candytuft can tolerate a slight bit of shade, but prefers sunny exposure.

If planted closely together, candytuft can form a nice small scale ground cover. It mixes nicely with stones, and cascades slightly over the edges of low stone retaining walls. It is more substantial than sweet alyssum, and works better for permanent planting in borders and along walkways. The barely perceptible floral fragrance of individual plants can be quite appealing in larger volumes.

Six on Saturday: My Favorite Color II – The Sequel!



These are a few more of the flowers I get to work with. The cool season annuals will eventually be replaced with warm season annuals. The English daisies are warm season annuals that replaced cyclamen. Candytuft stays as a perennial. The viola and dianthus are sparse because of the shade from the big redwoods.

If you are easily offended, you should not read this article I wrote earlier about my favorite color:

1. cyclamenP80303
2. violaP80303+
3. dianthusP80303++
4. primroseP80303+++
5. English daisyP80303++++
6. candytuftP80303+++++
This is the link for Six on Saturday, for anyone else who would like to participate:

Six on Saturday: My Favorite Color



These are a few of the flowers I get to work with. I do not know any of the cultivars. Some are blooming a bit early because of the prior warm weather.

If you are easily offended, you should not read this article I wrote earlier about my favorite color:

1. American plumP80224
2. rhododendronP80224+
3. azaleaP80224++
4. camelliaP80224+++
5. zonal geraniumP80224++++
6. callaP80224+++++
This is the link for Six on Saturday, for anyone else who would like to participate:

White Trash

P71018Long before my white supremacy garden (, I noticed that some white flowers were inferior to their more colorful counterparts. Brent (to the left in the picture in that other article I just cited) is often pleased to remind me of it. Only a few flowers are at their best in white. I, of course, am pleased to remind Brent of them. Then, he reminds me that black flowers are very rare, as if that makes them special. I then remind him that most black and dark flowers are pollinated by flies, so must imitate the fragrances of what flies are attracted to.

Callas, lilies, gladiolus, camellias, oleanders and dahlias all excel in white. They are at least comparable to their more colorful varieties. White callas, gladiolus and oleanders are actually superior to those more colorful. Some but not all varieties of rose, hydrangea, wisteria and tall bearded iris are exquisite in white as well.

Then there are plants like bougainvilleas, crepe myrtles, geraniums and angel’s trumpets that are less impressive in white. Bougainvilleas and crape myrtles just are not quite as bright in white as they are in their vibrant pinks and reds. White geraniums and angel’s trumpets are relatively weak, and white geraniums do not drop faded flowers efficiently.

Many white flowers do not even try to impress. They throw their pollen to the wind and let it do the work. Color is for flashy flowers that want to attract pollinators. Pyracantha and photinia flowers, for example, are neither colorful nor big and flashy, but are very numerous. They are somewhat fragrant, just in case some sort of pollinators happen to be interested. Other wind pollinated flowers do not even offer that much.

Nocturnal flowers that rely on nocturnal pollinators might be big and fragrant, but are mostly insipid pale white. Some are slightly blushed with yellow or pink. They are not bright white only because they do not actually use the brightness of their white to get noticed. They instead use ultraviolet or infrared color that is invisible to us. Many of these seemingly bland flowers have rather flashy patterns of stripes, spots and blotches that are only visible to nocturnal animals and insects who can see ultraviolet or infrared light. Many flowers that are active during the day use this technique in conjunction with visible color (that we can see) as well. Regardless, it does nothing for us, since we can not see it.

White Supremacy

winchesterMany people have a favorite color. I learned how seriously some people can take their preference for a particular color when I was in high school, and taking care of the yardwork for a few homes in the neighborhood. There were three tract homes next to each other. One was grayish blue, with a silvery blue Sedan deVille in the garage, and a garden of blue flowers. The middle house next door was soft amber yellow, with a buttery yellow Oldsmobile 98 in the garage, and a garden of exclusively yellow flowers. The house next door to that was iron oxide red, with an exquisite rich red Electra in the garage, and a garden of, you guessed it, red flowers.

The blue garden was the most challenging because true blue is not easy to find, and the big hydrangea kept trying to bloom pink in the slightly alkaline soil. Yellow was the easiest. There is no such thing as too many marigolds; and I really like nasturtiums! Red was my favorite because it included a few white flowers to contrast with the rich dark shades of red. Between the dark green juniper hedge and the deep red petunias, I grew a row of white petunias. A few white pansies got mixed with two shades of red pansies. I grew my first white geranium there, with several shades of pink and red. I really liked the white flowers.

Then I went to school with Brent. He was from a neighborhood with a purple Bonneville and an orange Caprice with a small dent in the driver side tail flank (which I can explain in another essay). Brent loves color! To him, white is only good for brightening dark areas or highlighting other colors. I can not argue with him. He is a landscape designer. I am primarily a grower. He knows a lot more about color than I do.

Well, by the 1990s, while I was growing citrus trees (which, incidentally bloom primarily white), ‘white gardens’ became a fad. How annoying! I always liked white; but loathed fads! I had this thing down long before it became a quaint coffee table book! It was mine! Brent thought that it was funny, especially since my garden had very little white in it. I would not give up my brightly colored nasturtiums and geraniums that I had taken with me to every home I lived in since childhood. I grew sunflowers, and yellow and orange gladiolus in front because they looked so good on my old apartment building. Too much white just would not have been right.

Eventually, I moved my blue lily-of-the-Nile and roses from a side yard that was not visible from out front, and planted only white flowers around a big white oleander tree. I had callas, daisies, iris, dahlias and white lily-of-the-Nile. There was not a lot of bloom at any one time, but there was enough for me to brag to Brent about. I had such attitude about it that Brent said it was more than a mere ‘white garden’. He said it was my ‘White Supremacy Garden’! Oh my! Take a look at the picture above. That is Brent and me back in the early 1990s. I am on the right. When we were in school, Brent would sometimes get marked absent at our night classes.