Six on Saturday: White Album


‘Album’ is Latin for ‘white’. That is why ‘album’ or a derivation of it is the species or varietal name for several plants. That does not apply to any of these six though. They are just incidentally . . . and coincidentally white. Even though white is my favorite color, I really did not intentionally select these because they are white. I just wanted to show off some of what is blooming now.

I would say that most are unseasonable, but our mild seasons can be rather vague.

1. Pelargonium hortorum – Two florets managed to bloom on a stunted truss that should have been plucked from rooting cuttings in the nursery. Full trusses are blooming in the landscape.P00111-1

2. Primula vulgaris – Heavy rain overnight splattered a bit of the mulch onto the these and other nearby flowers that are low to the ground. A bit more drizzly rain should rinse them all off.P00111-2

3. Helleborus X hybridus – Of these six subjects, only this and #2 above are actually in season. Their pale bloom is mediocre and faces the ground. This one is turned upward for this picture.P00111-3

4. Solanum jasminoides – Foliage is pekid through cool winter weather. Vines will get pruned back before growth resumes in spring. Regardless, flowers bloom whenever they get a chance.P00111-4

5. Rhododendron (Azalea) – As delightful as this unseasonable bloom is now, it would have been much better if it had waited until spring as expected. It will not last long in this weather.P00111-5

6. Hydrangea macrophylla – Bloom continues even as the yellowed deciduous foliage is falling to the ground. Other juvenile blooms are still developing. I will elaborate on this topic at noon.P00111-6

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

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.