Tuesday, July 15, 2008
Bloom Day, July 15, 2008
It's not even midsummer, but due to our very early spring this year many plants are blooming well ahead of schedule. Many of the daylilies have already closed up shop, and Sedum "Autumn Joy" hasn't gotten the memo about its name here - it's in full bloom. Gardens around here would be pretty dull in the summer and fall without semitropicals which tend to behave as herbaceous perennials, as well as several members of the Amaryllis tribe, including the clumps of Zephyranthes grandiflora in the pots above. These are hardy in the ground here, but I've had these potted for at least ten years now. They're stored bone dry in the attic all winter, then rehydrated in spring to start again. Below is Vitex rotundifolia, a sub-shrubby species which is reputed to be invasive - I'm watching it carefully, but I like the silvery foliage and muted color.
Achimenes 'Purple King' - a gesneriad which has been totally hardy here for three years and is becoming a happy weed throughout the garden. I save a few rhizomes in dry vermiculite every winter, just in case.
One of the rear window boxes, replanted for summer with orange nonstop tuberous begonias (this is the only place I can manage to grow these, probably because the roof overhang protects them from overwatering and there's very little direct sun in this spot); Kohleria "Red Velvet" (not hardy, but dead easy to overwinter via cuttings); and Coniogramme japonica (somewhat hardy evergreen ferns which I grew from spores). The Achimenes kind of planted themselves, but the purple will complement the orange when they bloom.
Another hardy gesneriad (these have become a special interest of mine lately), Sinningia x"Butter and Cream" (S. tubiflora x aggregata).
A Phygelius new to me this year, "Sunshine". Its distinguishing feature is its bright chartreuse foliage, ironically not too apparent in this picture because of the...er...sunshine...
A very early Lobelia cardinalis, backed up by the first Hedychium blooms of the season (I think this is H. greenii; I got a great new book on the ginger family for Christmas, and one day I plan to key out all of the species and hybrids I've collected...one day) and Arundo donax, a giant, variegated grass which is reasonably well behaved.
Another Lobelia (although this classification is in dispute) called "Candy Corn", for obvious reasons. It also survives the winter here, and one even did so in a large pot.
We have tiger lilies in both the single and double forms, and I can't bring myself to eradicate them, despite their reputation as vectors for viruses. The singles are from my paternal Grandmother's garden, and the doubles have spread from bulbils throughout the garden. The orange and purple theme seems to predominate in the summer here - it wasn't planned that way, but I really like it.
Kaempferia pulchra, another member of the zingiberaceae which performs as a perennial in dry shade. It's slow to get started in summer, but it beats most Hostas by a mile once things heat up around here. This clump is about three feet across now. The flowers are fleeting, but add great color contrast.
Hamelia patens is a subtropical shrub which has survived four winters here as a dieback perennial. I grew my first one from a cutting which "fell" from a planting in the garden of our hotel in Disney World several years ago and was subsequently smuggled home in my suitcase. As you might surmise, the blooms are really attractive to hummingbirds.
Haemanthus (aka Scadoxus) discolor, one of the many South African amaryllids which have been hardy here and bloom in the summer. This one usually puts out these floral fireworks in time for July 4.
I like this combination of Habranthus robustus with the purple Tradescantia, the blooms of which (if you can catch them) perfectly match those of the rain lily. Habranthus blooms attach to their stems at an angle, while those of Zephyranthes are vertical; otherwise, they're pretty much the same.
Gloriosa rothschildiana, another South African, this time in the lily family.
Another South African bulb, Galtonia candicans. The miscanthus has to be watched to keep it from overtaking the galtonias, but I find the grasses help support the bloom stems naturally; I suspect this happens in nature, as well.
Eucomis pole-evansia, not yet in full bloom or full height (it'll top 6'), but I wanted to photograph it before the roof workers arrive this morning, since it may not survive the day.
Cyclamen purpurascens in my "plunge" bed, one of about a dozen I grew from seed supplied by Seneca Hills Perennials a couple of years ago. They're hardy, but I have them in pots for protection right now, and they've been in bloom for nearly a month.
More unexpected are these blooms from a pale form of C. hederifolium - they're not supposed to come until September, and this is not the only such plant in my garden with buds or blooms right now.
Summer wouldn't be summer without crape myrtles. I love them, but I only grow two (this one is "Yuma", and in the back I have "Cedar Red".) Luckily, almost every other available cultivar is growing somewhere in the neighborhood less than a bike ride away. This is Canna 'Panache' duking it out with Tetrapanax papyrifera (no, I never did move it...) I got them both at the great plant shop at Green Spring Gardens in Alexandria a few years ago.
The latest of all the Arisaemas, A. consanguineum, also purchased from Ellen Hornig at Seneca Hill many years ago. She specializes in this species, and I can understand why.
Clerodendron bungei- a suckering shrub, considered smelly by some. I got it from a neighbor of my parents years ago, and have always liked the smell (like peanut butter, in my opinion.)
An enormous white wax begonia (probably a form of B. cucullata) which is being marketed in the trade as "Barbara Rogers". I got it from my grandmother over 25 years ago, and it has come back every year to form bushel-basket sized clumps in locations it likes.
Hymenocallis "Tropical Giant" - I know, it pales in comparison to the one in front of Tony Avents's house.
One of the many crinums which do so well here and bloom through the heat. This one's an heirloom often called "Twelve Apostles". Scott Ogden writes that it's probably a cross between C. asiaticum and C. bulbispermum.
A parting shot of the driveway garden, which is a sea of lantana, salvia, coleus, and various and sundry other heat lovers. Summers like this are great, but they make me so spoiled that going back to work at the end of August gets more difficult every year. But then, somebody's gotta pay for all the compost (not to mention what it's going to cost to heat my tiny greenhouse this winter!)