April Flowers

Bring May… seed pods? Sure, of course. Since the world is on fire right now and we aren’t getting any showers in April, I’m just going to show you some flowers now, even though it’s a very sunny day and pics are hard!

The first California poppy flower is always a thrill to me!

Pretty much every single California poppy (Eschscholzia californica) overwintered with ease this year, so they are big strong plants right now. I’m looking forward to a very long season because there are also fifteen zillion seedlings of all ages, who germinated throughout the fall, winter, and spring.

Imperial white currant

I cannot get over my white currant’s flower show this year. I featured this plant in a recent post about the genus Ribes but I posted a photo of it in fruit, because when I was writing that post, it didn’t look like much yet. But now…

Ribes rubrum ‘Imperial’
Cerinthe major overwintered

The problem with daytime full-sun photography with a phone is that the glare from the screen can make it impossible to tell if the lens is focusing on what you want. Oh well. Cerinthe made it through the winter in various stages of floppiness. This a plant that has a very hard time with dog pee, I’ll just say that.

This mustard has naturalized

Three years ago I tossed around some red mustard seed and it’s just an unstoppable force now and I love how it comes up wherever. I might be done with it soon, but for now, it’s bright and cheery and delicious.

Ribes sanguineum ‘Xera’s Lime Punch’ still going

R. sanguineum ‘Xera’s Lime Punch’ is one of my very favorite plants this time of year. It is an absolute beacon of brightness in both flower and leaf, and it seems to fit anywhere in the garden – an eye-catcher from near or far.

Eccremocarpus scaber

My Eccremocarpus vines seem to bloom earlier with each year, as they age. All of them are basically in 100% full bloom right now and it is glorious.

Naturalized violas escaped from a planter years ago
Viola, probably labradorica, too pretty to pull right now
Rosemary ‘Gorizia’ – from Xera

‘Gorizia’ is a great rosemary with a very tall, upright habit and I’m only just figuring out how to tame it and shape it a bit. It’s a very heavy bloomer – in fact it seems to always have some flowers (I could be making that up). It is the ‘it’ plant for the bees right now – you can hear it buzz.

Ok not a flower *yet*

Despite it not being a flower I have to show my Hydrangea quercifolia which is now in its 4th solid year of being variegated, which started in 2017. Working on propagation – it has resisted efforts at cuttings so far, so next attempt will be layering.

Ribes speciosum continues unabated
Various Euphorbias – the dark one is ‘Blackbird’ or similar
Meyer lemon on the patio
Sarracenias are making buds!
Iris x pacifica ‘Simply Wild’
Native Dicentra spectabilis over on the north side of the house
Another native, Oxalis oregana, doing really well after being planted just last year
Rhododendron serpyllifolium var. albiflorum

My friend Dan gave me this charming Rhododendron with the tiniest leaves – in fact it’s also called Thyme-leaved Azalea. It seems to like this spot and is currently blooming profusely.

Dan also gave me the next one…

Rhododendron stenopetalum ‘Linearifolium’

This is a *stunning* plant which is at the same time unassuming. The stunning bit comes from the profusion of spidery flowers in a most unusual form for a Rhododendron. The unassuming bit is that it has a really pleasing, tiered-branching form, like it could easily be seen in a formal Japanese garden. I have both of the above Rhododendrons under a Hamamelis ‘Jelena’ where I’m hoping they will offset the tree’s texture of big, broad leaves with theirs both tiny and lanceolate.

Geranium macrorrhizum

I don’t even remember where I got this Geranium macrorrhizum, but it’s turned out to be a spectacular performer in mostly dry shade under this dogwood tree. It did get some irrigation last summer so I’m sure that helped it a lot to start blooming about a month ago!

It was too much for one photo.
Speaking of the dogwood…
Grevillea ‘Neil Bell’

Also more or less under the dogwood is a newly-planted (ok last summer?) Grevillea ‘Neil Bell’ and I only *just* noticed it has one solitary flower down near the ground! It proved absolutely impossible to achieve focus, so you get an art school photo.

One more:

Armeria maritima ‘Victor Reiter’ in crevice garden

I have started experimenting with the crevice garden concept and I recently completed a second installation of rocks and grit. It’s more or less a continuation of the first, but it’s a sunnier spot and I think I did a better job organizing the rocks. In my next post, I will feature these, so this is your sneak peek.

Thanks for checking in. Stay safe and keep gardening!

Welcome, Spring, and thank you

My friend in a Facebook plant group posted yesterday, saying, “Show us your buds” and while I didn’t manage to post on her thread, I did go out and take some pictures on that beautiful, if frightening, first day of spring. Without further ado:

Ribes sanguineum ‘Xera’s Lime Punch’
Do not not grow this plant, mkay?
Ceanothus ‘Italian Skies’ buds about to burst. I can’t wait!
Oh how beautuful is this. Citrus trifoliata ‘Flying Dragon’ seedling. It’s in a pot.
Phygelius ‘Magenta’ from Annie’s Annuals – I can’t wait for it and neither can the hummingbirds.
On a warm day (above say 55F) it smells like honey and it wafts. Grevillea australis.
Euphorbia something and I just love it. These are immune to dog pee, by the way.
There are many flower buds coming up on this Aquilegia longississima. Beautiful leaf color, too. This blue/purple coloration just happened this past week.
Grevillea ‘Ivanhoe’ looking like he might give me some flowers this year!

That’s all, just a little record of what’s looking particularly interesting today, March 19, 2020.

Stay sanitized, stay physically distanced, and keep gardening, my friends.

A Collection of Currants

Welcome to my new Area of Interest: Ribes, the currants. I won’t call it an obsession yet, because I while I do have several species, I don’t really intend to acquire any more. That could change, of course, but for now I feel like I have a really good collection, so here it is.

My first currant was something I got back in 2015 when I wanted everything to be a food-for-humans-producing plant. It’s a White Imperial currant (Ribes rubrum ‘White Imperial’?) and it’s awesome. I moved it last fall because it needed less scorching afternoon sun. Yeah, that’s a theme.

It’s not doing anything yet so here’s a pic from June 2018. These fruits are delicious and delicate and they stay on the plant for weeks – you don’t have to pick them all at once.

White Imperial currant.

I also had, until the other day, a Jostaberry which is a complex hybrid of Ribes nigrum, R. divaricatum, and R. uva-crispa, the gooseberry.

Jostaberry. Fruits ripen one by one!

I also managed to plant it in a location where it got blasting afternoon sun (GOD why did I do so much of that?!). No one liked the berries. Well, I did, but I didn’t like the little flower end that you have to remove unless you want to chew on a little piece of cardboard every time you eat one. And they ripen one by one so there’s no way to ever harvest enough to make jam or anything unless you have 16 plants. I threw in the towel and removed it. Great plant for a LARGE permaculture garden or for people who enjoy working too hard for marginal edibles.

With those two out of the way, now for more interesting Ribes species.

The first of which is, of all specific epithets, Ribes speciosum. Speciosum means beautiful or showy – this one is also called “Fuchsia-flowered gooseberry” and apparently the hummingbirds totally fall for it. Mine is forming buds:

Ribes speciosum ‘Rana Creek’

I was completely blind to this plant until I visited GardenRiots several weeks ago with my girlfriend who pointed out the flowers and asked me what it was. I knew it was a Ribes but I didn’t think much beyond until Lance made a post on Facebook about it on February 14. What timing! He said something about liking it because it upsets our aesthetic by responding to our climate directly (losing leaves midsummer) and of course I was immediately intrigued: Drought-deciduous?! Sold!

Dog pee protection unit

I ended up planting this pretty near where the Jostaberry was. I think it’ll be a fine spot given that R. speciosum can just go deciduous if it’s too much midsummer afternoon sun. I’d rather have that, than a bunch of scorched leaves. In time, it might get a little shade from the Eucalyptus but that’s a ways off.

Next up is a wee little Ribes malvaceum ‘Dancing Tassels’ from Xera.

From Paul’s description: ” Really excellent form of Chaparral Currant with 3″ soft pink flowers that appear at any point during winter well into spring. An evergreen shrub” AND WE’RE DONE. I mean he had me at “Chaparral” but then there’s all this icing on the cake with the midwinter flowering and being evergreen. It is so cute right now!

Another one from Xera: Ribes sanguineum ‘Xera’s Lime Punch’ is just about to begin its spectacular show.

Ribes sanguineum ‘Xera’s Lime Punch’

This is a spectacular plant that I really, really like. I mean, I love our plain native R. sanguineum and this is just a more interesting form of it. Very worth growing and perfectly climate-adapted. As you can see, I’m not afraid of pink.

The last is another species somewhat new to me: Ribes viburnifolium. Acquired on a whim when my friend August offered to bring me one on a recent trip to Portland. I looked it up: Evergreen, native to Catalina and Baja, dry shade ground cover, smells like wine?! Ok, so I asked him to bring three.

And look, it’s cute. Ribes viburnifolium.

I’m giving the other two to friends who have mature firs in their gardens. Guess which tree I planted mine under…

Yep. Catalina ironwood and Catalina currant. I’m a genius.

Lyonothamnus floribundus ssp. asplenifolius, the Catalina ironwood, of course. How could I not plant them together?!

R. viburnifolium also flowers in midwinter, and the flowers are tiny and really cute. I wonder if hummingbirds will find this – or if they will feel safe that close to the ground (and cats). Perhaps when it’s bigger.

Overall I find this a really interesting group of plants: two are winter deciduous, one is (or can be) summer deciduous, one flowers midwinter and two late winter, then the other two in early to mid-spring. One gives me fruit and the rest all give hummingbirds food. And they’re all perfectly climate-adapted and cool-looking. What’s not to like about Ribes? I guess one could complain about thorns, but I don’t care. They even tolerate dog pee better than many other plants.

Thanks for reading 🙂