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Saturday, March 17, 2007

Garden blogging

Oh, if only I weren't so sick! It's been nearly a week, and I still hear bubbling and rustling noises coming from my own lungs. This traitorous body with its sudden spasms of burning pain and breathlessness is stealing from me an otherwise perfect gardening day.
The blue fescue has come back to life - festuca ovina, I think - thready, almost metallic, next to the plush green straps of the Naked Ladies (Amaryllis belladonna, which flowers in the fall, pink-and-white pinstriped trumpets of the most delicate fragrance) and the paler swords, slightly fuzzy, of montbretia.
The montbretia will be flowering soon, holding up spears of vivid orange-red trumpets that will contrast gloriously (eye-achingly) with its flat-bladed leaves.
High on the top of the hill, the tibouchina (Brazilian princessflower? I forget its common name) is blooming, on rangy leggy stems, the flowers teacup-sized and a vivid reddish purple.

I cut back the bougainvillea really hard, because it was taking over the entire hill, but later next month it will surely grace us with its vivid magenta bracts. There's plenty enough left of the horrid, thorny thing.
My wildflowers are beginning to bloom, a good sign. The garden is dotted with various red and blue flax plants, and the Love-in-a-Mist (Nigella damascena?)
is starting to grow heavy with buds. The California poppy at the very top of the hill is all buds, too, even though the native bulbs, calochortus, dichelostemma, triteleia, brodeia, have not yet lost their leaves. The violet-scented irises (five patches, on the midpart of the hill!) are throwing out one or two last spears of blooms. They started in late January and blessed me with vivid deep-purple fist-sized blossoms all through February. It's time, I suppose, for them to go. Outside the kitchen, a new final stalk has thrust its multiply enfloresced head through the fan of leaves. I hope it gets to bloom before it's too hot!
Lower on the hill, near the very bottom, the yellow iris is getting ready - it's a spring bloomer, really, and the weather already feels like summer.
This year for the first time, the flowering plum saw its bare black branches completely swathed with tiny, fragrant pink flowers. Photo courtesy of the incomparable Ron Sullivan This is not my tree, but someone else's - however, mine is a single-flowered purple-leafed type that looked an awful lot like this one, till the last flowers disappeared this week.
The silly robins tore a lot of them off, but for two weeks there was a heavenly rain of tiny, scented petals, and now they're lying like sequins on the greenth below. Bronzy red leaves have burst where the flowers once blossomed.
The Santa Cruz hibiscus was cut back hard yesterday. Its fuzzy, heavily cut and lobed leaves clutched at me accusingly, like little hands, but I know it'll soon be laden with its purple flowers - as it is, it was so heavily laden, I had to cut it back - the flowered stalks kept breaking.Photo from UCSC Arboretum Gallery
The lantana seems to be quite dead, but I know its faking it. It's come back from all kinds of near-death before, although this year's cold snaps certainly wiped out the gardenia, and some of the African basil transplants.
Madu killed a mole and offered it to the Gardening Goddess - the Lady of The Beasts and Fields - probably to beseech her not to let me weed his ample cover off the hill. Little beast - that's probly why I'm so ill. I saw its tiny form, feet stiffly up in the air, the sable velvet of its coat unmarked, but unmistakably Madu'ed. He's horrid about leaving presents where I'm most likely to sit on them!
I cut all the buddleia back quite hard, except the Black Knight cultivars. I shall have to try to get that done today. Lilac, mauve, lavender, bluish-purple, and a nearly black purple. Very pretty, but bloom is not expected till late summer. Meanwhile the calendula has shown itself somewhat renewed from the frost - I see about a dozen egg-yolk-yellow rayed blossoms. And some of the toadflax survived. Also the California lilac (ceanothus producer of the most dreadful pollen!). And for the early-roused bees, finally, the echium fastuosum is preparing foot-high spikes of purple blossom, which will soon feature clinging hordes of somnolent buzzy, fuzzy, gold-dusted little bugs of every sort.
The Shasta daisies, regrettably, don't seem to appeal to our bugs. Pity. I did get several nice little families of fleabane, with its pink-and-white rays framing yellow polleny hearts. All echoed by a clump or two of feverfew, and veritable falls of white sweet alyssum.
Oh, and the hummingbird sage and pineapple sage both survived! Although the silly hummingbirds seem to vastly prefer the pineapple sage.
The manzanita is barely visible - tall, but much crowded by the Cecile Brunner climbing rose and the revolting thornless blackberry. Another thing to cut down. And fennel has sprouted wildly all over the hill. How to get rid of it?
In good news, the two clumps of big blue lily turf also survived, as did the heliotrope (a miracle!), and the gorgeous Gloriosa daisies, here and there, scattered over the hill.
Now we must prune the dietes vegeta as close to the ground as we can. Whatever possessed me to plant that?
The sweet William will soon be back - I see the leaf rosettes scattered among the white-blooming yarrow. The rare pink native yarrow also appears to have survived. The white-flowered oleander is lush with leaf, and barely breaking bud. The cherry-flowered oleander at the bottom of the hill is not doing as well. We'll see if it'll make it, but scale, mildew, and general damp and dark are not in its favour.
The nasty martians (nasturtiums) are coming down the hill - cascades of perfectly round, if a little raggedy, leaves, and flowers tending from palest yellow through deep cinnamon. Come summer, the scabiosa will bloom, white, pink, mauve, lilac, red, burgundy, purple, plum.
And the hyacinths and freesias all survived, although the freesias seem pretty overwhelmed by all the pineapple sage.
Oh, and the aquilegias survived and will bloom, and the dicentra (pink bleeding-hearts) has spread all over the small garden outside the kitchen. Interspersed with babiana (purple-red), harlequin-flower (cream with purplish-brown markings), feverfew, various pink and rose flowering oxalis, primroses, pink and purple, pink hyacinths, and blue Spanish bells, a poor final surviving polemonium, tiarella (foamflower) which may or may not have survived, and the most gorgeous prostrate veronica flooding over the brick walkway to mass up against a purple-flowered solanaceum. The camellia is hiding behind it, under an olive tree. I see buds, fat buds on the camellia this year. Perhaps I'll have some pinky-white blooms to match the rose there. Fortunately, the deer don't care for the taste of the camellia.
By the front doorway, the hard-pruned wisteria has set out huge buds - I was afraid it wouldn't bloom at all, but it's come back with a vengeance. It should be blossoming soon, followed by the honeysuckle, now that the helleborus is done (mostly) flowering. The false maple continues to bloom which is alright by me, and the cotoneaster also. Soon there will be native blue and yellow miniature irises under the big conifer, and if the luculia blesses us with its fragrant pink blossom in the fall, I will die happy. Last year, the weather caused it go straight from bud to burned brown detritus. The year before I could walk on the deck lost in a heavenly cloud of fragrance.
Perhaps I'll take my aching lungs down there, after all. All this talk of gardening is making me long to feel the soil in my fingers. I'll update this with more lovely pictures (disclaimer: none of these are mine) later!

Updated: 03/18/07
Well, I did go down into the garden. It made me happy, although my lungs still hurt!
Montbretia picture courtesy of the Weed of the Month page at BlueMountains, an Australian site. I had no idea! Perhaps Crocosmia crocosmiiflora is not as invasive in the U.S.? It is annoyingly persistent in the garden, and quite the spreader. Perhaps I'll get rid of it, after all.

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At 10:04 PM, Blogger Sandy-LA 90034 said...

This is pure poetry (so speaks a "baby poet")!

Do you do professional writing? Do you write poetry?

I envy and admire your easy use of words to describe beauty. I struggle to find words and I think it's a blessing to be able to convey the beauty of our world so well.

At 4:29 PM, Blogger ThePoliticalCat said...

Why, thank you very much, Sandy!
I am a published writer, and the Great Book Reading Project is part of completing a novel in the works.
As you can tell, I'm passionate about my garden!

At 4:59 AM, Blogger Glickster said...

For more about Hellebores:

At 12:51 PM, Blogger ericat said...

You must have a stunning garden and a lot of love for it. I am trying to do an endemic to South Africa garden. The lilies are endemic and you might like to see them. They bloom and surprise me all the time as most of the time I forgot what I planted and where I planted.
I do wish you better health.
You are welcome to visit lily garden


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