Gayle Madwin (queerbychoice) wrote,
Gayle Madwin

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June Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day

Although it's only June, my garden is starting to visibly decline from the peak of its May glory. We had a huge lightning storm on June 4 - lightning experts were quoted in the newspaper saying that it was the most prolonged and intense lightning storm they'd ever seen anywhere in the world, and the map in the newspaper showed that our town was right in the center where the storm was most intense of all - and a lot of the flowers were knocked down by that. My poppies are looking increasingly dog-trampled, the smaller of my two silver bush lupines shriveled up and turned brown while we were camping at Little North Fork (I think this was from drought - it looks dead but it actually isn't, so I've been watering it now in hopes it will recover), Boston dug up my evergreen currant and my blue elderberry (the former looks like it may recover, but the latter looks like it won't), and either Boston or Ganymede or both leaped into my volunteer willowherb and broke off 90% of the branches at ground level. Also, bermudagrass is taking over the entire yard with a ferocity that I don't remember it demonstrating last summer. But then, last summer I only had two plants, so I was more free to douse the yard with herbicide to kill everything in sight.

Anyway, you won't be able to tell from most of these photographs that my garden is in decline, because I took most of these photographs at the end of May, before the decline began. For example, when I took this photograph, Boston was still the only dog in the family. She posed with catmint and deergrass (both in the foreground), beardtongue, poppies, and silver bush lupine (all in the background to the right of her).

My narrowleaf milkweed (Asclepias fascicularis) has been blooming and attracting plenty of milkweed bugs. (We had millions of milkweed bugs even before I planted any milkweed; if anything, we actually have fewer of them now. I don't know what they were all eating before I planted milkweed, but I do see them crawling on the milkweed flowers sometimes.) This is an awkward-looking plant; on any given day, usually about half the stems are lying horizontally on the ground. Strangely, these stems intermittently perk up and stand vertically again, only to lie horizontally again the following day. I have no idea what that's about. The flowers are barely noticeable unless you walk very close, but they're kind of pretty if you do take the time to look for them.

My superb mariposa lily (Calochortus superbus) bloomed at the end of May. It produced three flowers, one at a time in rapid succession, each one lasting less than a week. Now they're all gone, and alll that's left is three seedpods. They were interesting while they lasted. They're called mariposa lilies because the markings on the petals resemble the eyes on the wings of a butterfly. "Mariposa" is the Spanish word for "butterfly."

Also at the end of May, I began finding old, dried up remains of flowers on my soap lily (Chlorogalum pomeridianum). This confused me terribly, because I never saw any fresh flowers. I checked the plant every day, and every day I saw only buds and old, dried-up flower remains. Then Susan bought me the book Wild Lilies, Irises, and Grasses: Gardening with California Monocots. The book explained that this plant blooms only at dusk, whereas I had been looking at it in broad daylight. I decided to go check on it at dusk, and right away I found it blooming.

My blue flax (Linum lewisii) is still blooming away as much as ever. This plant has definitely impressed me. (And I'm happy to say that one that sprouted from seed I scattered last fall is now almost big enough to start flowering too - next year I may have many of these!)

My smaller silver bush lupine (Lupinus albifrons) produced a single flower spike at the beginning of May, then wilted and turned brown at the end of May. My larger silver bush lupine waited until the end of May to suddenly produce a dozen flower spikes. This plant is still looking healthy; hopefully it had time to get its roots out a lot farther than my younger, smaller one did. However, the flower spikes are short lived; the bottom halves of them have already turned into seedpods now. (On the bright side, this means I'll soon be growing more of them!)

My catmint (Nepeta X faassenii 'Walker's Low') is in full bloom now and growing fast. Stardust is afraid to venture far enough out in the yard to go smell it, but she likes it plenty when I bring a sprig or two of it inside for her.

My foothill beardtongue (Penstemon heterophyllus 'Blue Springs') has just about reached the end of its blooming season now. Boston and Ganymede trampled on it and broke off most of the last few flowering stems the morning after we adopted Ganymede. But I took this picture in late May, while it was still at its peak.

My hummingbird sage (Salvia spathacea) started blooming at the end of May and hasn't stopped yet.

My tiny Caraway thyme (Thymus herba-barona) that I planted in April hadn't yet bloomed a month ago, but has finished blooming now. Here's what it looked like while the flowers lasted.

My red bush monkeyflower (Mimulus puniceus) in the front yard has been blooming since late April, and now the smaller one in the back yard is also blooming. However, I couldn't get a good picture of either of them this month. They both have a lot of dried up old flowers on them, along with a few pretty new flowers at the tips of the stems.

A shrub that was apparently planted by the owners of our duplex has also started blooming. I think it's variegated Japanese burning bush (Euonymus japonicus 'Aureo-marginata').

It's supposed to be planted in full sun, but the owners planted it under the shade of the patio roof. As a result, the branches that are able to reach into the sunshine are twice as tall as the others and have yellow leaf variegation, while the parts in the shade are stunted and have no yellow on the leaves. This is the sort of monstrosity you will produce if you plant things without researching the correct conditions for them.

Here are two more shots of Boston in the garden at the end of May.

Here is Boston in the garden this morning, demonstrating why my poppies are looking so trampled lately.

And here is Ganymede running out to help her trample them. (Recognize my foothill beardtongue? See, it only has three or four blue flowers left.)

The dead-looking plant to the left of Ganymede is one of the dog-trampled willowherb branches that I tried to replant, hoping it would grow new roots. Obviously, it didn't work.

Meanwhile, my volunteer willowherb (Epilobium spp.), which I had previously thought was Fort Miller fairyfan (Clarkia williamsonii), is now as tall as I am, but it still hasn't bloomed. It's too heavy to hold up its own weight anymore, so I shoved it into the space between the fence and the house to keep it upright. One of these days, it's supposed to bloom. Maybe next month!
Tags: native plants, photographs
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