Gayle Madwin (queerbychoice) wrote,
Gayle Madwin

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March Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day

It's been many months since I last participated in Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day. I haven't participated regularly since we bought our house, although I did make a token effort to participate in August and October. I took a few pictures in November and thought about participating, but then I got so busy refinishing kitchen cabinets that I didn't have any time for it. In December there was practically nothing blooming. In January there still wasn't much blooming, but I really meant to participate anyway - to start the new year properly. But I got busy with house things again and completely forgot. In February some things started blooming, and I intended more than ever to make sure to participate - but then we went camping during Bloom Day, and when we got back I had camping photographs to post, and by the time that was all over with, it seemed much too late to bother.

So now it's March, and spring is definitely ramping up. This means not only that more plants are blooming, but also that more of the plants blooming are mine - plants that I planted, that is, rather than plants that came with the house. And plants that I planted are always the most important.

This is my first time participating in Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day since I got my new camera in December. I had a very hard time figuring out how to take extreme closeups of flowers with my new camera. Unlike my old camera, my new camera doesn't have a macro button. It does have a macro function - there's a macro icon that shows up on the viewscreen - but the extremely short manual that came with the camera did not mention that at all, so it took me a lot of experiementation to discover that there was a macro icon at all, and then it took me a whole lot more experimentation to figure out how to make the macro icon show up when I wanted it to. And then there was this terribly annoying problem that whenever I did succeed in getting the camera to focus properly on something closeup, the camera would display the word "Processing" for several seconds and then reveal that the colors in the photo were unnaturally hypersaturated and unrealistic-looking. This, it turned out, was because my camera was set to apply "artistic effects" to macro images but not to other images. So it took me even more experimentation to figure out how to turn off the "artistic effects."

This picture is one that I took during my period of experimentation, when the "artistic effects" were still on. I later edited the picture on my computer to tone down the "artistic effects" because I didn't think neon colors were really appropriate, artistically speaking. However, some faint traces of the "artistic effects" remain, making the plant pot look a little more glazed than it actually is, and making my gardening clogs look slightly glazed as well. I kind of like the result. The plant in the pot is "baby black eyes" (Nemophila 'Penny Black'), a garden cultivar that looks like a hybrid between two California natives, baby blue eyes (Nemophila menziesii) and five spot (Nemophila maculata). I'm not sure what the cultivar's actual parentage is, however, and I must say that in my garden, it grows much more like baby blue eyes than like five spot - which is to say that it grows very well! Five spot isn't well adapted to the Central Valley, so I usually only get a few flowers from it. Baby blue eyes thrives here, and baby black eyes is also thriving. It has many more flowers on it now than it had when I took this picture.

This is a more recent picture that still doesn't really do the plant justice. I think it has more flowers than this now as well.

The flowers on this plant are quite small, no bigger than a 25-cent American coin, so it was the perfect plant to experiment with my new camera's macro function on. Eventually I figured everything out. Well, at least everything macro-related. There are still plenty of other functions on my camera that I don't really understand yet.

The picture below is probably the most accurate representation of the color of these flowers. They truly are more black than purple, but since I'm fonder of purple than I am of black, I tend to favor photographs that bring out the purple undertone a little more than you'd actually see it if you were looking at the flowers in person.

If you do look closely, however, the purple undertones can certainly be seen.

The native baby blue eyes (Nemophila menziesii) is also blooming, in a different area of the yard.

Some California native birds' eyes (Gilia tricolor) are blooming in the herb and vegetable garden. They're not edible, but I didn't have time to finish digging out the Bermuda grass to create the food garden last summer, and Bermuda grass can't be dug out as effectively during the winter, so when the weather got too cold for killing Bermuda grass, I tossed some wildflower seeds on the undug section in hopes of at least weakening the remaining Bermuda grass a little by shading it out. It's now very thoroughly shaded - and when the annuals die out in May or June, I can resume digging out the Bermuda grass.

Hooray for the macro function! These flowers are also very small, about the same size as the baby blue eyes and baby black eyes.

And here's another tiny native flower. This is the native hookedspur violet (Viola adunca). It was blooming a whole lot when I planted it last fall, but this is its first new flower after the winter froze off the old ones.

This is Baker's manzanita (Arctostaphylos bakeri 'Louis Edmunds'), a plant I bought by accident because I picked up the wrong pot when trying to buy a common manzanita (Arctostaphylos manzanita 'Dr. Hurd'). I eventually succeeded in buying a common manzanita, but it's still in a pot because I haven't finished deciding where to plant it. The accidental purchase, however, has found a home and is blooming happily. These flowers are incredibly tiny - about the size of unpopped popcorn kernels.

And here's a California native evergreen currant (Ribes viburnifolium). I planted it under the southern magnolia, and it burst into bloom not long after.

That's the end of the California natives. Here's a prostrate rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis 'Prostrata') that I planted in the food garden.

Here's a plant that's not exactly in our yard at all - a cherry plum tree (Prunus cerasifera) that's in our neighbors' yard, but a portion of its branches are hanging over the corner of our fence. We had one of these in the house I grew up in, but I was always told that the fruit was poisonous. Now the Internet tells me that the fruit is perfectly edible, though the seed contains traces of cyanide that may in some cases be sufficient to cause harm. But you can eat the fruit and skip the seed! Well, my parents never much cared for eating fruit of any kind, so I suppose they weren't motivated to inquire much into the edibility of the fruit on their tree. I don't actually like cherries or plums very much either, but I'm sure Susan can find ways to use them in cooking so that I'll like the result.

There's also a turkey vulture tree in a yard next door to us. Here it is, as seen from over our roof. There are nearly always at least 15 turkey vultures in this tree. I don't know what kind of tree it is.

Now here are the plants that came with the house. This is a calla lily (Zantedeschia aethiopica). They're invasive in the Bay Area but less so here. Ours are contained in a bed between the house and a paved walkway,

This is sweet alyssum (Lobularia maritima), which is planted absolutely everywhere on our property, as a sort of universal filler. Most of it has plain white flowers, but the flowers on this plant have purple undertones.


This is candytuft (Iberis sempervirens), in a planter near the front door.

This is elephant ears (Bergenia cordifolia). The flower clusters seem to start out as spheres . . .

. . . and turn into fountains.

The elephant ears are growing underneath a camellia in the front yard. There is a second camellia plant to the right of this one - you can see a branch or two of its drooping, wilted-looking leaves. I think it's a different kind of camellia, and it seems to be much less happy here than the other. It's quite small, and I'll be surprised if it survives the summer.

Here is a closeup of the healthy camellia. Anyone know what kind it is?

Here it is again. Could someone please identify my camellia?

Here we have a daffodil of some sort. I'm not at all sure which sort.

Here's the same daffodil again. Could someone please identify my yellow daffodil?

Here are some daffodils of a different sort. Anyone recognize them? Some of these appear to be all done blooming for the year now, while others still haven't even started blooming yet.

I think this is an azalea. Anyone recognize it?

This is a geranium (Pelargonium sp.). I don't know what kind this is either.

This is a rose. Again, I have no idea what kind.

Here's some sort of bulb. I don't even know the genus of this one. Any guesses? The flowers are very small, about the size of the tip of my little finger.

This shrub is also a complete mystery to me. It's very nicely sized for its location under my office window, and so far it hasn't needed any pruning at all. I'd really like to buy a second one, to fill in a space where I removed a taller shrub. To do that, though, I need to find out what it is. It has dark blue berries (you can see one in the center of the picture) and is just now beginning to cover itself in spikes of flower buds.

Last but not least, here's another mystery flower. This one seems to need tons of water, since it looks like we have at least two of the plants, but only the one directly under the hose spigot is blooming.

Here's a closeup of the mystery flower. Anyone know its name?

Tags: native plants, photographs
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