Gayle Madwin (queerbychoice) wrote,
Gayle Madwin

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August Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day

I missed the last two Garden Bloggers' Bloom Days, and I'm already running a bit late for this one, and I'm likely to miss more in the near future, because, well . . . wedding-planning is time-consuming! At least if you're also doing other things with your life that keep you busy as well. But for now, I'm going to try to catch up by posting all my garden pictures from the last three months. We'll start with June. One of the most exciting garden events in June was the continued blooming of my leopard lily (Lilium pardalinum), which began blooming in May. It's native to California and Oregon. I saw this plant in the wild on our Snake Lake camping trip in 2009.

Lilium pardalinum (leopard lily)

The other really exciting garden event in June was the blooming of my Sierra mint (Pycnanthemum californicum). I had been looking for this plant for years before I finally obtained it last spring, but it had never been at the top of my priorities list - it was just one of many plants on my list of plants I planned to buy if I ever happened to see them for sale. However, it's rapidly becoming one of my very favorite plants. The leaves smell very strongly minty, and not in the standard "it smells like a plant in the mint family" way but rather in the "I just walked into a candy store!" way. Also, its leaves are covered with very pettable silvery fuzz - well, at least the leaves it's produced since it moved in with us. The leaves it already had when I bought it were and still are a dark, smooth, green. I think the climate differential between its current and old homes accounts for this; silvery fuzz is an adaptation to heat. been blooming its heart out for three months now and shows no sign of stopping. Here are the first tiny flowers it produced back in June.

Pycnanthemum californicum (Sierra mint)

Very soon, it progressed to looking the way it looks now. Here you can see the contrast between the darker, smooth leaves and the silvery, fuzzy leaves.

Pycnanthemum californicum (Sierra mint)

Nearby, the coyote mint (Monardella villosa) has also been blooming from June to the present, but it's been blooming intermittently rather than constantly as the Sierra mint has been doing. The coyote mint also has a very strong scent, but its scent isn't altogether pleasant; it's a bit more sage-like. It's native to California and Oregon.

Monardella villosa (coyote mint)

The sacred datura (Datura wrightii) has been blooming almost continuously since June. This plant is native to most of the United States. At our old duplex with no drainage in the back yard, I planted this in the front yard because I thought it needed to be kept dry. It never grew much and only ever produced an occasional flower in October and November. I always wondered what the problem was, because I knew it was supposed to bloom a lot more and grow a lot bigger. But it was only when we moved here that I accidentally discovered how to make it happy: this plant loves water! Now that it's getting all the water it wants, it's producing so many flowers and so many seeds that I'm beginning to worry about ending up with far too many of this plant.

Datura wrightii (sacred datura)

Here's one of its many seedpods. They're now beginning to dry up, turn brown, and burst open.

Datura wrightii (sacred datura)

I took this picture of the datura in June.

Datura wrightii (sacred datura)

I took this picture of it this morning. Here you can see the tomato plant sharing space with the datura. The tomato plant is the reason the datura is receiving regular water.

Datura wrightii (sacred datura)

I took this picture this morning also. It's a top view of the three flowers in the background of the picture above.

Datura wrightii (sacred datura)

The only other California native that I photographed in June was a volunteer, Muehlenberg's centaury (Zeltnera muehlenbergii). This is native from California north to British Columbia and east to Idaho. The purplish-pink flowers are tiny, but we had so many of them in June that they made a significant visual impact.

Zeltnera muhlenbergii (Muehlenberg's centaury)

The non-natives blooming in June included our southern magnolia tree (Magnolia grandiflora), which is still blooming now, but to a much lesser extent now than in June.

Magnolia grandiflora (southern magnolia)

Non-native blooming in June also included canna lily (Canna indica 'Alberich'), which is also producing much more sparse and intermittent blooms now.

Canna indica 'Alberich' (canna lily)

This is a different view of the same canna.


This is a different canna, but I haven't yet been able to identify it more specifically than that.


Canna indica (canna lily)

In addition to canna lilies, there were pink canna lilies (Zantedeschia rehmannii). Neither canna lilies nor calla lilies are actually members of the lily family. They're also no particular relation to one another.

Zantedeschia rehmannii (pink calla lily)

The bigleaf hydrangeas (Hydrangea macrophylla) also bloomed in June. Both white . . .

Hydrangea macrophylla (bigleaf hydrangea)

And pink.

Hydrangea macrophylla (bigleaf hydrangea)

This little white azalea bloomed in June too, but just barely. This bud and flower were the only blooms it produced, and they were both gone within a week. I don't know the species name of this azalea.

Rhododendron (azalea)

These tiny pink roses also bloomed in June. I don't know their species name either.

pink roses

The last of the non-natives we inherited from the previous owner that I photographed in June was the sweet alyssum (Lobularia maritima). The pink flower in the upper right is a native mountain garland (Clarkia unguiculata).

Lobularia maritima (sweet alyssum)

This brings us to food plants. My carrot plants (Daucus carota) pretty much all bolted in June.

Daucus carota (carrot)

Sometimes the flower clusters display distinct umbels, like this.

Daucus carota (carrot)

Other times all the umbels clump together, like this.

Daucus carota (carrot)

My corn plants (Zea mays 'Peaches and Cream') were just sprouting in June.

Zea mays 'Peaches & Cream' (corn)

That was the very last of my June pictures. We'll follow the corn plants to the present. Here they are in July, with the first few flowers just beginning to push out the tops of the plants. To the left of the corn plants is a pumpkin plant, just beginning to slither toward the corn.

Zea mays 'Peaches & Cream' (corn)

The first ears showed up at the beginning of August. The corn silk starts out pink and dries to brown with age.

Zea mays 'Peaches & Cream' (corn)

Here are the corn plants now. If you look closely, you can see some of the pumpkin vine that I strung up over the clothesline that we inherited from the previous homeowners. The pumpkin vine was threatening to take over the entire side yard, so I strung it on the clothesline to untangle it a bit from the other plants and make my weeding process easier.

Zea mays 'Peaches & Cream' (corn)

Here is a pumpkin flower (Cucurbita pepo 'New England Pie').

Cucurbita pepo 'New England Pie' (pumpkin)

And here is our first pumpkin of the year. Since these are pie pumpkins, they're smaller than the ones I've grown in the past. They should be better for eating but worse for carving. The vine is by far the hugest pumpkin vine I've ever grown, but it took far longer to start producing fruit than the ones I've grown in the past. The relative lack of fruit may be due to the fact that this plant is not receiving as much water as the ones at our old duplex did.

Cucurbita pepo 'New England Pie' (pumpkin)

July gardening was mostly about food, at least to judge from the photographs I took. I bought a basil plant (Ocimum basilicum), and it immediately bloomed. But the flowers ruin the taste of the leaves, so I had to remove the flowers.

Ocimum basilicum (basil)

I tried very hard to keep our orange tree (Citrus x sinensis) well watered this spring, because I read that orange fruit yields can be severely reduced by drought stress during the early phase of fruit development. Last summer when we bought the house, that early phase was already done and there were only three fruits left on the tree. This year, although I watched in distress while the tree dropped dozens of tiny fruits, the tree has managed to hold onto eleven oranges that all seem to be growing very healthily.

Citrus x sinensis (orange)

The other big garden event in July was the blooming of the Sacramento rose mallow (Hibiscus lasipocarpus). Last year this plant started blooming just days before I had to dig it up and move it to our new house, which caused all the remaining flower buds to drop off. This year I finally got to see the plant's natural blooming season for the first time. I wish the individual flowers lasted more than a day. However, the buds are sufficiently numerous that we got new flowers every day for most of a month.

Hibiscus lasiocarpus (Sacramento rosemallow)

And then there were these mysterious yellow flowers that we inherited from the previous owners. They bloomed in July. Very prettily, too. I don't know what they are.

unidentified yellow flowers

This brings us to August. In the food garden, I've harvested my first watermelon (Citrullus lanatus 'Klondike R7'). The watermelon vine has climbed up the compost bin and started winding around the clothesline toward the pumpkin vine. There's also a tiny new watermelon fruit started, up on the clothesline. I can't imagine that the vine can hold the weight of a full-grown watermelon fruit up in the air with its tendrils, so I suspect the vine is going to have to come back down off the clothesline at some point. Here are the watermelon flowers clinging to the compost bin.

Citrullus lanatus 'Klondike R7'

I also have a large number of honeydew melon (Cucumis melo) and cantaloupe (Cucumis melo 'Sierra Gold') plants coming up, with at least six melons on them. Here is, I think, a honeydew melon, surrounded by its flowers.

Cucumis melo 'Sierra Gold' (cantaloupe)

Our potatoes are blooming, too. None of my potato plants have ever bloomed before. At our old duplex, our dog Boston used to dig up the potatoes regularly, so they never had a chance to bloom. Now I have a gate to keep her out of the food garden.

Solanum tuberosum 'Yukon Gold' (potato)

However, the tomato seeds I planted in the food garden failed to sprout. Eventually I ended up buying potted tomato plants (Lycopersicon esculentum 'Juliet'), and I planted them on the patio for easy watering, rather than in the food garden. This unfortunately allowed Boston to strip off nearly every single tomato (she left a couple of green ones, but she took all the yellow and red ones - about two dozen of them!) in a couple of unsupervised hours one morning. And it was the very day that I'd planned to give some tomatoes to our friend Jessica, too. We hadn't been picked any tomatoes for about five days, to save up a good harvest for Jessica, but when Jessica arrived and I went out to pick tomatoes for her, there were no tomatoes left. The tomato crop hasn't recovered since. This picture was taken shortly before Boston's feast.

Lycopersicon esculentum 'Juliet' (tomato)

And here is Boston, smiling innocently this morning among the blue flax flowers (Linum lewisii). The grass on the left is deergrass (Muehlenbergia rigens), and the shrub on the right is a doubleflower mock orange (Philadelphus lewisii 'Goose Creek').

Boston with Linum lewisii (blue flax)

We've now reached the point in the summer when the garden looks infinitely more beautiful every morning than it does every afternoon. Most of my flowers - perhaps especially the natives - lose all their petals by noon each day and produce a whole new supply of them each night. At 8:00 a.m., the blue flax looks almost as good as it did in the spring. Here is a closeup of the blue flax this morning.

Linum lewisii (blue flax)

This blue-eyed grass (Sisyrinchium bellum 'North Coast') also seems to be dropping its flowers each day and growing new ones by the next.

Sisyrinchium bellum 'North Coast' (blue-eyed grass)

California poppy flowers (Eschscholzia californica) usually last multiple days. This one is tinged with red.

Eschscholzia californica (California poppy)

The mountain garland (Clarkia unguiculata) produces its showiest bloom in May, but smaller plants continue to bloom sporadically throughout the summer.

Clarkia unguiculata (mountain garland)

California fuchsia (Epilobium canum 'Calistoga') blooms primarily in early fall, and it's now beginning to ramp up its flower production accordingly.

Epilobium canum (California fuchsia)

California aster (Symphyotrichum chilense) also blooms primarily in early fall, and it's also getting started now.

Symphyotrichum chilense (California aster)

I'll end with some new plants I've recently acquired - some non-natives and non-local natives I decided to try for the first time. In this well-watered pot where the native leopard lily from the beginning of this post has gone dormant, I now have a non-native ruby grass (Melinis nerviglumis) along with a native scarlet monkeyflower (Mimulus cardinalis).

Melinis nerviglumis (ruby grass) and Mimulus cardinalis (scarlet monkeyflower)

I'm only partway done digging out lawn to install a new flowerbed in the side yard this summer, but here's a non-native tuberous catmint (Nepeta tuberosa) that I've planted in the portion of the bed that I've finished installing.

Nepeta tuberosa (tuberous catmint)

In that same bed in the side yard, here's a non-local California native that I've never grown before: Cleveland's beardtongue (Penstemon clevelandii).

Penstemon clevelandii (Cleveland's beardtongue)

It bloomed almost soon as I planted it. The plant in the background in the picture below is another variety of catmint (Nepeta racemosa 'Walker's Low').
Penstemon clevelandii (Cleveland's beardtongue)
Tags: native plants, photographs
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