Friday, May 02, 2008

Flower favorites!


I will probably be updating this with a couple of pictures from my garden later on today. Until then, read this and droooooooooool with envy.

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I GROW ALL THESE (EXCEPT THE ROSES.)

Iris Chrysographes

There is nothing bad to say about this gorgeous plant. (This picture doesn't show the fine golden 'writing' on the fall, unfortunately) It is very nearly perfect in every way. The leaves are narrow, graceful blades that come up about 24 inches, attenuate like sumeo-e brushstrokes, and steel blue-green. The blossom follows the oriental iris design, a fine, delicate dragonfly shape, velvety blue-black and slightly diamond-dusted. The falls are decorated with the finest, glittering golden line, and bumbles find it endlessly interesting. They wander around inspecting the writing until they blunder into the throat and find the nectar, which seems to surprise them. They'll visit the same blossom three or four times in rapid succession as though they're amazed that this thing really is a delicious flower.
The plant springs from a fiberous crown and forms coronas and tufts. It needs to be divided every 2 years or else the crown will heave itself out of the ground and center kill. It dies down to a mound of fibers in the winter.

Primula 'Velvet Moon'
A primula leaf is not my favorite leaf in the whole world; to me it looks kind of like a mutated lung or something. But these leaves are dark shining green and on the smaller side, and from the center of the rosette rises the most gorgeous blossom; typical single primula in form, but a velvet, deep, black-red with a small golden throat. It is the most gorgeous flower in the springtime when everything else is coming up in Easter egg pastels, and it works well next to those hard rhododendron pinks. The blossoms are carried in clusters of 3-5 above the rosette about 5 inches high on a dark stem. If you can keep the slugs from chewing on it, this makes a wonderful specimen planting. I hold mine in planters that I set on the ground, and when the blossoms die back I clean them out and refresh the medium. This keeps them looking nice. toward the end of the summer offsets can be separated from the main crown and potted up. Let them get a good start. They can be overwintered out of doors; just don't let them flood. They're pretty hardy...but like all primmies, the slugs LOVE them.

Hemerocallis Lilioaesphodelus 'Lemon High'

A beautiful daylilly with a tall form and a large yet graceful, trumpet-shaped flower, that smells good. Yes! The blossom is a hard canary yellow, and it is EDIBLE! It tastes like butter lettuce. The only drawback is, that honeybees find something so attractive about the nectar that they will literally chew a hole through the side of the petals to get at the throat-I've stood and watched them do this. If you've ever grown cabbage roses you know what I'm talking about.

Hemerocallis 'Golden Chimes'

A medium-sized daylilly with a mahagony-brown stem and a mahogany stripe up the backs of the graceful, buttery, cadmium-yellow flower. The leaves are bright spring-green and on the grassy side, at least for a daylilly, and the flowers carry high above the clump on branched stalks. This is the most refined of the daylillies.

Tulip 'Black Parrot'
Big, blue leaves followed by a 15 inch stalk atop which the oddest and most beautiful black blossom opens. The petals are 'parroted', which means that they have an odd, ripped-up or tendrilled appearance. It is a single blossom, so it retains the classic 'tulip cup' shape. The color is deepest purple-black-red, shiny on the outside and super velvety on the inside. This is a plant that no photograph has ever done justice to. In life this is a showstopping flower, proportionate in all it's parts and made for the sun to hit and the wind to sway.

Pulmonaria 'Mostly Boys'

(pictured is 'Blue Ensign'. Imagine this with three pink flowers and you have 'Mostly Boys'.)
A lungwort with a plain, light- green leaf and the most incredible, peacock-blue blossoms, with just enough pink ones to draw the attention. It comes out in April and grows in the shade, so its appearance is a benediction in the rain and the gloom. And what a blue!! This is a sport off 'Blue Ensign', I think.

Magnolia Stellata

Just a glorious little flowering tree.

Papaver somniferum, various colors

The blossoms come in every combination of colors there is, but it's the blue ruffly foliage and the Aubrey Beardsley form of the plant, with it's arching neck and odd seed pod that really earns its place. A drift of these is beautiful in bloom, and just at beautiful when the blossom has fallen.

California poppy 'Thai Silk' all varieties esp. Fire Bush

(This is 'Mission Bells. Imagine this, but with fewer pure yellows and shiny.)
A California poppy is a gorgeous little plant anyway...ferny, delicate blue-green foliage and simple orange cups rising above that. Thai Silk is something special again, though. The foliage is the same, and the shape of the blossom is too, but the petals themselves are crisp and pleated lengthwise, and they shine with the exact luster as silk fabric. The color range is cinnebar and golden yellow and peach-orange and purple-mahogany; a very Indonesian palette. It is simply yummy!!!

" " 'Mission Bells'
Very similar to 'Thai Silk', but without the shimmer. Color range is buttermilk white, clear yellows, oranges and mahoganies.


Artemesia 'Spanish Lace'

(Like this, only without the guys' head in the middle.)
You could call this a crappy shrub, or a sturdy herbaceous perennial. It likes very dry soil and full sun, and the foliage is the main attraction. It will get small round yellow button flowers on it, which look something like a chamomile blossom. You cut them off. The foliage is like a cloud of needle lace and is a bright silver-blue-grey. 'Spanish Lace' is a very apt description. I've had mine in a galvanized bucket directly in the path of the northeaster for the past 5 years and it comes back every year like a champ.

Snapdragon 'Apricot Fire' 'Black Prince'



These two look good together. Apricot fire is a 12 inch bushy plant with green leaves and a blossom that is apricot above and yellow below. Black prince is a 16 inch spiring plant with dark leaves, black stems and a red-black blossom with a lighter red to orange throat. Super striking on their own too, but stunning together.

Nigellia Damascena

Words cannot express. Lacy, delicate green foliage... Beautiful, glorious peacock blue blossom....MMMMmmmmm!!!

Delphinium Blue Mirror

This is a short-lived perennial in this climate, but it comes pretty readily from seed. The blossom and the foliage are a lacier and more refined version of the usual delphinium pattern, and the blue....! Maxfield Parrish would have killed for this blue!!

HTR 'Don Juan, Tropicana


I will never grow them. HTR's are simply too demanding. But I love to see them well-grown in other peoples gardens. They are truly an ornament. Don Juan is a climber-rambler, and the leaves are dark glossy green. The flower is dark, dark red with a glowing red heart. Just dreamy.
Tropicana is like a pillar version of 'Josephs' Coat'. The blossom colors are more pronounced and it carries its red tones more aggressively than Josephs Coat; a variety that tends to run to washed-out yellows and peaches.

Rosa 'The Mermaid'

A well-grown tree of this rose in full bloom is a like a tidal wave of whipped cream. Pretty, simple-double blossoms are on the smaller side, but it flushes in the hundreds of thousands. Imagine an apple tree in spring, but with larger blossoms. That gives you a rough idea of the size and effect of this rose.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

gardening

I'm sitting here with my hands swollen up like two baseball mitts, feeling as though someone has kicked me in the side of the neck with a pointy shoe. One hip is seized up about an inch higher than the other one, which puts quite a hitch in my giddyup. I am in pain, and I am lopsided. And I have gardening to thank for this state of affairs. One weeks worth of weeding, digging, cutting, trimming, planting and roaming around with my hands on my hips going 'Huh....' and my shit is RACKED UP.

There is simply something in my DNA that makes me want to annoy vegetation. I don't always love it, but I have to do it the same way I have to sleep or eat. I don't feel right if I can't.

I had a few forewarnings....once, when I was 13, I started a few flowers on my windowsill that quickly went from mint out of the back yard to a redwood burl to marijuana, and just as quickly got quashed by the parental units (never plant dope in the street side window of a house, kids.)

A few years later I 'got the call' to become a nun. Not just any nun, though; one of the Sisters of Canaan- a cloistered order that was reclaiming unused land for agriculture somewhere in the Midwest. It sounded great to me at the time...of course, so did Elton John.

Years later I asked for a job at a local garden nursery. I was spending most of my time there anyway, so why not get paid? That's where I really learned how to garden-how to pot up plants and take cuttings and make medium and all the other stuff. And I liked it real good.

Now, my grandmother gardened, although by the time we moved next door the main work had been done for years and all that was left was trimming and weeding. My father gardened too, and he did a damn good job of it. The problem was, I was the kid, and so I never got to do anything but tote and pull weeds, which didn't suit me one bit. I finally put my foot down and refused to do another thing after I found a tomato hornworm and made a giant dramatic screaming scene about it.
...EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEW.

I didn't want the garden to be associated with punishment or drudgery, and so I didn't insist that my daughter be my yard slave*. She learned to garden from the same woman I learned from, which probably was all for the best. And now my daughter is teaching my grandson, and he goes out into the yard and digs holes so that Grandma will give him a flower to plant in them, and is proud to select a baby flower to take care of at the nursery. So I feel like my job is done.

Gardening can be hard work. I don't mind that. I don't mind being cold or filthy or wet or miserably tired if it's related to gardening. Gardening is also, for the larger part, a sheer joy. I certainly don't mind wandering around the pretty flowers with a pair of clippers going 'snip, snip...la la la....snip, snip' all afternoon with the fat bumbles making circles around my head. And let me tell you, after wasting two years in college on a business degree and another year trying to convince myself that I didn't mind wearing nylons every day and making copies for a living, I can state conclusively that I would much rather be ankle-deep in rotting pumpkins wearing a 'Fuck Off And Die' t-shirt, and drinking cheap warm beer in the sunshine.

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*watch the comments, though. accounts may vary.

NEW POST!!!!

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LINK TO DEAD STUFF
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A DOG LICKING YOUR COMPUTER SCREEN
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