February is a short month, and I have allowed two memes to creep up and past me: Garden Bloggers' Foliage Day at My Hesperides Garden and the monthly favorites posting at The Danger Garden. So I will slip them both in here, with apologies to Christina and Loree respectively! And as this will be a fairly casual post, I will then ramble a little further. After all, it is spring in the garden...
First are a couple of February favorites. One has to be Senna nemophila. In bloom since January, it has become a splendid shrub, around five feet tall now, soft and billowy and full of golden yellow bloom. Here are some pictures I took the other day.
There have also been the narcissus. Tazetta varieties have been blooming off and on since late December, but they have reached their peak this month. Here is the current stand, glowing against the dark foliage and bright pink flowers of Eremophila maculata "Valentine". I am rather pleased with the combination.
Unfortunately I don't know the name of this narcissus, though I would think it is probably part of the paperwhite family. The most wonderful thing about it is that the clump is thicker and more floriferous this year than it was last, unlike some of my spring bulb attempts!
And now on to the foliage for February. This is a celebration of the beauty of new leaves on the pomegranate bush. Punica granatum has such lovely new growth!
Deciduous woody plants play a different role here than they did in my earlier garden, where they were the mainstay of garden structure because evergreens, both broadleaf and needle, were often difficult to grow. Here it is the deciduous shrubs that are always a bit of a surprise to me. I particularly enjoy the way the pomegranate leafs out just when I feel it should, just as the season turns unmistakeably into spring. This is a far cry from the very late greening up of my Lagerstroemias, which wait so long that I simply can't believe they are still alive. Not even a little early swelling of buds to reassure the nervous gardener. Stressful plants, those! They make up for it, of course, with a magnificent season of growth and bloom. But you see that I am grateful to the pomegranate for its timeliness!
And now on to a brief ramble because today I pruned the mighty Wollerton Old Hall, which had clambered some six feet or more and tried to crowd into the patio. I am looking forward to the new season with this vigorous rose, and in the meantime it was pleasant to discover more self-sown sweet peas from last year's planting at its base. This year's sweet peas have gone into the South Border, but I am glad there will be a few here in the Central Bed again as well.
Other than that, the pruning shows just how big a gap I have on one side of the bed, a gap left by the refusal of Cistanthe grandiflora to survive the summers here, plus the disappearance of Mirabilis jalapa as well. I am making plans to fill some of the space with Hesperaloe parviflora; I can pull a pup off one of the plants on the west side of the house. As well, I should probably move Salvia greggi "Flame"(that small green blur in the middle of the picture) to the outside of the bed as it remains fairly low-growing despite its rambling spread. I avoided that last year as I do love seeing its flowers just below Wollerton Old Hall. But it gets visually dwarfed by the rose and Russelia.
The large-leaved plant behind is hollyhock "Creme de Cassis", planted out last spring, the lone survivor of a small batch of seedlings. It looks set to bloom this year, though. Hollyhocks have a good reputation here, as the leaf ailments common in moister climates don't affect them in our very dry conditions. So says report, at any rate. This will be my first year to see them in bloom here.
Otherwise, the great event in the garden continues to be the blooming of Alyogyne huegelii, featured in my last post. This one is a replacement for the original, which died as last summer burned on and on. The new plant has already grown much more healthily and is blooming more freely. Unlike its predecessor, it is planted at the bottom of the North Border, in a fairly heavy (though well-amended) soil.
And with that I will end today's ramble. There is much to be done and much to be enjoyed in the garden right now. This evening or tomorrow I hope to dawdle out with a pencil and paper to take notes on where to plant next year's bulbs and annuals, in order to flesh out the borders during this season of trimmed-back perennials. It is a strange feeling to have the garden full enough to do this! Two and a half years on from bare soil...
Weather Diary: Fair; High: 65 F (18 C)/Low: 37 F (3 C); Humidity: 17%-76%
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Kris P (Saturday, 25 February 2017 20:58)
It's wonderful when the garden makes that shift from spare to something, isn't it?! If you ever figure out the name of that Narcissus, you must let me know as it's one of 2 noID varieties growing in my own garden. I share your apprehension about those plants that are slow to leaf out - I've been giving my smoke bush (Cotinus coggygria) a good stare down too as it persists in looking like a pile of dead sticks while everything else is leafing out (well, except for the Albizia julibrissin, which always seems months overdue).
Cathy (Sunday, 26 February 2017 08:13)
Only two and a half years? Oh, well done Amy! I had no idea your garden was so young! The Pomegranite leaves are a lovely sign of spring. I envy you that healthy Hollyhock - mine always gets rust, and although the flowers are still pretty the plant slowly gets more and more raggedy as summer goes on! Have fun rambling and planning. :)
Ia n Lumsden (Sunday, 26 February 2017 08:33)
The Senna nemophila is splendid and well photographed, the small yellow flowers dainty and photogenic. I know nothing about it. Interesting contrast with the UK as your tazetta narcissi are coming to an end. Mine are just suggesting colour unless I have forced them. It is impossible to keep on top of the different varieties as they spread and merge. I'm not entirely sure what more one might expect in a garden so young. Other than congratulations.
rusty duck (Sunday, 26 February 2017 08:34)
You've achieved so much Amy, your garden is a real credit to you. I wonder how many other desert dwellers have gardens so lush?
Loree (Sunday, 26 February 2017 13:54)
You'd be remiss not to feature that Senna, it's a standout. As is the Alyogyne huegelii. As for that blue sky...(so jealous)...
Christina (Monday, 27 February 2017 02:47)
Your pomegranate is way ahead of mine; although reading your post makes me realise I should perhaps check it! The rest of your garden is looking great too; it is interesting that deciduous trees do best for you whereas evergreens are definitely the easier for me to grow. Enjoy spring!
Amy@smallsunnygarden (Monday, 27 February 2017 19:01)
It really is, Kris - I have to keep reminding myself that what is now a large gap was an imcomplete border last spring. (I have some of those still too...!) I hope your Cotinus behaves itself and greens up promptly ;-)
Amy@smallsunnygarden (Monday, 27 February 2017 19:09)
That's a big compliment, Cathy - thank you! :) I actually hesitated before trying hollyhocks because they were too aggressive in my earlier garden, despite also getting that raggedy foliage! I am waiting to see how they work here, but I'm really hoping they are a good choice as I need something of that height!
Amy@smallsunnygarden (Monday, 27 February 2017 19:28)
Thank you so much, Ian! :) The Senna has definitely gotten more beautiful each year so far, and its flowers are always a pleasure to photograph. During its first six months or so, I was completely unsure it would even grow... It just sat there and looked forlorn through its first summer. It has more than made up for that! I suppose these narcissus hybrids are nearly as much a blend of species as the large-flowered types? I suspect this one to be more or less a paperwhite, so presumeably actually a form of N. papyraceus, despite my description above. I need to learn more!
Amy@smallsunnygarden (Monday, 27 February 2017 19:41)
Many thanks, RD! That's a bit of a loaded question as the prevalent planting style here is to use large plants spaced widely apart in a sea of gravel, each plant receiving its bit of water via drip irrigation. It can look quite attractive, but perhaps not lush... ;-)
Amy@smallsunnygarden (Monday, 27 February 2017 19:51)
That's what I thought about it, Loree - thanks for being so tolerant about my late post ;-) We have very gray skies here today with a pretty good rainfall. I had to drive into town and worried about getting back home, but fortunately the roads were (mostly) above water... Hope you get some real springtime soon!
Amy@smallsunnygarden (Monday, 27 February 2017 19:58)
Thank you, Christina! We have had a particularly mild winter here, compared to your unusually cold one, so that might be a factor. Perhaps my description was a little confusing; the deciduous plants grew best in my earlier garden in the Midwest. Hot, humid summers and heavy soil kept many conifers unhappy, and winters were just a little too cold and windy for many of the best broadleaf evergreens. Here I find the evergreens are good, but from force of habit I still often forget to try the conifers!
Kate (Tuesday, 28 February 2017 18:59)
That Senna literally glows in that lovely golden light. So beautiful! How clever of you to grow hollyhocks and you are probably right - the rust and leaf spot that might do them in here are not a problem for you in your drier climate.
Amy@smallsunnygarden (Thursday, 02 March 2017 09:17)
Isn't that Senna a beauty, Kate?! And to think that during its first summer I didn't even expect it would survive! I always admire yours too; it's such a lovely thing. The hollyhocks... I have to laugh about the hollyhocks because in Missouri they grew too well in our yard and became a pest. I all but swore I would never, ever grow them anywhere. But if they behave nicely here, I'll be so glad to have something tall and lush and bright!
joanna uk (Wednesday, 08 March 2017 03:06)
you have the best of both worlds: both Spring and Summer flowers at the same time.
Amy@smallsunnygarden (Sunday, 12 March 2017 01:09)
Joanna - Yes, but it depends on what one defines as a 'summer flower', as most of the common ones won't make it through summer here; I have to use ironclads! Thanks for visiting :)