Garden Bloom in March

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Salvia greggi doing what it does best: providing nectar for one of our precious hummingbirds. This is a female Anna's Hummingbird (Calypte anna), pollen on her beak and the top of her head!

First a confession.

 

Wandering around the garden today, camera in hand, peering here and there to see what is in bloom, for the first time I was thrilled with the garden.  Not with the idea, or with this or that plant or combination of plants, or even with a particular piece of it all, but with the garden itself.  For the first time I can feel it as a whole, however tentatively.  There is still chaos here and there; the hedging must be completed; big gaps and outright errors need to be remedied; but for the first time I can see that there is a garden here.  

 

It helps that it is March.  This month and next will see the height of bloom here, much like high summer in more temperate gardens.

 

I realize that I rarely show long views, and I admit that I'm still not quite ready to do much of that.  Most plants are still so small!  But I have included a few vignettes this month, especially of the East Border, which has been one of the most difficult areas to work out.  So, first a few vignettes, then a rather complete look at the individual plants.  Mostly pictures, I'm afraid.  Lots of them.

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Here is a surprise nasturtium tucked in among Lantana "Denver Red" at the foot of Euphorbia tirucalli "Sticks on Fire". I have seeded in more nasturtiums in hopes of fleshing out the effect.

One area I'm particularly pleased with is the north corner of the East Border.  One of the first sections to be planted at the bottom of the garden, it has gone through many permutations and killed quite a few plants.  The effects of too-intense sunlight are compounded by heavier soil, which was compacted by construction equipment shortly after we moved in.

 

Now, at long last, the Willow Acacia (Acacia salicina) is big enough to provide some real relief to plants beneath it, while the Senna - apparently capable of withstanding any amount of sun and heat - supplies further shade on the east side.  As the flowers drop, this shade will decrease because the foliage is exceedingly light, but it will help even in midsummer.  Meantime, the area seems downright shady.  Nevertheless, this spot has become home to some of the most resilient of natives, as well as agaves, aloes, and cacti.

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Tetraneuris acaulis is blooming in the foreground. Behind it, Chrysactinia mexicana is covered in buds, just missing GBBD this month, though it may well bloom through to next. The yellowing foliage belongs to autumn-blooming Sternbergia lutea.

And from just around the corner, here is Aloe "Blue Elf" with Senna nemophila.

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From another part of the garden, here is Freesia alba (see also my recent post) blooming between white lantana and Lavandula dentata, displaying the unescapeable fact that extra colors keep creeping inexorably into the White and Silver Garden.  The yellower freesias may well be moved as they are tipping the balance a little too far out of the monochrome scheme envisioned as consisting of cooler whites to silvery hues.

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And now a tour through the various borders...

The North Border

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Hippeastrum "Red Pearl" masquerading as bloom stalk for Agave angustifolia variegata... This Hippeastrum is a new addition and will probably not bloom so early in future.
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Justicia californica, the enfant terrible of the North Border, sprawls every which way but is indispensible to the hummingbirds and seemingly needs no attention whatever. It has been in bloom many months.

A quick look at a few other faces from the North Border... from left to right: Pelargonium hortatum, Lavandula multifida, Cerinthe major (self-seeded from last year), Catharanthus roseus, and Limonium perezii.

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Narcissus "Bright Spot" will be the latest-blooming of my narcissus. Its ancestry includes N. poeticus.

At the bottom of the border is Alyogyne huegelii.  It is flowering heavily and dropping its enormous blooms just as quickly since they do not hold more than a day or two.  The effect verges on the spectacular.

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Central Bed

There is less actually in bloom in the Central Bed at the moment, since so many plants received significant pruning last month or early this month.  The Salvia greggi varieties have responded particularly well, and they are just coming back into flower.

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Blooms of Salvia greggi "Autumn Moon" (pink and white) and a classic rose-red seedling
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A small but unusual white-flowered Salvia greggi seedling, presumeably the offspring of "Autumn Moon" above.
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Near the center of the bed and currently half-hidden by a burgeoning hollyhock is native shrub Calliandra californica "Baja Red".
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Buds only on Penstemon pseudospectabilis "Coconino County". It has become a massive plant and is loaded with bloom stems.
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Last year's dianthus back in bloom. This was expected to be an annual here, but I decided to let it grow on if it would. The plants have survived and returned to bloom, but I'm far from sure that I can get them tidied up.
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Russelia equisetiformis "Big Red" is never without flowers.
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My rescued Freesia clump was bought two years ago at the garden center when its flowers were all spent. It is thriving at the top of the bed, but it may be time to move it into the East Border.

East Border

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A first bloom has arrived in a small clump of Calendulas which I started by direct sowing last autumn.
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I discovered the first blooms just opened on Berlandiera lyrata today.
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The last blooms from Narcissus "Sugar Cups" are graced by a drooping branch of Senna nemophila.
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First buds on a new plant: Justicia spicigera, seen against a yellow background of full-flowering Eremophila x "Outback Sunrise"

South Border

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Turning the corner into the South Border, Eremophila maculata "Valentine" is dripping with bloom. It has received less attention than it ought this spring.
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The new Penstemon parryi. Its blooms are not so substantial as its predecessor, which may yet flower this year. I am hoping this new plant will gain vigor over the season.
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Lavandula stoechas "Madrid"
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Eremophila hygrophana is a profusion of blue. It was seldom without a flower last year, so I am surprised to see it putting out this level of bloom for spring.
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Ozothamnus diosmifolius against a patio column

Thanks to all of you for taking this March tour of the garden, and thanks to Carol for hosting Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day at May Dreams Gardens!

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Salvia greggi seedling

Weather Diary: Fair with light clouds; High: 90 F(32 C)/Low: 57 F (14 C); Humidity: 17%-58%

Write a comment

Comments: 18
  • #1

    Lea (Thursday, 16 March 2017 08:42)

    Beautiful blooms! I think it is the yellow and orange flowers that I like best, though the purple blooms are wonderful! Great photo of the Hummingbird!

  • #2

    rusty duck (Thursday, 16 March 2017 09:40)

    Fab shots Amy. The plants, obviously. But that top image of the hummingbird is just superb. How on earth did you manage to freeze all that movement?

  • #3

    Loree (Thursday, 16 March 2017 11:30)

    First of all I am so happy for you! I know that feeling you describe, of garden contentment. It's wonderful when it finally washes over you.

    What beauty! I loved these wider shots, and I am going to have to invite myself over the next time I'm in Phoenix! (Sadly that won't be soon enough). Your shot of the red agave bloomstalk is fabulous...as are so many others...

  • #4

    Jane King (Thursday, 16 March 2017 12:26)

    I am so happy to hear that you are at the point where you are able to enjoy the bigger picture, even if only briefly! Your photos are fascinating - for me they offer a glimpse into a completely different world. Wonderful to see! Keep up the good work!!

  • #5

    Leanne Conrad (Thursday, 16 March 2017 13:13)

    The first picture is absolutely stunning! I enjoyed looking around your garden from over here on the east coast. I can almost feel the sun and heat!

  • #6

    Kris P (Thursday, 16 March 2017 13:17)

    This is a great post, Amy! The opening photo with the hummingbird alone is wonderful but the other photos capture the beauty of the garden well too. I remember a similar moment in my garden, also in early spring, about 3 or 4 years ago - I felt like a joyful Disney princess twirling around my garden and would have burst into song if I could have done so without sending the birds scattering in terror. I love the shot of the Hippeastrum behind the agave and my copy that in my own garden.

  • #7

    Brian Skeys (Friday, 17 March 2017 07:14)

    You should be very content with your garden Amy, you have a wonderful amount of colour there.

  • #8

    Cathy (Friday, 17 March 2017 14:44)

    You really have some beautiful flowers Amy. So many are unknown to me, and some I. can grow as annuals, like the salvias. And then there is the familiar and very pretty Narcissus in among them all! Beautiful photos too - especially of the hummingbird. Such exotic and delicate little creatures. :)

  • #9

    Amy@smallsunnygarden (Friday, 17 March 2017 14:44)

    Thank you so much, Lea! The yellow and orange flowers have come out so beautifully this spring :)

  • #10

    Amy@smallsunnygarden (Friday, 17 March 2017 14:48)

    Thanks so much, Jessica :) That little creature was perhaps two feet away from me; to be honest that was the most thrilling part of it. Most photos were still blurred as I could hardly track her movements anyway, but the ones that came out, came out with a lot more detail...

  • #11

    Amy@smallsunnygarden (Friday, 17 March 2017 15:00)

    Loree - It's a great relief as I'd begun to wonder whether it would ever come together... ;-) Still waiting for the taller plants to get enough height to make it look right.
    And of course tou'll be more than welcome when you do make it out; just remember that we're almost off the map up in the northwest corner - out past Surprise. But it's easy to get here!

  • #12

    Amy@smallsunnygarden (Friday, 17 March 2017 15:53)

    Many, many thanks, Jane! I am so looking forward to the day when I can see the garden in its entirety. I'm not silly enough to think it will ever be "completed", but many of my structural plants are still so small that I have to know where to look if I want to see them... ;-)

  • #13

    Amy@smallsunnygarden (Friday, 17 March 2017 15:55)

    Thank you very much, Leanne! We do sun and heat well here... ;-) and I'm always glad to send a little along. Thanks for dropping by!

  • #14

    Amy@smallsunnygarden (Friday, 17 March 2017 16:00)

    Kris - Thinking about it, I can't believe that would have been only three or four years ago for you - your garden looks so well established now! That's a big inspiration! :D I'm really enjoying the way the agave and hippeastrum have worked out, though I must admit that that angle required some sideways shooting... ;-)

  • #15

    Amy@smallsunnygarden (Friday, 17 March 2017 16:01)

    Brian - This is certainly the most color I've had so far, and it does make me very happy... :) Thanks so much!

  • #16

    Amy@smallsunnygarden (Friday, 17 March 2017 16:10)

    Cathy - I think I am finally striking some sort of balance among the exotics and the familiar plants. I originally meant to use quite a few of the garden-related species, such as the native salvias, desert penstemons, and desert columbines. But there are the other sorts too: the totally familiar plants like narcissus and lavender and the totally exotic ones like that blue hibiscus. It's been such fun putting them all together... ;-)

  • #17

    Hollis (Sunday, 19 March 2017 08:44)

    enjoyed the Freesia scene and zooming in (neat blog feature) -- definitely iris leaves ;-)

  • #18

    Amy@smallsunnygarden (Wednesday, 22 March 2017 20:56)

    Hollis - Yes, and even the way they carry their buds would indicate an iris relative ;-) So glad you like the zoom; I usually remember to set the photos for that, but I sometimes forget since I frequently post rather late at night... then get up to check in the morning to make sure there weren't any really awful errors... lol!