General Subjects > Flowers and Foliage Now

May 2022 in the Northern Hemisphere

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Your container gardens still look great!

My work schedule can be very demanding at times. It has taken me awhile to catch up on the postings. To answer your question:

Nemophila and Limnanthes species are two that seem like they would preform well in your gardening environment. Container gardening seems especially amenable to experimentation. In your situation, autumn sowing seems like it would work well. Some experimentation might be necessary. And of course, there are many other California species to experiment with that likely have considerable garden merit.

Erythanthe bicolor (pictured above) is an annual species that I especially enjoy.

The annual Collinsia tinctoria is looking especially nice in our garden right now.

The perennial species Eriogonum umbellatum var. polyanthum has been a star performer in our garden for at least 10 years. I grew this specimen from seed I gathered in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. There was considerable seedling variation in this population. Plants grown in the ground need zero summertime irrigation – it does not rain and the weather is extremely hot. I can supply data on temperature and the vapor pressure deficit from both our Sacramento garden as well as from their native habitat. These pieces of information help quantify the environmental extremes this species endures.

Penstemon rydbergii var. oreocharis is another Sierra Nevada beauty. This plant is in a container, however this species grows equally well in our garden. In the open garden this species is tolerant of both highly moist mesic conditions as well as moderately xeric conditions.

Allium unifolium is still looking great in our garden.

I still have a great deal to work out for the summer garden. Dahlias, Zinnias, Tithonia, Cosmos, Cleome, some Erythranthe species, Epilobium, Eurybia, Symphyotrichum, and late blooming Lilium species are some of the species that help, but I am not satisfied. I sure wish that I could find another start of Salvia sinaloensis. Salvia guaranitica and Salvia chiapensis thrive in our summer garden.


Erythante bicolor is really something to enjoy (it has got a place on my ‘list of interesting plants’), your other plants are lovely too. Allium unifolium sold here (not flowering yet) is much paler., how did you get yours?
Autumn sowing is planned, but succes will probably be dependent on the actual winter weather, now and then a small ice age turns up, last year for example, so it will be an experiment. Weather here has turned really dry again, after a few rainy days end March/start of April, there was no substantial precipitation and none is expected, farmers are having problems.

Msybe you can tell me more about growing Narcissus from seed; I’ve got seeds from Narcissus cantabricus ‘nylon group’, past two years these started flowering around Christmas here. Is it likely that seedlings will do the same?

Season might be slowing, it’s not stopping.

Narcissus poeticus var. recurvus showed up.

Tulipa batalinii ‘Bright gem’ is flowering now.

Got this one at the market, after the talk on your Tulipa.

Very different but lovely.

Hyacinthoides mauritanica.

In the park, lonely Arum maculatum (?) appeared.

There’s more a couple of hundred meters from this, no flowers there (yet). It’s not possible to tell if this has always been here, new mowing policy did the trick or that it was just not noticed by me.

This would easily be not noticed outside containers, unless in huge numbers.

On the background 5 mm squares.

Myosotis ramosissima(?), maybe weedy otherwise, welcome here.

A weed that doesn’t go unnoticed.

Taraxacum officinale seems welcome in the park nowadays, probably because of bees.

Maggi Young:
Now in the Perthshire garden of SRGC Editor of "The Rock Garden", Anton Edwards and his wife, Margaret......

The cheery little Iris  behind the Iberis, is "Brassy"

 One of the prettiest mulches to apply to your shrubs!

 Rhododendrons in one shady corner of the garden are developing slowly this year in the cooler weather. Time for a frost?  Hope not!

These sunny flowers are on a dwarf Doronicum, sourced  from Grham Butler at Rumbling Bridge.

Triilium clumping nicely!


On 10 April our weather turned cold with periods of precipitation. The below average temperatures have been persistent. Rain and cool temperatures are forecasted from Sunday through Tuesday of this week. Despite the cool and at times wet weather, the spring flower display has faded. The garden is in its late spring phase with sprinklings of color here and there. [Jasmin adds:  It is still magical stepping into the garden, with beauty everywhere one sets the eye.  One can easily forget there is a world out there, which, given the state of things, and our personal inability to effect changing so much of it, the rest for the soul is very welcome.]

With the changing seasons, I am busy with harvest and the planting of summertime food and flower crops. I am hoping to get more barley harvested before the rains arrive; the rye is heavy with seed but still needs to cure before harvesting. I have harvested and continue to harvest seed from many of the California native annual species. The seeds from Layia and Lupinus have already been harvested and the plants pulled from the ground. The bare earth is now ready for summer annuals. I have seeded out soil blocks with Dahlia hybrids (some of my own and D. coccinea hybrids from Seedhunt.) and Cleome. Zinnia, Cosmos and Tithonia I generally direct seed.

I still have much to work out with the late spring and summer garden.  [We just added some more containers for gardening in areas that have usually been difficult for plantings in the ground.  The areas either get blasted with afternoon summer sun, too much shade, or never enough water, yet weeds thrive. (Those ghastly beasts!)  While there are plants that would do well under these various adverse conditions, containers will ensure the plantings thrive without encouraging the weeds.]

I [we] desire a continuation of the spring-like flower show until autumn. However, I have nothing to complain about. As I work in the edible parts of the garden I frequently look up. Beauty and flowers surround me. Our garden is truly a paradise: In a sense, I live like the Babushka Women of Chernobyl. I admire them and their simple way of life, more or less unbothered by the outside world. If what I read is true, even the Russian soldiers were disinterested in them and left them alone. [Or radiation sickness is their fate.]

I obtained seed of Allium unifolium from Seedhunt. I think some of my early blooming Alliums are garden hybrids (Allium serra x unifolium – both n=7). I grew Allium serra from my own collection. They likely crossed with Allium unifolium. Allium unifolium does seed freely in our garden. The colony in our front yard appears to have remained pure. They have dark pink flowers. In the backyard Allium unifolium and serra grew side by side; however there was not much overlap in their blooming time. The bottom line is that I like most of the California native Allium species that we grow in our garden. In some cases, there may be some dilution of their species purity, but I am not certain.

To answer some of your questions regarding your Narcissus cantabricus seedlings, I will share some of my plant breeding observations. Hopefully this will be helpful to you.

Crosses between known genetic lines generally--but not always--bring predictable results. I say “not always” because there can be plenty of surprises for many reasons. When breeders are creating new F1 hybrids they will make test crosses between their inbred lines to make sure there are no undesirable traits being expressed in their potential new F1 hybrid variety. It takes time and effort to create new inbred lines for new F1 hybrids. Of course, existing inbred lines can be used to create a new F1 hybrid, but these too are tested.

If you know a great deal about the genetic origins of your Narcissus plants, you will likely get predicable results, i.e. early blooming plants. Genetic mutations are always possible, but most likely you will have predictable results. Plants of unknown genetic origin are more likely to bring surprises that turn up as expressed recessive traits. Epigenetics can also play a part in gene expression; however I will not get into this. I hope these comments prove helpful.

I like Narcissus poeticus. Thank you for sharing the photographs. I have several seedlings coming along of this species. They will start blooming hopefully in the next year or two.

[All the photos have been so lovely.  There once was a time the birds only had breeding and nesting from mid-April to the beginning of June, but with the climate so altered, and no true winter, I have a much longer season.  Still, I have held off eggs and nesting in at least the hen Budgerigar (Gabriella), and one hen Cockatiel (Friede). Dariya had only one nesting, and I hope to hold her off from more eggs.  Naomi has been obsessive, and just had the first of her third clutch.  Redirecting her attention has been tiring.  So many changes in hopes she will decide conditions are not favorable.  At least her nutrition is great, so she has no egg binding, but I did have to medicate for Clostridia, which she is susceptible to when it is cool and damp.  How heartbreaking!  We need rain; yet, Naomi is encouraged by the barometer to self-pleasure, thinking nests and food for chicks, and is doubly susceptible to Clostridia in damp weather, no matter what conditions I provide indoors.  Miel the canary had three eggs—all from a perch!  She would not take any nest for them.  Once I padded the bottom of the cage, she stopped laying.  The other canary “Aliza” is trans (transexual), giving no clear indication of gender—Really!  Other than caught up with the birds, I am attempting to do a little in the garden.  Right now I feel more like a spectator and discusser of creative ideas.]

One of my Gilia capitata lines is in full bloom now. If all goes right they will continue blooming well into the summer. I have other lines with darker flowers, however they have a much shorter blooming cycle.  [The flowers are indeed improving with selection and length of establishment in the garden.  When Robert began, I was not impressed at all.  I thought perhaps I would confuse them with all the weeds in the garden.  Now these Gilia are among my favorites, and we delight in the number of bees attracted.]

The pink flowers of Twinning Brodiaea, Dichelostemma volubile, appear here and there in the garden, climbing through the shrubbery. [just a little weeding to do too!]

The first flowers of our California native Aquilegia formosa have started to open. [Of the Aquilegias, a personal favorite that provides late spring into early and even midsummer color.  Their blooms regularly are still opening and remain open for the duration when the West Coast Lillies (Lillium pardalinum crosses Robert is working with) open.  At that time is a fantastic show of reds and red-oranges spread throughout the garden.]

Ripening raspberries are a delight to eat. The strawberries are ripe too. Yum! Yum! [None ever make it into preserves or desserts, just our mouths!  I do miss lingonberries, but too hot here.]

The late blooming Rhododendron eastmanii has a delightful fragrance. We have Rhododendron arborescens in the front yard. Our form blooms a bit later in the season and it too has a delightful fragrance.


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