Search This Blog

Monday, July 25, 2011

Great Galloping Geraniums

Talk about successful, some of the hardy geraniums are capable of amazing rates of spreading around by seed.  One of the fastest is Herb Robert, he seems to prefer shade but otherwise spreads like wildfire.  He is supposed to have some medicinal properties that could render the gardener's surrender (to the invasion) a little less painful.  The aromatic green foliage in shade can turn into a lovely red in the sun.  The flowers are only 1/2".
I was at first rather alarmed at the rapid spread of Geranium x oxonianum "Claridge Druce' but after it tamed whole beds formerly weed-prone into a nice even bed of greenery studded with light magenta flowers, I started to warm up to its enthusiasm.
Another geranium you don't want to mess with that makes an excellent low ground cover even in dry shade under trees or on a steep bank, is Geranium macrorrhizum.  Here she is nearly in bloom-
Another one that is a very restrained seeder and seems to make different strains easily, is Geranium pratense, it is a tall lanky plant and has pale bluish purple 1" flowers; so far it has been solitary, not in clumps-
One that is a delightful self-sower and has a very pretty low mounding growth form is Geranium sanguineum 'Max Frei', for a magenta bloom.  These can be studded with flowers in spring. 
The 'Striatum' cultivar has a light pink flower with lovely darker pink highlights, note the deeply incised leaves-

Another that has begun to pop up self-sown in a very restrained manner is also covered with blooms in spring, and has a gloss or sheen to the delicate leaves, Geranium nodosum, and a light purple flower-

Some other geraniums perform well but I haven't noticed them self-sowing.  Geranium 'Ann Folkard' has low-growing foliage that trails several feet away and has a few scattered flowers for most of the bloom season.  The flowers have an intense eye-pleasing magenta color hard to photograph, more like the flower on the right, and a sheen to the petals.
One that increases by making clumps and stays very low is Geranium cantabrigiense 'Karmina', and has a long bloom season.  It is an excellent ground cover, easy to divide.  There is a little Herb Robert growing with it.  Other cultivars have different flower colors.
Another photo of a charming mix of G. sanguineums and a dark purple one possibly G. himalayense.
One that I grew several years but did not return finally that was a favorite was G. incanum 'Frances Grate', AKA Silver Sugar Plum, which is an appropriate name, with magenta flowers and incredible finely cut lacey silver foliage.

These geraniums have been hardy in my zone 8 (sometimes down to zone 6 temps) and some are hardy to at least zone 5, check the cultivar for hardiness in your zone.

Happy Summer, Hannah

Saturday, July 16, 2011

What's Blooming Today Plus Fruiting

I am participating in the  Garden Blogger's Bloom Day  for July 15 with this post.  An exciting bloomer that just began is Crocosmia 'Lucifer'-
Mine always seems to flop and had to be tied up again.  Another new bloomer is the native Fireweed, now called Chamerion angustifolium.  It appears by itself in my yard and comes up every year.  It also tends to flop.
Another native flower that takes care of itself is Pearly Everlasting, Anaphalis margaritacea, which is not very open yet.
Lady's Mantle, Alchemilla vulgaris, is a tough herb that can be used for tea and blooms with profuse tiny chartreuse flowers that last well in an arrangement.

 It also self-sows and can be used in those tough dry places, and on banks.
Tansy Ragwort, Senecio jacobeae, also self-sows and takes care of itself.  It is on the weed lists but I grow it as a host for the Cinnabar moth caterpillars, aren't they cute.  Last year I had lots of them so expected more moths, but apparently there were enough.  The moths are so beautiful!
Lavender has just begun to bloom recently as well,
Lonicera heckrottii 'Gold Flame' is continuing to bloom, it's easy to see how it got its name, hopefully the hummingbirds will like it better than Halls' which is also blooming.
Roses have been blooming for a while, and the once blooming Gallicas are past their prime but still blooming. I have lots of photos of them in other posts so will show some daylilies, which are showing off now.
Here are some nice red "spiders"-  Spiderman
Open Hearth is ablaze.
Then for some cool colors, there is the delicate and prolific clematis 'Viola violacea-
Spirea japonica 'Little Princess'-
And the irrepressible lawn weed and famous medicinal Self-Heal, Prunella vulgaris.
The charming and profuse Campanula pocharskyana
Exuberant Lychnis coronaria
The delicate but long-lasting Baby Blanket-

And now to pique your appetite, some examples of What is Fruiting Now!
The wild native Salmonberry,
The native and irascible Thimbleberry,
The extremely invasive, small native Blackberry Rubus ursinus, AKA vegetable barbed wire-
Raspberries, I think this is Meeker-
Scarlet Goumi
The weeping form of Mulberry, whose berry is small and earlier than the others-

Red currants
Black currants
And, surprise, the first sweet cherries that have set in many years, but it rained and they are splitting,:-(
Finally the native Blackcap Raspberries, Rubus leucodermis, with their pale greenish-blue stems.  The red ones taste better than the purple ones.


Friday, July 15, 2011

More Fragrant Flowers

As more flowers open, I have more reports of fragrant flowers in the garden.  This one is a shocker!  What is purple, poofy, invasive, and smells divine?  You probably didn't guess it, the Canadian thistle, Cirsium arvense.  I wonder if the Cirsiums sold in catalogs also are fragrant?
I discovered the fragrance sheerly by accident while getting rid of some thistles, as I try very hard to at least not let them go to seed, so I'm currently on the hunt for missed thistles getting ready to bloom.  It is one of those memorable fragrances that makes me want to keep sniffing and sniffing, and I can feel the fragrance molecules interacting at some level with my nervous system, soothing, uplifting, etc.  Another such fragrance recently is the Mock Orange Philadelphus 'Snowflake', which while reminding me of orange or lemon blossoms has an added component even reminding me of the taste of a lemon.  Exquisite.

And speaking of thistles, I saw again the tiny larval form of the Thistle Tortoise Beetle, Cassida rubiginosa.  The leaves of the thistle are covered with brown desiccated spots, and the tiny larva hides beneath its indelicate pile of dung.  I tried to get a photo but can't seem to get it in focus as yet, so here is a link-Cassida rubiginosa  They are endearingly cute so it makes it hard for me to yank out their thistle plant.  I can just cut off the flower buds, which I do anyways because those tricky composite flowers can go ahead and develope seeds even when the plant is yanked and lying there on the ground.  

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Those Magnificent Once-Blooming Roses and Other OGR's

Some people shy away from once-blooming roses, preferring roses that will keep on blooming throughout the summer and into fall.  But the Old Garden Roses (OGR) that bloom only in late spring to early summer really go all out to please.  And many are very tough, the Gallicas tend to sucker so spread slowly into a rose thicket.  Most are hardier and more disease resistant than the modern long-blooming roses, which were bred from China repeat flowering stock that was less hardy.  The once-bloomers can concentrate their energy after blooming into growth and preparation for winter so can endure more drought and poor soil.   The Gallicas are blooming now.  Tuscany Superb is a very dark red, verging on black.

 Belle de Crecy is more of a mauve color, and very vigorous at making a thicket and suckering.

Rosa Mundi is a typical  Neyron pink rose color variegated with white.  It is a sport of the Apothecary Rose which was the rose used in Medieval for healing and anti-bacterial properties.  Its fragrance has calming and restorative qualities.

Another Gallica that was ordered as the red James Mason, turned out to be a white with pink edges that someone ID'd for me as the Leda Damask rose.
Finally, I was given a NO-ID rose that is a very vigorous climber or rambler, with flattened full white flowers and pink buds, and a delightful fragrance that wafts.  I just put in an inquiry on the Antique Roses forum on Gardenweb, so perhaps someone will ID it for me.  The choices so far seem to be Madam Hardy, but it is supposed to have thorns, and Mme Plantier which does not.  Mine is thornless but looks more like Madam Hardy.
I am impressed since it shows no signs of the die-back disease that decimated some of my other OGR climbers.  Someone ran into my fenceposts and fencing supporting the rose so it is in total flop now and I will have to see if I can get it back up after it is through blooming.

Some other OGR's are blooming now as well, with repeat flowering ability.  Hybrid Musks have been good bloomers for me, especially Cornelia, with larger 3" blooms-
And with smaller blooms and a slightly smaller bush, Penelope.  She blooms in larger clusters and fades as the flowers get older.
Felicia has been very slow growing but surprised me this year by growing over my head, finally!

 Lavender Lassie has been very slow growing, still rather small and with few blooms, but a little larger each year and still alive.  Buff Beauty did not make it through its first winter but I may try it again someday.

A prolific bloomer I discovered in the San Jose Heritage Rose garden is Excellenz Von Schubert, a Polyantha rose, with many clusters of small fragrant roses.
Another Polyantha with small blooms of densely packed petals (100) has exquisite fragrance but tends to ball in damp weather, Clotilde Soupert.
Finally, one that is surviving and doing well in a bad strip that has killed a number of Tea roses is Ghislaine de Feligonde, a rambler, still around 3' tall but growing-
Her flowers are small with yellow buds that open yellowish white, then eventually fade a little pink like a lot of yellow roses.
So, take time to smell the roses!