susansflowers

garden ponderings

Honeysuckle

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Honeysuckle

This photo shows three stages of honeysuckle flowers: the bud, full flower and spent flower. These blossoms are on a good-sized vine along a fence near my vegetable garden. Sometimes, when the breeze is just right, the scent will waft for a distance – such a beautiful aroma. I don’t think anyone could say the smell of honeysuckle is offensive. Quite the opposite is true and I think this plant can even stir olfactory memories.

Many years ago, I would admire the garden of an older woman (thank you, Leta). She dug a honeysuckle start from next to her own established plant. For all the gift plants I have killed by mis-timing their replanting in my own garden, I am very happy that this one survived.

What a surprise when I learned that honeysuckle blooms are edible. I grew up in a more temperate climate, where these splendid vines did not exist, and only discovered them as an adult. Nasturtiums move over – you are not near as tasty as honeysuckle.

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Rue

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Rue

While Rue is technically an herb, I think a lot of folks would call it an annoyance. The leaves can irritate the skin of sensitive persons.

With such a reputation, I felt the deer and rabbits would surely leave it alone, but I was wrong. When I transplanted a number of seedlings to an un-fenced planting bed, they were decimated in short time. I do keep this plant in the back of the flower bed to minimize my own brushes with it. There is an aroma when the leaves are brushed, which is distinct, but not near as pungent as say Santolina.

Personally, I think this perennial is a very pretty plant, it does not deserve the bad rap that some gardeners give it.  Just because it has an unusual scent and perhaps bothers the skin of some persons – this is not poison oak!  I may watch myself, and not rub it all over my body, but it can have its own space. The small, delicate leaves and flowers are a strong contrast to everything else that grows around it.  It can stay in my garden.

St. John’s Wort

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St. John's Wort

This ground cover looks so cool during the month it blooms every summer. Even though the leaves are evergreen, it is pretty non-descript the rest of the year, gracefully fading into the background.

I have found this to be deer and rabbit proof, though nothing green is totally safe from hungry predators in a drought season. Again, to keep this plant from spreading where the gardener does not want it to go, one needs to stop watering it.  Tough love, garden style.  But, there is no escape from a rainy summer. The particular bank where these flowers grow on my land, can get very soggy during the rainy times, and this plant can take it.

Recently, while walking with a botanist, I noticed what she pointed out as St. John’s Wort looked nothing like what I grew at home with the same name. She informed me the medicinal herb is quite different than what is sold for a home plant. There is so much for me to learn about my plants, and others I would like to add to my collection.

Asiatic Tiger Lily

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Asiatic Tiger Lily

This is by far my favorite lily. I love it when it is not too hot and this flower comes into bloom. It means the flowers will stay longer. This year it is overcast with some rain showers, and the flowers love the weather.  With all the photos I’ve been taking of my flowers for this blog, I have documentation of how long they are staying in bloom.  Some varieties are staying around for a month or more.

I have found that the tall stems need to be tied up, as they are not strong enough to hold the blooms on their own. Perhaps the east facing location below the front deck has something to do with that, I don’t know.

The number of stems seems to have increased through the years. Last year, I stupidly put a clump of Japanese Iris next to these lilies, but now I see it is way too crowded. When the wet season comes, the irises will be moved – someplace, anyplace else. I want to have plenty of space for these lily bulbs to grow on their own.

Italian Flat-Leaf Parsley

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Italian Flat-Leaf Parsley

Parsley flowers are so small, they can be hard to notice when they finally bloom. The seeds are about the same size as the numerous flowers and are just as plentiful.

Seeds will sprout easily as long as there is plenty of moisture. Under, or near, a water faucet is a good place to start a parsley bed. Later on, seeds can be spread to other places to see where the emerging plants best like the prevailing micro-climate. This particular bed has been reseeding itself for many years, and I think it is in need of rejuvenation. This is where timing comes into play – I need to wait until the plants go to seed, then save some seeds, just in case there are any challenges (like a heat wave) when the planting bed is cleaned up.

In the upper right are parsley leaves, don’t be misled by the sage leaves in the upper left of this photo. Sage and parsley live together with stray violets, and are protected from deer in this fenced planting bed.  I keep any other interlopers (weeds)  out in an effort to encourage what I want to live here to thrive.

Yellow Succulent Flowers

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Yellow Succulent Flowers

I have a half dozen succulent plants along the front border of a long bed next to the driveway. Sure do wish I knew their names, but I believe that most are probably in the sedum family.

About five years ago, I visited a local art festival on the last day near closing time and saw an older woman selling succulent plants. While chatting with her, I learned that she had sold plants at art festivals for many years, but now she was retiring and this was her last show. She assured me the particular plants I was looking at would grow year-round out-of-doors, as they flourished in her very Northern California yard. Did I get lucky that day!? I would give a number of plants a new home, and start learning about growing succulents.

This is the first one to bloom. The spikes of yellow flowers are about three inches high, and are a beautiful cut flower in a very small, or mini, vase.  There is a photo of these flowers in a wood-fired mini-vase posted on www.facebook.com/SusanRodenPottery

Santolina in Bloom

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Santolina in Bloom

Yesterday, I pruned the flowering plants back, so they are not so large or plush anymore.  In my second entry in this blog, I showed a photo of this plant in January.  I thought it was pretty then, as so few plants have color in the winter. I like this perennial all year long, with or without flowers.  Although the flowers are profuse, they are very small.  It may not be known for its flowers, as the foliage is quite unusual: first of all, it is not green, but a sort of gray-green color; it sports thin, fine ‘leaves’, that emit a strong scent when brushed against.  I rather like the aroma, though some may find it too pungent and be put off by it.

The original plant was never pruned, and grew to cover a large area, about 10 feet square.  After a severe, unusual winter freeze (below freezing for 4 days in a row), a lot of the mother plant died out.  When I removed the dead plant material, what remained was a number of small plants.  I pruned and transplanted these around the house, and nursed them back to health.  Now, I notice that if I keep the mother plant pruned, it does not make more plants.  It appears the baby plants come from stems that root themselves in the ground.