Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day – September 2009

Helianthus angustifoliusWell – this is officially my 1st Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day entry and I’m so excited!  This is a wonderful tradition started by May Dreams Gardens and is a chance for Garden Bloggers everywhere to show you what’s going on in their own garden on the 15th of each month.

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September in California usually doesn’t really feel like Fall yet (it typically doesn’t until late October – even though the stores already have pumpkins and Halloween decorations for sale).  September usually means 3 things: back to school, way-too-early holiday decorations and surprise heat waves.  These stores trick the novice gardener into thinking “Ahhh…Fall is on it’s way – I think I’ll plant some lettuce now” just in time for a few more days of 100+ temperatures to destroy their cool season vegetable crop.

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Anyway – back to my garden.  Because of our unusually mild Summer this year, my garden is still blooming it’s head off with flowers that typically peak in the earlier part of Summer, combined with flowers just coming out for their Fall show.

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I’ll start with the Sunny parts of my garden…..

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Probably one of the main stars of my September garden is this Rudbeckia triloba pictured above.  It blooms for about 8 to 10 weeks, and then provides food for a zillion little yellow finches that come down and just massacre the plant – eating not only it’s seeds but stripping off it’s leaves.  It’s a sad, but predictable, public execution that’s played out in my garden each year.

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sedum autumn joy - before colorSedum Autumn Joy #2

The other star in my Fall garden is Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’.  This plant is just incredible.  It’s a perennial which, in March, starts putting out it’s blue-green foliage which grows quickly into a tidy little mound.  By June, it’s about 3′ tall, with the greenish ‘broccoli florets’ all over it (personally, I like it best in this stage – LOVING the subtle colors).  On cue, just as September 1st rolls around it begins to turn it’s pink-reddish tones, deepening to a dark red by October.  It’ll hold it’s blooms well through Fall, and depending on what type of Winter we have, even until December or so.  The flowers will turn brown, and some of the leaves will have turned yellow and fallen off, but it provides really pretty Winter ‘structure’ (as well as seeds for the hungry birds).  It’ll get whipped into a broken mess by the first really windy Winter storm, so just cut it down to the ground.  It’ll just be a few months until the whole process starts all over again.

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Golden Celebration Rose.Rose 'The Prince'

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I’m usually not a huge rose fan, so if they’re going to be in my garden they’d better have repeat blooms as well as be disease resistant (we get powdery mildew and black spot here BIG TIME due to our cool Summer evenings from the ocean air blowing over the mountain range).  The roses pictured here are ‘Golden Celebration’ and ‘The Prince’ – both by David Austin, and both fabulous.  ‘The Prince’ has that delicious old-world fragrance, while ‘Golden Celebration’ will give you about 500 blooms in one Summer.

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Salvia 'Mystic Spires'

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Salvia ‘Mystic Spires’ is another awesome plant.  When I originally bought it, I thought ‘no WAY will this survive our Winters’ – even though the tag said it was a hardy perennial.  It just looked too tender!  I’m so glad to say I was wrong – this one is about 3 years old now, and hasn’t stopped blooming for 2 months.  Butterflies and bees just love this one (as do hummingbirds).

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Liriope 'Silvery Sunproof'.

Liriope ‘Silvery Sunproof’ is one my favorite ‘miracle plants’.  It’ll grow in both the sun AND the shade (I’ll show you a picture of that later…) and really comes into ‘its own’ right about now.  The purple spikes, combined with it’s variegated foliage are a knock-out, and just keep on blooming all the way through October. I prune mine to the ground every other year (in late February) and it bounces right back.

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succulent pot

Succulents blooms too!  I just had to show you this HUGE photo of my succulent pot, because on the left side is an escheveria that’s covered with little blooms.

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cranesbill geraniumJapanese Anemone.

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On the left is a hardy-as-heck cranesbill Geranium, who’s name I lost a long time ago.  I’d love it if someone out there could let me know the name of this!  And on the right is the common Japanese Anenome.  WATCH OUT for this one – it can be super invasive!  I’ve seen it invade someone’s lawn, and they’ve never been able to totally get rid of it!  But it sure is beautiful!

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Now on to the shadier part of my garden……

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.Amaranth

As my daughter would say, this Amaranth has got some ‘Mad Skillz’….  I’m not sure if technically this counts as a bloom, but it does today!  Unfortunately, this was one of those un-marked wonders at Target, saying something like ‘Amaranth family’ on the tag…..with no variety listed.  It’s just an annual, but what an annual it is!

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Oxalis 'Sunset Velvet'

This is an Oxalis ‘Sunset Velvet’ that’s about 5 years old.  It literally blooms year-round here, with pinching back only necessary a few times a year to keep it bushy.  Even when we get a light frost, this Oxalis goes unscathed.  Another bonus?  You can make a ton of cuttings from this plant.  Just stick a stem in some potting soil, keep it moist for awhile, and you’ve got a new plant!

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Dichroa febrifuga.

Dichroa febrifuga is sometimes known as the Evergreen Hydrangea – even though it’s not in the hydrangea family.  In the Fall it has either pink or blue flowers (depending on the acidity of your soil – just like hydrangeas) which hang on for 6 to 8 weeks.  It’s a super sturdy shrub, fairly un-phased by anything (except too much sun)..

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Swainsona galegifoliaSwainsona galegifolia – isn’t this a beauty?  It’s rarely seen out here, but hopefully will become more and more common.  It’s been blooming for the past month with little sweet-pea like white flowers, and will do so until October or so, with another flush again in the Spring.  It’s an Australian native, therefore doing really well in our Mediterranean climate.  It needs to be pruned back by 1/2 to keep it nice and full.

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DSC05073

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Okay – remember earlier I told you I’d show you another photo of the Liriope ‘Silvery Sunproof’ in the shade?  This is it.  This plant receives almost no sunlight at all, and still blooms it’s head off.

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* The plant in the purple pot blooms 24/7, though that’s because it’s plastic.  Yes, I have a plastic plant in my garden – mainly for the sheer purpose of defying those who are horrified at such a thought.  Such a rebel, I know…..

17 Responses to Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day – September 2009

  1. ryan says:

    Great blooms. I always think of liriope as a foliage plant and then it surprises me with its nice flowers.

  2. Germi says:

    What amazing beauty! That’s IT! I need to plant more flowering things in my garden. Right now if it weren’t for my passiflora and my echeverias, I’d be sunk!
    And I believe your hardy geranium is one of my favorite plants in the whole wide world, Geranium phaeum , or The Mourning Widow. Isn’t that the coolest common name? I used to have a big swath, but then came my aloe obsession. Thank you for reminding me that I MUST re-introduce it!
    I LOVE YOUR GARDENS!XOXO!

    • Rebecca says:

      Wow – thanks for the love, Germi!!! And thanks for being the FIRST to officially name the Geranium for me! The Mourning Widow….how romantically sad….just PERFECT! You should post your blooming Escheverias- they’re SO lovely!!

  3. Beautiful blossoms… but admittedly, I’m a sucker for succulents. Your succulent pot is so amazingly awesome! In your climate, I might actually stray from kitchen gardening to manage displays like that one.

    • Rebecca says:

      Thanks! I’m a sucker for succulents, too. Unfortunately we DO get frosts each Winter that can do a bit of damage to these guys….but always the mad dash to run out and cover them up with burlap!

  4. Lynn says:

    Beautiful, Rebecca! Thanks for the tour, and for the stories that accompany each image. Do you know that we only grow Liriope in shade here in the Northeast? I love the contrasts in garden experiences across the country. Congratulations on your first entry; looking forward to many more!

    • Rebecca says:

      Thanks, Lynn – I agree – reading about the contrasts (as well as new plants) is so much fun with Bloom Day – it’s such a great concept and so glad I’ve joined!

  5. Kerry says:

    Your succulent pot just knocks me out! Great post – beautiful pics. I hope you keep letting us share your garden on bloom day. You’ve inspired me to give it a try next month.

    • Rebecca says:

      Thanks Kerry! I can’t wait to read about yours and see your fabulous containers!! It’s such a great idea, isn’t it? Kinda like ‘mini-tours’ of other gardens!

  6. Julianna says:

    Can you give us a run down of the seasons where you live so that I can compare with where I live? Armed with that information I can decide which of these will be possibilities in my garden. Thanks so much for the info and pics.

    • Rebecca says:

      I’m in Northern California (Sunset zone 15 and USDA zone 8b). My town, Los Altos, has microclimates (like much of California) and we can get temps. as low as 28 degrees in the Winter, and as high as 103 in the Summer. But those really are the extreme exceptions. Winter doesn’t really hit us until late December (I even had tomatoes on my vine at Christmas – though they were definitely mushy)! We get frosty mornings in the Winter, but only at about 30 degrees, and for just a few days at a time. Our Spring is a nice, fairly long one, with Summer heat waves starting around the end of June (heat waves usually in the 90′s, lasting 4 days or so). Other than these extremes the weather is really pleasant!! Does that help answer your question?

  7. Anonymous says:

    Great pictures along with informative descriptions. There’s a couple of plants I’m unfamiliar with so I’ve learned something.

  8. AK says:

    When I saw the quotes, for a second I thought that Amaranth was called ‘Mad Skillz,’ and I was like, “Wow! There are some cool horticulturists naming things out there these days.”

    Beautiful!

  9. Those pictures were fantastic! I’m not sure if you were meant to be a landscape designer or a photographer! WOW! Thanks for sharing the beauty. Especially appreciated by this girl living in the sandy desert!

  10. Carri says:

    I believe your geranium plant is actually Pelargonium sidoides ‘garnet geranium’. I have one that I got from a plant sale at UC Davis last year. I almost passed it up but bought it solely because I didn’t recognize the name. I have a picture of one on my Blooms Day post from July on my blog!

  11. Rebecca says:

    Thanks Carrie! I totally appreciate the help & will definitely check out your bloomsday blog!

  12. wow what a wonderful post. All the blooms are awesome specially geranium. thanks for sharing