Monday, January 1, 2018

May continued....

By the middle of May even more things come into bloom, the pace is never faster than between now and the end of June.

A peony seedling flowers for the first time, it is one of four that flowered from a batch of seeds from the American Peony Society.  Most are lactiflora hybrids and I anticipate many more blooming next year in a variety of colors and forms.
Matthiola incana alba from left over NARGS seeds has amazingly fragrant white flowers, here a "winter" flowering pansy from Chilterns blooms beneath it.  The Matthiola appears to be the wild form of stock which is more often seen as a cut flower around here.  Unlike its cut flower derivations, the wild form seems tougher, blooming its second year but appearing to be perennial.  This winter will be harsher than last so it remains to be seen how they will fare but they set lots of seeds so I anticipate more will sprout this coming spring.
Aquilegia caerulea and hybrids thereof come into bloom, it is their second blooming season here.
This is the mountain columbine of Colorado, these seeds came from NARGS and some variations appeared which is expected when different aquilegias grow together as they often hybridize.  There are quite a few other species near them so it will become a lovely mix of many mongrels in the future.
Elsewhere another aquilegia flowers, this one is probably a white form of A vulgaris.
Jasminum parkeri had the most flowers ever this May since I have had it.  No doubt the mild winter helped, it is evergreen but can suffer somewhat in very cold winters.  I've had this plant for a while and it moved with us to this house, but it really took off when it got here.  After flowering I cut it back as it was beginning to encroach on neighbors and it also suckers so that has to be watched.  It is not too fast growing however so it takes a while for it to get to a decent size from a small plant.

Paeonia veitchii is another now you see it now you don't flower.  Although the blooms are short lived, the foliage is rather interesting for a peony.
This is probably a pink form of Aquilegia flabellata var pumila, a rather small growing one from Japan that is usually blue and white but always reliable.
This low growing penstemon species puts on a nice show, its one of many I grow from seed.
 In the sand bed (read sand pile) out front a western Eriogonum species comes into bloom.  It likes this spot where its roots can go deep and tap actual soil below if it wants, but it can keep its crown dry as many western plants seem to like.
Salvia greggii (I think this is "Furman's Red" not only survived the mild winter, it kept its foliage so it was quick to begin blooming again.  It will flower all year and become quite stunning later on.   Different selections of Salvia greggii and its hybrids with microphylla (x jamensis) vary in winter hardiness here.  They often die back and resprout, and survival can be assisted with a winter mulch that is removed in early April. Any of them give a lot of color and are easily propagated from seeds and cuttings.
This Artemesia sp came without a specific name, but I think it was from one of the Czech collectors.  Maybe I will get the name later on but it likes the base of the sand pile.  It does well in well drained soils too.   The flowers should be cut off after it blooms or even before as the silvery leaves are the main attraction, though I like the flowers too.
This aquilegia hybrid must have come from some seeds I planted, it is a vigorous plant with double flowers of a sort.
 The aquilegia was between two of three azaleas planted in front of the porch by the previous owners.  Later I took out the white azalea as I don't like how the flowers fade and turn a dirty brown against the light green foliage.  Plus white and orange don't mix well, especially with the white porch behind them.  Over time I will replace some of the woodies that I have removed with more choice things, but I doubt I will let the garden get as overgrown as it was when we arrived.  There were many huge bushes here which looked pretty in spring but the for the rest of the growing season were not interesting.  I also know that it is easy to plant too many woody plants and then end up with not enough sun to grow the annuals and perennials that I like so much so I have to keep that in mind and edit as I go along from year to year.
Speaking of editing, the Phuopsis stylosa I moved to the front from where it is planted out back has grown vigorously, forming a green mat of foliage that will soon be studded with pink flowers.  I have a light pink clone from Wave Hill and also darker pink clones I grew from SRGC seeds. I like the latter better and for this species it seems two or more clones are needed to set seed.  It might make a useful lawn substitute as well.  Behind it against the house there are two double flowered azaleas flanking a crepe myrtle.  The latter will flower later in summer and after flowering it got a good cut back.   I like crepe myrtles but I don't like where this one was planted by the former owners.  I would prefer to move it to the property boundaries where it could grow to its full potential and not block our living room window.  One day I will propagate or move it.

Crinum "Super Ellen" awakens from her long slumber under a wood chip mulch.  Reputed to be as hardy or nearly as hardy as C. bulbispermum, "Super Ellen" has large pink flowers in summer.   So far I have not been able to set seeds on it but some supposedly have had limited success.
The planter out front came with the property but I redid it to make it into a mini rock garden.  Two eriogonums are in bloom, one the same as the species in the sand pile and the other a smaller yellow flowered species.
In the back gardens seed grown Dictamnus albus, the Gas Plant, is peaking.  It will make star shaped seed pods that will audibly expel the seeds when ripe.  This is an easy to grow and long lived perennial that is rarely seen since it takes a while to germinate and grow to flowering size. It will never look good in a nursery pot but if the seeds are put in ziplocks and moist vermiculite or sphagnum and refrigerated they eventually will sprout.   They can then be planted into pots and grown on until they are big enough to put into the ground.  No pest bothers them although I have read that brushing against the foliage can cause photodermatitis in susceptible individuals.  So far I have not had that problem.  It also gives off VOCs (volatile organic compounds--my APES students should know what that is, lol) that can cause a lit match to flame if put close to the plant on a still hot summer evening.  I haven't' tried that myself yet.   This plant is also one of those that does not like to be moved and as far as I am concerned it can stay right where it is.
One day I will have to move or trim this Opuntia but it makes a good companion so far for the delospermas beneath it.  Its long spines keep marauding deer away when they occasionally breach the netting around the back and squirrels do not try to bury things near it.  Of course, weeding must be done with care around it too.
This rhododendron has gotten pruned and it is in full sun but it flowers very well every year.  I don't like it blocking the view of the waterlily pool but for now it is okay where it is.
Bergeranthus katbergensis came from Panayoti's garden as seeds and this one managed to get through winter just fine.   I normally dig them up and pot them in sand and put them in the cold frame for winter to protect them from wet weather until its time to go out into the gardens again. The mild winter plus a bit of wood chips nearby must have helped this one survive.  They flower off and on all spring and summer and make copious seeds.  The seeds germinate freely when planted and the plants will flower in their first season.  They are rock hardy in Denver but here they seem to need drier winter conditions when we get very cold winters.
A Rosa species of some sort blooms in what was a vegetable garden before we got the property.  I grew it from seed but have lost track of what it is.
 Just outside the chicken wire fence of the old vegetable garden I planted this blackberry I got from a Berkshire NARGS chapter sale.  It became a beast, growing huge canes in every direction so I got it to mostly stay on the fence.  We got blackberries from it which were not all that flavorful to be honest.  I had to protect the fruit with mesh to keep birds away but after it fruited I cut it way back so it is a small remnant of what it was when this photo was taken.   I also didn't want it to overgrow the Lonicera dioca on the fence either.
 A colorful trio here of dark blue purple Aquilegia vulgaris, pink Chaerophyllum hirsutum roseum, and powder blue Phlox divaricata come into bloom.
A clump of the old fashioned Iris variegata comes into bloom along with Amsonia tabernaemontana.  Both are forever plants.
Geranium x cantabrigiense Biokovo comes into bloom.  It is a dwarf natural hybrid of G.macrorrhizum and G dalmaticum.   It gets from the former its toughness and tolerance for dry soils and shade.  It spreads out to make a nice low growing groundcover but I havent seen any seeds on it yet.
Gerbera jamesonii, the Barberton daisy, comes into bloom a few weeks after its thick winter mulch was removed.  It will flower all season long.  If the roots are protected from deep ground freezing, they are perennial.  I like this wild form better than the cultivated sorts which have flowers that lack the grace of the wild ones.  I have crossed this species with the cultivated kinds and with another species to get an interesting array of plants.
Gerbera ambigua is a bit hardier than jamesonii but I give it a thick winter mulch anyway to be sure that I can enjoy the spring flowers.  It tends to flower mainly in spring without as much repeat bloom as jamesonii.   Hybrids between the two tend to be more like jamesonii in flower but the leaves show the influence of ambigua.
Indoors there are still plants growing under lights, these are a pink Pelargonium rapaceum and a yellow hybrid I made between P. oblongatum and a yellow form of P rapaceum.  In common with most of the tuberous pelargoniums, these are winter growers which will go dormant and sleep for summer in the garage until the cooler days of September and October signal that it is time to water them again and repeat the cycle.
Pelargonium ochroleucum flowers for a few weeks indoors at this time.  Its flowers are small but strikingly bicolored. Different clones appear to be best to ensure good seed set with this species.
Phuopsis stylosa starts to bloom before May is over.  This is one of the darker pink clones that I favor.
Crepis incana is a lovely little annual that resembles a pink dandelion.  It does need protection from nibbling mammals though.   The long thin dandelion like seeds are so slender that one might think they are inviable but that is what good seed of this species looks like.
I would be remiss if I didn't post a photo of what appears to me to be a virused arilbred iris, Notice the darker streaks on the flower, that is typical of many bulb viruses. Pale yellow mottling can be seen in the foliage as well.  So despite its beautiful color out it went shortly afterwards.
Amsonia hubrictii is a rare species in nature but it is getting around in gardens. It has rather fine narrow foliage topped by light blue flowers in spring.  The much smaller Amsonia "Blue Ice" appeared as a sport or hybrid in a nursery and makes dark blue flowers over wider leaves.  The latter does not produce seeds unlike any other Amsonia I have grown so I suppose it is an accidental hybrid of some sort. Amsonia seeds require a cool period before they sprout but they will reseed in gardens if they are happy.   And they are forever since nothing bothers them.   They resent being moved but it can be done in my experience.
This double Trillium grandiflorum came via way of gardening friends.  It is supposed to have originally come from the late Harold Epstein's garden.   I had never seen his gardens but I sure have heard about them, his epimedium collection among other things was legendary. 
A Hedychium hybrid, probably based on H coccineum, emerges stronger than ever.  Protected by its own dead foliage,  wood chips, and a position right next to the house it has made it through several winters including a bad one or two.  Later in summer the orange fragrant flowers appear on tall stems. 
 One of three Ploegbrekers (Plough Breaker), as it is called in Afrikaans, emerges after its thick winter mulch is removed.  Erythrina zeyheri as it is known to botanists is the only totally herbaceous species in this genus of trees and shrubs with striking, usually red, spikes of flowers.  It lives in the highveld of South Africa's summer rainfall regions where it endures frost in winter and grass fires. It is not unusual to find it growing in rather wet places when in growth in South Africa, though I assume those areas dry out during the winter.   I have not heard of success with it anywhere else in the US but I know others are trying to grow it outside.   I grew several in pots when I worked at NYBG and they still have them there, with their massive lignotubers no doubt filling the pots.  But they never bloom in pots and I am told they still have not bloomed.  So I put my potted plants into the ground, one three years ago, the others 2 years ago.  I cover them with a very thick wood chip mulch and I plant the large lignotubers fairly deep with several inches of soil over the top.  I suspect winter damp is not a problem so long as the tuber is protected from deep frost.  Buds form on the lignotuber and grow when the soil warms, and I have gotten flowers every year outside but not on every plant each year.  I am not entirely sure what stimulates a ploegbreker to flower or not but having even one in bloom is a real treat as you will see in later posts.  Come fall the huge prickly leaves will die or be frosted back, a thick wood chip mulch applied, and the cycle will start again.
 Acanthus sennii has lovely, if prickly, foliage and has survived against the house with winter protection.  It bears amazing red flowers but the closest I have gotten to seeing them is colorful unopened buds later destroyed by frost.  It is a real pity that this Ethiopian species flowers too late to be of much floral use this far north, but someone really should cross it with other, more drab colored, hardier and earlier flowering acanthus species to get that bold red color into easy to grow hybrids.  Next to it a plant of Pelargonium sidoides, an almost black flowered plant with attractive low rosettes of grayish foliage, emerges from its tuberous roots.  It is one of the hardiest pelargoniums, and is perennial if protected from deep freezes. 
A lovely Pacific Coast Iris flowers for the first time.   These hybrids based on species found mainly in California and Oregon are very pretty low growing irises.  They have been bred such that they come in an amazing array of colors, color combinations, and flower shapes but are almost never seen outside of the West Coast, the UK, and New Zealand.  The ancestral species include some that may not be so well adapted to cope with our winters and summers but some are, and by growing them from seed or getting divisions of plants proven to survive here they can be grown successfully.  Breeding them here in the east would enable the creation of strains well adapted to our weather, which is needed since the best breeding has been done in very mild California conditions so many if not most of those varieties may not do well here.  One other hindrance to their commercial success is that they need to be transplanted rather quickly when it is cool and they are in active growth, ideally early spring.  They are not like bearded iris in that they cannot go bone dry before planting nor do they seem to like being divided up in the heat of summer.  However, seeds are readily started under cool conditions indoors in fall or winter and can be transplanted to the garden in spring before it gets hot so they can establish themselves.  Plants can bloom in three years from seeds.   
 Malcomia maritima is a small annual species of stock that is very quick to flower from seed.  I planted some for the first time this year and they are quite charming little things.  They flower for a decent period of time and produce copious seeds for self sowing.  Their only fault is that they don't have the lovely fragrance of the better known garden stocks.
 Before May comes to an end many dianthus species and hybrids come into bloom.  I grew all the ones below from exchange seeds and am really pleased with the results.  All they ask for is a sunny spot and well drained soil, minimal competition, and some effort to protect them from mammalian vermin.  I have trouble keeping track of the species names, but just as well as they hybridize freely, sometimes producing even more wonderful plants.

 Kniphifia northiae is a rather shy bloomer in New York and if it is going to flower it will be in May or thereabouts, and usually after a fairly mild winter.  The bold foliage is reason enough to grow it and it is quite hardy.  The foliage should be cut back after harsh winters which may ruin the outer leaves but this past winter was mild so very minimal trimming will be needed. Behind the kniphofia the new red leaves and older green leaves of a Berberis can be seen.  I got it from Forest Farm I think and I have forgotten the name but am pretty sure it comes from Tibet.  It was cut back severely and potted when we moved from the old house to here and it has done well.  All the common Berberis thunbergiana that I found on this property were removed as it is an invasive plant in our local woodlands.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

May, A Month of Revival

May brings so much action in the garden as the pace of spring quickens.

This arisaema species came to me from our friends in town but I am not sure what species it is and I don't they remember either.  I think it could be A. japonicum or amurense, but if an arisaema expert (I know you are out there) reads this perhaps I can get the correct identification.  It is a good doer in that it is permanent and multiplies into a nice clump.  It flowers the first week of May which is early since others like A. consanguineum arent even sprouting yet. Typical red berries are produced later in the year, each "berry" containing a single seed within.   Arisaema is one of several "collectable" genera which has a devoted fan club.   Some of the species aren't always reliable, skipping a year of growth or disappearing altogether, A. sikokianum being one of those.   Others such as Arisaema consanguineum are easy to raise from seed and fairly permanent in the garden if the tubers are planted deep in decent soil.  For many arisaemas it is best to raise the seedlings in pots and keep the small tubers dry and cool in their pot for the first year then plant out the tubers in their second spring before they grow.  Larger tubers can be planted deeper which is desirable as some species do not like deep freezing.  However this one is an easy grower, and our native Jack In The Pulpit, A. triphyllum, don't seem to need special treatment.

 Tall dark stalks with reddish flowers of Polygonatum kingianum rise from the ground, later on they will bend in an almost vine like way.  Since I have only one clone of this species thus far I dont ever seem to get berries which are often as attractive or more so than the flowers of many in this genus.  With time the rhizomes branch and spread out slowly.   The dead woody trunk nearby is one of two common lilacs that I killed off to make room for more choice plants in this garden.  I keep one lilac (Syringa vulgaris) on another side of the property on one of the borders simply because I like the fragrant flowers which come later in the month.  But in the garden S. vulgaris suckers and needs much maintenance to keep it in good blooming condition and to not let it overrun its neighbors.

Stout stems and dark clustered leaves signal the emergence of lilies.  In this area I have mainly Orientpet lilies, particularly Scheherarzade which I transplanted from the old house. Lilies here need to be sprayed with a systemic insecticide upon emergence and maybe one more time before flowering to kill lily beetles which would otherwise devour the plant.  These bright red beetles resemble an elongated ladybug without spots.  They are an invasive species from Europe that destroys any lily or fritillary that they find.  The adults eat foliage, lay orange eggs on the undersides of the leaves, then the hideous slug like larvae hatch out and do even more damage.  The larvae cover themselves in their own feces to make them even more disgusting.  I tried the hand pick and squash approach, but in my experience it is not efficient at killing them before they do a lot of damage.  Imidicloprid or any other systemic insecticide does the job far more thoroughly.  The grass, Andropogon eucomis, which is sprouting is a species from South Africa where it grows in moist highveld in summer rainfall areas.  Its rhizomes go deep enough for it to survive without winter protection but cold winters will kill sections of it.  But some pieces always survive and grow and after a mild winter like the past one every piece survives.  It is wandering more than I like so I have been removing some of it so it doesnt swamp smaller plants.  The white fluffy seedheads are modestly attractive as is the bold foliage but I wouldn't recommend it for a small garden.
Helichrysum basalticum (at least that is what I think it is) has done superbly in the "crevice garden".  My original seed grown plants flowered in the garden their second year then died after making seeds.  Seedlings came up in the patio crevices and there they do much better and do not die after flowering.  Some have returned in the garden where they were first planted, a few years after they were last there so I think the seeds have the ability to remain dormant for a few years if they so desire.  But if seed is sown most comes up fairly quickly as with most helichrysums.  The velvety silver leaves are reason enough to grow it but later on the bright yellow flowers add even more interest.
I have many kniphofia species in the gardens and they are quite hardy here.  Only a few benefit from added protection in fall.  This one is fully hardy and may be K. porphyrantha but I am not sure.  Kniphofia is a confusing genus and wild collected seeds don't come from plants with name tags so even the identifications that I do get with the seeds can be suspect.  They also hybridize even in the wild so that adds to the confusion.  Regardless I have a thing for these majestic plants, and from the first week of May till the first hard frost there will always be kniphofias in bloom somewhere in the house gardens.  This one is early to flower and will often reflower later on in the summer.   Over time the kniphofias begin to form clumps.  In early spring the tattered foliage of some species is best cut off, a chore to be sure but such is a gardener's work.
Calycanthus floridus begins to bloom with its spicy sweet scented flowers.  I grew this from NARGS leftover seeds.  Many people balk at the idea of growing shrubs or trees from seed but it really is not that hard.  Some bushes like this one can flower in three or four years from seed so extreme patience isn't needed to see good results.  Buying woody plants is often a costly proposition and most folks around here hire "landscapers" (the term is in quotes for a reason) who plant too many bushes and trees too close together so they look sort of okay right away.  It doesn't take long for the bushes and trees to grow into each other and become a tangled mess.  No imagination and a poor selection of common and sometimes weedy plants is what the homeowners end up with.  They also tend to plant tough but invasive species such as burning bush (Euonymous alata) and Japanese barberry (Berberis thunbergiana) which then invade nearby woodlands.  I have eradicated both of these from this property.
Meanwhile in one garden with a fair amount of shade Delphinium tricorne blooms.  This is a tiny species which is an ephemeral woodland plant of rich forests in the eastern US.  Normally blue, this one is more of a white with an icy blue tint. It will disappear soon after flowering.
I got some arilbred iris through the Arilbred Iris Society a couple of years ago and this spring several of them flowered. They are a class of iris that are crosses between some hard to grow desert species and the much easier to grow bearded iris.  I gave them well drained spots in soil amended with coarse sand and they did well.  One disappointment was that some plants showed mottling in the flowers and foliage which appeared to be virus infection, these I removed and destroyed.  I also was able to set seeds on a couple of them to grow more of my own.  The flowers are works of art with colorful blotches and veining.  I have not seen them around here but perhaps they are more commonly grown  in the drier western states where they should do well.   If not they should be.

On May 12 I took this photo of a tree peony I grew from seed with its first flower.  Not too bad I have to say, and it should grow larger with more flowers each year.  The flowers are short lived but beautiful enough to have inspired all manner of art in China and Japan where they are treasured.   Peony seeds are large and easy to plant but patience is required as they usually grow a root if kept fairly warm and moist, then they need about 3 months of cold to be able to grow a shoot.  So if planted in summer in the ground nothing will be seen above ground till the following spring, and sometimes one waits longer than that.  The seeds can also be put in moist sphagnum in small ziplock bags and after roots show, the bags can be put in the refrigerator to simulate winter (not the freezer, that will kill the seeds), then they should either be forming shoots or will do so after they are exposed to room temperatures.  Once the sprouts start, the seeds can be teased apart from the moss and planted in pots or directly into the ground.  First flowers on herbaceous peonies will take 3 or 4 years and usually 4 or more for woody peony species and hybrids.
A mild winter and a bit of protection from the coldest weather allowed this Gazania krebiana to survive.  It may be "Tanager" which is just a selection of a particularly cold hardy form from the interior Cape of South Africa where frost is common in winter or might be from wild collected seed, I have lost track of which. The flowers are usually orange and can be variable often with attractive dark markings.   Like all gazanias, its bright flowers open only in sunshine.  Two seed grown plants are required to get fertile seeds as all gazanias are self sterile.
Delosperma congestum in in full bloom by the first week of May.  It is the hardiest of the South African ice plants.  There is a white form, White Nugget, which I also have. It is among the slowest growing of the delospermas so ideal for rock gardens and trough gardens.   It needs a well drained spot in good sun and can be increased by seed which it obligingly sets.
More delospermas are coming into bloom as May advances.  I have a few different species that are in the shocking pink/magenta range and I find it hard to differentiate among them.  Some bloom mainly in spring, others will flower off and on all summer.  They are also self sowing so more appear and I would hardly be surprised if some hybridization is going on.  Most of my delospermas were started from seeds from the exchanges and also from the last time I went out to Denver and stayed at Panayoti's house.  He let me gather any delosperma seeds I could find in his amazing rock garden and also at DBG.    I cleaned them and gave him back some and and also sent many into the seed exchanges that year.  Delospermas are easy to raise from seed and many will flower their first year. I find it best to plant them in soil amended with coarse sand for drainage.  They don't like soils high in organic matter nor extreme cold and wet as the same time nor hot rainy weather in summer.   Extreme cold/wet can cause dieback but any piece that survives grows fast the next year, whereas prolonged heat and rain together are worse since a mold can attack and kill them.   If the mold appears (its obvious) it is best to remove affected parts and douse the spot with a fungicidal drench.
Delosperma sp "Firespinner" is an unidentified/unpublished species from the highlands of the eastern Cape of South Africa.  Panayoti brought back some from Kirstenbosch near Cape Town, as I recall, where it never blooms because it doesn't get cold enough there, but it has been an outstanding success in Denver and many other places.  It grows well here given the same conditions that suit most delospermas.   Its biggest fault is that it only blooms once but it is glorious at that time.  An occasional flower may appear later on, and it can be propagated by seed or cuttings.
Constantly keeping the mammalian critters at bay makes plants that don't appeal to rodents (including the super destructive large hooved kind) more valuable than ever.   Anything in the genus Allium tends to not have pest problems and they are generally easy to grow.  This is a hybrid or selection of Allium karatarviense from Brent and Beckys that is larger in all parts than the standard species.  Like the more common form it is reliable if planted in full sun.
Delosperma nubigenum is the yellow one below, it runs and does most of its blooming now.  The magenta one is another one from seed, perhaps a dwarf form of cooperi or one of the plants that goes under the name D ashtonii.
Or perhaps this is D. ashtonii, it has smaller flowers and pretty much blooms only at this time but it is a sheet of flowers and is a bit lower growing and has smaller leaves than the previous one shown of a slightly lighter version of this color.
A tiny dianthus, Dianthus arpandianus var pumilus, resembles a green pincushion studded with little pink stars.  I got this as a rooted cutting from our friends in town.  It is a perfect rock garden plant but is easy so far, I just need to make sure nothing tries to grow too close to it to prevent it getting overrun by faster growing things.
Catananche caespitosa comes into bloom, its a small thing from Wrightman Alpines I picked up a couple of years ago at the Stonecrop Alpine sale.
Aethionema grandiflorum came from our friends Alex and Lyn Kenner's garden.  I think it is in the nature of most gardeners to pass plants back and forth, enriching both gardens in the process. This is a rather pleasant plant with a neat habit and good pink flowers borne in abundance in May.  It will reseed but not so much as to ever want to be rid of it.   Even when the flowers are gone the narrow blue green leaves are appealing to the eye.
Papaver rhoeas, the Shirley Poppy, seeds everywhere by now and I let some of them bloom in the patio garden before I pull them up so they don't overrun smaller things that, unlike them, really need to grow in the crevices to do well.   All these poppies need is a place without too much competition and a lot of sun, and decent drainage.  They reseed and come up every year in various colors though the reds tend to dominate after a while.  So its a good idea to rouge out most of the red ones before seeding and plant new seeds sometimes of the strains like Angel's Choir that contain a lot of pastel colors to keep a variety of colors in the population.
Meanwhile at school the Melianthus villosus is resprouting.  It has lived by this wall of the building for many years.  It has flowered only once, but it was a real oddity, big green flowers that dripped black nectar.   The students like it because the leaves smell like peanut butter.
Pelargonium luridum has also done well for years in this protected spot by the building and will flower later on.  I am growing more clones of this species in pots with the eventual aim of trying some at home where a thick winter mulch to prevent deep freezing around the tuberous roots should suffice to allow them to live outdoors here. 
The same wall allows me to grow Amaryllis belladonna, a winter growing bulb but here its leaves are burnt back by severe frost and emerge in spring to grow out until late June or July, then die back.  I get one or two of them to flower in this spot each year in August.   This fall I got several big bulbs from a grower out in California and put some in front of our house but covered them with a wood chip mulch to help them get through winter.   It will be interesting to see how they do away from a wall, I do know the bulbs cannot be planted very deep so they need cover to prevent deep soil freezing.
Also at school the lovely Oenothera berlanderi "Siskiyou" is coming into bloom.  I would bring some home but for its wandering ways, it does like to spread far and fast if it is happy.  It likes dry sunny spots with little competition and it finds what it wants here.
Bearded Iris are beginning to bloom, I have one variety here that was inherited and I got rid of most of it, but I added some from my sister in North Carolina who inherited a lot of them with her house.  She had them thinned, then pulled up some and left them in a plastic garbage can that leaked for months.  The rhizomes were still in good condition when I visited one spring so I took some and planted them and these are the results.   I also have more that I got as a mixture of named varieties from Wild Iris Rows and I am very pleased with what has bloomed so far.

Papaver orientale, the Oriental Poppy, begins its brief but spectacular show in the front gardens.  I grew some from seed and moved them to the front.  They make deep roots which invariably break but can grow back if one doesnt get it all out. Root sections can also be used to propagate them.  The large bristly foliage is unpalatable to all critters and will disappear in the heat of summer, only to reemerge with cooler weather.
I picked up this plant of Silene asterias from Annies in California.  I have sprouted seeds before that turned out to be something else but this is the real deal.  A rather nice and easy plant so far.