Archive | April, 2012


18 Apr

Toadflax (Linaria purpurea), deciduous, upright growth 203 feet in height with a narrower spread, small violet-blue flowers summer through fall, full sun to light shade, drought tolerant, good cut flower, reseeds prolifically.

Brightly colored blooms like small, spurred snapdragons (Antirrhinum). Medium green, very narrow leaves. Easy to grow. Best in masses; individual plants are rather wispy.

Linaria purpurea is native to Southern Europe. Narrow, bushy, erect growth to 2 1/2–3 ft. high, 1 ft.wide. Blue-green foliage; violet-blue flowers from spring to late fall.


Pride of Madeira

17 Apr

Pride of Madeira (Echium fastuosum), evergreen shrub, moderate to fast growth to 5 feet in height and 8 ft. spread, tall spikes of tiny, dense deep blue flowers in spring, large gray-green foliage, full sun to part shade, likes poor soil, drought tolerant, deer resistant, naturalizes.

Grown for striking form and flower clusters. All do well in dry, poor soil but need good drainage. All are excellent for seacoast gardens. Flowers attract bees. Give little or no water in mild-summer climates, weekly irrigation during summer in hotter areas.

From Madeira, as its common name indicates. Large, picturesque plant to 5–6 ft. tall, 6–10 ft. wide, with many coarse, heavy branches. Narrow, hairy, gray-green leaves form roundish, irregular mounds at ends of stems. Great spike-like clusters of 1/2 -in., bluish purple flowers stand out dramatically, well above foliage, in spring. Branch tips and developing flower spikes may be killed by late frosts.

Use for bold effects against walls, at back of wide flower borders, on slopes. Prune lightly to keep bushy. Cut off faded flower spikes.

Blue Pimpernel

17 Apr

Perennial Blue Pimpernel (Anagallis monelli “Skylover”), evergreen, mounded to spreading growth to 12 inches in height with an 18 in. spread, rounded clusters of intense blue flowers with pink/yellow centers in summer, full sun, good in containers or window boxes, deer resistant.

Anagallis monelli (Blue Pimpernel) is a species of pimpernel, native to the Mediterranean region. It is not to be confused with A. arvensis ssp. foemina (syn. A. foemina), which has very similar blue flowers, but broader leaves and can can be found also in colder climates.

In south-west Europe and north Africa, there is a species of pimpernel which rarely survives winters further north, but has conspicuously larger flowers than the varieties indigenous there. It is called Anagallis monelli and produces flowers which can be up to 1 in wide. Numerous cultivars of this species (and of the small-leafed subspecies Anagallis monelli ssp. linifolia) are sold as annuals for rockeries, border edges, containers, and hanging baskets. They are grown from seed or cuttings and have lovely names, including Anagallis monelli ‘Skylover,’ Anagallis monelli ‘Blue Bird,’ Anagallis monelli ssp. linifolia ‘Gentian Blue,’ and Anagallis monelli ‘Philipii,’ but the differences among the species are minimal and mostly limited to variations in the shade of the flowers.


13 Apr

Iochroma, evergreen shrub, fast growth to 1-10 feet in height, 3-4 ft. spread, upright growth gabit, large pendant blooms in purple, blue, and other colors, long blooming, full sun to part shade, regular water, deer resistant, blooms are poisonous, Brugmansia relative.

These fast-growing, vining shrubs have drooping tubular or trumpet-shaped flowers in clusters of up to 20 near ends of branches. Blooms from early spring through fall—or year-round in frost-free areas. Leaves 5–8 in. long, 1 1/2–3 in. wide. Fruits are pulpy berries. From the forests of Central andSouth America.

Lax growth is best staked up, espaliered, or draped over a fence or wall. Prune selectively to maintain size and shape—and to keep flowers coming. Avoid pruning in late fall or when cold weather approaches. Hard pruning delays bloom.

Iochroma cyaneum grows to 8 ft. or more, with dull dark green leaves. Stems and new shoots covered with soft, grayish down. Narrow trumpets are 2–3 in. long. Blossom color of seedlings varies from blues through violets and deep reds to purplish rose and pink. All have a metallic sheen. Buy plants in bloom to get the color you want, or select named varieties. ‘Indigo’ is glossy violet-blue; ‘Royal Blue’ is a lighter, more brilliant blue; and ‘Sky King’ is a pure light blue. ‘Peachy Keen’ has peachy red flowers; ‘Royal Queen Purple’ has bright purple flowers.

Solomon’s Seal

13 Apr

Solomon’s Seal (Polygonatum odoratum), winter deciduous, arching growth to 2-3 feet in height, spreads slowly by underground rhizomes, small bell shaped white flowers hang from stems, filtered shade, likes moisture, does not like to be moved.

Slowly spreading rhizomes send up arching stems clothed in bright green, broadly oval leaves arranged in nearly horizontal planes. Where leaves join stems, pairs or clusters of small, bell-shaped greenish white flowers appear in spring or early summer, hanging beneath the stems on threadlike stalks. Small blue-black berries may follow flowers. Leaves and stems turn bright yellow in autumn before plant dies to the ground. Attractive in woodland gardens. Grow in loose, woodsy soil. Can remain in place for years; to increase your plantings, dig rhizomes from clump edges in early spring and replant. Good in containers.

Polygonatum odoratum is native to Europe, Asia. To 1 1/2–3 1/2 ft. tall, 2 ft. wide, with 4–6-in. leaves. Flowers are fragrant, usually borne in pairs but sometimes singly.

Climbing Hydrangea

8 Apr

Climbing Hydrangea (Hydrangea anomala petiolaris), slow growing deciduous vine, climbs by aerial roots and clings to any surface, large clusters of white flowers bloom summer, full sun to part shade, good container plant.

Big, bold leaves and large clusters of long-lasting flowers in white, pink, red, or blue. Summer to fall bloom. Flower clusters may contain sterile flowers (conspicuous, with large,petal-like sepals) or fertile flowers (small, starry petaled); or they may feature a cluster of small fertile flowers surrounded by ring of big sterile ones (these are called lacecap hydrangeas). Sterile flowers last for a long time (often holding up for months), gradually fading in color.

 Climbing Hydrangea is simply one of the finest of all self-climbing woody vines. Its combination of abundant bloom, handsome fall foliage, and interesting bark (revealed in winter) make it a pleasure in every season, and its ease of care renders it invaluable to the busy gardener. This is a legacy planting you will enjoy for decades to come.Autumn is one of the best seasons for this climber, for the large, fresh green leaves turn a buttery shade of yellow, remaining for several weeks before dropping for winter. The sight of a mature Climbing Hydrangea in full autumn regalia is unforgettable!

This plant needs no support to grow upward, so you don’t have to worry about tying the vine. Just give it a wall, arbor, or other structure to grow against, and up it goes.

Climbing Hydrangea is easy, carefree, and very long-lived. It can be somewhat slow to establish, but once settled in, it makes excellent growth each year, it can eventually grow to 60 to 80 feet long (if left unpruned) and 10 to 12 feet wide. Content in sun or shade, it is very low maintenance.



Satsuma Mandarin Orange

2 Apr

Satsuma Mandarin Orange (Mandarin ‘Owari Satsuma’), evergreen shrub or small tree, to 15-20 feet in height, can be grown in containers, fragrant white flowers in spring, medium sized fruit is flavorful, fruit ripens December through April, needs sun, drought tolerant, one of the best adapted to Bay Area climate.

The Owari satsuma is more cold-hardy than other citrus, with established trees surviving temperatures of 15 degrees. Owari satsumas are also slower growing than other mandarins, so they do very well on semi-dwarfing rootstock. The low, spreading growth habit of this citrus tree is charming, with slightly drooping leaves. And there’s nothing more exciting in the gardening world than picking your very own mandarin orange, peeling the loose skin and enjoying the fruits of your labor.