Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Weekend Wildflowers

We spent much of the past weekend hiking in local parks.

Ithuriel's Spear

I particularly wanted to photograph some wildflowers.

Their season is past its peak, but there was still a lot to see, and the simple beauty of wild flowers and grasses made a welcome change from the exuberance of garden cultivars I see day to day.

I don't know who that assasin bug is eating on rosa californica, I tried not to look :)
I have included common names by preference because they are so charming and evocative.

A pretty patch of Ithuriel's Spears and grasses

Fairy Lantern
I found wildflowers to be a photographer's delight, and I hope you will agree.

A checkerspot on a thistle

Elegant Clarkia

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Baby Boss

On the header of my blog is the Boss, a hummingbird that is a regular visitor to our garden. It has been called so because it is aggressively territorial and audaciously vocal in its critique of our plant selections. It even checks the food on our plates when we eat outside, no doubt making sure we are not munching on salvias or honeysuckle.  I have always been impressed by so much pluckiness in such a tiny body.

Yesterday we were introduced to the youngest member of our garden guardians. It is shy and quiet, but I have no doubt it will change, so I have called it Baby Boss.

It is incredibly cute, with a big head, short body and long wings. I am sure in human terms it is a toddler: flight has been mastered, but hovering remains a challenge. I thought that it didn't learn to beat its wings fast enough yet, so that instead of hovering in front of a flower, it gradually descended and fell awkwardly to the ground.

 I was so taken by it I ended up chasing it all around the yard, from tomato cages....

....to an arbor......

....to a lavender patch.

I am hoping to make a closer acquaintance with it in the coming months and teach it not to shy away from camera clicks. Maybe then I will take some better pictures :).

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Unhappy with Cécile

A few people asked for an update to my post on winter pruning my climbing polyantha, Cécile Brunner. Well, its spring display has come and gone....

 .... and I enjoyed a profusion of lovely blush pink blooms.

Still, I can't say I am happy. I remember being surprised in winter by the flexibility of its old, thick woody canes. It should have occurred to me (but didn't) that these long canes, weighed down in spring by lots of blooms and new growth, would bend down even more, and end up exactly where I didn't want them: in the lawn.

 I thought I had pruned the rose too much, but as it turned out, I didn't prune it hard enough :(.

Another problem is Cécile's aggressive growth. The rose puts out many long canes even before most of its flower clusters are fully open, and by the time the bloom peaks, the flowers are half covered by new leafy branches. It happens every year, whether the rose is pruned or not.  My plant, put in by the previous owners of the house, is grafted on  Dr. Huey, which probably contributes somewhat to its rampant growth, although the rose is so vigorous that I am not sure it makes much of a difference.

I am beginning to think that containing Cécile's exuberance is a year-round project and I might have to reduce it in size a little more to make the maintenance easier. I wonder if I can do it and still preserve at least some of its graceful weeping shape. Perhaps, it will be this year's challenge:).

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

William Shakespeare 2000

I think it is one of the best English roses for my climate.

I love it for its rich color, generosity of bloom and good health.

I grow two, flanking my driveway. I find that their color stands up well against the grey concrete. It seems to like heat and sun: here it is in 2010...

....and this spring, grown quite a lot. It sprawled as a youngster, but seems to improve in stature with age.

Even though I enjoy it so much I rarely photograph it: the color is so complex that my photography skills cannot do it justice. No matter what settings and light I try, it never comes out right. I can only hint at the beauty and elegance of its blooms...