Dog Days

20 Aug

It’s definitely late summer here in Seattle. August is filled with the warmest and driest days of the year and every plant has (or had) the reached peak of its growth. This is a bittersweet time of the year for me. The garden – if well watered – is at it’s height right now, and the days are warm and sunny. However, everyday the sun is slowly creeping lower in the sky and with this cooler temperatures and rain will make their grand reentrance once again. Though this year I will be experiencing autumn in a different country, but since their climate (the UK) is similar to ours I have a feeling I won’t be missing every element of home.

Nothings says summer like a gardenia and mine is still going! (There are even more buds on the way!) I wasn’t a big fan of gardenias before – they are really needy plants – but Gardenia ‘Frostproof’ has changed my mind about growing them.

Isn't it dreamy? The fragrance easily soothes shot nerves.

Isn’t it dreamy? The fragrance easily soothes shot nerves.

If you know me, I am a sucker for fragrant plants. Having fragrance in the garden is wonderful, but it isn’t enough for me. I try to keep a few fragrant houseplants to tide me over during long, cold winters. Another classic plant that is grown all over the world for it’s scent is jasmine. Jasminum sambac is a large tropical scandent shrub and its blossoms are used to scent teas, make leis, and extracted for perfumes. I prefer the scent of this jasmine species, because it is sweeter and lighter than the other ones available. It’s been blooming on and off for weeks now and all it really ask for is ample sun and water. (Feeding it also helps it bloom more vigorously.)

The scent of this single dime-sized flower effortlessly fills the room, but not in a suffocating way.

The scent of this single dime-sized flower effortlessly fills the room, but not in a suffocating way.

Another plant that is also super fragrant is Cestrum nocturnum. This plant is also a large tropical shrub, but it  is easy to keep in check by giving it a hard prune, which encourages it to produce more flowers. During the day you have to get very close to be able to smell the flowers, but once night falls is fragrance pours out. It smells very sweet, like children’s bubble gum, but with a touch of spice.

Here are the first few buds closing slightly in the morning light.

Here are the first few buds closing slightly in the morning light.

I’ve read of reports where the plant is too fragrant to the point of being noxious, but I’ve read that others love how the plant exudes sugar and spice. My shrub was very small last year, so I haven’t experienced the former, but I have a feeling I will be with the same line of thinking of the latter.

There are so many buds on the way!

There are so many buds on the way!

About a week ago, the second Agapanthus inapertus ‘Nigrescens’ started to bloom continuing the agapanthus party. I just love this species! The upright blueish leaves and the tall loose heads of nodding, dark flowers are such a delicious combination.

I love the downward facing deep bluey-purple flowers.

I love the downward facing deep bluey-purple flowers.

Next to the agapanthus, Anemone ‘Wild Swan’ is (still) in a a pot and it hasn’t stopped blooming. I was introduced to this plant by Riz when he came back from the Chelsea Flower Show in 2011. This cultivar finally made it to US shelves this spring and it was love at first sight.

I love the golden crown of anthers sitting in the center of the delicate white petals.

I love the golden crown of anthers sitting in the center of the delicate white petals.

Hardy, everblooming, white, and delicate are definitely some of it’s many good characteristics, but when you reverse the flower, there is a lovely surprise:

Beautiful contrast, isn't it?

Beautiful contrast, isn’t it?

The backside of some of the the petals have a beautiful silvery-lilac color. I believe where the petals show this wonderful change of color is where the sun was hitting as a bud during development, since with stronger sunlight the steely-lilac is much richer and dramatic. When the breeze tousles the flowers about the flashes of lilac and white is quite dynamic.

They're just so delicate and light.

They’re just so delicate and light.

Here is one of the California poppies I picked up off of the reject pile at work and it is starting to bloom again. Its name, Eschscholzia californica ‘Apricot Flambeau’, is quite a mouth full, but luckily it isn’t as difficult to make it happy.

I hope this cheerful poppy reseeds and escapes the hungry hoards of slugs next spring.

I hope this cheerful poppy reseeds and escapes the hungry hoards of slugs next spring.

Also reblooming again is my Alstroemeria ‘Sweet Laura’. This hybrid is the first scented alstroemeria in existent, but that might have changed since its introduction.

The red stamens against the clear yellow petals stands out well in the bright sunlight.

The red stamens against the clear yellow petals stands out well in the bright sunlight.

Speaking of Alstroemeria, I have a beautiful and uncommon vining cousin in bloom right now: Bomarea edulis. It has been blooming for about a week now and I couldn’t be more excited! I bought this as a 4″ potted plant from Annie’s Annuals last autumn and grew it like a houseplant during the winter. It was about to bloom in February, but some how thrips got into my house and started wreaking havoc. (The thrips have been done away with since then…) The bomarea was so stressed it aborted the flowers and kind of stopped doing anything. Once it was warm enough, I moved it outside hoping it would rejuvenate itself.

Here the buds are just beginning to open.

Here the buds are just beginning to open about a week ago.

At first it was slow to do anything, but finally the plant started to send up shoots when things got warmer and drier. It’s still sending up new shoots, but the pervious ones are starting to mature now and more buds should be on the way!

I love the details of the speckling on the lime-green petal.

I love the details of the speckling on the lime-green petal.

Here they are fully open. What a candy-colored, tropical dream!

Here they are fully open. What a candy-colored, tropical dream!

Another first time bloomer? Here is Crocosmia ‘Burnt Umber’. The combination of hot, searing orange-red, black stems, and deep olive leaves is really stunning. Though I wish the thrips didn’t warp the flowers so much.

It's quite a smoldering and livid plant.

It’s quite a smoldering and livid plant.

And here is Fuchsia magellanica ‘Riccartonii’ blooming for the first time for me as well. In every way, this fuchsia is half the size of the usual form of the species. The only thing that isn’t reduced is it’s bright colors.

These pint-sized flowers really shout from a distance.

These pint-sized flowers really shout from a distance.

I have to run off to an appointment, so that’s all I got time for now. Hopefully, I’ll get a chance to write a little bit later this week. Though my visa for the UK did arrived a few weeks ago – which I feel was the biggest hurdle – I thought I would feel more at ease getting everything together. Who knew preparing to live abroad would be such an effort? (That was a joke.) I can’t believe I am leaving in two weeks for the UK, it always felt so far away…just like how autumn felt so far away.

Schizosylis coccinea 'Major' is an autumnal bloomer that does beautifully in my heavy soil.

Schizosylis coccinea ‘Major’ is an autumnal bloomer that does beautifully in my heavy soil.

Apparently nature, on the other hand, doesn’t think so.

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