Spring Colors: Some Like it Hot

Orange nasturtium

This orange nasturtium has a banana-yellow center and a lovely pair of eyelashes

Nature always wears the color of the spirit.

– Ralph Waldo Emerson

Unless you’re an allergy sufferer, you probably love spring. It’s a magical time in the garden when spring colors emerge from winter’s slumber while the birds sing their happy tune.

Red and Pink

 

After years of planting assorted bulbs and spring-mix seed packets, it’s fun to see the color assortment burst forth. Wrapped around the perennials, and sometimes hiding below, touches of spring color emerge. To be fair, many of the weeds are colorful too. You just have to decide what stays and what goes.

Orange

 

According to birder Melissa Mayntz of The Spruce:

Different birds are attracted to different colors. Individual bird species may see the “best” colors as indicating a food source. Other birds may be more attracted to the colors of their own plumage as those could indicate a potential mate or another bird that is surviving well.

Most bright colors, however, can be used to attract birds, with certain bird species being more attracted to particular shades.

Red and Pink: Hummingbirds
Orange: Orioles, hummingbirds
Yellow: Goldfinches, warblers, hummingbirds

Yellow

 

Interesting that red, orange and yellow are the first three colors of a primary rainbow. I think nature is on to something, don’t you?

Not to be undone green, blue and violent show up every spring as well. They’re the cooler colors, providing a lovely contrast to the heat of the spectrum. Stay tuned for their turn in the garden.

Smiling Sunflowers

bee and sunflower

Incoming bee

Okay, technically sunflowers don’t smile. The effect is pretty much the same, though.  When I look out my window they’re waving in the breeze, nodding their sunny flower heads and vibrating with bees.  Maybe I’m the one smiling, but either way it’s contagious.

sunflower and yellow bee

Bees move between the sunflowers and the pumpkin vines

The tallest of the sunflowers is my height: 5’10” or 177 cm. It was the first on the scene.  I planted a variety of sunflowers this year, so each one is a bit different. One of the flowers just reaches my knee.

pair of sunflowers

Brothers and sisters

knee high sunflower

Knee high sunflower

Yesterday I gently untangled a few overzealous pumpkin vines, redirecting them back towards the deck. As soon as the sunflowers go to seed, they’ll be overrun by squirrels. I don’t want my furry visitors trampling the pumpkins in their quest. Sunflower stems are sturdy enough to support the heavy seeds. They are not, however meant to withstand the added weight of a squirrel running up and down at snack time.

A little history:

Sunflower (Helianthus annus) is an annual plant native to the Americas. It possesses a large inflorescence (flowering head). The sunflower is named after its huge, fiery blooms, whose shape and image is often used to depict the sun. It has a rough, hairy stem, broad, coarsely toothed, rough leaves and circular heads of flowers. The heads consist of many individual flowers which mature into seeds, often in the hundreds, on a receptacle base. From the Americas, sunflower seeds were brought to Europe in the 16th century, where, along with sunflower oil, they became a widespread cooking ingredient. Leaves of the sunflower can be used as cattle feed, while the stems contain a fibre which may be used in paper production. – Wikipedia

sunflower leaves and bud

Sunflower bud, about a week before it bloomed

opening sunflower

Ready to meet the world

sunflower

Bronze-centered flower

Here’s a story that will leave you smiling like a sunflower:

The Fukushima Sunflower project is now following the lead of Chernobyl, and fields of sunflowers are bursting into bloom across this contaminated area of Japan. Volunteers, farmers, and officials planted the flowers so that they can absorb the radiation that leaked into the soil from the region’s damaged nuclear power plant. There are concerns that the contamination is mainly in the topsoil and that the roots of the flowers are too deep to absorb it. Time will tell whether this project will be a success.

Officials are hoping that the local economy will benefit as much from the project as the environment. They are hoping tourists will come back to the region to admire the sunflower fields. Due to this magnificent flower’s ability to assist in getting rid of nuclear waste, it has become the international symbol of nuclear disarmament.

I’m smiling. How about you?

sunflowers near walkway

Sunflowers along the deck

DSC_0117

Mellow Yellow, Garden Gold

Yellow is a happy color. It exudes warmth and cheer. In the garden, it weaves its way through most seasons: striking daffodils in the spring, followed by snapdragons and sunflowers in the summer and fall.  As the blooms fade, several trees take over, dropping golden-yellow leaves in.

What’s unusual this year is the number of summer plants still in bloom.  Our deciduous trees have lost most of their leaves in time for winter solstice. I thought the snaps were done until several days of heavy rain.  Now they’re back to in soft, buttery shades of yellow.

A tomato plant still towers in the side yard, sending out tiny yellow blooms. Several pumpkin plants self-seeded and flowered as well.  Even in California, it’s unusual to see pumpkins bloom so late in the year. I’m trying to squelch my fears about global warming.  Perhaps my garden’s micro-climate is simply in sync with the menopausal gardener.

Using yellow in the garden from Sensational Color:

  •  Yellow is considered a warm color in landscape design.
  • Yellow’s appearance in the garden has a stimulating effect.
  •  Yellow flowers come forward in the landscape, helping to make a large garden feel cozier.
  •  Yellow lilies make for a bright, long blooming addition to any garden.
  •  Yellow’s complimentary color in the garden is purple.
Snapdragons

The Snapdragons returned after a heavy rain. I didn’t notice the tiny grey spider when I took the picture.

Yellow Wildflower

Yellow Wildflower Still Blooming

Pumpkin Flower

It’s mid-December. Do you know where your pumpkin flowers are?

Fruit-Loop Tree?

Fruit-Loop Tree? Nope! Just three stages of an orange

Side Yard Tomato

Side Yard Tomato

Fruit Cocktail Tree Leaves

Fruit Cocktail Tree Leaves

The Color Yellow:

September Treats: A Little of This and That

purple flower polka dot plant

Tiny purple blooms dot the Polka Dot plant

My garden’s been busy over the weekend. In just 24 hours, the Pink Polka Dot plant produced several flowers.  I didn’t know the plant would actually bloom.  All plants have a flower and a fruit, but many are subtle and therefore go unnoticed. Tiny purple flowers dot the plant.  They’re quite small, no bigger than a centimeter, but they look vibrant against the mostly pink and green backdrop of the spotted leaves.  What a fun discovery.

yellow daisy like flower

Three cheers for yellow!!!

Also growing in one of the pots is a fresh, yellow daisy or daisy-like flower.  It’s another surprise from the packet of wildflowers planted in early spring. Every few weeks, a new flower appears. Today’s gorgeous bloom is as bright as a sunflower, but smaller in size. Yellow flowers are the garden cheerleaders: upbeat and sunny.

In that same pot, one or two fuchsia cosmos remain, a nice backdrop for the hummingbirds darting in and out at the feeder.

bird house gourd

Bowling-pin Gourd

I smiled when I rounded the corner of the trellis and saw a rapidly growing birdhouse gourd still thriving on the vine.  Most of the early fruit was small, but this latest gourd is growing at break-neck speed.  In its present form, it reminds me of a bowling pin.  Several smaller gourds grew up the trellis to the side of the house and they now hang below the eaves like a string of Christmas lights. Every time I see them I get a good giggle.

Tomorrow is October 1st with a projected temperature of 94 degrees Fahrenheit  (34 degrees Celsius). Crazy weather!  I’m starting my Halloween countdown in earnest tomorrow, featuring something seasonal daily.  Stay tuned.

I love October!  How about you?

cosmo and hummer

Cosmo and Hummingbird
Beauty Times Two

Christmas light gourds

Who needs to hang Christmas lights?

Complimenting the Sunflowers: The Color Purple

In color theory, yellow compliments purple. The colors are directly adjacent to one another on the color wheel, in the same way green is to red, and orange is to blue. Without consciously realizing it, I’ve complimented brilliant yellow sunflowers with purple Lavender, Ageratum and nearby Mexican Sage.

The sunflowers line the top of the deck, while the lavender shrubs grow in front. The fragrant flowers bump up against the steps, softening the hard edges. Lavender is one of my favorite plants. It blooms for months on end, with a distinctive scent, valued for its restorative and relaxing powers.  I dried a bunch of lavender in the garage, and used a few blossoms in my bath.  I’m dreaming up ways to share these powerful blooms this Christmas.

Lavender

Lavender Lines the Deck

This week I planted Ageratum and Baby Tears in a moss bowl, added some LEGO® Brick furniture and called it a Fairy Garden. It wasn’t until I took a step back from the arrangement that I realized I had surrounded the sunflowers with purple goodness. I love the shape of the fluffy blooms, but I also delight in the little saucer shapes with the dotted edges just before.

Ageratum

Ageratum Graces the Fairy Garden

Dominated by tall grass, the Dwarf Plumbago is easy to miss. It resides in the lower garden and to the right of the steps leading to the deck. Don’t you just love the red burst of seed pods in the center?

Dwarf Plumbago

Dwarf Plumbago

The magnificent Mexican Sage grows at the curb, in an otherwise unremarkable section of the sidewalk strip. The sage goes dormant around December, when we give it a hard prune, then resumes its show of color, spring through fall. It’s a popular plant with children on the block due to its soft, velvet-like flowers. The hummingbirds are also big fans, frequently tussling over the right of territory.

Mexican sage

Mexican Sage
Drought-Tolerant and a Hummingbird Favorite

On the subject of territory, my sister Sharon “owns” the color purple. It’s been her favorite her entire life. Sharon, this one’s for you.

Blooming Thursday: Lemony Yellows

 

The first flower on my lemony yellow tour self-seeded from last year. Within two weeks it was covered in buds and blooms and tripled in size.  My friend Laura, referred to it as a Four O’clock, the time it usually blooms.  Our plant must think it’s in a different time zone, as it was in full bloom at 9:00 this morning.

Yellow Wildfowers

Lemony Yellow Wildflowers

Next up are the ‘Evergreen Yellow’ daylilies surrounding our Magnolia.  Is it just me, or do the stamen look like delicate, curling fingers?

yellow daylillies

Trio of Daylily Flowers

Yellow Daylily

Yellow Daylily Up Close

Rounding up the tour, we have Fuzzy little Kangaroo Paws shooting up behind the lilies. They’ll grow to about three feet tall and will bloom now through fall.  Aren’t they sweet?

'Harmony' Kangaroo Paws

‘Harmony’ Kangaroo Paws

What’s blooming in your garden this Thursday?

 

Blooming Thursday: Blue and Gold

Entry way pots: Snapdragons and ‘Lucia Dark Blue’ lobelia

The garden is awash in cool blues and warm yellows today.  I bought a few annuals to spruce up the entry way, then realized how much blue and gold we already have.

I found some cobalt blue beer bottles in the garage, left over from my husband’s home-brewing days.  If the stars align, the yellow lilies will still bloom.  The bottles will make beautiful bud vases and the yellows will look gorgeous in contrast to the rich blue.  To hedge my bets, I planted Impatiens in one of my recycled soy candle jars.  It’s pretty…but pink.

No worries. Blue and gold remain center stage.  Here’s what’s blooming:

Snapdragons

Blue and Gold

‘Moonchimes’ Chinese Lantern

Wildflowers, Re-seeded from Last Summer

Hydrangea: It’s Blue *and* Gold!