A lot of the garden bloggers whose sites I visit regularly observe a "Bloom Day" on the 15th of each month, but slacker I am, I rarely think of it and usually miss the mark. Well, thanks to Gail at Clay and Limestone, who graciously and gently reminded me that it was upcoming today, I decided I should get with it this time. The problem is that right now we're in a rainy cool weather pattern with lots of clouds, so I don't have (m)any current photos of what is going on in the garden! So as I was working today I got an idea ... I have my old computer networked with my newer one and it functions basically as a storage file server for me now, and I have its screen saver set to cycle through the older photos I have archived on it, so... as they flashed by as I worked today they gave me an idea. Why not revisit some memories of seasons past for this post? So ... all the photos you see in this post are from 2006 (and may or may not have been posted previously here) ... the common thread they share is that (except for the Castor blooms) these are flowers we didn't have this year for one reason or another ... some failed after their first season or two, others have disappeared, and some we just haven't planted for the past two years. It was tough making an ad hoc selection to use, though I did try to pick examples from throughout the 2006 growing season, so I hope you'll like this little trip down the floral memory lane....
The first shot is a wonderful 'Parrot Feather' tulip we planted years ago in the first bulb bed, but alas, like many of the fancier tulips, they just don't stick around for that long (these probably lasted about 5 years, then disappeared), but while they do, they certainly are striking! Readers may remember me bemoaning the great Tulip Massacre earlier this spring due to the harsh weather we had last year that carried over to this year, thus depriving us of most of our several hundred tulips, and this was another of the casualties. I'd love to see it return, but at this point, I just don't think that's going to happen, so enjoy it in its past prime ... a memory of what once was.
Ah, Foxglove! We've tried since we started our garden to get Foxglove established, but we've just not had much success in making it happy, though it did do quite well in May, 2006, then disappeared and hasn't returned. This year we thought of sowing seed in bulk to see if we could get it going again, but in the usual Spring rush of planting, it just didn't happen, alas. One of these days we'll find a spot it likes where it will return faithfully for us every year, but until that point, we'll have to content ourselves with the one year they actually performed for us!
Ok, the only reason we haven't had this lovely Convolvulus tricolor the past couple of years is purely due to sloth ... this is one of those annuals that needs to get planted as early as possible in the season to do well, and again due to Spring Manic Panic Planting, we just didn't get around to it! But such a lovely flower really does deserve the attention it needs early on, because if you get the seeds in at the right time, it's a very reliable and profuse bloomer all summer long right up until frost. It's often referred to as 'Bush Morning Glory' because of its mounding growth habit and its Morning Glory type flowers (it's in the same large family of the Convolvulaceae, which includes not only Morning Glories, Cardinal Climber and the plant in the following photos, but also the dreaded bindweed as well).
Mina Lobata, known as 'Spanish Flag' is a spectacular bloomer as well, but like Convolvulus tricolor, the seeds need be planted by mid-May in our area in order for them to have enough time to reach their blooming stage, but wow, once they reach it, they really go to town. This photo was taken on October 1, 2006 as it was at its bloom zenith when it covered one entire end of the old jungle gym we inherited (it's part of the present veggie garden). This is one of those heirloom type vines that we haven't seen much around area gardens, but I'm sure it does have its fans out there somewhere. Its most striking feature is how the flowers start out a pale cream color, morph into yellow, then orange and finish a brilliant red over the course of several weeks. If you've never planted this, but are a fan of vining plants, put this one on your list for next year ... just make sure you get it planted outside after the threat of frost has passed, and you'll be in for a gorgeous surprise in mid to late summer and early fall!
Isn't this plant straight out of oddball land? It's one of the flowering Kales called 'Purple Peacock' which we would have gladly planted over the past two years, but alas, we've been unable to find this variety at the garden centers where we shop. Believe me, we both scour the places looking for it, but for some reason it just hasn't been available since the first year we planted it. Flowering Kales are great annuals because they really take off late in the season, provide a lot of color and interest, surviving even a few freezes before they give up the ghost and basically melt away with winter's arrival. If you ever spot this, snap a few up and plant them in a sunny spot and they will reward you richly! (Again, I took this shot on October 1, 2006.)
Unless you've grown this last plant, I'd bet you have idea what this strange flower is! These are the flowers of Castor ricinus 'Carmencita Rose' a cousin of the Zanzibariensis variety I posted previously here. (I should really do an update on it because our specimen this year is about 10 ft tall at present!) Once the blooms have been pollinated they produce equally odd very spiny seed pods that contain about 4-5 seeds each. Once you grow this plant successfully one year, just let the pods dry on the plant (they're ready about frost), put on some gloves and crack them open to remove the seeds and you'll have more than you need to plant the next year. (When stored properly, seeds remain viable for up to three years, so you can save them or share with other Castor fans.) We have several small ones we planted in a big pot out front this year (we got them in late ... July!) and though they are now blooming, they probably won't have enough time to produce seed, but we have plenty saved to plant again next year, so no worries there!
So there you have it for October Bloom Day 2008! Thanks again Gail, for nudging me out of my slackitude, and though these flowers represent mere memories now from 2006, it was fun combing the archives to put this post together! I hope you enjoyed this post, and even if you're a long time reader, I'm sure you won't mind being reminded of some of the past glory days from our humble garden here at Casa IVG! I promise I'll get more Toad Lilies up before the end of the week if the weather cooperates and we have less rain and more sun for the rest of the week! So, until then ... that's all folks!
Note on these photos: taken over the course of April to October, 2006 using my old faithful camera, my trusty Fuji Finepix 2250. Of course they don't compare to the quality of my new Fuji S700, but they are still pretty darned good shots I think!