Sunday, September 28, 2008

Plant Sale! - a tale of botanical excitement

Well I just finished attending the U.C. Botanical Garden's Fall plant sale - what an adventure! My faithful followers will recall that in April I posted an account of the Spring sale. This differed in some respects, one being time of year (hence the "Fall" vs. "Spring" titles), and another being time of day - evening for Spring, morning for Fall. We of course arrived for the Member's Preview Sale which began at 9am. An hour before the opening of the gate we took our place in line behind the already gathering grouping of fellow plant-hungry people! The noise level and excitement grew steadily as the crowd consumed cup after cup of free (and quite good) coffee. Remember what I said about the wine at the last sale? As it turns out I was correct and when the sale began people were excitedly lugging about their green treasures with caffeine-fueled energy. I ended up with a rather modest 10 plants, but a couple of these were a bit pricey - Michelia yunnanensis and Paeonia delavayi var. lutea. Anyway there were oodles of lovely Salvias, medicinal Chinese shrubs, pokey Cacti, and California natives, just to mention a few. After grabbing my Hoya kerrii I looked around at the houseplants and saw corpse flowers were being sold! I was tempted, but decided to wait until my greenhouse is set up. I left John at the grass section while I went back and forth gathering more green-leaved photosynthetic delights. At last we paid and made our way outward. I felt a bit overwhelmed at all the commotion of people out there - bringing plants, dropping them off, picking them up, being helped out, wagons and trucks and people crossing the street. But it all worked out and our plants with kind assistance were soon safely in the car and we were on our way! It was a lot of fun, and I now have some quite appealing specimens which I will soon be situating in their new home. But it also wore me out a bit - friends and family know how major (and minor, actually) plant related events can over-stimulate me! And this is only the beginning - Fall has arrived, which means it's time to plant! Further exploits of the upcoming native plant sale and nursery visits will be available here!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Autumn Blooms

Here's a picture of some of my present garden flowers - Cuphea "Starfire" and Epilobium septrionale. I also included a picture from our latest trip to the Chihuly exhibit that I thought matched the Autumnal theme. It reminds me of falling leaves, as well as of cup fungi. Autumn is my favorite time of year, as the transition from dryness to the rain occurs. All the Winter-dormant plants going dormant while the Summer-dormant ones are ready to emerge and the nights getting colder. It's a transformational, invigorating season! And lots of Mexican Salvias go into bloom at this time as well the California native hummingbird fuchsias (Epilobium sp.) Those migrating hummingbirds need to be fed! Anyway I'm presently just enjoying all the floral excitement and beginnings of Autumn leaf color. The UC Berkeley Botanical Garden's Fall plant sale is coming up - this should be the big one. And I'm also anticipating the East Bay CNPS sale and a burgeoning of Native lovelies as the local nurseries stock up for Fall planting! So much excitement! I'll try to keep posting as I begin my usual round of Autumnal activities and observances. The Equinox is only a couple of days away!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Cool and be-fogged

The long week of heat has ended! In one of those typical mercurial Bay Area shifts of weather the winds changed direction and the fog came in dropping the temperature by about 45 degrees in under 24 hours. It's actually been cool for a few days now, but I'm still celebrating. I think I actually did a little dance when the fog first appeared. A lot of my exotic plants were a bit put out by the very low humidity, but I just misted them with a spray bottle. This worked on the plants from the lowland tropics but others, like my Brugmansia sanguinea, just did not like the excessive heat (neither did I) But the natives out front were another story. Even though I just planted them about two weeks ago and they were being seared with 100F sun they didn't even wilt! A hummingbird fuchsia (Epilobium sp.), Salvia clevelandii, Eriogonum fasciculatum, Grindelia platyphylla, and Penstemon palmeri were the sturdy denizens that withstood those harsh sunbeams. Which of course is just one of many reasons to plant native! But a lot of the non-natives are pretty well adapted also. What really suffered were container plants! I'm just glad we only have a few spells of really hot weather per year!
At any rate the garden is looking quite lovely right now with hummingbird beckoning blooms all about and the first autumnal hues coloring the leaves. The tawny bunchgrasses move in the breeze and the ravens fly overhead.
In other plant news - my latest acquisition was Cuphea "Starfire" from the UC Berkeley Botanical Garden. Like most Cupheas the flowers provide much excitement! Pictures soon!