Just as daffodils are the classic heralds of spring, the large, usually pink, trumpet-shaped flowers of Amaryllis belladonna are a sure sign of impending fall. Rising straight up on tall, sturdy, leafless stems, the blooms seem to challenge the very notion that the long, hot days of summer are drawing to a close. Amaryllis belladonna blooms in fall. Amaryllis belladonna is familiar to almost everyone whether they know it by name or not. Today these plants are most often seen abandoned along roadsides or as nostalgic remnants of older gardens. Hugely popular in gardens of the past, they
Most longtime gardeners know this low, velvety, gray-leaved subshrub as Dorycnium hirsutum, by which name it is still often referenced today. Described by Linnaeus as Lotus hirsutus, it was recently returned to that genus, but the name change has been slow to receive wide acceptance. Lotus hirsutus (Dorycnium hirsutum) with Aloe striata in Ruth Bancroft Garden Assuming that the plants I’ve seen and grown over the years are all the same species, Lotus hirsutus seems to be quite variable. The plants in my garden today are mostly upright and mounding, two feet tall and three to four
Cedros Island verbena puts on quite a show. Tiny, five-petaled, star-shaped flowers with a faintly sweet-spicy fragrance are tightly packed into round-topped, inch-wide clusters. Clusters are continuously refreshed as older flowers discreetly disappear and new buds open at the tips of short spikes. The small, deeply divided, bright green leaves on wispy-looking but sturdy stems lend a delicate, almost lacy effect. Glandularia lilacina 'De La Mina' flowering with muhlenbergia and ceanothus Cedros Island verbena (Glandularia lilacina) was formerly known as Verbena lilacina and is still popularly known by and marketed under that name. The plant is native
There is a place in almost every garden for the calming effect of architectural or sculptural plants. These provide vivid contrast in texture and form to the blowsy, undisciplined character of many of our favorite perennials and shrubs. Some are grasses, some are yuccas, some are dasylirions, and many are agaves. Agave striata, with the common name of narrow-leaved century plant, is a distinctive example. Agave striata with Yucca baccata (behind) and Yucca parryi var. truncata (in front) Agave striata is a fairly small plant, two to three feet tall and wide, with a spherical rosette of
Birds are what bring a garden to life and gardeners have always known this. We plant fruit-bearing shrubs and trees as much for the birds as for our own enjoyment. Bird houses and bird baths are ubiquitous features of home gardens. Many if not most of us also set out food for birds at backyard feeders. Bird bath in habitat garden that provides nectar, seeds, and insects for birds Bird populations have been in sharp decline for decades, a result primarily of habitat loss and pesticides. Yet we often hear that feeding wild birds can make things
It is perhaps not surprising that bulbines and bulbinellas are often mistaken for one another. Both form clumps or rosettes of grasslike or straplike basal leaves and both bear tiny, star-shaped, yellow, orange, or white flowers in cylindrical or cone-shaped clusters atop tall stems. Most of both genera are native to South Africa with a few bulbines from Australia and a few bulbinellas from New Zealand. Bulbine latifolia has succulent leaves resembling an aloe without spines There are, however, significant differences between the two that may affect how they are used in the garden. Almost all bulbines
It might seem that hellebores are for expert gardeners and collectors only and a few of them are. The rest may look delicate, fussy, and difficult to grow but are quite amenable to cultivation in a fairly wide range of soils and situations. Hellebores, especially species but also many of the hundreds of cultivars, lend a connoisseur’s cachet to gardens in summer-dry parts of the world. Helleborus orientalis, beautiful in its own right, is the main parent of many hybrids If you are a newcomer to hellebores, there are several things it might be helpful to know.