The garden exploded in April with a full spread of colors. We had the full range of spring flowers and now the summer flowers have started.
In May I will harvest the winter root vegetables (beets and carrots); finish moving the 24 tomato plants to the final large pots; harvest some blackberries and squashes; and try to identify the dozens of flowers that I planted in the dead of winter and have forgotten what they are.
Spring Flowers - California Poppy
Spring Flowers - Red Salvia
Spring Flowers - Catmint
Walker’s Low Flower, aka Catmint. Catmint is one of the toughest perennials you can grow. It’s a proven performer during hot, dry weather, and the silvery foliage and blue flowers look great most of the season. Deadhead or cut back hard after first flush of bloom to encourage more flowers. Average, well-drained soil is usually sufficient. Tall types may need gentle staking; it sometimes seeds freely. The spring 2016 crop is great due to the wet El Nino winter in Sunnyvale.
Spring Flowers - Spanish Lavender
Summer Flowers - Watsonia
Our Watsonia is naturalized so it comes back every year. Watsonia is a genus of approximately 50 species of evergreen or perennial flowering plants. Watsonia plants vary in height depending on the species, but most varieties have long, narrow leaves and colorful white, orange, yellow, pink or red blossoms that grow from tall flower spikes. They add a touch of character to cottage and courtyard gardens, as well as making attractive container or patio plants.
Summer Flowers - Alstroemeria
Spring Flowers - Love-in-the-Mist
Spring Flowers - Purple Trumpet Vine
The Purple Trumpet vine has really benefited from all of our El Nino winter rain in Sunnyvale. The trumpet vine flower is great for attracting hummingbirds to the landscape. The beautiful tubular flowers range in color from yellow to orange or red or purple. Blooming on the trumpet vine plant takes place throughout summer and into fall, though blooming may be limited for those planted in shady locations. Following its flowering, trumpet vines produce attractive bean-like seedpods.
Spring Flowers - Mums
A gardening favorite, the mum (Dendranthema spp.) is often a staple in the fall and early winter garden, providing bold, large blossoms during what can be a drab time of year. Ours are still benefiting from the El Nino rains in April. Hardy in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 5 through 9, mums are commonly grown as annuals in all climates where they are planted and enjoyed for just one season.
Spring Flowers - Milkweed
This milkweed attracts eastern tiger swallowtails, giant swallowtails, hummingbirds, painted ladies, pipevine swallowtails, queens, wasps, and more. Southern California, Florida and Texas gardeners should consider cutting back tropical plants to the ground in fall to cut down the spread of OE and to encourage the monarchs to finish their fall migration. I have never seen Monarch butterflies in my Sunnyvale garden so I do not see any risk.
Summer Flowers - Calendula
Edible, ornamental and strikingly colorful, calendula (Calendula officinalis) works in the herb garden, vegetable garden and flower garden. Calendula, also commonly called pot marigold, is a cool-season annual flower that grows well in fall, winter and early spring in mild coastal areas and Mediterranean gardens. Add calendula to border areas and cottage gardens for its striking color. In the herb and vegetable garden, calendula attracts beneficial insects and you can harvest the petals to sprinkle on desserts and salads. Calendula is a genus of about 15–20 species of annual and perennial herbaceous plants in the daisy family.
Spring Flowers - Clematis
Between 200 and 300 species and several thousand hybrids comprise the glorious flowering clematis (Clematis) plants of the buttercup (Ranunculaceae) family. Though usually deciduous vines, evergreen vines and herbaceous shrubs round out clematis choices. The main attraction for home gardeners is the spectacular floral displays put on by clematis in wide ranges of flower colors, sizes and forms. Ours grows in a 3-inch trench in a shady back corner of the yard.
Spring Flowers - Amaryllis
Around Christmas many people receive an Amaryllis. It is a large bulb that blooms indoors in winter (with some assistance). Most people discard them after the bloom. I transplanted mine into a small pot outdoors. The amaryllis (Hippeastrum) blooms throughout the spring without being too picky as to light and soil requirements. You’ll be rewarded by flowering stalks up to 24 inches tall if you keep the bulbs warm in the winter and pay attention to their water and fertilizer needs. The blossoms are huge!
Spring Flowers - Mulberry
I grow it in a 20 inch wide and deep ceramic pot. It is about 6-7 feet tall from the soil.
The mulberry flowers in March are almost microscopic. In mid-April the fruit is the size of pencil erasers. The fruits start darkening and, unlike blackberries, continue to grow. The berries got sweeter. Then the berries started disappearing. I asked the robins about it but I couldn’t get a peep out of them.
Summer vegetables - Patty Pan Squash
I bought three types of squashes this April. Pattypan squash is a variety of summer squash notable for its small size, round and shallow shape, and scalloped edges, somewhat resembling a small toy top, or flying saucer. As with all members of the cucumber family, it is best to plant two or three plants a few inches apart to promote cross-pollination and more fruits. We have enought that I could even just harvest the flowers (see http://www.thekitchn.com/five-ways-to-eat-squash-blosso-87564)
Summer Vegetables- Rhubarb
Only the stalk is eaten. Do NOT eat the green leaves which are poisonous.
Spring Vegetables- Carrots
Stone Fruit- Cherries, Apricots, Plums, Nectarines
Our two apricot trees were not sprayed with fungicide this winter and they both suffered from the fungus effects: withered leaves and mummy fruit. I mitigated the damage by removing lots of affected branches and fruits. We will still have plenty of apricots for us and the squirrels.
Our three plum trees are doing well. There are many formed fruits of good size (it helps to water the trees!)
Our two nectarine trees also suffered from peach leaf curl that damages leaves and fruit. I bit the bullet and got rid of one of the trees and re-used the large pot for the Panoche fig that Adam gave me.
Our Baerrs lime tree is covered with dozens of small fruit. Our Meyers lemon tree has its usual large crop. I pruned back the Washington orange tree to keep it tidy in its 3 foot-wide trench. Our 40 year-old grapefruit tree and tangerine tree are doing well.
Our blueberry bushes continue to struggle. I haven’t hit on the right combination of soil acidity, watering, fertilizing, sunlight.
Our dwarf asian pear tree has only one fruit (sigh).