Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Plants are loving the rain

I’ve talked several times about the extremely dry winter of 2013/2014 (1 2 3). While the specter of a drought hasn’t disappeared, the rains we’ve had in the last week have helped a little. If nothing else, they’ve given our gardens a thorough soaking and have jumpstarted the growth of plants that had been lagging behind.

In our garden, the plants that benefitted the most from the rain were the bamboos. They had also suffered the most during our dry winter, especially the specimens in containers. Just take a look at this poor Phyllostachys bambusoides ‘Castillon Inversa’. I’m not sure it will come back from the brink of death even with the several inches of rain we’ve had:


Phyllostachys bambusoides ‘Castillon Inversa’

Other bamboos hadn’t deteriorated as much during the winter and will now go into a growth spurt, especially since I fertilized them recently.


Indocalamus tessellatus (left) and Phyllostachys aureosulcata ‘Spectabilis’ (Alan, this is the small division you sent me a couple of years ago)


Three bamboos in our front yard: Bambusa oldhamii, Bambusa chungii ‘Barbellata’ and Bambusa multiplex ‘Alphonse Karr’


Pleioblastus viridistriatus

Let’s look at some other plants that are loving the rain.


Not a bamboo, but looking at lot like the previous photo: Japanese forest grass (Hakonechloa macra ‘Aureola’)


Fatshedera lizei 'Annemieke', an intergeneric hybrid between Japanese aralia (Fatsia japonica) and English ivy (Hedera helix var. hibernica)


Our Washington navel orange tree has more flowers this year than in recent memory. There’ll be a bumper crop this winter!


Few plants love the rain more than farfugiums! This Farfugium japonicum ‘Argenteum’ positive glows!


Being winter growers, our aeoniums are soaking up the unexpected moisture


The yellow is a flower stalk from Aeonium arboreum ‘Atropurpureum’ on the right that has fallen over


Aeonium decorum ‘Sunburst’ (left) and Aeonium arboreum (right)


New leaves emerging on our giant elephant ear (Alocasia macrorrhizos ‘Borneo Giant’) and Dwarf Cavendish banana (Musa acuminata ‘Dwarf Cavendish’). The variegated shell ginger on the right (Alpinia zerumbet ‘Variegata’) still looks terrible from the cold snap in December. I may take it out altogether.


Reblooming lilac (Syringa x ‘Bloomerang’). I couldn’t resist when I came across it at a local nursery in the fall. It’s blooming nicely now for such a small plant. It smells like lilac but is much, much smaller (the leaves are size of my fingernails). The question is: Will it rebloom in the summer?


California poppies (Escholtzia californica) growing like crazy in the driveway succulent bed


Very impressive growth on this Karley Rose fountain grass (Pennisetum orientale 'Karley Rose')

140401_update_025 140401_update_026

Heading towards the sky: our two towers of jewels (Echium wildpretii) that will bloom this year


Flowers forming


The volunteer cardoon (Cynara cardunculus) in the backyard, now in its fourth year, has tripled in size in the last week


The globe artichoke (Cynara cardunculus var. scolymus) in the front yard is growing uncontrollably. My recent attempts at keeping it in check haven’t done much to slow it down. The Agave parryi var. huachucensis on the left is completely buried again.


A peek inside shows that artichokes are already setting


  1. Nothing like rain to freshen up and make the garden positively glow! Shame about the castillonis inversa being damaged by drought but at least not all bamboos were affected.

    1. I think I'll take that Castillon Inversa to my in-laws. It'll do better in the ground. Provided it's still alive.

    2. It might surprise you Gerhard :)

  2. How nice that you finally got some much needed rain! Thanks for sending the sun up our way for the last three days! What is the bamboo variety in the third picture from the bottom behind your volunteer cardoon? The color of its culms is beautiful!

    1. Thanks to the recent rains, this is no longer the driest year on record, only the third driest, lol.

      That bamboo is another Alphonse Karr.

  3. It is a little odd to see plants and surfaces wet in your photos Gerhard, it looks like things here in Portland.

    1. I felt very much like Portland, too. I had to turn on my heating blanket at night, LOL.

  4. Your 'Karley Rose' always looks so beautiful. It's like mine isn't even the same plant. Don't get me started on cardoon either -- 4 years! That would be amazing. Sigh.

    1. But your 'Karley Rose' looks spectacular in the summer, from what I remember.

      I assume you collect seeds from your cardoon every fall?

  5. Your sunburst is off the hook! I planted in a new spot and am hoping will look better next year.