My favorite flowers this year

I’m looking forward to the long Labor Day weekend and hope to get plenty of work done in the garden, at least in the mornings when it’s still cool (a high of 97°F is expected for Saturday and Sunday).

I want to repot a few things, but I need to get some pots first. Panama Pottery in Sacramento is having a big Labor Day sale: buy 1 item at regular price, get a 2nd at 50% off. Stop by if you live in the area. It’s a neat place.

I happened to browse through my garden photos this afternoon and I realized that I’ve taken many pictures this year that I’m really happy with—not only because I think they’re beautiful in and of themselves, but because they’re a great visual record of our garden or of other gardens I’ve visited this year.

Here are my favorites, mostly in chronological order. I hope you’ll enjoy this visual recap of my gardening year thus far.

Daphne odora ‘Aureomarginata’ at the UC Davis Waterwise Garden
Vinca minor ‘Illumination’. I still love the plant even though I’ve banished it to a pot.
Nectarine blossoms. This photo has sentimental value because we removed the tree.
Pisum sativum, the humble pea we all love to eat
Eucalyptus preissiana spotted at Ruth Bancroft Gardens. I’m still looking to buy a seedling.
Zantedeschia aethiopica, so clichéd, yet so beautiful.
Parodia werneri, the first of my tiny cacti to flower this year.
2011 has definitely the year of the cactus for me.
Phalaenopsis sp. What intricate details!
Thelocactus hexaedrophorus var. lloydii. The flower was bigger than the body of the cactus!
Polygonatum commutatum, better known as Solomon’s seal
Salvia microphylla ‘Hot Lips,’ probably my favorite salvia
Lamium maculatum ‘Purple Dragon’
Nigella damascena. One of my favorite flower name: Love-in-a-mist. Makes me think of the ending of Casablanca when Elsa and Rick say goodbye at the airport.
Kniphofia uvaria, finally coming into its own in our garden
Aesculus californica, California buckeye. It grows all along the greenbelt near our house.
Romneya coulteri, or Matilija poppy—another greenbelt dweller.
Opuntia microdasys ‘Albata,’ the cuddly-looking bunny ear cactus that will leave your fingers full of irritating glochids if you don’t watch out
Echium wildpretii, my beloved tower of jewels, finally blooming and then setting seeds
Heart-shaped string of flowers on Echeveria subsessilis
Amorphophallus titanum—gigantic, smelly, and impressive corpse flower blooming at UC Davis Botanical Conservatory
Another moth orchid with flowers that are perfection—and last forever. This photo was taken on June 25, and the flowers are still pristine two months later.
Echinacea x ‘Tomato Soup,’ probably my favorite of the recent coneflower hybrids. The color lasts for a long time, even in our dry heat.
Obregonia denegrii, sometimes mistaken for peyote, although it contains just traces of mescaline compared to the real peyote, Lophophora williamsii.
Mount Shasta Lavender Farm. One of my favorite places I’ve visited this year.
Passiflora caerulea, or blue passionflower, photographed at the house we rented in Brookings, Oregon.
Heracleum maximum, or cow parsnip, at Harris State Park near Brookings, OR
Astrophytum myriostigma, one of my living souvenirs from our trip the Living Desert in Palm Desert, CA
Cereus hildmannianus subsp. hildmannianus, or queen of the night. Rescued from the gutter in the spring, the largest segment had four spectacular but oh-so-ephemeral flowers.
Gymnocalycium mihanovichii var. friedrichii, blooming just days after I bought it. You’ve got to love these tiny cacti that somehow produce flowers that are almost as big as their body!
Parodia magnifica, one of my favorite small cacti, producing two sulphur yellow flowers of chiffon-like translucence
One of the cheeriest flowers on one of the weirdest plants I have, a living stone species from South Africa (Pleiospilos compactus)
As short-lived as many of the cactus flowers are, this inflorescence has been going strong since late June: yellow lotus banana (Musella lasiocarpa)


  1. Bo-ring!

    Of course I'm kidding -- these are amazing! That Phalaenopsis is fantastic, and I still don't understand how the orchids are suspended in midair like that. The lavender farm photos are probably my favorite though.

    Great stuff!
    It's not work, it's gardening!

  2. Alan, the phaelaenopsis flowers look like they're suspended because I Photoshopped out the tiny section of stem that was showing in the original image. There, I've admitted it. I'm a serial Photoshopper :-).

    The Mount Shasta Lavender Farm is one of the best "undiscovered" places I've ever visited. I look at my photos, and I can smell the lavender and see that awesome mountain vista in my mind's eye.

  3. A sight for sore (or rather strained) eyes, gorgeous flowers and photography as always!

    Hard to pick which ones are my favourite but I have to say the moment I saw the Daphne flower I can almost imagine it's scent wafting in the air here too :)

  4. Mark, I have thing for daphne too. It's probably my favorite scent in the world. I just wish it weren't such a temperamental plant. I don't know what they do at the UC Davis Arboretum because their daphnes are HUGE and clearly very happy. Ours seems to sulk more than anything.


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