Spring’s a-springing

Finally I have some bamboo action to report—and lots of other plants are also waking up from their slumber after an unusually long spell of below-normal temperatures. Yesterday morning there was frost on the houses in the neighborhood! Hopefully the Easter bunny will not only bring us eggs (Swiss chocolate, please!) but also warmer temperatures.

Bamboos first: At this time last year, our black and golden bamboos (Phyllostachys nigra and Phyllostachys aurea ‘Koi’) were already pushing new shoots. Not so this year. However, there’s plenty of shooting going on elsewhere, as you can see below.

Fargesia robusta
Notice the new culms poking out above the bushy growth from previous years
Chinese walking stick bamboo (Chimonobambusa tumidissinoda)
producing lots of new culms
Chinese walking stick bamboo (Chimonobambusa tumidissinoda)
Sasa tsuboiana, a low-growing bamboo I received last year as part of a trade
from Alan at It’s Not Work, It’s Gardening. (Sorry for not cleaning the bowl.)
Dwarf greenstripe bamboo (Pleioblastus viridistriatus), one of the most vibrantly colored bamboos, in its spring glory. I cut this one down to the ground each winter, so what you see is all new growth.

In addition to the bamboos, there are plenty of other plants producing new growth. Even some of my beloved (but devilishly uncooperative) hostas have come back.

120406_Hakonechloa-macra- -Hosta
TOP: Japanese forest grass (Hakonechloa macra ‘Aureola’), sometimes mistaken for a bamboo
BOTTOM: Hosta ‘Stiletto’
Hosta ‘Aphrodite’ unfurling its first leaves. The bottom leaf already got chewed to pieces by a slug, always a problem when they first emerge. ‘Aphrodite’ is selection of Hosta plantaginea, probably the most heat-tolerant hosta species, and it has withstood our searing summer weather better than most. It’s also the only double-blooming hosta, with pure white flowers.
An ever-expanding cluster of lily of the valley (Convallaria majalis). This started out as a couple of plants from my mother-in-law’s garden in Mount Shasta.
Coral bell (Heuchera sanguinea). The fancy heuchera hybrids you see in catalogs can’t handle our heat, but this old-fashioned kind does just fine.
Solomon’s seal (Polygonatum commutatum), always reliable and soon in bloom
Tasmanian tree fern (Dicksonia antartica) unfurling a new leaf. It’s a struggle to keep it alive, but I’m trying because I love tree ferns.
Silver lady fern (Blechnum gibbum) with all new leaves. This fern is very cold-sensitive and got knocked back by the frost, as is the case every year. But it does come back with a vengeance in the spring.
Greater meadow rue (Thalictrum aquilegifolium)
Dwarf Russian sage (Perovskia atriplicifolia ‘Little Spire’)
One of the lupines I planted last fall is coming back. I don’t know which one yet (either a yellow-flowering bush lupine or a blue-flowering lupine). Lupines happily grow on freeway embankments but they’re finicky in gardens in our area because of our heavy clay soil. I did amend the planting area quite a bit, so maybe this one will make it.
Variegated farfugium (Farfugium japonicum ‘Argenteum’). Notice how the new leaves (right) emerge covered with fuzz. My other plant recently threw a completely white leaf.
A volunteer artichoke that appeared last fall. It’s still a mystery where it came from because we’ve never grown artichokes in this spot.
Strawberry (Fragaria × ananassa) is a welcome sight at this time of year
Rhubarb flowering. Some people say when a rhubarb flowers it’s time to divide it. Ours certainly is mature—it fills an entire half barrel. I’ll remove the flower stalk soon so the plant will focus its energy on producing leaves, but the flower stalk is quite a sight.
Lilac buds about to open up, just in time to fill the house with its incredible fragrance on Easter
120406_Euphorbia-Glacier-Blue- -Agave-chiapensis
Euphorbia characias ‘Glacier Blue’ continuing to bloom. Both the flowers and the leaves look great against the dark green of this Agave chiapensis.
This aeonium (can’t quite figure out what species) isn’t blooming, but the multiple rosettes at the end of ever longer stems do resemble flowers
Our Washington navel orange tree has more flower buds this year than I can ever remember. Last year we had the leanest orange crop ever but this year it looks like it’ll be a bumper crop.
This bush impatiens (Impatiens sodenii ‘La Vida Rosa’) from the highlands of East Africa (Karen Blixen probably had it growing at her coffee plantation in the Ngong Hills) is blooming its head off. Read this interesting San Francisco Chronicle article about Impatiens sodenii. While I don’t like the “busy lizzies” people buy by the 6-pack in the spring, this impatiens has attitude—and will eventually grow to 6 ft. If it survives our winters, that is. For insurance I will take plenty of cuttings and overwinter them inside.
This Parodia uebelmannia is a harbinger of the next wave of excitement in our garden: blooming cactus. Some mammillaria are already flowering, and other cactus are getting ready to. Expect a separate post soon.


  1. Superb plants Gerhard, great see so many of them 'springing' into action already! Also it never crossed my mind to plant a low growing bamboo on a shallow dish before until I saw your photo. I think I'll copy that idea :)

    Happy Easter to you and your family!

  2. Try coffee grounds or ashes around your Hostas, helps with the slugs! Plus the Callas are beautiful!

  3. Everything is looking wonderful my friend! Lot's of beauty happening! Now if the weather would just cooperate. Things are a mess a here and nothing is going on. Last week I was in Cancun and of course came home with a parasite. Yikes! Can't wait to work outside!


Post a Comment