Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Morning Glory Diversity

Late summer is peak morning glory season, and this year I have three very different species blooming:

Blue dawn morning glory (Ipomoea indica)

Moonflower (Ipomoea alba)

Cypress vine (Ipomoea quamoclit)

The moonflowers and cypress vine are especially vigorous this year, and the latter actually came up in the form of a number of volunteer seedlings.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Bibi Ferzana and Her Flowers

Often, the plants that appear in Indian miniature paintings are just stylized herbage that does not represent a particular species, or only a few key kinds of plant, such as lotuses, banana plants, or mango trees are identifiable among a backdrop of generalized foliage or flowers. On the other hand, there are also many works that evince a great interest in the identifiable, botanically accurate representation of most or all the flora they contain. The below painting of one Bibi Ferzana - her name is inscribed in tiny nasta'līq script right under the hem of her skirt to her left - is such a work, all about that botanical accuracy.

 Bibi Ferzana; watercolor, ink, and gold on paper; Mughal Empire, ca. 1675

The star of this composition - apart from the lovely Ferzana, of course - is clearly the Caesalpinia pulcherrima shrub she is facing. In Indian Persian and Hindi-Urdu, this plant bears the delightful name گل طرہ गुले तुर्रा gul-e urrah or "turban ornament flower". Ferzana is holding a flowering stem of Narcissus tazetta - very much the standard narcissus species in much of pre- and early modern West, South, and East Asia - presumably just plucked from the clump just to her left. Just in front of the clump of narcissi is a tiny orange-red species tulip - Tulipa linifolia? Tulipa vvedenskyi? Tulipa greigii? - which echoes the tulips on the hanging sash of Bibi Ferzana's outfit. At the bottom of the image, two clumps of what I believe are supposed to be small-flowered double white chrysanthemums - گل داؤدی गुलदाउदी gul-e dā'ūdī or 'David's flower' in Persian and Urdu-Hindi - flank an orange African marigold (Tagetes erecta) and a small, feathery cockscomb (Celosia cristata) with purplish leaves. The only flower I have not been able to identify to any degree is the little pink spike to the right of the Caesalpinia pulcherrima, which appears to be the same type of flower that ornaments the fabric of Bibi Ferzana's pants. Does anyone have any idea what it might be?

Source: LACMA

Monday, August 15, 2016

Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day - August 2016

It is hard to believe that just like that another month has passed! It has been a somewhat challenging one for the garden, as it has been very hot and very dry, and even with a good hour of nightly watering there is just no replacing rain. Nonetheless, quite a few things are blooming.

To start off with, not really a flower, but just as colorful: Joseph's coat amaranth (Amaranthus tricolor)

Strawflowers (Xerochrysum bracteatum), which rather relish the dry heat

Pink ambrette (Abelmoschus moschatus subsp. tuberosus)

Threadleaf giant hyssop (Agastache rupestris)

Emilia javanica, which has proven to be surprisingly heat- and drought-tolerant once established

The African marigolds (Tagetes erecta) have all been struggling with some unidentified disease or infestation but luckily so far with plenty of water and fertilizer they seem to keep outgrowing it

Yellow/orange cosmos (Cosmos sulphureus)

The last of a number of 'Hopi Dyeseed' sunflowers

The Iranian heirloom squash putting out plenty of pretty male flowers - unfortunately there are hardly any female buds in sight!

Chocolate daisy (Berlandiera lyrata) - unassuming, but deliciously cocoa-scented in the morning

A volunteer garland chrysanthemum (Glebionis coronaria), blooming long after the original batch

Bladder hibiscus (Hibiscus trionum)

'Maid of Orleans' Arabian jasmine (Jasminum sambac 'Maid of Orleans')

To see what is blooming in many gardens elsewhere, visit May Dreams Gardens!

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Nocturnal Whites

Warm summer nights are here, and with them many night-blooming flowers. Most of these are white and fragrant, presumably because these are traits that help attract nocturnal moths. Further catering to the months, a few are also long and tubular, perfectly adapted to moth proboscises.

Jimson weed (Datura stramonium) - several of these have popped up on the new strip of land that has been added to our garden as a result of the new sidewalks we got this spring

Abyssinian gladiolus (Gladiolus murielae)

Sweet four o'clock (Mirabilis longiflora)

Woodland tobacco (Nicotiana sylvestris)

'Old Fashioned Vining' petunias - these also come in various shades of pink and purple, but the white-flowered plants are usually the most vigorous and all of them are particularly fragrant at night

In the sun room, Epiphyllum strictum is blooming away

More colors and lots of green to follow soon...

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Wonderful - if tiny - Wildlife

Over the last couple of days I had two wildlife encounters in the garden that brought smiles to my face. The first was with two happy, fat swallowtail caterpillars, probably of the black swallowtail (Papilio polyxenes) feeding on a stand of last year's parsley gone to seed.

The slightly smaller of two black swallowtail (Papilio polyxenes) caterpillars

This morning, then, I came across a young praying mantis (Mantis religiosa) guarding one of my eggplants. 

 Darling praying mantis (Mantis religiosa) keeping the eggplants safe

Last year I watched a number of these growing up in the garden over the course of the summer but after not seeing any this year until now I had already given up on them. Consequently I was all the more happy to come across this one.