Friday, November 22, 2013

After the Storm

For those of you living in the Bay Area, the last couple of days have brought us quite a one-two punch. First the downpour on Wednesday then the gale force winds Thursday night and Friday morning. I walked out to find quite a bit of damage to my garden, though none fatal. It's a reminder that Nature has many guises, including Kali the Destroyer. So this morning was spent clearing up the mess and taking an unwelcome inventory.
On another note, what makes gardening interesting is the unforeseen surprises one comes across. Working in a retail nursery gives me access to a great variety of plants (sometimes too many, making it hard to resist temptation). I recently came across a plant I'd never heard of. It's Hemizygia and no I'm not making that name up. Research online proved to be a bit of a puzzle, with one source attributing it to Australia and another to South African. But when we sourced its family name, Lamiaceae, we saw the resemblance to members of the Plectranthus genus. And then we discovered that it's also identified botanically as Syncolostemon, and its various species are known in South Africa as sagebrushes.
Of course one need not follow these botanical breadcrumbs to enjoy this hardy plant. The one I brought home, photograph below, is a variegated leaf variety called 'Candy Kisses.' Kind of a silly name so I'm just referring to mine as Hemizygia. It's not like someone will ask "Oh, which Hemizygia is that? I've got four at home."
So, consider this an edition of Mr. Roger's Neighborhood. And today's word is Hemizygia.
Now some photos.

Here's a fab new Calendula called Zeolights. Really now, what kind of drugs are these people on, coming up with names like that? Pretty though.

Here's the aforementioned Hemizygia. It does resemble the variegated leaf Plectranthus known as Sapphire Dream. It's supposed to top out at 24" so it can find a home almost anywhere. Pretty purplish-red flowers too.

Anyone that knows her succulents will recognize this guy. It's affectionately known as Tiger Jaws, though the "teeth" are actually soft and rubbery (all bark and no bite?) They are one of the quickest succulents to bloom, with pretty yellow flowers.

Not sure why but many of my camellias are early this year. This charming little Buttermint is usually the first to flower, with small, butter-centered white flowers. 

Sometimes it isn't just about the flowers. I love the ribbed, textured blades of Babianas. This S. African bulb sends up its leaves early then makes you wait for 3 months before flowering.

And sometimes it's not even about the foliage. Here's a flower bud on my Magnolia 'Butterflies.' I love the soft, furry outer covering, which will stay on the plant until flowers pop out in the spring.

Another shot of my favorite Grevillea, G. Moonlight. Here you get to see both the closed buds on the upper portion of the flower spike and some opened flowers below. The color is unlike any other Grevillea I know of.

Speaking of hard-to-find plants, here's my Phylica plumosa. It's supposed to be ultra-finicky but I nursed this specimen from a 4" pot. They love the sun. There's nothing quite like the inflorescences, which look like downy geysers to me.

My Camellia 'Silver Waves' has also begun blooming. Tough as nails, I keep hacking it back so it doesn't overrun the walkway leading to the back yard.

Echeveria subrigida. One of my favorite Echeverias, with the milky bluish-green new growth and the red edging, which is more pronounced in the colder months. 

Calluna vulgaris 'Firefly.' If the genus name doesn't ring a bell then the common name Heather certainly will. Not just native to northern England (think Scottish highlands), it's also found on the continent. This variety showcases wonderful reds and oranges.

Pittosporum crassifolium 'Compactum.' The subject of tomorrow's Pick of the Week column, this dwarf form of Karo, as it's known in New Zealand,has to this eye the loveliest of leaves. It's also said to be the most floriferous.

Under the category of "a beautiful death," the leaves of my Cotinus coggygria (and who the heck came up with that weird species name?) are putting on an interesting show as they die off. I guess where there's "smoke" there's fire (a little flame on the leaves).

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