Thursday, July 23, 2015

More fun with names

I had enough fun with last week's Name Game, matching two plants by their common or variety names, that I've decided to do a part two this week. For those of you who didn't find this little game entertaining, there will be more garden photos to follow. This week I've tried to expand the connections between certain of the pairings, to add a bit more spice and tell more of a story. With that in mind, here goes.

Digitalis 'Pantaloons' + Cantua 'Hot Pants.' Pieces of clothing, especially pants, isn't a subject one would normally associate with plant names but hey after three glasses of Merlot anything can come to mind, right? This foxglove is distinctive in that the sides of tubular flowers are 'split.' So not quite pantaloons but perhaps Palazzo pants? This Cantua sports red and pink bicolor flowers. So, hot colors. But pants? That must have been some good Merlot ...
Eccremocarpus 'Pink Lemonade' + Lemonade Berry (Rhus integrifolia). The former owes its name to the pink flowers with yellow tips and the latter's berries were crushed to make a kind of natural lemon-tasting drink by native peoples (not recommended today).
Echinacea Primadonna 'Deep Rose' + Tibouchina urvilleana (Princess flower). Primadonna and Princess? These plants certainly aren't suffering from self-esteem issues!
Edgeworthia chrysantha (Paperbush) + Helichrysum bracteantha (Paper flower). These are an interesting pair. The latter earns its common name due to the flowers having a dried, papery feel. The Edgeworthia on the other hand owes its common name to its interesting bark. It was peeled and used to write on, in a way like the Egyptians used papyrus.
Heuchera 'Root Beer' + Clethra alnifolia (Summersweet). The connection may bee a bit difficult to parse at first but once you've smelled the heady fragrance of Summersweet and cleared your mind you realize it smells a bit like Sarsaparilla! Which of course was the main ingredient in the original root beer.
Epimedium grandiflorum (Bishop's Hat) + Ammi majus (Bishop's Flower). I have no friggin' idea how either of these plants came to have the Bishop name as part of their common name. Anyone?
Okay, how many of you know your Periodic Table? We'll start with a couple easy ones -- Eriogonum 'Shasta Sulphur' + Begonia 'Iron Cross.' And, umm, you're choosing one name (Sulphur) that smells to high heaven and another (Iron) that's toxic and weighs like ten tons?
Euphorbia 'Ascot Rainbow' + Tomato 'Big Rainbow.' Lots of other rainbows out there I'm sure and I was even thinking of pairing the Euphorbia with Berkeley Tie-Dye tomato. Ascot. Tie. Alex, I'll take neckwear for 200.
'Blue Bear's Paw' fern (Phlebodium) + Black Rabbit's Foot fern (Davallia trichomanoides). These ferns are worth having if only to tell your gardener friends the common names. What, no 'Wolverine Nose' fern?
Skating further away from the shore (as it were), how about Baby Toes (Fenestraria) + Pussy Toes (Antennaria)? Both these succulents are totally charming, with Baby Toes making these soft, upright nubs that do indeed look like toes. And for me, they also remind of the elevated stone columns in The Giant's Causeway in Northern Ireland.
Speaking of succulents, there's the charming and ferocious 'Tiger's Jaws' (Faucaria) that might well get into a tussle with Lilium pardilinum (Leopard lily) so don't put those two too close to each other. 
Speaking of things in the animal kingdom, how about Commelina coelestis (Blue spiderwort) + Davallia mariesii. In the former we have a creepy crawly spider and for the fern? Well, one photo of a mature plant will reveal white-haired rhizomes that look all the world like tarantula legs! 
If these connections might drive you to drink, how about Corydalis 'Blackberry Wine' or Sambucus species (Elderberry). Another thing these plants have in common is a deep purple color. On the Corydalis, it's the flowers and on the Elderberry it's the berries. And yes, one can make wine from elderberries (Paging Elton John).
Flowers have inspired nocturnal poets throughout the ages and here are two that might inspire the poet in you: Grevillea 'Moonlight' and Ipomoea 'Moonflower.' The former has large arching cones that are a dreamy alabaster color and the latter has the largest flowers of all morning glories and are a brilliant white to boot! 
Asclepias curassivica (Blood flower) + Haemanthus coccinea (Blood lily). With all the nicks and cuts and the sometimes murderous heat, gardening can sometimes seem like a 'blood' sport. Not sure how Asclepias came to be called Blood flower (oh, google, wherefore art thou?) but at least with the Haemanthus we have the deep red flowers. Asclepias is better known of course as Butterfly bush or simply Milkweed, owing to their white sap.
Plants can have all manner of connections (by name). Here's a different one. What do Hamamelis and Echinacea have in common? It helps if you know the common name for the former (Witch Hazel). Got it? Both plants are used medicinally, with Hamamelis still used to prepare that solution that's been around for a 100 years and Echinacea purpurea being the plant that Echinaea powder is prepared from.
Some people believe that plants can 'sing.' Music is vibration and everything vibrates so it's not a completely ludicrous idea. One can find music in plants if only through their common or variety names. Two I like are Salvia 'Violin Music' (a very pretty, purple-flowering variety) and Ficus lyrata, better known as Fiddle-leaf fig. 
Gardening is an enriching experience so it shouldn't come as a shock that somehow that's reflected in certain plants' names. Two of my favorites are Hebe pimeleoides 'Quicksilver' and Abutilon 'Fool's Gold.' Of course there are many more, like Asteriscus 'Gold Coin.' Now if only that 'Money tree' (Pachira) really did produce something we could pay the rent with ...
And lastly, something to help us cool down from this recent heat wave -- Helleborus argutifolius 'Pacific Frost' paired with Brunnera 'Jack Frost.' 

And now the photos!

There's nothing quite like 'Heavenly Blue' morning glory flowers. Just that brilliant true blue and so vigorous! The quickest way to get a splash of blue in one's garden.

Gloriosa lily. I love everything about this lily's flowers. The brilliant red edged in gold. The waviness of the petals, plus the way they often recurve. 

Agastache mexicana 'Sangria.' So many (fragrant) Agastache, so little time ...

Eriogonum giganteum. They produce such spectacular flowers that it's easy to overlook this CA native's other charms. Top of the list would be its truly silver foliage. CA Buckwheats, as they're known, are the one of great plants to have in your garden for pollinators.

Calothamnus villosus. Still one of the most singular plants in my garden (and that's saying something!). The flowers sprout directly from the stems, not at the tips of new growth as is usually the case. They look delicate at first glance but they're actually stiff, almost waxy. And of course bright red! Love 'em.

Here's my new Jacaranda 'Bonzai Blue' finally starting to bloom. For those of you that have always loved Jacarandas but didn't have room for one (like me), this dwarf variety is only supposed to get only 5' tall. So, no excuses!

Echeveria species. Here's the familiar waxy tubular flowers of  many Echeverias. Hummingbird favorites and, to many of us, human favorites too.

Abelia sp. 'Chiapis.' Another shot of my cascading, fragrant Abelia. It's so different from most Abelias that it seems like it must be a different genus. But a closer look at the leaves shows it to be an Abelia, as do the tubular flowers (though most Abelias have pink flowers and none that I know of but this one are fragrant). 

No mistaking the flowers on this milkweed, Asclepias curassivica. This is the Apollo Orange variety and though the differences are subtle this one does indeed have a bit more orange to the flowers.

Cotyledon species. I think this may be a C. barbeyi, though the plant didn't come with full botanical info. In any case, it's slowly colonizing the front of my Australian natives bed. It's like a little city that's slowly expanding into the suburbs. Very slowly.

Though not the best photo, here's my young Eriogonum crocatum specimen. At the top you can see that it's already produced its first flowers, though they haven't fully opened.

For the life of me I can never seem to get a photo of my Plectranthus 'Troy's Gold' that really shows off its beauty. Here's where knowing Photoshop would really come in handy, as I could brighten the light and add more contrast to the leaves.

Got snail? This is the right kind of snail to have in your garden, Begonia rex 'Escargot.' Everybody who sees one at our nursery is immediately enchanted and it's easy to see why. First the beautiful two tone colors of the leaves. Then that telltale spiral form. Add to it that the leaves can get quite large plus the pink flowers and this is indeed one snail to make friends with!

Ruellia elegans. I love photographing the flowers on this perennial, as it seems that every time I do, it gives me a different look. Here the way the flowers extend out from the planting bed makes them seem like Cardinals (birds) about to take flight.

Lonicera sempervirens. This east coast honeysuckle isn't fragrant but it has such pretty flowers that when the plant is in full bloom it's really quite spectacular. That's my Begonia 'Illumination Yellow' behind it. The two make for a showy entrance to the back yard!

As I mentioned last week, I've become more intrigued with seedpods. Here's a Magnolia grandiflora seedpod that has yet to ripen.

Campanula 'Blue Waterfall.' My favorite cascading Campanula. Campanula is quite a diverse genus, more so than most people realize. 

Pelargonium sidoides. Proof that good things do indeed come in small packages. These tiny burgundy flowers are only about a half inch in size but that color is so intense! Add in the silvery scalloped leaves and this little guy packs a punch.

Succulent bowl #5. My most recent bowl and the first to experiment with colored glass, it's slowly getting established. Given their predilection for shiny objects, I'm surprised that crows, jays or other scavenger birds haven't pilfered the glass pieces.

Mimulus aurantiacus. This species is the true Sticky Monkey flower, the one that grows wild in the drier portions of Northern California. Love 'em!

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