Thursday, August 4, 2016


It is especially rewarding to discover, or in some cases rediscover, a familiar genus of plants. That happened recently to me with the genus Teucrium. Known as Germanders, this tough, often utilitarian genus often flies under the radar. T. chamaedrys (Wall germander) is often the first species that gardeners discover. This occurrence hides the fact that this Mediterranean shrub contains over 100 species.
Most Teucriums are lower growing perennials but one exception is T. fruticans and it was a new variety, T. fruticans 'Gwen' that reawakened my interest in this genus. This variety offers especially silvery foliage, to go along with this species' bluish-lavender flowers. Entries in this species can easily reach 4-5' in height, making it a great vertical accent in your garden.
New varieties keep appearing in the T. chamaedrys species. One particularly eye-catching selection is T. 'Summer Sunshine,' which features golden foliage. Pretty showy for a species that's usually chosen more for practical reasons.
Then there is the unique, shade-tolerant Teucrium scorodonia 'Crispum.' Looking unlike any teucrium, or any other plant for that matter, it possesses weirdly crinkled edges on green leaves, stays low and spreads. If anything, the leaves remind me of the crinkled flowers on the South African bulb Ferraria.
Germanders are great plants for attracting bees and a few of them have medicinal properties.
So, I say "Welcome to my garden, Gwen." Now I just need to find room for her.
Here are this week's photos.

Here are two shots of my Echeveria 'Red Velvet.' I love everything about it. The red-tinged leaves; their fuzziness; the orangy-red flowers and how exuberant it is.

Crassula alba v. parvisepala. I must be in my 'red period' as I'm attracted to that color recently. Here it's the red spotted leaves and yes, the red flowers.

It's a little hard to get the perspective here but this is my Aloe rupestris. It's a tree aloe that can get huge (it's now 10' tall) and when it does flower it produces Banksia-like cones that are very striking. Still waiting on mine to bloom. That's my scrambling Asarina 'Joan Lorraine' that's wandered into it.

Abutilon palmeri. This SoCal native is gradually making its way into our Bay Area retail nursery trade. It features distinctive felty, grayish-green leaves and intense golden flowers. I've noticed that it produces a copious amount of seed so I may collect some to share with friends. Like other Abutilons it blooms over a long period.

Okay, here is what all the fuss is about with the Campanula primulifolia. As you can see, it's sent up a great number of flowering spikes, each sturdy and smothered in purple flowers. Impressive. The bees certainly seem to think so.

File this photo under the title "Did I mention that mine is not a manicured garden?" This is my Median Strip #2 (I have three). The main culprit is the overgrown Plumbago bush (which I'll eventually remove) but also planted is a Puya, Cotinus, Halimiocistus, Asclepias, Melianthus pectinatus (smaller African honey bush) and a well established Beschorneria alba. All this in a 3' x 6' bed! In front of it, in larger pots, are a Callistemon bush, my Digiplexis, a Tecoma 'Bells of Fire,' a new Isopogon, the Campanula above, a Justicia and a Protea 'Pink Ice.' Whew!

Last week I shared a picture of the front of my Aussie natives bed, which contains an ever increasing range of succulents. Here's a shot of the main part of the bed. That's a Wooly bush (Adenanthos) on the left, a Melaleuca incana to its right, a Cunonia in a pot to its right (not an Aussie). Behind the Adenanthos is a tall Grevillea 'Moonlight,' a red Mandevilla and a Laburnum tree. There used to be a Chamelaucium  in there too but something killed it. Needless to say, I'm regularly pruning this area.

Here's a close-up of my Aloe strioata (Coral aloe). Love its form, texture and colors.

Okay, it hasn't begun blooming yet but my Bidens Hawaiian Flare Orange Drop is already off and running, proving that it is indeed an effective cascading plant.

Tempting but no. These berries on my Amorphophallus kiusianus are not edible by humans, though they are visually tempting. Birds like 'em though. 

Lonicera sempervirens. This East coast native honeysuckle has done a good job of scrambling over this arch. Though the flowers aren't fragrant (strange for a honeysuckle) the coral with yellow throats blooms are exceptionally pretty.

Though the flowers on this Eriogonum giganteum aren't entirely in focus, I was concentrating on the bee, this photo nonetheless has an eerie charm to it.

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