Tuesday, August 8, 2017

To Pea or Not to Pea?

One of the articles I hope to eventually write for Pacific Horticulture Magazine is a piece on the great variety of ornamental plants that belong to the Fabaceae family (the legume family). Apart from edible beans and peas, this family includes genera as diverse as Acacia, Lotus, Cytisus (broom), Vigna, Laburnum, Swainsona, Clianthus, Lupinus, Cercis (redbud) and Wisteria. What they all share in common, visually wise, are flowers fashioned in a pea shape. Add one more unusual member to that list, Sesbania tripetii. This native of Brazil and Argentina can grow quickly to a good size - thus it works as an annual in cold climates - but here in the milder parts of the Bay Area it will act as a perennial. It features, as you can see in the photo below, vivid reddish-orange flowers and foliage that will remind some strongly of Clianthus. Just one more member of this amazing family.
And now, more photos from my early August garden.


Sesbania tripetii. The pea-shaped flowers aren't obvious in this shot but this colorful tree produces clusters of them in the summer and fall.


I recently bought three 4" diameter globes from Pier 1 and here's one of them. Art goes so well with plants, don't you think?


This charming little succulent is Portulaca 'Rio Scarlet.' Love those flowers. Here the idea is for it to spill over the front of this pot, which also holds an Ipomoea 'Sunrise Serenade.'


Hebe ochracea EC Stirling. This whipcord hebe sports scintillating orangy-gold colors and scale-like leaves (as do all the whipcords). A lovely smaller-sized hebe and perfect for a container.


Another shot of my fabulous Lilium Scheherezade. Beauty and fragrance!


Lilium 'Black Beauty.' With its dramatic spotting, rich red colors and the apple-green ribs, this is one fabulous lily.


Begonia 'Gryphon.' This is one begonia you grow for the leaves. Very decorative, with especially large leaves for this type of hybrid, it makes a great focal point in a shady spot.


I still have yet to ID this lovely fern but it has been a faithful evergreen specimen for 8 years now. My interest in ferns keeps expanding, as is evidenced by my newest fern, the Siebold's Wood fern (see photo below). In fact I'm doing an article on broadleaf ferns for the Winter 2017 issue of Pacific Horticulture magazine.


Sometimes it is equally about the leaves, as is the case with Aristolochia fimbriata. This pint-sized Dutchman's Pipe only gets to 18" and the flowers are small (though interesting) but the leaves make for an attractive, snaking ground cover.


Clerodendrum fragrans. Here is a flower cluster in bud form, the vibrant wine-colored buds offsetting the verdant foliage very nicely. This species of glory bower may be hard to find but it's worth the effort, especially for those wanting to add a tropical element to their garden.


Dryopteris sieboldii. This broadleaf fern (Siebold's Wood fern) is one of the most unusual undivided ferns available on the market.From its curved leaves, to the lightly leathery fronds and the ways the fronds display in horizontal planes, this is one singular fern. It's also tougher than it looks, able to withstand some dryness once established.


There's nothing quite like a stand of Nicotiana grandiflora, with its pure white, star-shaped fragrant flowers. I planted it under my studio neighbor's window so she could enjoy its early evening perfume.


I thought the dappled light on this Coleus made for a very pretty image so here it is.


Here's a relatively new begonia on the market - B. 'Fannie Moser.' It's an Angelwing type, with spotting on its handsome dark leaves.


My Mina lobata is beginning to flower but here I wanted to showcase its leaves. One look and you can see that it's a morning glory relative.


No 'bleeding heart' this Dicentra. That is, it's not your typical Bleeding Heart plant, with its climbing habit and bright yellow flowers. One of the easiest - and most rewarding - plants to grow.


I still haven't found a place for my Nandina 'Firepower' but it's certainly offering up great color while still in its pot.


Though my Jacaranda Bonzai Blue is finished flowering, it still has its attractive. lush foliage to enjoy. This dwarf, bush form of the familiar purple-flowering tree has all the virtues of the tree form but is able to fit into smaller gardens like mine.


Another shot of my walkway bed. Right now the color comes from the Agastache in the foreground, the Cuphea in the center and the Tiger lilies and Helenium 'Mardi Gras' in the rear.


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