Monday, September 10, 2018

Begonias, begonias, begonias

Remember the 'old days' when you said the word 'begonia' all that came to mind were the ubiquitous bedding types or the small but colorful tuberous begonias? Want an update? Type in begonia in a search box, hit images and you'll get an immediate visual representation that 'we're not in Kansas anymore.' You'll see Rex types with their colorful and often spiraling leaves; angel types that often feature speckled leaves; cane types like Irene Nuss that are large and showy and then shrub types whose leaves can be as much as a foot long! As you dive deeper, you discover that it's often the foliage that holds the real appeal. I now have 20 different species/varieties in my garden and a few make it into today's photos.

Senecio kleinia. Looks more like a Euphorbia doesn't it? This guy gets quite big,  5-10' when mature. It not only has the sausage-like branches but showy fluffy seedpods!

Another uncommon (and recent) plant in my garden is this Bigelowia nuttallii. It has grass-like foliage and then in late summer it produces rayless golden needle-like 'flowers.'  That's the upper golden portion of the plant. Sometimes referred to as the goldenrod of the SW.

Yet another uncommon plant - Phylica plumosa. Native to S. Africa and possessing some of the softest 'leaves' in the plant world. 

Sphaeralcea Childerley. A new variety in this mallow genus, I love the salmon-colored flowers.

Here's more of a closeup of my bloomiferous Justicia fulvicoma. Here are some fun facts about the genus from Wikipedia. "Justicia is a genus of flowering plants in the Acanthaceae family. It is the largest genus within the family, encompassing around 700[2] species with hundreds more as yet unresolved.[3] They are native to tropical to warm temperate regions of the Americas, India and Africa. The genus serves as host to many butterfly species, such as Anartia fatima. Common names include water-willow and shrimp plant, the latter from the inflorescences, which resemble a shrimp in some species. The generic name honours Scottish horticulturist James Justice (1698–1763)."

Because I love flowers that are a true blue I never get tired of sharing photos of my Evolvulus. Do you think if we snuck in the White House and planted a bunch of these that would help 'evolve' our current president? ...

Speaking of 'true blue' and then things called blue which are not, here's Scabiosa 'Florist's Blue.' Looks pretty much a lavender color to me. Oh well. Scabiosas may be called 'Butterfly flower' but it turns out they're even more popular with bees. Here's one feasting on this recently opened flower.

It's not uncommon for flowers to show their deepest hue as a bud, then more subtle colors as they open. Here's my Mandevilla Sun Parasol Apricot flower just starting to unfurl and showing its deepest color.

I was finally able to get a photo showing the true colors of my Prunella grandiflora. Lovely!

Plumbago auriculata. The big bushy plumbago has pale blue, some say robin's egg blue, flowers and in great abundance.

A bit too much in shade this shot but it does allow the true colors to emerge on this variegated form of Plectranthus coleoides.

Here's a shot of my new Melaleuca armillaris, sometimes known as the Bracelet honeybush. It will eventually produce small white flowers.

This raspberry-red flowering celosia adds a nice pop of color to a bed that was recently cleared of spent lilies.

Trichostema lanatum. Wooly Blue Curls, as they're known, is one of my favorite common names. The fuzzy purple flowers are a magnet for bees plus it's a CA native.

And now the Begonias portion of our show. On the left is a tuberous type with yellow flowers and on the right the showy B. Gryphon, where the leaves are the main attraction.

This is my newest addition, the richly colored B. 'Angel Glow.' C'est magnifique!

Here's a Rex type begonia called Fireworks. Rex types usually have a two tone leaf, with a darker center and a lighter perimeter. 

Here's a closeup of the tuberous begonia's foliage. Subtle but beautiful and it has a soft, almost velvety feel.

Finally there is this Begonia Funky Pink. From Park Seed: "This is an interspecific cross of two of the very best Begonia species: tuberosa, which is responsible for the extra-large, richly colored flowers; and boliviensis, which is far more heat tolerant than other types. The result? Big double blooms and plenty of 'em from early summer through fall on easy-to-grow, super-tough plants!"

Every garden needs a lookout, a protector and mine is Gordon the Goat. Interlopers, you've been warned!

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