Tuesday, February 18, 2014

I was tempted...

I was seduced.  And I succumbed.  Yet again.

You may recall that I mentioned that I was thinking of getting a Japanese maple to replace the Mountain Pepper (Driyms lanceolata) I'd planted at the site of the large Eucalyptus tree we took down early last year.  (My misgivings over the selection of the Driyms were described here and the reasons for the removal of the Eucalyptus were discussed here.)

This is Driyms lanceolata shortly after planting last February - it's an attractive plant but perhaps not the best choice as a focal point for the bed

The Driyms, in the center foreground in this photo taken at the end of January, grows slowly and has been eclipsed by the surrounding plants, particularly the 3 Coprosma repens 'Plum Hussey'



After some scouting about, I decided to go ahead with that plan and, last Sunday, headed to Roger's Gardens, an Orange County nursery, to pick up the maple I'd selected, an Acer palmatum 'Purple Ghost.'  At this point, it looks like a stick in a pot but the images of the plant I found on the web convinced me that it will make a much better focal point for the bed than the Drimys, which I plan to move to another area of the garden.

Acer palmatum 'Purple Ghost' in its nursery pot



The 'Purple Ghost' purchase was planned but I can't visit Roger's without checking out what else is available.  I cruised through the nursery and found myself putting things onto my cart I hadn't had any plans whatsoever of purchasing when I left the house.  The first of these were tulips.  I'd long ago given up on tulips.  With the exception of some species types, these don't come back in southern California.  They require a long period of chilling in the refrigerator and then, just when they're about to bloom, one of our Santa Ana winds comes along and withers the buds.  No matter how beautiful they are, they're a bad investment here.  But Roger's had some already sprouted in nursery packs.  They weren't unusual varieties and I know they won't last long but they didn't cost much so onto the cart they went.  The sun shining through their petals was just impossible for me to pass up.

I popped the tulips into a partially empty pot, where they'll keep very temporary company with a Euphorbia



Then there was the Puya berteroniana.  Sure, I've admired pictures of its turquoise flowers and spiky foliage on-line but it can take 6 or more years to reach blooming size.  (You can find a picture of it in flower here.)  Still, 6 years can fly by, can't it?  Onto the cart it went.

A baby Puya berteroniana in its nursery pot



Then there were some Osteospermum with spoon-shaped petals.  I already have Osteospermum of various types throughout my garden, as noted in my recent Bloom Day report.  I didn't need more, yet 3 ended up on my cart.

One of the new Osteospermum, already planted in my backyard border



Several other things ended up on the cart as well.  In an exercise of self-discipline, I decided to put 2 plants back.  That's when things really got out of hand.  Having returned those plants to the spots I picked them up from, I walked by another Japanese maple and stopped dead in my tracks.  I walked back to my cart.  Then I walked back to the maple.  Then I walked back to my cart and brought it to the maple.  Then the maple and I, along with my other purchases, checked out and drove back home, my wallet a little lighter.

Could you have turned away from this plant?

Look at the branching structure!

Look at the picture of the mature leaves!

Look at that new foliage!




Acer palmatum 'Mikawa Yatsubusa' is a dwarf variety, often used in bonsai.  I was attracted by its form, already evident in the young plant, and the appearance of the new foliage, with its chartreuse color.  In summer, the leaves become a medium green, shifting to a golden orange color with red tips in the fall.  It was pricier than 'Purple Ghost' but I decided that its dwarf stature might make it the perfect focal point for the new border we're creating in the backyard, where we're removing another long strip of lawn.  That bed should be ready to plant within a few weeks, if not sooner - so this purchase is really just a head-start on plant selection.

What garden plants have tempted you recently?

16 comments:

  1. Gorgeous! I can see why you were tempted. I've given up on Japanese maples in the desert, they just burn. So I'll look forward to pictures of yours!

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    1. The purchases are a bit of a risk here too, Renee. Without some shade they tend to burn in the summer. The placement of the 'Purple Ghost,' which will be subject to more wind, as well as sun, is a real gamble - I'm hoping the surrounding trees will provide sufficient protection.

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  2. I don't have any Japanese maples in my garden. Most of them just don't appeal to me. But I do like all the same things about that second one that you pointed out -- great form and great foliage! I've done that back and forth walk a few times myself at nurseries. You would have regretted not getting that. You would have gone back to get it. And it would be gone.

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    1. We don't get as much fall color as you do up north, Alison. Japanese maples are one of relatively few species that can deliver that here, which is part of their appeal (even if they do tend to burn a bit as our hot summers wear on).

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  3. "I was seduced. And I succumbed. Yet again." A girl could get a reputation! Most of my plants are impulse buys which explains why my garden is a nebulous conglomeration of cool plants, interesting but not often very lovely as a whole.

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    1. Fortunately for me, my husband doesn't read my blog (or any blog). I'm afraid that I have all the traits of a collector too, although I do give a good old college try to plan my new beds. Still, my garden is a bit of a jumble.

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  4. Six years, I'll be waiting. It will be so worth it when that Puya blooms!

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    1. I wonder if I'll remember what it is when that happens!

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  5. We must be plant twins, because on Sunday, I bought two more Puya berteroniana, from Annie's on impulse. Which brings me up to three now, plus an alpestris. I'm a sucker for the promise of those freaky blooms. And the ones I already had sailed through our 20 degree low this winter here in Santa Rosa! I don't know if I could have passed up that maple either.

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    1. Mine's actually an Annie's plant too, Maximillian. Roger's sells some of Annie's selections but I'm a regular mail-order client too.

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  6. We love Japanese Maples, can easily have a garden full of them if space weren't an issue! Great selection of plants there and in six years time you'll have an impressive mound of puya with some of the rosettes giving out spectacular blooms!

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    1. The Puya is going into a pot but my current challenge is to find the right spot for that - I'd hate to lose track of the pot and miss the day it finally blooms!

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  7. Many of my favourite tulips dwindle after a year or two, so it is often better to look upon them as annuals here as well. I can see why you succumbed to the temptation of that Japanese Maple- it's gorgeous. You bought some lovely plants. I have absolutely no will power when I go to a nursery. Expense, lack of space, unsuitability of soil or any other consideration is forgotten when I fall in love with a plant.

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    1. I suffer from precisely the same syndrome, Chloris!

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  8. Your trips to the GC sound exactly like mine Kris :)
    You can never go wrong with a Japanese Maple and you made two lovely choices, I will be watching with interest as they leaf out.
    Tulips don't come for a 2nd year here either but the cause is winter wet. Species however do just like over there with you.

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  9. Won't the Acers need a lot of water and protection from the wind you mentioned? I do hope they will do well for you.

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