Friday, October 30, 2015

My Favorite Plants This Month

I've been so fixated on clearing the area formerly covered by sod in the backyard that I'm barely attending to the rest of the garden.  I probably bit off more than was realistic with this project.  I'm racing to beat the arrival of the El Niño weather system and I still have a small section of soil to clear of rocks and debris.  I have a topsoil delivery arriving early next week that needs to be dug in before we can lay flagstone and begin planting.  El Niño isn't operating on a specific timetable but the likelihood of arrival increases as the calendar progresses into November.  However, prompted by Loree's favorite plants meme at danger garden, I did take some time to appreciate the plants that are looking particularly good right now.

First up is Barleria obtusa, a cousin to Barleria cristata, a plant I've long admired in the posts of Texas gardeners.  B. obtusa is shorter than its cousin but the flowers have the same vivid color and shape.  I picked up two of these plants last year at my local botanic garden's fall plant sale.  The evergreen plants hadn't done much of anything since last fall but they suddenly burst into bloom a week ago.

Barleria obtusa, photobombed by Eustoma grandiflorum 'Echo Blue', which is returning for another round of bloom as the nighttime temperatures cool down


Echium fastuosum 'Star of Madeira' is also on my favorites list this month.  I acquired it by mail order late last year and mistreated it badly before finally planting it in my front garden in December.  It hasn't bloomed yet but it's grown steadily, albeit slowly, forming a round mound of attractive variegated foliage.  The flowers almost seem beside the point, although I'm sure I'll celebrate when it blooms.

Placement seems to be key for this plant - another specimen planted in my drier, south side garden remains a fraction of the size of this one even though it was planted just a few months later


Since I cut back the flower stalks, my Euphorbia characias 'Black Pearl' is producing new growth.  I've been so impressed with this Euphorbia that I put in six more plants elsewhere in the front garden.

The original plants have produced some seedlings I'm hoping to use in the backyard when it's ready to plant


I added three Gomphrena decumbens 'Itsy Bitsy' to my garden early this year.  While all have survived, only the one receiving the most sun and water has thrived.  It has a very loose shape and it's difficult to photograph but I love its tiny violet-purple flowers.

Gomphrena 'Itsy Bitsy' mingling with other plants in the front border


Grevillea 'Peaches and Cream' also deserves a shout-out.  It's managed to flower just outside the regular Bloom Day cycle for the last few months and it still isn't blooming as heavily as either G. 'Superb' or G. 'Ned Kelly' but its flowers are bigger and always fabulous.  My largest specimen in the front garden happens to be blooming right now.

I replaced the Argyranthemum that formerly crowded this Grevillea 'Peaches and Cream' with lower-growing Carex oshimensis 'Evergold' and I think it likes the improved breathing space


Last but certainly not least is Hypoestes aristata (aka ribbon bush).  I grew this shrub in my former garden and it's the one plant I most regret having left behind, even though it only shines in the fall.  I finally found it on-line and planted three specimens in different areas of the garden in mid-February.  Two of the plants remain very short and relatively unimpressive thus far; however, they have survived the heat and drought and one is flowering well.

The plant on the left sits in the backyard border in an area that has killed numerous other plants.  The plant on the right sits in a similarly unfavorable area in the front garden.


In contrast, the last of the three has taken off and is already more than twice the size of the other two.  I suspect the difference is the amount of water it enjoys.

I almost missed the Hypoestes aristata here as it has cosied up to Cuphea ignea 'Starfire Pink' but as the Hypoestes grows taller it should hold its own with the other shrub


Oh, I almost forgot Senna bicapsularis!  I recognized it earlier this week in my "In a Vase on Monday" post but it certainly deserves recognition here too.  It's a beautiful plant that literally lights up my dry garden this time of year.

In addition to being gorgeous, Senna bicapsularis is a host plant for sulphur butterflies.


Visit Loree at danger garden to see what plants have found favor with her and other gardeners this month.


All material © 2012-2015 by Kris Peterson for Late to the Garden Party

20 comments:

  1. Your Star of Madeira is gorgeous! I have one too, that needs to come into the greenhouse for the winter. I cut it back to fit it inside. I just hope it survives my butchery. Mine bloomed inside during last winter, and it's quite a sight.

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    1. Your greenhouse is magical, Alison. I bet the Echium blooms again this winter for you.

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  2. Our Barleria is also called April Violets (so October for you in the north)
    Hypoestes leaves can be cooked like spinach ... still working up the courage to try them.

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    1. So your Barleria is scented? I'll have to check mine for a scent tomorrow - it's pitch dark out now, the plant is low to the ground, and as my former lawn area is all torn up, it's an obstacle course out there.

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  3. I agree, the echium hardly needs flowers, what a beautiful thing.

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    1. It is. I hope the second Echium catches up with the first eventually.

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  4. Hi Kris, I am always interested to see what your favorite plants are each month! And I certainly didn't get disappointed today. I love the variegated Echium fastuosum 'Star of Madeira'. It is such a beautiful plant, it shines without the blooms. I also really like the Euphorbia characias 'Black Pearl' and planning of trying Euphorbias out in my own garden next year as well.
    Hopefully you get to finish your planned garden work before El Nino arrives. Gosh, I so wish that it will come big time this year.
    Warm regards,
    Christina

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    1. I think I have a chance of having the backyard area at least partially planted before El Nino arrives. However, I hold out little hope for the front area where the sod was also removed - I haven't even touched that area yet.

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  5. I looked at all your favs and wondered if these are the things that do not do well in the humid south or plants that I should make a note to try. Further research.

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    1. Although we're getting more humidity here of late, Jean, I don't expect it comes near to the situation in the southeast. The Barleria is considered a tropical plant so it might work for you.

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  6. You have such beautiful plants, Kris. I had a Star of Madeira last year, but it bit the dust during our November Arctic blast. Seeing yours makes me a little envious, even though I know in my heart of hearts that there is no way I would survive in the temperatures it requires to thrive. I'll just enjoy yours from afar. :)

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    1. I hope your winter is more moderate this year, Anna. The flip side is that your colder winter temperatures and (generally) cooler summer temperatures allow you to grow things I can't.

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  7. That Euphorbia is lovely, Kris; I think the range of different types leaves me confused as to what I should try, and I still only have E. trinculli "Firesticks". But yours has me convinced that I should scout and study a little harder! I can't imagine how much work you're having to put out, racing El Nino. Hope things smooth out a bit soon!

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    1. I read somewhere that the Euphorbia genus is one of the largest and most diverse, containing a couple of thousand species. Euphorbia tirucalli is a true succulent whereas E. characias and E. x martinii 'Ascot Rainbow', both of which I also grow, are evergreen shrubs. E. 'Dean's Hybrid', which tends to die out but self-seeds readily, is another of my favorites. Water requirements vary. Good luck with your exploration!

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  8. It's so nice to see someone who can grow Echium fastuosum 'Star of Madeira' is appreciating it, what a lovely plant. Of course as you said the foliage on its own is a worthy show (and that's why I grow it, since it never lives long enough to flower here) but wow, covered with those striking blue spires it will be quite the site! Also I had to laugh at myself when I read your list of the three Grevilleas you're growing. Now that Peter gifted me his 'Ned' we've got the same plants. I'm so delusional about my climate!

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    1. I think you may have more Grevilleas than I do, Loree, although I have to say I haven't counted all of mine. Off-hand, there are at least 5 more species in my garden than I named in this post. One day, I'll have to do an all-Grevillea feature.

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  9. That Star of Medeira is aptly named. Due to your influence, I just bought/planted five new native Eustomas here, in an area where they'll get enough sun/water in combination for a protracted bloom time. At least, that's the plan. See! Your favorites become other people's favorites, you trend setter, you!

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    1. I hope the Eustoma will be very happy in your garden and that you enjoy them, Deb. They've certainly added to my enjoyment of my own garden.

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  10. I love the 'Star of Madeira!' Who needs flowers with such lovely form and foliage? I also really like the euphorbia and the Senna bicapsularis.

    I hope you get the work done in your new area before El Nino hits! We have had lots of rain this past week, the leftovers of Hurricane Pamela. Heavy rain tonight too, all welcome after three weeks of very dry weather.

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    1. I hope you haven't been swamped by the current rainstorms in your area, Deb. I know they've made a mess in parts of Texas. I wish I could predict El Nino's arrival here but really all that's to be done is to keep working as fast as I can whenever I can. Fingers are crossed.

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