Here in the Bay Area, October is when we finally get a taste of Summer. The long days of overcast mornings and cool but sunny afternoons finally heat up and our Indian Summer begins. Right now, I’m thrilled about two super long-blooming low maintenance plants which reside in mutual affection here in a back corner of the nursery.
Since so few gardeners know of this amazing Hibiscus, I am probably its number one fan in all the world! (and honestly, I think our staff is a little bit worried about this). Handy-dandy for filling in a large space, it will grow into a dense evergreen base-branching shrub 5’ x 5’ in its first year. Never showing signs of chlorosis like many tropical species here in the fogbelt, it is most vigorous *and* bloomiferous – bearing huge cotton candy pink flowers from May to December. Prominent and velvety cherry-colored stamens emerging from a rich ruby throat take its beauty ratio to a whole ’nother level! In Winter, I cut it down almost to the ground and each Spring it has bounced back bigger and better than ever.
The perennial rebel of its family, Echium gentianoides blooms almost year around here in coastal California. Notoriously difficult to photograph, all who see its large bright blue flower spikes, fine form and complimentary smooth blue-grey foliage in person fall in love and take one home. Luckily, it’s easy and fast, reaching a manageable 4’ x 4’ within a year.
Thank you to Carol at May Dreams Gardens for hosting Garden Bloggers Bloom Day! It’s a lovely honor to participate.
Kniphofia multiflora showed up at the nursery a few years ago, as a solitary seedling, alone in its tray. Not very promising for propagatability, but a plant with this magnitude of awesomeness? Sometimes one MASSIVE POKER PLANT is enough! We were pretty thrilled with our crop of one, feeble though it was. Our wee seedling spent a few months in the back of the greenhouse, and then was transferred to larger quarters where it began to grow… and GROW… AND GROW! Last October it sent up its first flower spike for our Big Fall Party (Timing plus! Sweet of it to mark the occasion, don’t you think?) and acquired many new admirers. Now again, just in time for our big event, our glorious mama plant is putting on another big show!
The plant has doubled in size since last fall, and added a few spikes to its floral display. If the amount of growth it’s put on this year is any indication, next year we might have to throw IT a party. It’s getting to be one of the most awe inspiring specimens in the nursery.
Lucky us (and lucky you!) we pulled off a small crop this year! There are a modest sum of plants available to mail order folks, and some larger specimens for sale at the nursery – IN BUD!! Too big to ship and a good reason to get into the nursery early this weekend if you’re able. They’re crowded around our original specimen, looking oddly like mini-monster babies of the big mama in the huge pot.
Though this species is from wetlands, ours has thrived with average water in a (HEEUGE) pot of good soil. We top dress with compost once a year when the plant is in growth (it goes deciduous in Winter, which I fretted over the first season for no good reason – it grew like mad once warm weather returned) and try to keep it out of the way of excessively harsh weather.