Six on Saturday 12.5.20

 Once again, The Propagator invites gardeners from all corners of the world to share six images from their gardens on a Saturday.  Take a look and join in!  The focus of this week’s Six on Saturday will be recent acquisitions, which I am growing for the first time.

1. Callistemon citrinus (Bottlebrush).

2. Leptospermum scoparium (Tea Tree).  As I review this plant’s growing requirements, I am reminded that I need to move it next to the house for warmth, as it is only hardy to USDA Zone 9 and we are in 8b.

3. Rhodocoma capensis (Giant Cape Restio).  I was immediately drawn to this specimen at my favorite nursery on the Oregon Coast, for its grass like appearance and its vivid acid green color.  Research reveals that this plant and its equally enticing relatives hail from South Africa.  The Giant Cape Restio grows 4-6 ft.tall, and features subtly brown and green striped silky tassels waving from long stalks in spring.  While this plant is purportedly hardy to zone 8, I do feel some concern for how it will weather our typically soggy and cold winter months punctuated by frosts.  So far, it has shown no detectable signs of stress.  I planted the Restio next to the front fence, hoping that it will eventually form part of a hedgerow of ornamental perennials that will screen the garden from the street.

4. Leucadendron salignum “Winter Red” (Conebush).

5. Romneya coulteri (California Tree Poppy).  This is one of my more exciting recent acquisitions.  California Tree Poppy, also known as Mantilija Poppy, is native to Southern California.  It grows up to 8 ft. tall in well-draining soil and spreads by rhizomes.  Fortunately, based on my observations (still need to get a soil test done), our garden’s soil is sandy, which makes sense to me given that the lot straddles a creek.  The leaves are grayish-blue and resemble lovage leaves in shape, while the cheerful flowers are almost cartoonish, like a child’s drawing of a poppy.  Based on my research, I anticipate that containing this plant will be an ongoing challenge, if it is happy where I have placed it.  That is fine by me.  I admit that I am attracted to plants typically characterized by gardeners as “thugs,” which I attribute both to my appreciation for their lust for life and to my basically acquisitive nature.  If a plant will propagate itself for me, I feel nothing but gratitude.

6. Castela emoryi (Crucifixion Thorn) –  I found this specimen at a local nursery here in Grants Pass. Increasingly, I am drawn to plants with very small leaves (or gigantic ones – more about that another time).  Plants with diminutive leaves seem best suited to the punishingly long, hot, dry summer season here.  In keeping with my ultimate aim of conserving water, drought tolerant species are given preference.  Practical considerations aside, I find that species that tolerate lack of water make more aesthetic sense in my garden.  They feel right in this place, and tie the garden visually to the surrounding vegetation.  All of that to say that the Crucifixion Thorn, which is entirely without leaves, could not be passed up.  This plant, which I have situated close to the house in a half barrel, is native to the deserts of California, Arizona, and Mexico.  In researching this plant, I found it characterized as, “grotesque in appearance.”  Hmm.  I guess I am drawn to the grotesque where plants are concerned.  Also interesting is that this plant has insecticidal and fungicidal properties.  And it is currently in flower!  My reading suggests that it typically blooms “April to October” in Southern California.  I cannot account for the fact that it is blooming now at the beginning of December.  I am hoping that it may be possible to collect seeds. 

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