Saturday, March 30, 2013

Banana Shrub

I just had to share the beautiful flower of my Banana Shrub or Michelia figo. I wish the Internet had smella-vision(when will someone invent that?) because the flowers smell deliciously like banana candy. Michelia is related to Magnolias and one can see the resemblance in the flowers. It's native to China, blooms only in Spring and will slowly grow 6-10 ft.

I've had this one for about 20 years since my nursery days. It's in a 7 gal can and not too happy. And I'm afraid to plant it in the ground because it has that horrible yellow oxalis with it that came up from the ground at our old house and would spread like crazy. Maybe it just needs some fertilizer and more care.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Yellow Tree

If you live in Southern California, you might have seen this tree with its fabulous explosion of yellow flowers. It's called Tabebuia aurea- pronounced TAB-eh-BOO-ya. It's a fun word to say. It's a small tree growing 15-25 feet and is native to South America. It sheds it's leaves in winter(rather than autumn) and blooms in early spring. After flowering, long seed pods emerge. I don't think I've ever seen a larger specimen than this. They're always scrawny but so beautiful in bloom! Flowering is brief, maybe a month at the longest. So don't miss it!

Monday, March 25, 2013

Angel's Trumpet

The plant Brugmansia has a common name of Angel's Trumpet because of the shape of the flowers. And those flowers are quite large, about 8 inches long. It is native to tropical parts of South America - Venezuela, Chile and Brasil. Mine is blooming its head off now. Amazingly it recovered quickly from the shredding it endured during the hail we had about 6 weeks ago and the frost burn before that!

Brugmansias come in several colors. White is the common variety. I also have a pale pink and used to have a yellow. They like part shade to full sun and will grow up to about 6-7 feet. Mine has southern exposure(the sunniest spot) and has grown exemplary!

It is important to know that all parts of the plant are poisonous. But I've never really been one to go tasting about in the garden.

I hope you can find a spot for one in your garden. They're easy to grow!

Thursday, March 21, 2013


Just had to share the beautiful Spring new foliage on my Butterfly Japanese Maple. It gets this pink in the leaves when the new foliage comes out in Spring. The pink fades to just variegated green and white into the summer months. It's beautiful then too.

Japanese Maples or Acer palmatum are small growing trees that grow well in part shade. There are many different varieties. I also have a red one. But that's another blog post.

I've had this little variegated tree for about 16 years. I haven't planted it in the ground yet. It's still in a large pot and is a little over 6 feet tall. They're always expensive. So of course I bought it as a very small plant. I remember getting it at a recently closed nursery with can credits. In case you don't know. We landscape professionals store up all our used nursery containers to then return them to the nursery for credit to buy more plants. Not many nurseries give credit for cans any longer. Ah, good times :-)

Happy Spring! 

Friday, March 15, 2013

Upside Down Rose?

I just had to share this with you all. I'm working in my own yard today (a day off making no $) and stopped to check on some rose cuttings that I made in Jan. I put many cuttings in one pot. I know others disagree but it works for me. I think I have about a 75% success rate rooting cuttings. I love it! Anyway, I pulled away one water bottle(cut off bottom makes little greenhouse) to see. There was a callous forming on the TOP of a cutting(see left on photo). I thought I was paying attention when I potted these cuttings. You see once the leaves are gone its difficult to know which way is UP! I know that thorns point downwards and thought I'd inserted them correctly. I guess NOT! Amazingly one did not die as it should have but stayed moist, put out a few leaves and started its callous which should turn into roots if it was in the soil! I can't really make space to put it back as there are 7 cuttings crowded into that pot.

The variety is an all pink version of R. Mutabilis. It's from a friend who can't remember the actual name. I even asked Tom Carruth if he knew. His research came up empty. So if you know it please let me know!

And good luck with your cuttings! Making new plants from friends is awesome!

Monday, March 11, 2013

Tidy Bulbs

We're supposed to wait until the foliage turns brown on spent bulbs to remove it. The bulb is storing energy for the next year while the leaves are turning brown. But sometimes after flowering, the leaves start to lay down, look messy and/or cover up other plants. Some say it's ok to cut off the leaves after the blooms have gone. I've read and heard both ways. I believe it's good to wait.

Just thought I'd share what I did at a job this morning. I like to braid the leaves as it makes the area look nicer. This was a huge clump of Paperwhite Narcissus, must be 40-60 bulbs. The leaves were laying on the Daylily behind(below in my photo). I didn't have a lot of time, so I braided a couple  clumps and knotted the rest. If you've never seen this done, it might look weird. But it neatens things up and makes it easier to remove the leaves when they finally do turn brown.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Flaming Orange!

This is my Flame Vine, Pyrostegia venusta blooming it's head off right now. I adore orange and love these flowers as do the hummingbirds. I'll never understand why the masses dislike orange. It's so cheerful! This is one of the first things I planted at our new house on a low chain link fence between our property and our neighbor's driveway. It is an uncommon plant that I had to special order. It's been in the ground about 1 1/2 yrs and has grown 10 feet on either side! Pyrostegia is native to Brasil and will grow to about 40 feet. I'll have to make sure it doesn't swallow the house.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Heath Myrtle

 I have had this unusual plant for about 15 years.  I bought it at a nursery out in West Los Angeles and have only seen it in another nursery once.  Until today I thought it was Thryptomene saxitilis or Heath Myrtle. Come to find today that it is actually Thryptomene saxicola.  Whatever!    It was in a whiskey barrel for many years and then a 15 gallon can when the barrel fell apart.  We moved and about a year ago I planted it in the ground of our new(2, 1/2 yrs) house!  It is spectacular right now.  You can see my perennially grimy (scrubbed with lava soap an hour before!) hand in the first photo to see how tiny the blooms are.  

It blooms off and on throughout the year but is fabulous now!  I have it planted on the East side of our house.  But when we lived at our old rented house I had it in the South side.   I think it grows to about 3 feet tall.  It is native to Australia(as most awesome plants are).

I cut this and use it as filler in bouquets all the time.  The branches are long and sweeping. So they can be used long or short in arrangements. If I ever lost this plant I would be devastated because it's hard to find.  I've tried to propagate it from cuttings but it's woody and doesn't work for me.

I LOVE THIS PLANT!   Seems like I say that a LOT!  Maybe I should call this blog - Aprille's Favorite Plants?

Happy Gardening!