Real estate may still not be improving much, but in the garden houses are always moving, as with this Agave americana var. medio-picta ‘Alba’ that has been upsized to a new home that can be comfortably inhabited for several years, an amber-glazed beehive pot, trading up from garden-variety terracotta.
At the base of the pot grows another of the surprising gomphrenas that are trickling in to nurseries without much fanfare, presumably a hybrid of perennial and annual species because they live over year to year here in zone 10. Last year it was ‘Fireworks,’ and this fall it’s ‘Balboa,’ a gomphrena I found under that name, with no other information. Silver, succulent-like leaves are its striking feature. The familiar gomphrena flowers are in a much lighter hue than ‘Fireworks.’ These new gomphrenas don’t provide the floral mass effect of the annual kinds, but they do provide a drought-tolerant display of tiny little supernovas attached to wand-like stems, similar to the bobbing effect of the bottle-brushes of sanguisorbas or the starbursts of astrantias, without the requisite buckets of supplemental irrigation. For someone who enjoys collecting plants, far too many plants, but also likes the challenge of finding ways to best display each plant’s unique characteristics, such see-through plants are invaluable, obscuring no one and adding an architectural vitality and a line-drawing effect that the eye delights in tracing over and over. I gave it the sunniest spot available, something I failed to do with ‘Fireworks,’ which I know can perform beautifully if well sited.