Bloom Day June 2013


For a girl who couldn’t get an eryngium to bloom before, this is shaping up to be an exciting summer.

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Eryngium pandanifolium is supposedly the biggest eryngo of them all. I’ve been intently watching it develop this wicked candelabra of a bloom truss. Each morning the bloom stalk twisted in a different direction, as though it had been thrashing about during the night in the throes of birth, like H.R. Giger’s Alien. Today it was fully upright and looks like it means to stay that way. 5 feet tall and still growing. I planted it at the patio’s edge and have basically relinquished use of this little patio off the back door, removing chairs and most containers, so the eryngo gets lots of light and air at its base. Its barbed leaves sprawl onto the bricks, covering most of the patio, but what price love?

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But there is such a thing, believe it or not, as too much excitement

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Hmmm, something’s missing…

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Now you see it, now you don’t. Another day, another collapse of a Euphorbia cotinifolia in my garden. I think this is the third, maybe fourth time. The rope on its trunk was tied to a nearby Argemone munita to keep the argemone from falling. There’s irony there somewhere.


Last Friday, June 14, at 2:10 p.m., I heard a whoosh, peeked out the office door, and beheld the awful horizontality. But the smash wasn’t entirely unexpected. I left this comment on Hoov’s blog Piece of Eden June 11: “I was watching my Euphorbia cotinifolia sway in the breeze yesterday, swaying from the base of the trunk, as in rocking in the breeze. And it’s listing too, so I think it’s going over soon, right on top of the anigozanthos no doubt. Control is illusion. Loved Ed Norton in khaki in that movie — loved the whole movie. (P.S. I think your pups want to go camping.)” We were discussing her pups’ love of the movie Moonrise Kingdom.

Euphorbia cotinifolia, the Caribbean Copper Tree, is widely used as a summer annual for containers, but in regions without frost it reaches tree size. This tree was a seedling, meaning it was sown in situ from a previous Caribbean Copper Tree, something I thought would give this brittle tree all the advantages it would need for stability. And it had multiple trunks, another plus. A single-trunked copper tree snapped in two during high winds. This is the third time, and I am so not charmed anymore. Marty washed the saw off with soapy water this morning. He was driving tourists on a boat through Long Beach harbor when the smash came. Sunny day, 70-ish degrees, no wind, 2:10 p.m. I worked like a madwoman to remove the tree and assess damages, and the whole mess was cleaned up by 4 p.m. Amazingly little damage was done. That Argemone munita was uprooted, of course. Some broken kangaroo paws were brought in for vases. One of the two stalks of Aeonium ‘Cyclops’ was broken at the base, which I’m trying to root again. A spiral aloe was flung out of the ground. It’s an awful thing to admit, but I was at a local nursery at 4:15 to check out replacements.


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Succulents like these aeoniums were still intact after I pried the tree off of them. Onward with Bloom Day.

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I thought there’d be just two lilies in bloom this summer, this unknown white and the copper ‘African Queen,’ both growing in pots

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But then this regal lily surprised me by surviving in dryish conditions in the garden near the base of a phormium.

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Another surprise bulb, from a bunch of miniature gladiolus I ordered a few years ago. It somehow became churned up when the eryngium planum were planted.
Small but flashy.

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Penstemon ‘Hidalgo’ a shrubby 4-footer just beginnning to bloom

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Bloom puff on Albizia ‘Summer Chocolate.’ This tree, currently in a large glazed pot, is a possible candidate to replace the fallen Copper Tree. We desperately need shade on the office, so replacement discussions are ongoing. I’m leaning toward keeping it full sun and planting some Euphorbia ammak and Yucca rostrata.
We’ll see how much appeal that idea still has in August.

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This kniphofia is loving its new home near the compost pile and is continually throwing new spikes. It might be another case of giving a plant lots of sun and circulation at its base. Another thousand square feet of space and I bet I could get this garden stuff worked out.

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Phylica pubescens, just because this late Bloom Day post has spilled over into Pam’s Foliage Followup at her blog Digging.

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Wonderful Teucrium hircanicum. Blooms from seed its first summer. These plants were all pried up as seedlings from the brick paths in spring.

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The yellow form of Russelia equisetiformis robs it of its common name, the Firecracker Plant, but it’s a good plant in all its colors.

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Ethereal view of the Dittany of Crete, Origanum dictamnus

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Macleaya in bloom. This one’s wandering roots make it more trouble than tetrapanax.

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The last of the annual Coreopsis ‘Mahogany.’ I’ve replaced it elsewhere with gaillardia.

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The Garlic Passion Flower vine, Passiflora loefgrenii, is spilling over the fence into the neighbor’s yard, but then their apricot tree has spilled over into my garden.
I wonder who has the better deal.

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Garlic passionflower jelly anyone?

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I’m trialing three different peachy yarrows this summer. This one ‘Terracotta,’ as well as ‘Marmalade’ and ‘Sawa Sawa’

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At least the Monterey cypresses look stable enough and are making good size at the east fence.

I’ve already been checking out lots of Bloom Day reports via our host Carol’s site May Dreams Gardens. There’s lots of excitement, and of a less calamitous kind, in the blogs this June.

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18 Responses to Bloom Day June 2013

  1. kathy says:

    Wow Denise, do I remember correctly that you grew this Eryngium from seed ? I’m impressed —how long did it take to bloom ? I would be thrilled even find a E. cotinifolia here-my lone purchase of that plant didn’t make it through the winter.

  2. Denise says:

    No, Kathy, the eryngo were a gift from (who else?) Dustin. The Copper Tree is seen a lot here — there’s a few down the street.

  3. Lea says:

    Drama in the garden!
    Beautiful flowers!
    I especially like the gladiolus.
    Lea
    Lea’s Menagerie

  4. Wow, I’m glad I’ve already chopped down the leaning Echium or else I’d not be getting any sleep tonight after reading of your garden calamity.

    Congrats on the Eryngium pandanifolium. Mine is just a tiny thing…I pray maybe someday I’ll see a bloom like yours!

  5. Heather says:

    Oh, what I would give to be able to grow Phylica pubescens! I’m so glad your euphorbia didn’t cause more damage and your eryngiums look fabulous.

  6. Denise says:

    Lea, oh, so much drama in the garden, even without falling trees!
    Loree, can’t wait to see what’s taking the echium’s place.
    Heather, I’m still amazed more damage wasn’t done. My tall manihot in a large pot was snapped in two. We had a huge eucalyptus fall on the garden years ago, much bigger tree, and same deal, not much damage to plants.

  7. Kris P says:

    Your Bloom Day post wins the award this month for best drama. Death, destruction, redemption, perseverance and beauty all in one post! Should we wish for more drama – or less – in the coming months of summer? The losses are all part of the process of gardening, I know, but upsetting nonetheless. Best wishes with deliberations on a replacement for the Euphorbia.

  8. Gerhard Bock says:

    So sorry to hear. That copper tree must have been beautiful. Do you know exactly why it fell? Does it typically have shallow roots?

  9. Patricia C says:

    What a fabulous post. Thank god for gardening fanatics.

  10. Denise says:

    @Kris, I know what I’ll be wishing for! (less drama)
    @Gerhard, the tree’s roots extended only laterally very close to the surface. There were none directly underneath the tree, so now I can understand how it rocked so easily. I know the soil wasn’t too wet, so maybe not enough water. There’s plenty of seedlings from this one, which I’ll be religiously removing…fool me once, etc.
    @Patricia, so nice to get such sympathy from other garden fanatics.

  11. Pam/Digging says:

    This was a dramatic post, full of disasters and redemption (with replacement plants), not to mention lovely pics of blooms and foliage. Thanks for linking into Foliage Follow-Up too.

  12. Hahaha… I, too, would love another thousand feet or so of garden space. 😀

    (And while I’m wishing, I would like a bunch of those Albizia ‘Summer Chocolate’… I’ve fallen hard for that deep, beautiful foliage!)

  13. Cassidy says:

    Beautiful photos! I especially love the second image. The purples are beautiful!

  14. Ryan says:

    I tracked down Eryngium pandanafolium ‘Physic Purple’ seed this last winter after seeing it on your site. I got four germinations and I’M SO FRIGGIN EXCITED!

  15. Wow, I love your garden! I’m sorry about the crisis but still, it’s all amazing. Tried my first eryngium this year and I think it’s already croaked. Now, will try again! It’ll be super to meet you at Fling.

  16. Denise says:

    @Pam, there’s always plenty of drama in the garden, lots more than serenity sometimes!
    @Kim, I’m finally seeing this tree more frequently in nurseries — yesterday it was on sale at half price!
    @Cassidy, I ended up with a lot of purples and blues this year and am really enjoying them.
    @Ryan, you should be excited! This eryngo is freakin’ amazing. Smaller bloom spikes are getting thrown from the base, so there’s about 6 or 7 in total including the gigantic main stalk. The blooms are getting darker and darker but not to the saturation of pix I’ve seen of the ‘Physic Purple.’
    @Linda, don’t give up! I’m pretty convinced they don’t like being too crowded. I’m betting when they self-sow they’ll start fitting into odd places and being less touchy about growing conditions.

  17. Sarah says:

    Does anyone know where I could find Eryngium pandanafolium ‘Physic Purple’ seeds available in the US?

  18. Denise says:

    Sarah, Derry Watkins in England at Special Plants usually carries this seed and will ship to the U.S. (http://www.specialplants.net/shop/seeds/eryngium_pandanifolium_physic_purple/)
    As you can see by her note, she sells it fresh for best germination, so watch her site.

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