some kangaroo paws

Anigozanthos is becoming as common as agapanthus in Southern California, but I’m still a fan. Blooms for months, fine on the dry side, handles full sun, dramatically vertical. You’d think there’d be a huge selection available. But it’s pretty much orange, yellow, red, pink. Occasionally that amazing black one turns up in nurseries, which goes by Macropidia fuliginosa, but it’s notoriously touchy.

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‘Harmony’ anigozanthos, May 2013

For the longest time I steered clear of red kangaroo paws. Orange and yellow, yes. Red, no. There really is no accounting for taste. Maybe there’s this fear that if we kept no rules at all, a vortex of chaos would swallow us up. All I know is that I’m now suddenly fine with red anigozanthos. (But pink, um, no.) The first red I brought home was, appropriately enough, ‘Big Red,’ whose first bloom in the garden will be this spring. Then I recently brought home some petite red no-names in 4-inch pots that were a good price at the big box store.

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And then there was that momentous day I found ‘Little Jean’ (two days ago). I immediately plucked her from a stand of mixed blooming kangaroo paws after one look at her rich interplay of colors.

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Compare the complexity of bloom on ‘Little Jean’ (red/green/black/yellow on bright red fuzzy stems) to the no-name red kangaroo paw above.

Now a new band of red anigozanthos is taking shape in the garden, snaking around the base of Yucca ‘Margaritaville.’ Interspersed with the kangaroo paws are some lomandra I’m trying out like ‘Breeze’ and ‘Lime Tuff.’ I’ve pulled out all the blue oat grass Helicotrichon) to give lomandra, this startling green New Zealander, a try.

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Lomandra ‘Lime Tuff.’ I know at some point it will have an ugly phase, all grasses do, but wow, what bright clean beauty it’s shown all fall/winter.

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The now-departed blue oat grass, looking fine in April 2013 but always ratty in winter. The tree, Euphorbia cotinifolia, is gone too. Wind snapped its trunk. That thug Arundo donax ‘Golden Chain,’ way in the back, has also unwillingly vacated the garden. In fact, except for the yucca, the garden has been completely changed up again. The long-leaved carex on the left, Carex trifida ‘Rekohu Sunrise,’ has been moved to more shade. A really good carex with a big arching presence like hakonechloa, but for drier soil.
(And I really, really wish I could find another source for seed or plant of Argemone munita, the tall thistly looker with romneya-type flowers.)

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Anigozanthos ‘Yellow Harmony’

But getting back to kangaroo paws, just letting you nurseries know that some of us love seeing different kinds of them, like ‘Little Jean.’

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6 Responses to some kangaroo paws

  1. Oh now you tell me that Macropidia fuliginosa has issues! JJ picked one up for me at San Marcos and I can’t wait to get my hands on it, perhaps it can hold off being finicky for the single season it will live here? (Fingers crossed) Oh and that ‘Little Jean’ is a looker.

  2. Denise says:

    Loree, since I assume you’ll be growing it in a container, I bet you’ll be okay for a while. Good luck with it, and that’s some nice pal, JJ 😉

  3. Kris P says:

    I hope you like the Lomandra. I’ve had it in my garden for a couple years now and continue to add more. I’m very pleased with it and, thus far, haven’t seen it in an ugly phase, although I find the maize-colored flowers it produces distracting. I have to hunt down the Carex you mention as I could use a grass-like plant that tolerates dryish shade.

  4. Denise says:

    Kris, I’ll split some of that carex off to plump up for our trade. That’s great news about lomandra. ‘Lime Tuff’ in particular is just amazingly pristine, almost artificial looking. I usually like whatever flowers grasses produce, however measly, so we’ll see about these.

  5. I love the really tall varieties but I haven’t been very lucky getting them to come back that tall. Somebody (can’t remember who) told me that kangaroo paws want lots of water in spring while they’re actively growing. Once the flower stalks have reached their ultimate height, they can do with very little water. I’ll be sure to keep mine watered well in the spring.

  6. Hi Denise – can you email me about something unrelated to anigozanthos? Thanks!

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