Tag Archives: Passiflora loefgrenii

Bloom Day August 2013

Not too much of a change since July’s Bloom Day post, when I predicted the Persicaria amplexicaulis would own the garden in August, and the vibrant crimson spikes have done just that. This knotweed is the legacy of foolishly trialing just about every reasonably drought tolerant, classic border perennial in the early years of making the garden. A very quixotic notion in this dry-summer climate that would prefer plants just go dormant, like many of our natives do. Still, there are always surprises to be found, like the persicaria.

 photo P1018237.jpg

It still amazes me that this persicaria thrives in my zone 10 garden, in full sun. A fabulous bee plant too.
These kinds of perennials are as rare a sight here as desert plants in a wet, zone 5 garden. It’s always about the challenge, isn’t it?

 photo P1018207.jpg

Where the common red persicaria loves the dry, heavy clay of August, the other varieties always struggle. I’m trying the white-flowered persicaria again, so this is a new clump, and it’s just managing to squeeze out a few blooms against a backdrop of the unstoppable ‘Limelight’ Mirabilis jalapa which self-sows.

 photo P1018184.jpg

Even though I long ago gave up on the concept of a summer garden of strictly perennials, I usually include a few stalwarts for late summer.
The ‘Monch’ aster is another surprisingly reliable perennial in zone 10. Finding perennials that can tolerate such a long, dry growing season with very little winter chill is a continual puzzle that still absorbs me. I like the seasonal “movement” they give the garden.

 photo P1018163.jpg photo P1017824-1.jpg

But like everyone else, I have been trialing agastaches. I brought in a few kinds in spring and early summer. Planting agastaches in fall has always been problematic (they disappear by spring).
This one is the stalwart ‘Blue Fortune’ I grabbed at a local nursery.

 photo P1018160.jpg

Agastache ‘Summer Glow’

 photo P1018165.jpg

Other good daisies for summer here are the gaillardias, and ‘Oranges & Lemons’ citrusy colors makes it one of my favorites.

 photo P1018261.jpg

The simple buttery goodness of anthemis is another continual favorite. This one is ‘Susanna Mitchell.’ If ‘Sauce Hollandaise’ is at all different, I haven’t noticed. I have read that ‘Cally Cream’ is considered to be more reliably perennial where this anthemis tends to disappear after a season. Not a problem here. Incredibly easy from cuttings in any case, and bulks up fast in one season.

 photo P1018264.jpg

The anthemis with Salvia greggii

 photo P1018162.jpg

A nice feast for insect pollinators and hummingbirds

 photo P1018220.jpg photo P1018228.jpg

Speaking of summer feasts, I am in stone-fruit love with my neighbor’s peach tree. Or maybe it’s an apricot tree. (This is its first crop.) I’ve never experienced fruit-tree lust before, but now I’ve got it bad. Having to duck under its branches to sit at the table is a sacrifice I’m willing to make. Is this not the best of all possible worlds: A fruit tree taking up no space in my garden, within picking distance? Oh, hell, yes. The fruit is just starting to color up. Will they be edible? The suspense is almost unbearable. The branches were wall-to-wall with fruit, just inches apart, and some quick Internet research brought up the importance of thinning the fruits. I may have thinned my side too late. Common wisdom says to thin as soon as fruit has set after bloom to lessen the nutrient burden on the tree. Also saves the tree from weighty branches prone to wind damage. Some diehards even thin out the blooms before fruit set. The little tree was given a buzz cut, topped within an inch of its life last year, which was fairly alarming, but I’ve since read this is a technique some recommend for better fruit bearing. Possibly by next Bloom Day we’ll have sampled some fruit. My neighbor didn’t thin his side, so the fruit might turn out bland and insipid. Offering advice just seems a little too pushy for now.

 photo P1018183.jpg

Self-sown Verbena bonariensis. The dwarf kinds actually seem like that rare good idea where dwarfism in plants is concerned, but so far they’ve been disappointing and weak growers. ‘Little One,’ ‘Lollipop,’ whatever the name, they dwindle and limp along, never very many blooms at one time. The self-sown species is robust and reliable.

 photo P1018185.jpg photo P1018266.jpg

Cuphea viscosissima attracts lots of pollinators, has a lovely rich color, but some seriously ratty leaves. If it seeds around I’ll let some stay, but I won’t go out of my way to grow it again.

 photo P1018167.jpg photo P1018168.jpg

Tall, knobby gomphrena in deep orange. Yes, please.

 photo P1018191.jpg photo P1018192.jpg

Nicotiana are back, progeny from Nicotiana ‘Ondra’s Brown Mix.’ These are new plants that seeded into the bricks. The ones that bloomed all winter were pulled out in June to make room for early summer plants.

 photo P1018234.jpg

Russelia is incredibly tough, long blooming, and beloved by hummingbirds.

 photo P1018204.jpg photo P1018200.jpg

Nepeta ‘Walker’s Low’ is having a strong rebloom after being cut back hard in June. Eucomis were shaken out of their pots and grown in the ground this year. Much more upright in full sun and dry conditions, if just a tad singed on the leaf tips.

 photo P1018154.jpg

The prairie clover, Dalea purpurea, just planted in July, lightly blooming.

 photo P1018175.jpg

Lotus jacobaeus beginning to bloom again after a deep soaking in early August. I know what’s attracting flies to the garden this year.

 photo P1018189.jpg

That would be Eryngium pandanifolium, whose blooms carry the light scent of old socks, noticeable mainly on still mornings. Possibly its one failing.

 photo P1018256.jpg photo P1018257.jpg

The weight of the blooms is sending some of the stalks earthward. This stalk remains upright by leaning on a hanging caged tillandsia.

 photo P1018249.jpg

The tillandsia has the scent of grape Sweet Tarts.

 photo P1018252.jpg

Salvia chiapensis is rarely out of bloom.

 photo P1018276.jpg

This little cutie was found at a local nursery this summer, the South African Crassula exilis subsp. cooperi. Very thyme-like in appearance, growing to just 2-3 inches high. To zone 8.

 photo P1018268.jpg

A California native new to me this summer, Lessingia filaginifolia. I’ll probably move it to the gravel garden in fall.

 photo P1018272.jpg

The garlic passionflower is blooming lightly in August and appreciates occasional deep watering.

 photo P1018285.jpg

After wondering every summer how to prune this crazy tropical, whose new leaves push out like a mop atop a 6-foot trunk, the matter was taken out of my hands.
Here it is throwing new growth after having its trunk snapped off at the base in a garden mishap. (A tree fell on it).

Carol at May Dreams Gardens graciously hosts Bloom Days and gathers links of participating blogs there, 92 when I last checked.

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.

 photo P1014268.jpg

 photo P1014331-1.jpg

 photo P1014264.jpg

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?

 photo P1014281.jpg

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

 photo P1014370.jpg

Hmmm, something’s missing…

 photo P1013346.jpg

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.

 photo P1013855.jpg

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

 photo P1014340.jpg

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

 photo P1014382.jpg

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

 photo P1014346.jpg

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.

 photo P1014305.jpg

 photo P1014276.jpg

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

 photo P1014353.jpg

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.

 photo P1014349.jpg

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.

 photo P1014344.jpg

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

 photo P1014322.jpg

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

 photo P1014326.jpg

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.

 photo P1014319.jpg

Ethereal view of the Dittany of Crete, Origanum dictamnus

 photo P1014316.jpg

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

 photo P1014329.jpg

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

 photo P1014333.jpg

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.

 photo P1014332.jpg

Garlic passionflower jelly anyone?

 photo P1014232-001.jpg

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

 photo P1014287.jpg

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.

passionflower progress

The garlic passionflower, P. loefgrenii, is supposedly one of the smaller, less-rampant species, described as a 10-footer, but that’s the size it’s reached in just its first year in my garden. The vine is planted against the eastern boundary fence, facing west, soaking up strong but coastal afternoon sun. It’s new to cultivation, so not much information is available on it yet. My vine comes from Annie’s Annuals & Perennials. Nice long stems for small vases, though it’s short-lived as a cut flower. The reflexive petals give the flower a wonderful dodecatheon/shooting star form. Native to coastal Brazil, the garlicky-tasting fruits are edible. If and when my vine bears any fruits, I know I will not be sober when I have my first taste.

 photo P1018123.jpg

Outside it’s suddenly everywhere. Running along the fence, threading up into the 12-foot pittosporum pruned as a standard. As with all passifloras in a climate they approve of, this behavior is both thrilling and alarming at the same time. Some species of passiflora have become naturalized in Southern California, and chain-link fences have been known to disappear completely under the vines, which is exactly the point of a vine anyway as it relates to a chain-link fence. But I do fear for the pittosporum. For the moment, I’m loving the intensely purple UFO’s delicately weaving through the pale variegated leaves but will keep a sharp eye out for any throttling tendencies. My Sunset Western Garden Book, 40th Edition, says to “prevent buildup of dead inner tangle, prune annually after second year, cutting excess branches back to base or juncture with another branch.” In its second year, I resolve to do this faithfully.

 photo b0204f54-154d-4d11-a94c-02c685217415.jpg photo 4a818f98-3fc6-48cc-82ea-5bfba70e87c6.jpg

I’m hoping the pittosporum can handle some passiflora love.

 photo P1018151.jpg photo P1018142.jpg


Passiflora loefgrenii, also known as the garlic passionfruit vine from Brazil, is making an unlikely, late-December flowering debut in my garden. This December show is probably a one-time fluke for a summer bloomer that will settle down to a more predictable routine after its first year. Then again, it may actually prefer to bloom in a zone 10, cool, drizzly winter than during our long, hot, drought-scourged summers. It’s a rare passion flower, without much horticultural information available.


An architectural marvel, the structure of a passion flower was long ago co-opted as a kind of 3-D precursor to a theological Power Point presentation on Christianity: From Wikipedia: “In the 15th and 16th centuries, Spanish Christian missionaries adopted the unique physical structures of this plant, particularly the numbers of its various flower parts, as symbols of the last days of Jesus and especially his crucifixion,” a rather funereal association for a vine that attracts and sustains so much life.


I share photographer Andrew Zuckerman’s assessment: “Then there is the purple passionflower, which is an incredibly beautiful, vibrant, flamboyant flower, but its narrative qualities are not that interesting to me.” (quoted from the Smithsonian’s blog Collage of Arts and Sciences, “Flower Power, Redefined.”)

Passiflora’s relationship with various butterflies is well known, but its attractions are manifold; the garlic passionfruit’s “Remarkable flowers…are thought to appeal to hummingbirds when first open then to bees later in the day as their shape changes.” (From Passiflora Online)

My plant is from Annie’s Annuals & Perennials. Logee’s has a good selection, as does Kartuz Greenhouses. In Southern California, some passion flowers are fast, rampant growers, so keep ultimate size in mind when making a selection. (Bear in mind that they are a frequent choice to quickly cover chain link fences.) Pollination is thought to be a job for large bees, which works out nicely since our wooden fence is loaded with carpenter bees.


sunday clippings 12/16/12

I was skimming through the design archives of the Wall Street Journal online yesterday, a wonderful trove of good reading, and recognized the pressed leaves of Macleaya cordata, the plume poppy, used by the shoe designer Christian Louboutin to decorate the walls of his “shoe archive” in France. Mr. Louboutin was mischievously photographed here in his socks.

macleaya leaveshttp://online.wsj.com/article/SB10000872396390443855804577601320688414072.html?mod=slideshow_overlay_mod

The shelving in the archive is decorated with botanicals from his garden that have been pressed by a local artisan.”


Leaves of the plume poppy in my garden

Often articles like this one, “The Collector,” are as worth reading as any written specifically for a particular branch of design, landscape or otherwise, because good designers draw from a wide array of influences.

More quotes from the article:

A constant source of ideas is his garden in the French countryside.
He learned about botany during the roaming years of his youth, when he
worked as a self-taught freelance landscaper. ‘The garden allowed me
to see colors, blends of colors and materials, juxtapositions of gloss
and matte surfaces—it was highly instructive,’ he says in Christian
Louboutin, a book celebrating his 20th anniversary, published by
Rizzoli. ‘Still today, if I close my eyes I don’t see satin combined
with velvet; I see the thickness of a pansy, which is deep purple
bordered with white, set against the texture of another plant, and
this combination gives me my colors


Image found here


Louboutin spends spring and fall weekends and the month of August at
his home in the Vendée, puttering about in his garden—it’s become his
haven, a place his mind can wander for design ideas as he pulls weeds.
‘The magnolia leaf is like patent leather,’ he notes, ‘and it always
looks beautiful with a deep purple, like prunus purple. There are few
plants that are ugly. It’s how you use them that may not be pretty


Patent leather sheen of magnolia, image found here

What else merits a clipping? Oh, yes, that great chair at Terrain, in case Marty checks the blog before Christmas. I wonder if they do layaway.

from Terrainhttp://www.shopterrain.com/outdoor-furniture/steel-wire-chair/productOptionIDs/bd0459cc-8958-45c4-b120-330bd8a8856a

Out in the garden, it always makes me giddy to see a plant bloom for the first time, and when it happens mid-December it threatens to surpass any excitement for presents found under the tree. This morning I noted buds on the Brazilian garlic passion fruit, Passiflora loefgrenii, which should be unwrapping themselves sometime this week.

Passiflora loefgrenii

I get seed requests now and then, but don’t necessarily save seed every year. Currently, I don’t really have to, since the garden has built up a rich storehouse of seeds, including:

Orlaya grandiflora
Crithmum maritimum, samphire
nicotiana varietes
Erodium pelargoniflorum
Papaver species, P. setigerum being most predominant
Mirabilis jalapa, the Miracle of Peru, in the lime-green leaf variety
Geranium maderense ‘Alba’
Centranthus ruber ‘Alba’
Teucrium hiranicum
Senecio stellata
Geranium pyrenaicum ‘Bill Wallis’
Solanum pyracantha
Mina lobata

Another favorite winter/spring pursuit is to inspect the garden each day and find the ingredients for spring popping up of their own accord, like having a full pantry ready to support the next feast without having to do the grocery shopping.


It’s always a surprise who settles in and gets really happy in the garden. Teucrium hircanicum has been in the garden just two years, but is already popping up everywhere, including between the bricks in the pathways. The pottery shards are used as cat baffles, to prevent disturbance from digging while the seedlings are small. Note the little poppy seedlings close by.

The first leaves of Geranium maderense are as recognizable small as they are large

I can only use a few of each kind, so once the seedlings look strong enough to survive disturbance from cats and grub-seeking possums, it becomes a matter of thinning the multitudes. Some reseed in minute amounts, and the seedlings are found unexpectedly, while absent-mindedly admiring something or other, only to notice nearby two tiny leaves pushing up from the cold brown earth. I’ve found a total of two Solanum pyracantha this way recently, but no more, so these are carefully looked for and potted up. And then there’s the exuberant procreators, like poppies and castor bean, that would prefer to have the garden just to themselves. The only self-sowers not welcomed are morning glories; the seductively dark purple variety ‘Grandpa Otts’ was planted just one season, and I’ve regretted it ever since. The seeds reputedly stay viable for 100 years. I’m told colder zones don’t have this problem with them.

I do have some fresh Mina lobata seeds right now. Annie’s Annuals & Perennials is a source for some of the self-sowers mentioned above.

Mina lobata

Some seeds currently on sale at Thompson & Morgan.