birthday plants

My birthday took up just about every single day last week, and more days on the weekend, which is how I rationalized a trip on Saturday to find that hitherto unknown-to-me, unmet, spectacular plant that would forever after be marked as my, gollum gollum, birthday present. (Because we wants it.) At our house we always make a big deal about not making a big deal about birthdays, no presents, please, thank you very much, which has the unintended (intended?) consequence of turning birthdays into birthweeks. You don’t want any presents? You better take off work then. Can’t buy you anything? Then I’ll cook you a special dinner tonight. And tomorrow. And breakfast the day after. And bake you a cake. And why don’t you sleep in this morning, and I’ll feed the cats?

Yes, I don’t want any presents for my birthday, but I don’t mind some festive shopping around for something fabulous in the leaf and twig department during my birthday/week celebration. And on Saturday I did find my birthday plant, but it could not be had for love nor money, birthday or no birthday.

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An unknown, unnamed leucospermum looking extremely fat, happy and floriferous. Weren’t these supposed to be the malingering shrubs with soil issues? The grower is now out of business, and the retail nursery where this thrives in a sloping display border, Roger’s in Newport Beach, has been trying to find more stock for the past two years, without success. I know all this because I shouted out questions to one of their nice, extremely busy employees who was mid-stride in the process of helping another customer. Beautiful plants can cause my manners to slip occasionally.

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Research suggests it’s probably Leucospermum cordifolium ‘Yellow Bird,’ one of the pincushion protea shrubs from South Africa. A nursery in Ventura County I’ve been meaning to visit, Australian Native Plants Nursery, has it back-ordered. I see that they consider it a candidate for containers, which is wonderful news because there isn’t an inch of garden available for a shrub. I very possibly need to extend my birthday/week further to include a trip to Ventura.

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On Saturday I watched the shoppers peruse and select plants, which is endlessly fascinating. And I sniffed the sweet peas.

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And admired the new succulent plantings.

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Slipping in a tiger-striped aloe among the echeverias was a nice touch.

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This nursery leans toward an Old World, heavy-on-the-European influence, so it was nice to see some pieces made of concrete, simple and unadorned. Or possibly a lightweight stand-in for concrete. I didn’t touch.

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And I envied the luxurious billowing of Ursinia anthemoides ‘Solar Flare,’ one of Annie’s Annuals & Perennials signature annuals.

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And noted the effects of the afternoon sun on a bromeliad, glowing, backlit, diffused by a screen.

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More screen and shadow effects, this time with a tillandsia.

I just love birthdays, even without any presents — maybe especially without presents. I’ll take the gift of time filled with beautiful incidents over presents any day.

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16 Responses to birthday plants

  1. Laura says:

    Happy birthday, Denise. Sounds like a wonderful time.

  2. Denise says:

    Thank you, Laura!

  3. Kris P says:

    A belated happy birthday and a big thank you for explaining why I’ve had such a hard time finding that very same Leucospermum. A neighbor has one at the front of her driveway and, when I saw it in bloom this year, I decided I “needed” one too. I also looked for it at Rogers and, more recently, at a nursery in Carpinteria. Good luck with the hunt. I’ll have to check out that nursery in Ventura. (I promise I won’t take the last one if/when they get it in.)

  4. Why doesn’t Rogers just propagate them from the one they have? Seems like the solution, although not necessarily simple. They could start a waiting list stating the necessary price and when they got enough requests give it a go.

  5. Denise says:

    Kris, I enjoyed your post on those nursery visits. I love it when road trips take me past Sperlings and I can stop in. And feel free to take the last leuco should you find it. Don’t pass it up!
    Rachelle, I’m guessing Roger’s sticks to what they’re so successful at, retail and landscape installations. You wouldn’t believe how many people walked by and ignored that leuco in full bloom, only stopping to look at it when I was taking photos of it.

  6. Scott Weber says:

    happy birthday!!!

  7. Happy birthday, Denise – make it a birthday month (my birthday was in late February, and just this past Saturday night, I had a lovely birthday dinner cooked for me.) That leucospermum is very handsome. I hope you find it.

  8. Denise says:

    Thanks, Scott! I really milked this one for all it was worth.
    Jane, belated happy b-day to you too. Glad to see we share the same approach. That’s quite a run you made with yours!

  9. Jin says:

    Beautiful post. Thanks for sharing your obvious passion/obsession, your photos are beautiful and inspiring.

  10. The husbands birthday was last week and he took a similar approach to the celebration, if you substitute books for the plants. I whole-heatedly endorse this way of marking the event.

    Happy Birthday to you Denise!

  11. Denise says:

    Jin, no, thank you for leaving such nice words!
    Loree, please extend birthday wishes to Andrew for me. Between you and Lila, I bet he had a fab birthday.

  12. Bon Anniversaire, Denise !!!! gros bisous.

  13. Sue says:

    Happy Birthday Denise! I’m all about this birthday week concept. My ex used to say birthdays were one day not a week. Need I say more? 🙂

  14. Denise says:

    Merci, Delphine!
    Sue, no need to say more!

  15. Pam/Digging says:

    And I thought it was just our kids who’d managed to stretch birthdays into birthday weeks. 😉 Your approach sounds delightful, especially if it leads to prolonged stretches of plant hunting (and breakfast in bed). Happy birthday, Denise!

  16. Les says:

    I no there is no point asking if there is any cake left at this late date, but I do hope you had a happy birthday.

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