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Color Check

March 9, 2010

Sedum in bloom

My colleague Deborah mentioned that she thought there was a surge of yellow in local plantlife, so I had to check around the Rancho last weekend and see if it was true for us. What I discovered was that while there are pops of yellow here and there, it’s only one of many colors in abundance. In fact, almost every color seems to be represented in some form or other. So, here’s the current aprés-rain color rundown, beginning with yellow. The big ceramic bowl, above, is filled to overflowing with a vibrant sedum; its new golden blossoms standing out in bright contrast to the collection of rusted metal serving trays, the weathered steel dolly and the gray decking. More yellow, please …

A cassia and aloe face off

The cassias, as noted in other posts, have provided clouds of golden yellow since mid-January. Only now they’re joined by the salmon-orange of the aloes in the vicinity. From the street, driving by, the color combination is pretty striking.

Not so cutting now

The knife-leaf acacia shrub is softening its edge with the addition of little sunny puff-balls. Known as ‘wattles’ in Australia, this shrub is a bird magnet and one of my favorites. It seemed to struggle for a while but with the deep watering of recent winter rains seems to have snapped out of its doldrums.

Lemon lime in a strawberry pocket

Although not in bloom, the cheery lemon-lime aeonium had to be included. It really brightens up my giant terra cotta strawberry pot. A smaller green-blue sedum peeks out from behind for for a cool-hued contrast.

Fuzzy vibrancy

This echeveria harmsii attracts on a few sensory levels. First, the colors in a single leaf, which range from true green, to lime, then yellow, and edged with red, delight the eye. Plus, they’re fuzzy, like the flocking on vintage greeting cards I remember from way back in the 60s; and like those cards they demand to be stroked. The stems are fuzzy, too, but in a tempering dark brown. But, it’s the flowers on this plant that really set it all off: they’re a red-orange that’s so bright it seems unreal, almost as if each was lit from within. This specimen needs room to roam, so I have it set up high so it can move freely.

A crown's crowning blooms

A type of euphorbia, the painfully named ‘crown of thorns’ gained that title because of the mean spikes on its branches. When living in Long Beach we had a very large one of these and it really lived up to its nickname when I had to cut it back — it left me bloody! This one is still quite small, and uncharacteristically leafy, and its crimson blooms stand out close to the ground.

From the land 'down under'

This delicate shrub is from Australia and is a variety called Westringia Highlight. It grows on the side of the kitchen deck, and it’s a textural counterpoint to the sharp edges of the succulents nearby. On the Rancho, plants tend toward the hot colors, both in foliage and flower. This shrub’s delicate lavendar blossoms, and the Pride of Madeira’s blue/purple spears, are two exceptions. Of course there are more colors on display, not shown here, including deep red kalanchoes, turquoise senecios, pink sticks-on-fire, and mauve cotyledons. I had to decide between doing chores or spending the whole day photographing it all, and it was a tough call — but the rains were coming again and I had to wrap it up early.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. March 10, 2010 1:11 am

    What a great collection – it’s amazing how well they do for you. I have a hard time picturing them growing right in the ground, as they wouldn’t make it here – potted and brought inside for the winter only.

  2. faroutflora permalink
    March 11, 2010 3:51 am

    Gorgeous! The crown of thorns is amazing. Great pics!

    -Megan

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