Pinky, Gnarly and Puff
Finding a metallic blue puya berteroniana in full bloom and mere steps from the Rancho, was literally an eye-opening experience … but what other wonders was I missing during my walks, lost in music? I made a concerted effort to keep my eyes peeled for awesomeness during my Sunday afternoon walk, and made the acquaintance of three notable plants. Heading in the direction of Fairmount Park is an enclave of grand historic homes, and standing sentry in the front yard of a stately Spanish-style villa is this enormous — and enormously amusing — echiumn wildpretii, I call Pinky. At least 8-feet in height, Pinky guards the top of the stairs that lead up from Redwood Dr., cutting a fine flowery figure, with his villa-matching rosy conehead and spiky bloomers down below. I spoke to the owner, and he was surprised and pleased to learn the name of his amazing plant. Walking back down the steps, I almost expected to look behind and seeing Pinky moving to another part of the garden … I’ll have to check his position next walk …
Next, away from the manors, a more modest home’s porch plays host to a modern dance performance. Like dance pioneer Martha Graham in this photo, this euphorbia trigona I’ve dubbed Gnarly, knows the importance of natural movement. All elbows and knees, Gnarly seems to have sprung from the mind of a wise old terra cotta owl who perhaps dreams also of a tidier venue.
Closer to home, I’m taken by the sight of a cotinus coggygria grown into a small tree, and I dub it: Puff. Covered with what look like smoky puffballs, I love the dreamy effect produced by its buff/pink inflorescence clusters … very ethereal, almost trippy, what with the late afternoon Memorial Day sun behind it. I’ve seen other varieties of this plant that were deep purple/red but with the same “okay, everybody exhale!” effect. I’ve got to get one and work it into the Rancho’s scheme.
Blue aluminum puyas, a frilly pink echium guard, a staccato euphorbic twister, a tree that puffs ethereal: all in my neighborhood … I’m sure there’re more local standouts waiting to be discovered, I just have to keep my eyes open. Of course, I’ll report back!