Sunday, May 30, 2010

Cuphea- that's Koo Fee A, Cuff ee Ay, I am not sure any more

OK, charmers, intriguing, and bewildering.

Here is a plant that has some of the most interesting range of blooms in a wide selection of colors.
The past couple of years I have noticed them more, bought them more, and watched the people I have planted for ask more often- 'What is this?'

Now, I can openly admit, in the past I have bought Cuphea as just an accent in a pot or as an occasional oddity. This year it seems like I can't keep one around. I have bought Cuphea llavea Tiny Mice, Cuphea ignea, Cuphea David Verity , Cuphea 'Ballistic'. I like that they have variety in their growth pattern, shape of the blossom. Plus with common names like cigar plant, firecracker plant, batface, Mexican heather how can you go wrong?

Tough as nails they seem to be fast growing and blooming fools.
Cuphea llavea is native to Mexico, and forms small mound that is a perennial subshrub.
Attractive to hummingbirds, bees and other insects.
Drought tolerant and needing good drainage this stunner will bloom from spring till late in the fall when temps will drop into the 20's.

I did not realize till recently that there are test being done on the oil production from the seed??? Wow, looks like some place is going to have beautiful fields of one color or another!

dianthus, pinks, carnations, and gillyflowers

I have a dear friend who has developed over the past two years a lust with dianthus. Her pots, containers of all sorts and planting beds are filled with them.
I, myself, have fallen for a few. I like the old fashioned sweetness, the clove scent, and putting them into small bedside arrangements.

One of my favorites is Charles Musgrave. It is a white (shocking for those who know me as you know I am not a white flower fan, but I have something up my sleeve for that.) This variety with its single white blooms has a mysterious green eye. I can groove on that. It, when not wind blown, blooms in stems 10-12 inches long. I think this may be one of the sweetest 'glaring' flowers I truly enjoy.

Another Dianthus I seem to like the looks of is a variegated bloomer named Chomley Farran. This oddity with its smokey mauve purple blossoms striped and splashed with a hot cherry pink, or is it more like some sort of Barbified blossom of couture fashion?

There are many great hardy Dianthus out there, many great hardy annual varieties as well. I think we all have favorites. I still enjoy the darkness of Dianthus barbatus nigrescens 'Sooty' and some the great new introductions with their silver blue foliage.

Finding the one that is right for you is the important part. We have colors we like that is true, but ones that are good for your garden without having to reconstruct bed and tear into established plantings.

I must say one of the things I find admirable about my friend is that she has so many containerized. She can move them at whim, enjoy them at table, smell them on her patio or front step. I guess I have been too busy stuffing containers with annuals and tropicals that I missed this little idea to make something you enjoy more accessible.