Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Echium × ‘Mr Happy’ spindly but a-blooming

A few years ago we had a tower of jewels (Echium wildpretii) blooming in our front yard. It produced copious amounts of seeds, and two of those seedlings are growing outside our front yard fence. Since this is their 2nd year, I expected them to bloom this spring but it looks like they’ll wait another year. (Echium wildprettii is a biennial, i.e. it flowers in its second year, sets seeds and then dies.)

However, not all is quiet on the echium front. My Echium × ‘Mr Happy’, purchased in February 2012 at Annie’s Annuals, is a-blooming. According to Annie’s, this “incredibly rare hybrid of Echium wildprettii & E. pininana” has the potential to reach “an impressive 15’ tall & 20” across, with a 3’ bulbous base.”

As you will see below, my specimen is much less “studly” and lacks the “bulbous base” altogether. But at least it’s full of flowers that are irresistible to bees.

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4” plants at Annie’s Annuals

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March 30, 2013

The photos below were taken over a period of a month to show you how quickly the flower spike forms once the process gets underway.

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March 30, 2013—the center of the rosette is beginning to elongate

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March 20, 2013—flowers are beginning to form along the stem

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April 15, 2013

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April 19, 2013

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April 24, 2013

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April 27, 2013

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April 29, 2013

For some reason, our ‘Mr Happy’ decided to creep along the ground for about 3 ft. before beginning its vertical ascent. If you add these 3 ft. to the overall height, it would be about 8 ft. tall.

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April 24, 2013

The remaining photos in this post are of the flowers. They are more violet than the flowers of Echium wildprettii and not quite as dense, at least in this specimen. But as I said above, the bees love them!

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April 19, 2013

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April 21, 2013

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April 21, 2013

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April 24, 2013

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April 24, 2013

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April 27, 2013

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April 27, 2013

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April 29, 2013

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April 29, 2013

All in all, I’m glad I gave ‘Mr Happy’ a try, but I think the straight Echium wildpretii is more attractive—and far easier to find.

7 comments:

  1. You really should plant five or more of these (or just E. wildpretii) together -- do you have the space for that? So magnificent alone, but massed... I can't imagine.

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    1. You and I are on the same wavelength. The two Echium wildpretii growing outside the front yard fence are about 8 ft. apart. I was thinking of adding four or five plants in the same area so they would be blooming together in a couple of years. I agree, it would be very dramatic.

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  2. I was thinking this looks a lot like my about to bloom Echium wildpretii x rocket until you showed the flowers, I wish mine were blue, instead they'll be a dark pink...ah well.

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  3. Ah that does look fab! I miss having Echiums in the garden, I'm wondering if I should just buy one this year that's about to flower already...

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  4. Beautiful, and nicely documented. After seeing a mass of Echium candicans at the Lummis Home in Pasadena, I agree with your idea to make a grouping, and of course, you've got the climate to make it happen. It looks as though the florets on 'Mr. Happy' grow in an ascending spiral up the flower spike - that's cool!

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  5. Is Mr. Happy a biennial or a perennial? Did that plant survive into 2014?

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    1. David, Mr Happy is a biennial. Mine bloomed and died. This year I have two Echium wildpretii: http://www.succulentsandmore.com/2014/04/tower-of-jewels-echium-wildpretii-2014.html

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