Monday, August 25, 2014

Zazzle dazzle and more new goodies

Inspired by a recent post on A Growing Obsession entitled Checking out the nurseries in August, I dropped by Green Acres Nursery in Sacramento to do some exploring. As Denise so eloquently said in her post, this “is the perfect time to discover the true survivors” of our long, hot summer.

So did I find anything garden worthy? More than I had expected! There were two standouts: a variegated elephant’s ear (I’ll talk about it some more later on) and a hairy plant with sturdy pink flowers that stopped me dead in my tracks.

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While I don’t hate pink flowers, I’m not typically drawn to them either the way I am to red, yellow or blue flowers. Still, there was something very intriguing here:

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Especially the sturdy leaves covered with soft whitish hairs:

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Those of you who follow the latest plant trends probably recognized this right away as Gomphrena ‘Pink Dazzle’. Apparently it caused quite a stir in industry circles last year. Me, I had never heard of it before.

Typically, gomphrenas, or globe amaranths, have fairly small, clover-like flower heads (the “petals” are actually bracts, while the real flowers are tiny white or yellow trumpet-shaped structures). ‘Pink Dazzle’ is a new-fangled hybrid with flower heads so large, they look nothing like a traditional gomphrena. On the plant I bought, the flower heads are just opening up; wide open, they can be up to 3 inches across and last for up to a month.

‘Pink Zazzle’ supposedly thrives on heat. Mine is getting a good 6 hours of direct sun, so I’ll know soon enough how “heat-loving” it really is.

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Globe amaranths are annuals so my ‘Pink Zazzle’ won’t be around forever. I don’t typically buy annuals, certainly not towards the end of summer, but I was happy to make an exception for this one. What do you think? Love it or leave it?

The second plant I’m excited about is this variegated elephant ear (Alocasia odora ‘Variegata’).

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Buying an elephant ear—a plant that guzzles water like a Chevy Suburban guzzles gas—may seem like the height of folly in drought-ridden California. But now and then it’s good to do something crazy. In the grand scheme of things, buying one water-loving plant isn’t as bad as watering a huge lawn three times a week so I didn’t feel too guilty.

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Plus, you have to admit that this is one fine-looking plant!

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It went in a pot next to the family room slider and it will be watered primarily with gray water we collect manually from the kitchen sink. A small price to pay for something that makes me happy.

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Purchase #3 was a male fern (Dryopteris filix-mas 'Undulata Robusta'). It replaced the Australian tree fern (Cyathea cooperi) that died earlier this year. Male ferns supposedly are more tolerant of dryness than many other ferns; we’ll see how that goes. I expect to hand-water it regularly with gray water from the kitchen sink.

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I bought a few more plants but they’re still waiting to go in the ground. I’ll post an update after they’ve moved into their permanent houses.

16 comments:

  1. Hooray for August plant shopping! You got some great new plants! We saw Gomphrena ‘Pink Dazzle’ at shows last year and heard that it would be out this year but I haven't seen it anywhere here. Good for you for finding it!

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    1. Since it's annual, I'm surprised it wasn't rolled out in the spring. Not sure how many people are planting annuals at this time of year (nutcases like myself excepted). Hopefully 'Pink Zazzle' will be in wide distribution next year.

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  2. Nice haul! The gomphrena blooms remind me of a sort of mix between king protea and chrysanthemum blooms. That variegated alocasia is a stunner, so well worth getting and the effort to take care of it!

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    1. Great comparison! And the leaves are bit thistle-like, which is why I like them.

      I hope I'll be able to keep that variegated Alocasia odora going. The leaves are so stunning.

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  3. Love your new Alocasia, that variegation is wonderful.

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    1. I haven't had the greatest luck with variegated elephant ears, but I'm trying to be more attentive to its needs.

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  4. I've had the zazzle about two months, and it is doing well, although it's not increasing in size very fast. It always has a few flowers open on it. I like it, but don't know if I'd get it again, since it is not producing nearly as much color as the more traditional annual gomphrenas.

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    1. So far I'm loving the Pink Zazzle, but I don't like having to buy the same plant year after year, esp. since I don't think it will reseed.

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  5. Lovely plants, and totally agree that it if fine to have plants you water as you're not watering the rest of the garden. I have quite a few pots I water all with grey water that would be wasted otherwise. People are waking up to grey water a lot more now in the UK, and you can buy switches that divert waste water into tanks if you are not using chemicals at that time and then switch back when you don't want to use it in the garden.

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    1. I'm convinced that gray water will be the next big thing in hard-hit drought areas. We simply collect what we can from the kitchen sink and dump it on the container plants on the backyard patio. I'd much rather have a real system where I can divert water, like from the washing machine, but that would be a major retrofit.

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  6. Oh my! that variegated Alocasia odora is to die for. I have an addiction to elephant ears. Wonder where I can find that. It's superb

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    1. I'd never seen a variegated Alocasia odora before, but judging from the many hits on Google, they must be fairly available.

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  7. Does the Alocasia pot have drainage? For my potted elephant ears I reduce the drainage by covering the hole(s) with a plastic sheet, then poke smaller holes in the plastic. You might be able to skip the hole poking, but I've had trouble with some Colocasia varieties that sit in soil that's too wet all the time. It seems weird, but maybe something else was going on with those. The plastic gives you options.

    If you didn't do anything to reduce the drainage, you can try sticking corks in the existing drainage holes. I've found they're never a perfect fit but reduce outflow.

    Oh, I forgot to mention that I love the variegation. :)

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    1. Alan, yes, the pot has drainage. I didn't block the drain hole in any way. I don't think I'm going to worry about it since we're heading into fall--soon, anyway. But you can bet that I'll keep an eye on what is my favorite plant at the moment :-).

      The variegation is fantastic. I spent a good 10 minutes trying to pick the one with the most contrast, out of maybe 20 1-gallon plants. Some were mostly green, in others the variegation was more on the creamy side. I wanted one with as much white as possible. I have no idea if this is any indication of what the leaves will be like going forward, but it can't hurt to start out with something special.

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  8. I find the alocasias and colocasias some of the sturdiest container plants, much easier to keep hydrated than flowering stuff. Other than succulents, every container needs water once a day anyway, and the tropicals are no worse. A better drama-to-resources ratio for me. I did see a pot of that gomphrena on the Fling. Nice late-summer scores! I checked in with a local nursery yesterday and spotted the first local Fatsia 'Spider Web,' so it pays to make regular visits!

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    1. Denise, glad to hear you found a 'Spider Web'. I haven't been so lucky yet. Does it seem that Portland peeps get first dibs on just about everything, LOL?

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