08 Apr

Bold and Beautiful, Echium Mr. Happy

Mr. Happy’ – perfect name for a plant that blooms so generously and joyfully. A hybrid of Echium wildprettii and E. pininan, Echium ‘Mr. Happy’ is a beautiful plant that produces a large mound of lovely pink flowers in summer. When in full blooms, the plant attracts bees, birds and butterflies.

Echium wildprettii and E. pininan, Mr. Happy

Echium ‘Mr. Happy’/ Image by anniesannuals.com

When grown in the ground, Echium ‘Mr. Happy’ can grow up to 15 feet and spread across 2 feet with a large bulbous base. A mature plant often forms a group of rosettes with silvery-green foliage. Though not commonly found on local nurseries, ‘Mr. Happy’ makes an excellent accent plant in a garden or landscape design. The plant is quite easy to grow and hardy enough to survive spells of drought. Therefore, it is often found growing in xericapes and rock gardens.

‘Mr. Happy’ can be grown under full to partial sun and in almost any soil that provides good drainage. The plant, however, is not suitable for growing in containers.

04 Apr

Flowering Plant for Garden Borders: Globularia cordifolia

The plant featured today is Globularia cordifolia. Commonly known as Globe Daisy, Globularia cordifolia is a low growing, evergreen and mat forming plant that grows widely across Europe, and parts of Africa and Asia. Globe Daisy is grown in gardens as ground cover or as border plant because of its evergreen and low growing habit. It is also grown in rock gardens for its ability to survive long spells of drought.

Globularia cordifolia, Globe Daisy

Globularia cordifolia, Globe Daisy/ Image by Roberto Verzo

Globularia cordifolia prefers sunny exposure and moderate watering in a well-drained soil. The plant grows up to 6 inches and tends to spread across 12 inches to form a thick mat of leathery leaves. From the mat of dense leaves, appear slightly taller stems that bear beautiful flowers in early summer or late spring. Flowers usually have mauve or pale lilac colors. These flowers last long and create a beautiful display in landscapes and gardens.

Other popular species in the genus include:

Globularia meridionalis – Another evergreen perennial with glossy green leaves and lavender blue flowers. The plant is quite easy to grow in Mediterranean climate.

Globularia punctata or Iberian Globe DaisyDrought tolerant plant; grows in full to partial sun and produces globe-shaped flower in spring.

28 Mar

Akebia quinata, the Chocolate Vine

Akebia quinata, popularly known as Chocolate Vine because of its brownish-purple flowers, is a beautiful climber for sunny or partially shaded spots in gardens. Native to the Far East, Akebia quinata grows as a quick climber and makes an excellent specimen for growing over pergolas or against walls where it produces abundance of fresh-green foliage. It can also be used as ground cover. The compound leaves of Akebia quinata are evergreen in tropical climates and semi-evergreen in colder areas.

Akebia quinata, the Chocolate Vine

Akebia quinata, the Chocolate Vine/ Image via flickr

Akebia quinata grows in a slightly moist soil under full or partial sun. The chocolaty flowers appear in spring or summer and emit exotic spicy fragrance with the hint of vanilla. Flowers last longer in warm and dry conditions. Flowering is followed by formation of long pulpy and edible fruits. However, it usually requires two plants of Akebia quinata to fertilize the flowers. The plant can be pruned back at the end of the flowering season. The fruit as well as the plant itself are used in traditional Chinese medicine for their diuretic properties.

Like most Akebias, Chocolate Vine can be grown from seeds sown in spring, or by layering long stems in winter.

27 Mar

Lovely spiral plant: Albuca spiralis ‘Frizzle Sizzle’

Today’s featured plant is Albuca spiralis – a really unusual, lovely and rare plant that is in my wish list for a long time. This small and unusual species is a bulbous plant from the family of Hyacinthaceae and is loved for its unusual spiral leaves that remind us of the Spiral Grass plant.

Albuca spiralis grows as a winter growing plant and produces wiry leaves that curl themselves into the shape of the corkscrew especially when grown in dry winters and provided with a sunny exposure – more sun, more curls. Flowers of Albuca spiralis are rather inconspicuous; the bell-shaped greenish-yellow flowers appear in late winter and continue to bloom till spring. As the summer sets in, the plant goes dormant. The spiral leaves disappear at this stage and the bulb shows no sign of life. At this time, the plant needs barely sufficient water.

Albuca spiralis

Albuca spiralis/ Image via plantfreak.wordpress.com


Watering can be started in early winter when the plant shows signs of life. Albuca spiralis can withstand light frost thus it can be grown in the ground in areas where winter is dry. In colder climates, Albuca spiralis can be grown in pots. The plant is fairly easy to grow as long as it is grown in a fast draining soil and protected from overwatering.

20 Mar

Lobularia maritima, the Sweet Alyssum

Sweet Alyssum is one of the favorite flowering plants among gardeners and landscape designers. This small plant with its tiny flowers is very useful in gardens and landscapes – it is a good filler plant under larger specimen landscape plants, it makes dense and flowery mats in landscapes, it also makes excellent border plants, Sweet Alyssum is an excellent container plant as well.

Sweet Alyssum, Lobularia maritima

Sweet Alyssum/ Image by Bill Bumgarner

Sweet Alyssum is a remarkable bloomer too; it flowers all through the spring and continues to bloom in summer. Because of its long flowering season and small size, Sweet Alyssum is often grown as a companion plant with other flowering plants.

Sweet Alyssum (Lobularia maritima), once classified in the genus of Alyssum, is now placed in the genus of Lobularia but it is still known by its common name ‘Sweet Alyssum’ – ‘sweet’ is because of the sweet fragrance of its white or purple flowers.

Sweet Alyssum is quite easy to propagate. It is grown from seeds sown in early spring. The plant requires a loamy and well-drained soil under full to partial sun. With moderate watering and good exposure to sun, Sweet Alyssum grows quickly and starts blooming within a few weeks after germination. In its original Mediterranean climate, the plant grows as perennial, however in colder climates it is grown as an annual bloomer.

Besides the common variety, a number of cultivars of Sweet Alyssum are also available for cultivation. These include: ‘Snow Cloth’, ‘Oriental Nights’, ‘Snow Drift’ and the ‘Golf Series’.