Foliage and Bird

It was a sprinkling of snowy Four O’Clock flowersMirabilis jalapa, that caught my eye one evening, not too long before sundown.  My two Four O’Clock plants (the other one blooms a stunning hot pink) are pass-alongs from a gardener and former blogger.  This old-timey, Southern garden addition-by-way-of-Central and South America, is a night bloomer and grows from a fleshy root which can become quite large.  The creamy flowers brighten a shady area close near my pond;  the flowers open in late afternoon, bloom all night, and close by late morning.  

But it was the metal bird, standing in a diversity of foliage, that resonated as a garden story.  Even though I planted this crew, I didn’t recognize just how different the various leaf forms are and how well they complement one another as they mature. 

Sometimes, it’s challenging to see consciously what will be as a garden evolves.

Clockwise from top left, the blue-tinged Soft-leaf Yucca, Yucca recurvifolia, sits next to the tropical green foliage of the Four O’Clock.  To its right, another grey-blue foliage plant, Drummond’s Ruellia, Ruellia drummondiana, serves as backing for three individuals of strappy, stripy Carex phyllocephala ‘Sparkler’ sedge–and that’s where the quirky bird perches.  A couple of iris straps and dangles of autumnal seeds of Inland Sea Oats, Chasmanthium latifolium complete the oddball group.

The Drummond’s Ruellia and ‘Sparkler’ sedges will grow and will require management: the ruellia will need pruning and the ‘Sparklers’ transplanting.  Maybe the bird will  migrate elsewhere.

For now, the group is simpatico and the gardener is pleased.

It was Anna’s own lovely foliage photo which reminded me of my foliage and bird.  Check out her Wednesday Vignette for garden happenings.

17 thoughts on “Foliage and Bird

    • Thanks Deb! And thanks for the Four O’Clocks–the pink one is in deep shade, still blooming, but I think I’m going to move it this winter. I’m going to move my main beehive (that’ll be fun…) in early spring and the spot behind the hive(s) will be perfect for the pink one. Yes, the mornings are glorious: I can work without perspiring! Woo-hoo!

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  1. I do love four-o’clocks; they are so sweet and old-fashioned. They always seemed to me like a most *innocent *flower, if flowers can have personalities. Also highly admire the inland sea oats seedheads, which always look to me like something Frank Lloyd Wright might have designed.

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    • I think they’re charming and I agree, they do seem innocent! I’ve always thought they should be paired with Rock rose, as they open at sunrise, close mid-afternoon and the Four O’Clocks open in late afternoon and bloom until late morning. I’ve never been able that get a good group together though, something managed to misbehave.

      I love Inland Sea Oats. I hear complaints from some people about their seeding out–which they do– but not horribly. I am using them more as my garden is so shady. Super easy to grow without much effort.

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  2. I’m a new subscriber 🙂
    Lovely combo. I feel like Chasmanthium has a way of tying everything together. Been wanting to try Yucca for so long, and now I think I’ll add the four o’clocks too. Thank you!

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    • Hi Julie! I’d probably agree with you. Maybe Sea Oats are the black skirt of the garden world–they go with everything and are versatile! I like the yuccas and they’re good for structure. I find that I need to trim the bottom leaves, because they’re always turning brown. You’ll probably need to find the four o’clocks as a passalong plant, but maybe a local nursery might carry them.

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  3. That’s a lovely vignette! The blue of the bird echoes the blue in the yucca and the Ruellia very nicely, and I love how the white Four O’Clocks glow throughout. For as much as I like the Chasmanthium, it kind of scares me. It tends to seed around a lot up here. Does it behave for you?

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    • Thanks, Anna–I was quite taken with it. I don’t have problems with the Chasmanthium. It seeds out, but less than some other things I grow. Once every decade, they look puny, so the next season, I separate and replant and they’re in their happy place once more. I imagine in your wetter climate, they might become invasive, so that’s something you’d need to consider.

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    • Thanks, Judy–it’s a cute bird, I think. My four o’clocks haven’t been too bad. I pull up a few seedlings each spring and that’s all they produce. I’m planning to move one in late winter/early spring; it’ll be interesting to see how big its root has become…:)

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  4. I’ve never seen a white four o’clock; they’re charming as can be. I think I might nominate “the ruellia will need pruning” as the gardening understatement of the year. Some variety has been running amok where I work; even with a professional, full-time gardening crew, they can’t seem to keep up with them.

    I think I could get a decent photo of your cute bird. I gave up on the hummingbirds. Something that stands still is easier!

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    • I love white flowers and the four o’clock is no exception.

      Yes, ‘ruellia will need pruning’ is the understatement of the week, to be sure. They are spready, but super popular with the pollination crowd, so I keep them.

      Yes, I like things that sit still, too, and hummingbirds are not that!

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