This January saw me longing for my favorite color combination – chartreuse and green – as well as for bulbs, something I have no prior experience with. Could I sense the coming spring? Did I long for color to brighten those rainy afternoons? Who knows. Do I need a reason for wanting this plants, beyond pure desire? After all, four of the five belong to genus that have won the Royal Horticultural Society’s Award of Garden Merit. Do I have good taste, or what?
1. Albizia julibrissina ‘Summer Chocolate’ A striking alternative to the traditional mimosa, or “silk tree,” which is prolific around town.These feathery, purple-almost-black leaves have green new growth and the same pink flowers as the original. As functional as it is fantastic, this tree is a great statement selection for dry, sunny areas.
2. Eucomis ‘Oakhurst‘ I’m ashamed to say I hadn’t even heard of this plant until I saw it being sold as a houseplant at a local Von’s. Not only is it unusual (which is a trait I love), its bizarre looking flowers persist for weeks and have the most amazing fragrance. This was the first bulb I’d ever grown when I snagged it last spring, and it proved to be extremely tolerant and low-maintenance (much to my surprise). Now that I know Eucomis comes in a range of covetable colors, including white, yellows, purples and greens, I want to collect them all!
3. Fritillaria meleagris Believe it or not, the unusual geometric pattern on this species lily is naturally-occurring! If Eucomis sparked my interest in bulbs, this flirty little flower fanned the flames. Unfortunately, local bulb purveyor Easy To Grow Bulbs sold out of these babies almost as soon as they went on sale at the beginning of this month. And thus, I’m left lusting.
4. Helleborus This image is of Helleborus lividus ‘Pink Marble,’ although I have a serious hankering for hellebores of any kind. These plants make me long for the Pacific Northwest (although the San Diego Botanic Gardens does have a few surviving specimens, which makes me want to try my hand at growing it in our Mediterranean climate). What is it about the oversized leaves and nodding, masculine blooms that make me so nuts? Perhaps it’s the color scheme – whites, purples, pinks, maroons and chartreuses – that I’m a sucker for. Whatever the case, I need to get my hands on one of these sometime soon! In the meantime, visit Sunshine Farms to satisfy your craving.
5. Oxalis versicolor Another species whose unnatural coloring is, of course, just the opposite. I think at some point during my professional education I must have picked up the mistaken belief that only cultivars could be this astounding. In fact, I’ve found it to be quite the opposite, as in the case of this oxalis. Curled up, the bright red margins of its white leaves give it the appearance of something carnivalesque. Prior to this discovery, I understood oxalis to be no more than a weed. Now, I’m eager to get started on my own oxalis collection!