Sunday, September 25, 2005


A natural Southwest plant which is beautiful in bloom and the form of the plant pre-bloom is wonderful also. This Fall showpiece is the Helianthus mazimilliana 'Santa Fe', or Maximillan's Sunflower. This member of the sunflower family blooms in September, along with the Chamisa and the Purple Aster, and as it comes out of dormancy in the Spring and gains height, it takes on the shape of the Egyptian Nile River papyrus. Unfortunately no photo is available without the blooms. More information is available through the HIGH COUNTRY GARDENS catalogue of the top Santa Fe greenhouse, oddly enough named The Santa Fe Greenhouse, always the winner of “The Best of Santa Fe" in the plant nursery category.

Another classic favorite is the red blooming Texas sage,
Salvia greggii, a common evergreem bush from the Texas plans with the flowers being a favorite food provider for Hummingbirds. Drought tolerant, as are the other two plants, this sage begins it's blooming in early summer. The first plant coming into my consciousness as a child, it being the only plant growing in Mrs. Wheeler's yard, an across the street neighbor and a good friend spry, bright, and in her 90's.

The third plant is a plant I've seen for several years, but it was only a few weeks ago when I saw it planted in a large grouping with Texas sage and chamisa, that I realized what an astoundingly beautiful plant it is. The plant is the gaura lindheimeri, Whirling Butterflies, or Wand Flower. I Googled photos of it, didn't come close to doing it justice, tried to photograph it myself with the same results, and settled on a photo from SF Greenhouse. The body of the plant is sparse grass like and the beauty are the long stems with one butterfly looking bloom at it's tip. Spectacular when planted in large groupings of 10 or more.
Whats striking about this plant is that these flowers at the tips of the plant do indeed appear from a distance to be small butterflies circling a plant. Breathtaking.

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