Time To Get Your Mother's Day On

Hey everybody...Mother's day is Sunday, May 10th!  The Plant Provocateur has got some offerings for you! Need a quick gift?  Mom might love some cut flowers or a uniquely chic gorgeous plant!  A serene, sculptural kokedama moss garden might also do the trick. 

Kokedama Moss Garden with Paphiopedilum

Kokedama Moss Garden with Paphiopedilum

What about some apothecary aromatherapy in the spa-like, all organic essence of The Potion Shoppe's Citrine candle...exclusively here at The Plant Provocateur Shop.  Made with Coconut wax infused with the essences of blood orange, grapefruit, jasmine, rose, and mango.  You've never smelled something so soothing and delicious, seriously! 

The Potion Shop - Citrine Candle

The Potion Shop - Citrine Candle

So come on down to Silver Lake's newest secret garden shop located at 3318 W. Sunset Blvd., on the back patio behind Muddy Paw Coffee, check The Plant Provocateur shop out, and get Mom some Mother's Day swag! 

Shop hours are Tuesday - Saturday 11am-6pm and Sunday 12-5pm.  Shop entrance is in-between Night + Market Song restaurant and Muddy Paw Coffee.  Address again is 3318 W. Sunset Blvd.  on the patio behind Muddy Paw Coffee, across the street from Clare V. , En Soie , and Hache.

This Weekend 4/25-26 TPP Cut Flower Bunches $15!

Ok.  Time to get your cut flowers on.  First of all #findtpp come find The Plant Provocateur at 3318 W. Sunset Blvd. LA CA (Silver Lake) 90026.  Cross street is Micheltorena.  Next to the super amazing Night + Market Song Thai restaurant and behind #muddypawcoffee on the back patio.  Come and discover the newest secret in Silver Lake.  I'll be putting together cut flower bouq's and you can get 'em for $15!  I've got lots of cut flowers in stock and they need your love.  So bring it!  Shop hours Sat. 11-6 and Sun. 12-5.  Get 'em while you can!  They'll brighten these cloudy days.  Oh and if cut flowers aren't your thing The Plant Provocateur has got some pretty cool indoor plants too!  Plants for the People!

 

The Plant Provocateur Shop Is Open!!!

Well, the day has finally arrived.  Time to open the doors and begin the new adventure.  Now, in typical L.A. fashion, I'm referring to this event as a "soft opening".  I'll be there.  The doors will be open...but it's a casual thing.  Regular store hours are in place but the Grand Opening event will not happen until June or July.  Everything is just about there...but more is to come.  So, if you're feeling like coming to check out to see what's growing on or talk about plants n' stuff...push the door open, if it isn't already, and say "Hi!".  I've got super sexy houseplants, scrumptious succulents, and a few cut flowers too.  Also, be sure to check out some of the design goods I'm carrying.  It's all stuff to make you feel good.  Store Hours: Tuesday - Saturday 11-6pm and Sunday 12noon - 5pm.  Mondays Closed.  Welcome to The Plant Provocateur!

Where In The World is The Plant Provocateur?

|Sarracenia Flower Kaleidoscopic|

|Sarracenia Flower Kaleidoscopic|

Hello.  Anyone out there receiving this transmission?  The Plant Provocateur is here to say "Hey!" and catch you all up on the goings on.  So, it's been a while.  So much, so fast.  Well, as you can see a new website has launched.  Now, you don't just the pretty pictures but you also get events info and most importantly brand new shop info.    

|The New Shop |

|The New Shop |

So as the saying goes...slow and steady wins the race.  That's been my motto so far for 2015.  The NEW shop is coming along!  One foot in front of the other of course.  After some contractor delays, getting and recovering from the flu, plus a few other unexpected bumps...my latest forecast for the shop's grand opening is now set for April.  So, you'll just have to wait a teensy-tiny bit longer my patient friends of The Plant Provocateur.  It will be worth it I assure you.  More soon...

TPP Valentine's Weekend Cut Flowers + Chocolate Pop Up Event!! 2/13 + 2/14

|Red Dahlia Bouquet|

|Red Dahlia Bouquet|

In anticipation of the new Plant Provocateur shop opening  in March, The Plant Provocateur is having a cut flowers pop up event featuring the heavenly delicious organic chocolate confections of L.A. based Confectionally Yours.  The event is taking place next week Friday, Feb. 13th and Saturday, Valentine's Day, Feb. 14th from 12noon to 6pm both days!  The event will be held at the NEW location on the patio of the soon to be open shop at 3318 W. Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90026; in Silver Lake next to Night + Market Song restaurant.

|Confectionally Yours Heart Shaped Box with Organic Chocolate Truffles|
|Confectionally Yours Heart Shaped Box with Organic Chocolate Truffles|

The Plant Provocateur will be offering pre-made cut flower bouquets.  And if a super cool, out of the ordinary bouquet for your Valentine is not enough, be sure to get the gourmet feast that awaits you or your Valentine in the form of a Confectionally Yours heart- shaped box!  Cut flowers and chocolate couldn't be more perfect for your Valentine.

|PS Citrine Candle|

|PS Citrine Candle|

And if that weren't enough and you really want to make the mood romantic, I'll be having an exclusive batch of the most lusciously aromatic candles on hand by The Potion Shoppe L.A..  These are not just candles...their natural, crackling wooden wick will remind you of a romantic weekend away at that cabin with the fireplace. Also, the candles are made of 100% clean-burning coconut wax and burn up to 60 hours.

This Pop Up Event has all the ingredients to help you and yours celebrate the romance and love of Valentine's Day.  So, if you're in the hood, be sure to drop by and check out what we have to offer.  Cut flowers, chocolate, and candle light...you can't go wrong!

Goodbye Silver Lake Farmer's Market - The Plant Provocateur Last Day This Saturday 1/31!

|Goodbye Silver Lake Farmer's Market/Hello New Store March 2015|
|Goodbye Silver Lake Farmer's Market/Hello New Store March 2015|

Well, the time has come for The Plant Provocateur to bid adieu to the Silver Lake Farmer's Market.  This Saturday will be my last day there!  I'm ending things there in preparation for the new shop opening in Silver Lake this March.

As I say goodbye, I've decided to thank those that have made the market awesome and welcomed The Plant Provocateur with a PLANT SALE BLOWOUT!  Spread the word and come on down because I'm clearing out a big ol' chunk of my Succulent and Tillandsia inventory.  Succulents will be selling for $1, $5, and $10.  Two for ones will be offered as well.  Two for ones will also extend to the Tillandsias I'll have on hand.

So help me wave buh-bye to winter and let's kick it into high gear with some spring fever.  You could make out like a bandit.  I'll be giving deals all market long.  Also, come by to hear about The Plant Provocateur Valentine's Day Cut Flower and Artisanal Chocolate Pop-Up taking place at my new shop 2/13 + 2/14 in Silver Lake. The Shop location is just 4 blocks east of the Silver Lake Farmer's Market.  I'm getting excited for people to check it out!  The new address: 3318 W. Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles (Silver Lake), 90026 between Micheltorena and Descanso.

See you Saturday!

The Plant Provocateur Shop - Opening March

|Palm Frond Night Moves Kaleidoscope|

|Palm Frond Night Moves Kaleidoscope|

Hello everyone and Happy New Year.  2015 is gonna be a BIG year for The Plant Provocateur!  After all the talk, after all the dreaming, I'm finally taking the leap and opening a brick-and-mortar plantasy.  In fact, I'm typing, this very post, from the cabinet of curiosities that will be the official Plant Provocateur HQ.  I say cabinet because being a first time shop keeper I'm going to keep things a bit intimate.  You know me...provocative.

|Coming Soon Doors|

|Coming Soon Doors|

So here's the deal.  The Plant Provocateur shop is currently under way with a teeny tiny build out.  New lighting, shelving, a little of this, and a little of that.  My aim is to get those doors open sometime early to mid March.  Crossing fingers, toes, and the beard beneath my nose...things will get growing as planned.

|Aloe Kaleidoscope|

|Aloe Kaleidoscope|

Now what can you expect?  Beauty, intrigue, and mystery.  The shop will feature signature live plants.  I've been searching the world for crazy cool heirloom, exotic, unusual, badass plants, the likes you have never seen. So they'll be here.  Also, in a slightly different direction, I will be offering cut flowers on a small scale.  Now, I won't be a full blown florist but I will feature some cut florals from time to time.  Also, for the locals out there, I am providing these pieces by appointment.

|Bromeliad Kaleidoscope|

|Bromeliad Kaleidoscope|

Let's see what else?  Oh yeah, The Plant Provocateur will feature a select display of furnishings and 'figments' for inside and out.  I'm pretty excited about this and can't wait to share with you the cool things I've found.  Also, the shop will feature occasional classes and featured speakers.  If the subject relates in anyway to the botanical world around us...we'll be talking about it.

|Magnolia kaleidoscope|

|Magnolia kaleidoscope|

So a lot of people, have asked, "What will The Plant Provocateur be about?"  You know when you start a business it's always a good idea to have a mission statement; something that defines the very being of what the heck it is you're about to do.  Well mine is simply this... Inspire With Plants.  Yeah, you may of heard it before.  It might sound a bit cliché, but wait and see what I do with this mission.  I've been feeling extraordinarily creative as of late.  I hope to explore things that are beyond our expectations.  I call it the Future Flora Initiative.  I want you to fall in love with plants and what they inspire, perhaps in ways you never thought you would.  Like the saying goes...big things have small beginnings.  Well, that's how it will start.  Now, moving forward, my mission is to make it exciting and thrive.  Stay tuned.

|FiddleHead Kaleidoscope|

|FiddleHead Kaleidoscope|

The Plant Provocateur Is Back With A Holiday Pop Up!

|2014 Holiday Pop Up Flyer|

|2014 Holiday Pop Up Flyer|

And after a hiatus...The Plant Provocateur is back and bringing it to you Holiday Style.  For all of you Los Angeles peeps  It's Holiday Pop Up Time!  Come on down this Sat 12/13 and Sunday 12/14 from 12-5pm and see what's been going on.  Still need some holiday decor?  We've got that!  Need some quick gifts...artisanal organic chocolates, organic apothecary products for bath and body, some of the best vintage denim wears in all of L.A., groovy holiday stocking to put all your gifts in, and maybe a wreath to hang on the door or use as a holiday centerpiece?  The Plant Provocateur and friends have got you covered.

|Wreath Set 1|

|Wreath Set 1|

But wait there's more...on the patio there will be pet adoption, free spay/neuter services, animal advocacy charitable clothing, as well as every dollar spent on coffee at Muddy Paw Coffee provides a donation to animal rescue charities.  So come on down...support local business and good causes.

Oh and I forgot...you'll get to see the future location of The Plant Provocateur shop coming Spring 2015!

Puttin' The Sass in Crass(ula) - Crassula falcata

|Crassula falcata floral detail|

|Crassula falcata floral detail|

Lipstick cherry all over!  I'm loving the vibrant visual these flowers are giving.  They heat up the lens in such a succulent, sumptuous way.  This beautiful blast of color comes to us from a super cool, awesomely architectural succulent known as Crassula falcata.  This South African succulent is one you should know and one you should grow!  It is commonly referred to as the Propellor Plant, Airplane Plant, or Scarlet Paintbrush.  The later moniker refers to the amazing display of flowers that erupt from this sculptural succulent in late summer, which tends to be a time when things are fairly quiet in the drought tolerant succulent garden.  Crassula falcata's flowers can set the scenery ablaze for almost a month.  It's a delicious spectacle to behold.

|Crassula falcata flower + foliage + form|

|Crassula falcata flower + foliage + form|

The truly unique feature of Crassula falcata is its propellor-like foliage that looks as though it's made of stone.  The leaves stack themselves in an angular fashion, one on top of the other, to create a stylishly sculptural display of cool graphic form.

Crassula falcata tends to grow slowly in an upright, semi-branchless, clumping form up to 2 feet tall and wide.  It does great in both full sun and light shade conditions.  It likes a well-draining, cactus soil mix and requires low amounts of water to thrive.  In hot locations, it looks best if it gets a bit more water.  As for hardiness, if you grow it outside, it's hardy down to 25 degrees fahrenheit/-3 degrees celsius.

If you're into succulents, this is definitely one for the collection.  If you're into graphic design decor, this is definitely a cool candidate for some fashionable foliage for a container indoors in a bright sunny room or as a conversation piece out on the balcony, porch, or patio.

My Cuppa Cobaea Overfloweth - Cobaea scandens

|Cobaea scandens CU floral profile|

|Cobaea scandens CU floral profile|

Are you feeling this?  Won't you join me...in the purple rain?  As the above image hints...something vivid...something vibrant is making itself known.  Question.  Are you experienced?  Well, if not, welcome to the lush and luxurious world of Cobaea scandens,  commonly referred to as the Cup-And-Saucer Vine or Cathedral Bells Vine.  Here is a case of a plant that I absolutely love to grow.  Why?  Well, for me, it has been one of the easiest plants to grow and it really delivers what a plant-a-holic, such as myself, craves.  It's got it all!

|Cobaea scandens foliage + form|

|Cobaea scandens foliage + form|

The foliage of Cobaea scandens forms on whip-like vining tendrils and stems of jungle green, with some bits steeped in rich warm color.  The foliage, itself, emerges in pistachio and rich pinot noir hues.  As the foliage matures, it settles on a sophisticated elliptical form that radiates a luxuriously rich palette of soothing green combinations.

|Cobaea scandens bud + tendril + leaf|

|Cobaea scandens bud + tendril + leaf|

In midsummer, papery lantern-like flower buds emerge from the fabric of its foliage signaling a forecast for an opulent outpouring of fantastical-floral-lusciousness .  The sepals of the flower open to form a saucer-like shape from which strong petals make themselves known and iris open to form a cup-like floret to accompany its saucer.

|Cobaea scandens phases of flower|

|Cobaea scandens phases of flower|

The results are stunning and can satiate even the finickiest of floral appetites!  The flowers are sizable, 4-5 inches, but not too big.  At first, as flowers open, they appear void of any color.  But in the day to follow the petals will blush in colors of pink and soft lilac. Then, usually, on day two after opening, the flowers are a flood of rich, vibrant purple color.  The color is so true and so affecting that you'll be hard pressed to not fall under its spell of tropical allure.

Cobaea scandens can be treated as an annual vine in areas where temps fall below 25 degrees fahrenheit/-3 degrees celsius.  In temperate areas it will remain perennial. Vines can grow up to 25 feet long.  It can engulf a fence or trellis in one season and kick out an amazing display of flowers from summer through late autumn.  It likes full sun to part shade conditions, regular to fertile, well-draining soil, average water, and the occasional feeding of fertilizer.  In areas where it remains perennial, cutting back vines at the start of the following growing season can encourage bushier, lush growth.

I originally got a 4" container start of Cobaea scandens from the amazing Annies Annuals.  Later on, I found that Botanical Interest have seed for it.  I also, hope to have a nice crop of it for sale next spring at The Plant Provocateur shop.  It is so well worth planting! Wait, what?  The Plant Provocateur shop.  What is he on about now?

Give 2 Me Your Leather. Take From Me My Lace. - Alsobia dianthiflora

|Alsobia dianthiflora petal detail|

|Alsobia dianthiflora petal detail|

So lately, in my world, a hot topic has been super sexy houseplants.  I know that might sound a bit racy for some of you, but, I'm talking about houseplants that offer a little more than a lump of static greenery.  Now don't get me wrong, there are some outstanding green foliage houseplants out there.  You just gotta know where to look. In my travels this summer, I stumbled across a plant that I don't see too often.  Don't know if you've met?  Everyone...this is Alsobia dianthiflora.  Alsobia dianthiflora this is everyone.

|Alsobia dianthiflora floral profile|

|Alsobia dianthiflora floral profile|

In some circles, this gorgeous angel of elegance is referred to as Episcia dianthiflora and commonly in others as the Lace Flower Vine.  It is in the gesneriad family of plants.  You know some of Alsobia's common name cousins...African Violet and Gloxinia.  When I first saw the fringe and frill of its dreamy, illuminating ivory flowers I was a goner.   So elegant yet so savage.  Be still my horticultural heart!  Alsobia dianthiflora comes to us from the climes of places like southern Mexico and Costa Rica.  It is a perennial plant that is replete with sumptuously soft, downy deep green leaves and produces stunning white trumpet-like flowers, whose petals are detailed in a filigree of white foxy fringe.  As an added bonus, for those who like to look a bit closer, the throat of each flower is delicately spotted with dreamy drops of violet color.

|Alsobia dianthiflora foliage + flower + form|

|Alsobia dianthiflora foliage + flower + form|

Alsobia dianthiflora likes bright, indirect light, shady spots, and can tolerate a part-sun situation outdoors.  It vines up to around 3 feet long if it's happy and gets about 8" tall.  It's low and likes to stroll.  It likes to set its roots down in a well-draining, fertile soil and prefers regular water.  It's hardy down to around 35 degrees fahrenheit/1.6 degrees celsius, if outdoors.  I keep mine on the porch and let it creep and sprawl its way around.  Looks so luxurious that way.  It also does well indoors and makes for one sexy houseplant.  So if you're in the mood for a houseplant with a lush, plush, knight-in-white-satin kind of vibe... look for, find, and grow Alsobia dianthiflora. You can find them online here.  You might even find them at The Plant Provocateur. Huh?!  What's that you say?  Stay tuned...

Big Things Have Small Beginnings...The Plant Provocateur Store at Silver Lake Farmer's Market

|TPP at the Silver Lake Farmer's Market|

|TPP at the Silver Lake Farmer's Market|

Call me crazy!  Call me nuts!  The Plant Provocateur has taken the show on the road so-to-speak and set up shop at the Silver Lake Farmer's Market in Los Angeles! Here's my chance to see if you, the public, are interested in what your Plant Provocateur has to offer.  Every Saturday from 8am-1:30pm is my chance to welcome you face-to-face into the world of The Plant Provocateur.

|Farmer's Market Palette|

|Farmer's Market Palette|

So here's what's happening.  I'm offering mostly stuff grown by yours truly in The Plant Provocateur Botanical Garden.  Having a shop gives me the opportunity  to meet you...the plant loving public, show off some amazingly beautiful stuff to grow, love, and obsess over, as well as, give people the opportunity to bring this type of beauty into their lives.  As one of my recent clients stated...Plants first, People second!

The shop is also the seed of, hopefully, an actual brick-and-mortar store to come. Right now, an actual store is just an idea...a little something I'm working on.  There's a lot to do to make that happen but I figure the Silver Lake Farmer's Market is a great place to start.  So, on a Saturday...any Saturday...this Saturday... come on down.  Check out what's going on.  I'll have plants, my Sunset Book - Sunset Outdoor Design and Build Guide: Container Gardening, and from time to time some super extraordinary botanically inspired products that you probably won't find anywhere else.

Tantalizing TriColor Sunset Supernova - Stictocardia beraviensis

|Stictocardia beraviensis floral detail|

|Stictocardia beraviensis floral detail|

Outside it's hot, hazy, and humid.  My daily diorama is complete with blue skies and fluffy thunderhead tufts playing hide and seek behind the San Gabriel Mountains. Yep, summer in L.A. is in full swing!  The Plant Provocateur Botanical Garden is killing it right now with crazy cool flowers and fragrances.  One such standout is the Stictocardia beraviensis vine that is kickin' out some tantalizing tricolor sunset supernovas.  Check it!

|Stictocardia beraviensis bud + flower + detail|

|Stictocardia beraviensis bud + flower + detail|

Isn't the color ridiculous!?  So vibrant, so rich.  Très tropical!  Stictocardia beraviensis is commonly referred to as the Hawaiian Sunset Vine or Braveheart Vine. It is related to the Morning Glory vine.  Although there's mention of Hawaiian in its common name, this vine comes to us from tropical Africa and Asia.  It's a lightning fast growing/twiner that can cover a fence or wall in no time.

|Stictocardia beraviensis tendril + texture|

|Stictocardia beraviensis tendril + texture|

Stictocardia beraviensis can grow in sun or shade.  It outfits itself in gorgeous, luxuriously pleated, heart-shaped leaves.  Leaves in the shade can grow up to 1 foot wide giving off some serious tropical realness.  In the sun, leaves grow up to 1/2 that size but still cover their vines in a tropical tapestry of verdant voluptuousness.  Vines can grow 10 to 12 feet long.  From spring to fall, it produces dramatically dreamy, 2 to 3 inch wide, cup-shaped flowers that will remind you of the most beautiful hawaiian sunset.  Their ultra-vivid color will carry your senses away to a tropical island complete with tropical breezes, beaches of white sugar sand, azure ocean, and tall tiki glasses spilling over with Mai Tais.  Who's with me?!

|Stictocardia beraviensis bud + flower + foliage|

|Stictocardia beraviensis bud + flower + foliage|

In warmer climates, this evergreen vine will even bloom in December and January.  It prefers to grow in well-draining soil, receive regular water, and is hardy down to around 30 degrees fahrenheit/-1 degrees celsius.  I find mine defoliates a bit when the temps drop below 40 degrees fahrenheit/4.5 degrees celsius but springs right back with a vengeance when the temps heat back up.  Also, big bonus for container gardeners, it does great in containers.  Wanna create a cool tropical vibe on your balcony?   Try growing this in a container and let it wrap its way around your railings or some trellis action.  In no time, you can have a tropical backdrop for the perfect 'stay-cation'!

So, if you're an exotic plant nut like I am, search the internet, look high and low for this super cool, super sexy vine.  It's totally worth it!  Maybe one day, The Plant Provocateur might be able to offer some up.  Stay tuned!

Whiplash White Burns With A Heavenly Hotness - Michauxia campanuloides

|Michauxia campanuloides floral profile|

|Michauxia campanuloides floral profile|

Our story begins a few years ago when I spied a mysterious beauty in the pages of a catalog.  Now, understand, the purpose of this catalog was to seduce the reader with tales and promise of unfathomable beauty and what I'd call 'exotitude'...exotic attitude.  The pictures contained within this catalog succeeded in inebriating me with a plant lust so powerful and possessive that I had no defense when it came to resisting its charm!  And now, I can confess to the world that, although I've said I'm not a huge fan of white flowers, I have now eaten those words and savored their exhilarating taste.  The overpowering, seductively alluring flowers of Michauxia campanuloides have made me a true believer in the powerful beauty of white flowers.

|Michauxia campanuloides bud + bloom|

|Michauxia campanuloides bud + bloom|

Michauxia campanuloides  also commonly called Michaux's Bellflower or Rough-Leaved Michauxia is a short lived perennial or biennial in the Campanulaceae family that comes to us from the Israel, Lebanon, and other parts of the eastern Mediterranean.

|Michauxia campanuloides foliage + form|

|Michauxia campanuloides foliage + form|

Michauxia campanuloides can grow to be up to 6 feet tall with wide spreading stems up to 3 feet if not supported.  Supported, it takes on a tall, narrow, upright profile.  It starts off with a compact basal clump of bristly leaves that produce stout stems that telescope upward to form arching canes jeweled with solitary, nodding white flower buds reminiscent of white pastry bags filled with fondant.  When the buds open in late spring and summer they reveal an elaborate array of arresting flower form... a crown-like calyx, curly semi-corkscrewed petals, and a crazy octopus-like stigma. It's almost a visual overload.  Provocative indeed!  Also, a stunning candidate for those who dig cut flowers.

|Michauxia campanuloides floral detail|

|Michauxia campanuloides floral detail|

If the fascinating flower form weren't enough, Michauxia campanuloides flowers exude a deliciously dreamy fragrance of delicate hyacinth!  Now that's pure heaven in my book.   This biennial plant is fairly easy to grow.  It likes full sun to part-shade conditions, well-drained soil, regular to low water, and is hardy down to around 0 degrees fahrenheit/-17 degrees celsius.  This is one floral fantasy that must be experienced to be believed.  Once you witness it's beauty, I'm positive it too will become one of the top flowers on your list.  Find it! Grow it!  Soon you won't have to look that far...stay tuned...

The Plant Provocateur LIVE At The Huntington Botanical Gardens Thurs. June 12th, 2014

|Atlantis Succulent Container|

|Atlantis Succulent Container|

This just in...Whatcha' doin' next Thursday?  Will you be in the SoCal area? Pasadena?  San Marino?  If so, check this out.  The Plant Provocateur will be live and in concert, so-to-speak, next Thursday, June 12th, giving a talk and demonstration about designing deliciously dynamic container gardens at The Huntington Botanical Gardens as part of their 2nd Thursday Garden Talk and Sale series!  Click here for more info.  I'm super excited to be a featured speaker at The Huntington Botanical Gardens.  The event is free and oh yeah, what's a Plant Provocateur event without a few surprises?!  Come on down and find out.  So come one, come all, feast your eyes and be tantalized by new ideas for super stylish container gardens!

The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens are located at: 1151 Oxford Road, San Marino, CA 91108.  The garden talk and sale is taking place in the Ahmanson Room, Brody Botanical Center.  Start time is 2:30pm.  No reservations required.  Contact number for the event is 626-405-2100.  If you've never been to The Huntington you should definitely make a day of it.  There is so much to see and do!

The Sugary Gloss of Persian Mimosa Floss - Albizia julibrissin

|Albizia julibrissin filaments|

|Albizia julibrissin filaments|

My last post created a bit of controversy!  I featured a plant called Tamarix ramosissima.  I got quite a few comments about how some people see it as nasty weed.  One thing you should know dear reader, is that one person's weed is another person's wonder.  When it comes to my love of plants, I often fall into the later category.  Plant life is my drug, my addiction.  As a result, much of my taste, when it comes to plants, is on the provocative side.  Sometimes beauty isn't always pretty or well behaved, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't be fascinated by what it displays. Such is the case of this post.  First, I want to kick things off with the above image. What you are experiencing above is a visual explosion of silky stamens from the flowers of Albizia julibrissin also known as Mimosa, Silk-Tree, or Persian Silk Tree.

|Albizia julibrissin foliage|

|Albizia julibrissin foliage|

Here we have another case of one person's weed and another person's wonder. Albizia julibrisson is native to Persia and Asia.  It is a deciduous tree known for its lushly tropical, fashionably fern-like, bipinnate foliage and its ethereal eruption of diaphanously delicate floss-like flowers, which burst forth in late spring from clustering constellations of delicate buds.  One cool feature to note is that this tree folds it foliage closed at night or during long periods of rain.  It's a tree of many moods...I love that concept!

|Albizia julibrissin buds|

|Albizia julibrissin buds|

I recently came across one of these trees in my neighborhood while walking Lulu.

|The Late Lulu Chillin'|

|The Late Lulu Chillin'|

Ironically, it wasn't the display of candy floss flowers that immediately caught my attention.  It was the fragrance in the air that wrapped around me and lifted my senses upward.  You see the flowers have a very delicate, soft gardenia/jasmine like fragrance.  When they are blooming en masse the scent is absolutely captivating! Makes you feel like you're in mysterious locale a million miles away that smells exotically sensual; beckoning you to lose yourself in paradise.

|Albizia julibrissin form + bud + flower|

|Albizia julibrissin form + bud + flower|

Albizia julibrissin can grow up to 40 feet tall, with a broad fleecy canopy reminiscent of the iconic trees one can see growing in the Serengeti.  This deciduous tree likes full sun or part shade conditions, summer heat, regular water, well-draining soil, and is hardy down to around 10 degrees fahrenheit/-12 degrees celsius.

Now, Albizia julibrissin can be weedy in some areas.  After flowering, it produces flattened bean-like pods filled with seeds.  If the conditions are favorable you can expect a lot of seedlings from fallen seed.  However, in a place like Los Angeles, this tree seems to be kept in check.  Discovering this tree the other day on my walk through the cityscape of Silver Lake was like stumbling into an oasis in paradise. Weed or wonder, the beautiful benefits of this tree are certainly worth experiencing.

The Pink Opaque Of Beauty And The Beast - Tamarix ramosissima

|Tamarix ramosissima in bud|

|Tamarix ramosissima in bud|

Do you ever let your mind wonder?  If you don't, you should try it.  I find when I do... sometimes I discover the most amazing things.  Here is one such case.  In Los Angeles it is rare to have cloudy day, but when we have one and the clouds are big and fluffy, it puts me in a daydreamy mood.  On a recent cloudy day I was driving along, head in the clouds so-to-speak, when my attention was captured by a tree reaching skyward looking like a big ol' carnival serving of pink cotton candy.  It was a tree I had never seen before.  Excitedly, I parked my car and ran over to investigate. What I discovered was indeed something brand new to me!  I love those moments. The tree I was discovering for the first time is called Tamarix ramosissima commonly referred to as Tamarisk or Salt Cedar.  It was covered in delicate plumes of rosy pink buds and flowers that seemed to have the bees going wild and my senses stimulated!

|Tamarix ramosissima floral detail|

|Tamarix ramosissima floral detail|

Tamarix ramosissima is considered a deciduous shrub or small tree.  It comes to us from Europe, Africa, and Asia where it is usually found thriving in dry desert or seaside conditions.  It can grow to 15 feet tall and wide or sometimes larger.  What makes this shrub/tree so distinctive is its foliage.  It's very conifer and scale-like. Reminds me of a juniper bush.

|Tamarix ramosissima flower + foliage + form|

|Tamarix ramosissima flower + foliage + form|

In spring, at least here in L.A., it produces a bounty of buds that bloom and transform the shrub/tree into a dreamy 'draizy' cloud of pink cotton candy. Flowering is known to occur from spring through summer.  So that's the beauty part.  The beast part is that this plant is highly invasive in certain situations.  Tamarix ramosissima is resistant to salt, arid conditions, wind, and thrives in poor soils. When planted near waterways it can take over by reseeding and suckering up a storm.

On the plus side, this shrub/tree is tough!  It can be kept as a stunning specimen as long as it is pruned regularly, after flowering or before new spring growth emerges, and given some watchful maintenance.  It is great for desert gardens and can handle salty seaside conditions.  Makes a great windbreak.  It just needs full sun, well-draining soil, little to regular water, and is hardy down to -40 degrees fahrenheit and celsius!  Tough as nails and as beautiful as spun sugar.

Rouge Romantique - Bauhinia galpinii

|Bauhinia galpinii - ECU|

|Bauhinia galpinii - ECU|

What are we looking at?  Is it an old Cocteau Twins album cover?  The filaments of some psychedelic light bulb? What we're looking at is beauty.  Something so vivid, so mysterious, yet so romantic.  Have you ever seen such a symphony of hot color? Sometimes to see beauty you have to look closer, fall deeper, and allow yourself to let what you see wash over you. Here is one glorious case.  Maybe you've met before.  Maybe you haven't.  Let me introduce Bauhinia galpinii also commonly referred to as Red Bauhinia, Pride-Of-The-Kaap ("Cape"), or South African Orchid Bush.

|Bauhinia galpinii - floral profile|

|Bauhinia galpinii - floral profile|

Bauhinia galpinii is a semi-deciduous shrub that comes to us from Southeast Africa. I never encountered it until I moved to Los Angeles.  We first met when I spied it growing in an overgrown garden of some old hollywood star.  Its exotic flowers lured me in like the song of a siren.  Bauhinia galpinii can grow up to 10 feet tall and wide; 25 feet at maturity if provided with ample nutrients.  It tends to have a horizontal branching habit.  Branches are outfitted with bilobed, fan-shaped leaves that remind me, for some reason, of lily pads floating on a still pond.  The 3" flowers it produces are five petalled and look as if they are made from a richly delicate crepe paper. They appear mostly in spring.  Flower color appears in hues of vivid scarlet to soft salmon. Lightly pruning after bloom encourages bushier growth, keeping its size in check, and promotes a future of abundant flowering.

|Bauhinia galpinii - form + foliage + flower|

|Bauhinia galpinii - form + foliage + flower|

Bauhinia galpinii likes full sun, fertile, well-draining soil, regular water, becomes drought resistant once established, and is hardy to around 25 degrees fahrenheit/-3 degrees celsius.  There is something fantastical about this shrub.  Its presence in the garden or cut in a vase conjures a tropical vision so romantic, so soul satisfying, that it's as if paradise has been found.

Lemon Delicious - Justicia aurea

|Justicia aurea - CU buds|

|Justicia aurea - CU buds|

It is said that the color yellow is the color of creativity, courage, enlightenment, and optimism.  It is also a color that reminds us of the warmth of the sun.  It's a power color.  The Plant Provocateur believes it is a color of luxury.  In the case of Justicia aurea,  commonly referred to as Golden Brazilian Plume, that luxury is no more evident than in its stunning bloom and lush tropical foliage.

|Justicia aurea - bud + flower + form|

|Justicia aurea - bud + flower + form|

There is something so familiar, yet so exotic about Justicia aurea.  This evergreen shrub presents itself as a verdant treasure of lusciously large 12 inch pleated leaves steeped in refreshing spring color.  Hailing from the subtropical climes of Mexico and Central America, it possesses a jungle-like beauty in an elegantly upright manageable form that grows 4 to 6 feet tall and wide.  In late summer,  spires of whispy bracts telescope outward and upward to present lemon yellow buds that will ignite into a luminous torch of dazzling flowers as vibrant as the rays of the sun.

|Justicia aurea - form + flower detail|

|Justicia aurea - form + flower detail|

Justicia aurea prefers to grow in part sun/part shade locations.  It looks amazing, especially in the stillness of the late afternoon, where it seems to luxuriate and beckon you to come closer, leave your cares behind, and fall under its exotic spell. Justicia aurea likes fertile, well-draining soil, regular water, and is hardy down to around 30 degrees fahrenheit/-1 degree celsius.  This shrub benefits from being planted between plants that can shelter it from wind and potential frost exposure.  It also can be grown in a container indoors, but with full sun exposure.  It needs the warmth to bloom. Cutting plants back in early spring encourages lusher, bushier growth.  The more stems...the more beautiful torch-like flowers are likely to appear. It definitely gives off a chic vibe.  Very 'calgon-take-me-away'.  So, if you want to elevate your estate, so to speak, why not lavish your garden or home with some delicious lemon luxury.

Opulent Origami - Koelreuteria bipinnata

|Koelreuteria bipinnata - CU Capsule|

|Koelreuteria bipinnata - CU Capsule|

I'm gonna say it now... it's not always about the flowers.  Culturally, we've been taught to worship the flower but sometimes plants do cool things that take our attention away from those florific hoggers-of-the-spotlight.  Sometimes they ornament themselves in eye-catching accoutrement.  Such is the case of the opulent origami seed capsules of Koelreuteria bipinnata also known as the Chinese Flame Tree.

|Koelreuteria bipinnata - bark + canopy + foliage|

|Koelreuteria bipinnata - bark + canopy + foliage|

Koelreuteria bippinata is a deciduous tree coming to us from the Yunnan Province of Southwestern China.  It outfits itself with fresh green, subtly sawtooth margined, bipinnate foliage.  Its tree bark is stippled with spots of sandalwood color and creviced with splits reminiscent of a pound cake fresh out of the oven.

|Koelreuteria bipinnata - floral details|

|Koelreuteria bipinnata - floral details|

In late summer, a flurry of teeny tiny flowers cluster and bloom.  If you look closely, some flowers display the most amazing anthers you'll ever see with pollen so mysteriously and inconceivably blue.  Some flowers also display a spirited stain of red on their petals.  As the flowers fade, 2" large pillowy seed capsules form that remind me of piñatas made from richly dyed crepe paper.

|Koelreuteria bipinnata - capsule cluster|

|Koelreuteria bipinnata - capsule cluster|

Koelreuteria bipinnata's  latern-like seed capsules come in shades of brilliant fuchsia, salmon, and rosy red.  Their display blankets the tree's canopy, which can then be seen from miles away.  These trees tend to grow up to 30 feet tall and 25 wide at maturity.  They set deep, noninvasive roots and also make a beautiful street tree. Foliage fall color is rich and golden.  They like full sun to part shade, well-draining soil, regular water, and are hardy down to around 10 degrees fahrenheit/-12 degrees celsius.  Wanna keep the hood classy...say it with Koelreuteria bipinnata.