Inspiration

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?

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!

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.

Fade To Black - Fredclarkeara After Dark 'SVO Black Pearl'

 |Fredclarkeara After Dark 'SVO Black Pearl' detail|

|Fredclarkeara After Dark 'SVO Black Pearl' detail|

I read a quote today..."There are as many styles of beauty as there are visions of happiness."  Before your eyes lies a type of beauty that lies way beyond visions of happiness, in my honest opinion.  It's almost unattainable, but oh so mysteriously real. What could be so black and almost metallic, making my flora loving heart skip not one, but two beats?

 |Fredclarkeara After Dark 'SVO Black Pearl' profile|

|Fredclarkeara After Dark 'SVO Black Pearl' profile|

Welcome to the sensual world of an orchid hybrid known as Fredclarkeara After Dark 'SVO Black Pearl'.  I discovered this beauty at the Huntington Botanical Gardens Orchid Show last year.  Growing this plant and watching it produce these mind-bogglingly beautiful and beguiling black flowers has made me a confirmed flora futurist.  I've never seen anything like it.  Have you?  Well, the horticulturalists at Sunset Valley Orchids in Vista, California have definitely blinded me with some serious science. Fredclarkeara After Dark 'SVO Black Pearl' is a masterpiece.  It was love at first sight!

 ||Fredclarkeara After Dark 'SVO Black Pearl' profile + pseudobulb|

||Fredclarkeara After Dark 'SVO Black Pearl' profile + pseudobulb|

Fredclarkeara After Dark 'SVO Black Pearl' is a hybrid cross between genus of the orchids Catasetum, Clowesia, and Mormodes.  It produces interesting thick bamboo shoot-like pseudobulbs that produce large pleated straps of tropical foliage.  The foliage is deciduous and begins to drop off as late autumn/early winter dormancy sets in.  This hybrid is fairly easy to grow as long as you follow some strict rules. When the plants begin to shed their leaves, STOP ALL WATERING.  The decrease in water will encourage mature pseudobulbs to extend 2 to 4 pendant inflorescences with as many as 15 to 22 flowers on each of them!

 |Fredclarkeara After Dark 'SVO Black Pearl' floral forms|

|Fredclarkeara After Dark 'SVO Black Pearl' floral forms|

And as you can see the flowers are spectacular!  They'll last up to 6 or 7 weeks before falling off in a beautiful black shower of rich robust blossoms.  I grow mine in a mix of fine bark, sphagnum moss, and perlite.  It prefers bright light and warm indoor conditions.  Does great on the mantel of my living room.  When it breaks dormancy and new growth occurs in spring, resume watering and fertilize regularly. 1 tablespoon of fertilizer per gallon of water should create the right mix.  These plants can die easily if overwatered so take care to keep moisture fairly even during growth periods and let them dry out when foliage begins to yellow and drop.  If pseudobulbs get really shriveled during dormancy, give them a teeny tiny sip of water once or twice a month to sustain their vitality.  Remember the lack of water encourages remarkable flowering. So if you have an appetite for something excitingly exotic, treat yourself to the mystical magnificence of Fredclarkeara After Dark 'SVO Black Pearl'.  Tell Sunset Valley Orchids The Plant Provocateur sent ya!

I've Got A Burnin' Desire For U Baby - Lime-Scented Flax Dressing

|Clockwise from L to R - Fresh Lime, Flaxseed Oil, Garlic, and Cayenne Pepper|
|Clockwise from L to R - Fresh Lime, Flaxseed Oil, Garlic, and Cayenne Pepper|

As some of you know, I mentioned that it was time for The Plant Provocateur to get into a healthier frame of mind.  Well, in order to take those steps I decided to do a dietary cleanse.  Now, the results are in.  I lost 15 lbs in 14 days.  Awesome!  I must admit that doing a cleanse takes a bit of discipline, which I don't always have when it comes to food.  I love to eat!  But lucky for me, my cleanse included some amazingly delicious recipes to tingle the old taste buds.  One of my favorite recipes is the Lime-Scented Flax Dressing found in the book, Fat Flush Plan by Ann Louise Gittleman, Ph.D., C.N.S.. This dressing has become a staple in my cooking.  It pairs great with the greens I've been growing and harvesting for my insatiable appetite of fresh greens.  It also tastes amazing drizzled on freshly steamed vegetables.  I mentioned this dressing in a previous post and many of you have asked for it so here ya go...

 |CU Lime-Scented Flax Dressing|

|CU Lime-Scented Flax Dressing|

Lime-Scented Flax Dressing

4 tablespoons flaxseed oil

4 tablespoons fresh lime juice

2 cloves garlic, minced

1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper

*Put all ingredients in a small covered jar, and shake vigorously for 30 seconds.  Drizzle on leafy greens or vegetables and toss.

 |Lime-Scented Flax Dressing|

|Lime-Scented Flax Dressing|

The flavor is beyond!  It's fresh, citrusy, exciting, with a zing of cayenne pepper heat that kicks the deliciousness into high gear.  The other thing that's cool about making this dressing is that you can practically grow all of the ingredients yourself.  The lime I used came from my Bearss' Lime tree, the cayenne pepper grown and ground from my Baker Creek Seeds Cayenne Long Thin Pepper, and garlic grown, harvested, and dried from my Territorial Seed Organic Garlic Cloves.  The flaxseed oil was store bought but you can grow flaxseed, Linum usitatissimum, and if you're really industrious learn how to produce your own oil.

New Year New You New Me - The Plant Provocateur

 |Rhazes Little Gem Lettuce|

|Rhazes Little Gem Lettuce|

It's time for The Plant Provocateur to fess up.  So, I must admit, I strayed waaaaayyy off my usually healthy regimen this past holiday season and my body paid the price. How was I to know that the coconut cake, the key lime pies, the peppermint meringues, I made, would all taste so good?!  I also curse the Trader's Joe grocery chain for introducing me to their truly outrageous tin of treats known as Jingle Jangle.  So now, it's time for The Plant Provocateur to pay up and get in to a healthy frame of mind again.

 |Little Gem Lettuce + Arugula|

|Little Gem Lettuce + Arugula|

So January 2nd, I pulled myself together and began a 14 day long dietary cleanse. It's day 7 and things are positively shaping up!  I didn't have to go far for the produce required for my cleanse.  Just out my backdoor, in fact, and into my garden.  Every year I plant for spring, summer, autumn, and winter.  Living and growing in California can be awesome.  For now, with the world's climate changing, I don't have to deal with any 'Polar Vortexes' or 'Arctic Expresses'.  As a result, this winter's harvest has been a bountiful one.  Oceans of arugula, lanes of luscious little gem lettuces, plumes of piquant parsley, all from organic seed, have created a tasty tapestry in my winter garden beds.

 |Flat Leaf Parsley + Italiko Rosso Dandelion|

|Flat Leaf Parsley + Italiko Rosso Dandelion|

The Plant Provocateur has a serious hankerin' (get it?)  for dandelion greens.  The more the bitter the better.  Italiko Rosso is one of my favorites with its rich wine red ribs and pleated greens.  One cool benefit about all of this amazing food, grown from organic seed, in my organically prepared garden beds, is that as far as pests are concerned, they pretty much leave most of it alone and, as a result, it looks pristinely delicious as well as magazine spread ready.  The other benefit is that it fits the bill for my cleanse.  The bitter dandelion is great for cleaning up the liver.  The kale is nutrient rich.  The lettuces are sweet and the parsley is refreshingly aromatic.  Throw them all in a bowl (washed beforehand, of course), add a little lime scented flax dressing with garlic (lemme know if you want the recipe), and prepare for a delectable taste explosion.  So good!

 |Outredgeous Romain Lettuce + Vates Kale|

|Outredgeous Romain Lettuce + Vates Kale|

Growing your own leafy greens is so easy and so satisfying.  There are a lot of great seed companies out there like High Mowing Organic Seeds in Vermont - www.highmowingseeds.com, Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Company in Missouri -  www.rareseeds.com, and Territorial Seed Company in Oregon - www.territorialseed.com.  The other cool thing about growing your own greens is that there are so many delicious, colorful varieties available out there.  Foliage color in reds, purples, golds, bronzes and greens will give your garden some serious stylin'-profilin' gourmet glam!  And right now, 'tis the season for ordering seeds. Many of the aforementioned seed companies have brilliant catalogs on-line and a treasure trove of offerings.  Oh, and if you talk to them, tell 'em The Plant Provocateur sent ya!

Everything Is Electric - The Plant Provocateur v.2014

 |theplantprovocateur|

|theplantprovocateur|

What on earth?!  Does that look like a plant to you?  Me neither, but The Plant Provocateur thought it might be time to change things up a bit.  Happy New Year to all of you out there in TPP land!  I'm quite happy to wave bye bye to the year past and am feeling electrified for today and the year future to follow.

To kick things off, I thought I might try revealing a bit more about my Plant Provocateur self to the world.  As a result of looking back at The Plant Provocateur blog of the past year, it's time to evolve.   I've received a lot of feedback about what I should do, where I should take things, how to approach you, and spread more of The Plant Provocateur magic.  Well, I've planted all of these seeds, so to speak, let them germinate, and voilà, things are sprouting in an electric way.

So first, let me say thank you for all of your ongoing support!  The snap above, I can't quite bring myself to say 'selfie', is of yours truly.  Hank.  The Plant Provocateur.  Now you can put a name with a face.  How do you do?

Moving forward, I have lots of cool things to show you and share.  This year is not only, of course, about featuring amazing plants, but also one of bringing even more of my world to you through cool provocateur product offerings through the new shop, resources, collaborations, events and other surprises.  Oh, and did I mention The Plant Provocateur blog is getting a serious upgrade?  So, stay tuned!

 |2014 Flora Montage|

|2014 Flora Montage|

The Plant Provocateur KraftLab Holiday Pop Up Is On! Postponed until 12/8!

 |KraftLabHolidayFlyer|

|KraftLabHolidayFlyer|

Update: Alert!  Due to weather conditions KraftLab Holiday Pop Up has been postponed until tomorrow, Sunday, Dec. 8, same time, same place!  Pass it on!

The Plant Provocateur is super excited to say that Ilan Dei Venice has provided a venue for the hosting of KraftLab Holiday Pop Up!  A couple of vendors have been added to the roster and I'm excited to say that this is gonna be HUGE!  Come on down to Venice to check out the holiday offerings of The Plant Provocateur and friends.  It's gonna be a great time because not only is the Pop Up going on, but also The Abbot Kinney Annual Holiday Stroll will be happening.  So come on down and show your holiday love.

Lots of handmade magic to see and buy!  The Plant Provocateur will be selling super chic holiday wreaths, cool designer plants, and featuring the amazing holiday cookies of L.A.'s caterer to the stars Darren The Chef.  Also, on hand will be the beyond delicious confections of Confectionally Yours, the chic and unique holiday decor of CushStudio, the visually fresh artistic awesomeness of JoryLab, the purifying perfection of The Potion Shoppe organic apothecary products for men and women, and the design deliciousness of Ilan Dei Venice featuring the california cool fashion of Sundry.  If you're in the L.A. area on Saturday come on over to Venice and experience KraftLab.  Hope to see you there!

The Plant Provocateur Wreaths Project

 |Wreath Set 1|

|Wreath Set 1|

Some of you have been asking about The Plant Provocateur Wreaths Project.  Here are the results.  I've worked to find unique or 'different' plant material to create mod updated versions of the holiday wreath.  I like the idea of both living, transitioning, and dried results.  Some are for hanging and others are for tabletop decor.  The Plant Provocateur is all about aspiring creativity and inspiring natural luxury through the rich world of plants. So many colors and shapes are out there…you just have to find them and craft.  Here is what The Plant Provocateur has to offer.  What do you think?

 |Wreath Set 2|

|Wreath Set 2|

As I mentioned in a previous post, The Plant Provocateur wreaths are all handmade and one of kind due to the differences in the detailing.  Wreaths are priced between $65 and $140 usd not including shipping and supplies are limited due to the seasonal availability of some plant materials.  Wreaths are available through the blog at the moment.  If you have any interest please send any inquiries to info@plantprovocateur.com.

Event Postponed...The Plant Provocateur Postpones KraftLab Holiday Pop Up

 |KraftLabHolidayFlyer|

|KraftLabHolidayFlyer|

EVENT HAS BEEN POSTPONED...

Check out The Plant Provocateur!  The weekend after Thanksgiving I'm putting on a holiday pop up event as part of my new entrepreneurial endeavor.Event Postponed.Pop Ups seem to be a hot thing in Los Angeles, so I figure why not give it a shot.  As a result, I've created a new project called KraftLab.  KraftLab is a marketplace event where budding (pun intended) entrepreneurs, like myself, can experiment with their craft, products, and ideas in a marketplace setting bringing what they do to the public.  The goal of KraftLab is to become a biannual event taking place in the spring and autumn in Los Angeles, as well as having a continual presence as an online store featuring products of KraftLab participants.  So stay tuned as The Plant Provocateur blog evolves and introduces the world to the KraftLab store.

This year The Plant Provocateur is featuring holiday wreaths like no other.  Wreaths can truly be works of art as well as beauty.  The Plant Provocateur wreaths are all handmade and are truly one of a kind in that each one always has one detail different than the other.  Wreaths run anywhere between $65 - $140 usd not including shipping. Wreaths will be available for order on Etsy and Kraftlab 11/29/13 - 12/15/13 or if you are in the Los Angeles area check them out at next weekend's KraftLab Holiday Pop Up in Silver Lake.

Also joining KraftLab holiday are Confectionally Yours.  I'm a chocolate connoisseur and if you want to taste supremely awesome confection, run….don't walk to KraftLab next weekend or check out confectionallyyours.com and get yourself some now…seriously….now!  Then, if you're into chic + unique holiday decor like cool, hip, glam christmas stockings (no, we're not talking with mustaches on them…we're talking truly cool and clever motifs), check out CushStudio.  This is a flagship launch for CushStudio who will debuting their super groovy handmade pet beds in spring.  Last but not least, there is the amazing Spice Station Silver Lake.  The most amazing gourmet spices you will find in the culinary world and beyond.  Check them out at spicestationsilverlake.com.

Stay tuned for updates.

Kickin' it for you and yours,

The Plant Provocateur

Goldfinger...The Plant With The Midas Touch - Juanulloa mexicana

 |Juanulloa mexicana floral detail|

|Juanulloa mexicana floral detail|

Here's one for the fashionable floranista lovers out there.  Nothing says power-color like orange.  Orange stimulates our feelings for adventure, exoticism, and pleasure. It induces a passion for excitement.  Such is the case of Juanulloa mexicana commonly referred to as simply... The Goldfinger Plant.  Very James Bond wouldn't you say?  Well, here we have a tropical 'twiner' that definitely has the midas touch. Check out that flower!  So provocative.  So mysterious.  The bud, a brilliant 1 1/2 - 2 inch bell-shaped calyx, inflates to a point and bursts at its seams to reveal an emphatically exciting tubular flower.  Together, calyx and tube create a vibrant vision of electrical voluptuousness that both hypnotizes and arouses the senses.

 |Juanulloa mexicana bud + foliage + flower|

|Juanulloa mexicana bud + foliage + flower|

Juanulloa mexicana is an evergreen/deciduous, vining, epiphytic shrub that comes to us from Central and South America.  Its primary point of origin is Peru.  It's not the kind of plant you see everyday.  It is mostly cultivated at Botanical Gardens and in private conservatories.  However, if you, dear reader are up for it...you could grow one too.  Think of this plant as summer wardrobe for the garden.  The kind you could grow in a container, have outside during the warm seasons, and bring indoors in the winter.  If you live in a warmer climate, you could have it outside year-round as long as you are vigilant and give it what it needs to thrive.

Juanulloa mexicana can grow up to 6 feet tall and wide.  It likes full sun with midday shade or part sun conditions, well-draining, fertile soil, regular water, medium to low humidity, and is hardy down to 35 degrees fahrenheit/2 degrees celsius.  It ideally thrives and remains evergreen in temperatures above 50 degrees fahrenheit/10 degrees celsius.  In cooler temperatures, it tends to go deciduous until warm weather returns.

Juanulloa mexicana outfits itself in leathery luxurious leaves that shimmer with a sleek sheen.  This tropical wonder is in the nightshade family and all parts are toxic if ingested so plant it responsibly.  If you have a sense for adventure and dare to venture botanically into an exhilarating world of exciting exotica, find yourself some Juanulloa mexicana a.k.a. Goldfinger.  Your rewards will be luxurious!

The Voluptuous Verve Of A Summer Sun - Cosmos sulphureus

 |Cosmos sulphureus floral petal detail|

|Cosmos sulphureus floral petal detail|

You know that time of year when the daylight gets shorter and summer starts to become a memory?  You long for those beautiful summery sunshiny days.  When the temperature is warm, the sky is the purest blue, and the breeze is just right.  It is a time of year when everything feels so alive.  Nature has a way of painting our world with colors that conjure up those sunshiny days.  Colors such as yellows, oranges, and reds ignite our soul with their vivid warmth.  This warmth is harnessed by our eyes and the experience it provides wraps us up in that dreamy, velvety, comforting feeling of summer.  On a recent walk, I came across a vision like this.  Its intensity was such a welcome surprise.  Radiating like a sunset off the southern California coast, let yourself bask in the voluptuous vision of Cosmos sulphureus.  The ray-like petals of its flowers radiate an electrifying energy that sends me into a state of euphoria!

 |Cosmos sulphureus seed + flower + foliage|

|Cosmos sulphureus seed + flower + foliage|

Cosmos sulphureus comes to us from Mexico.  It is an outstanding annual plant that produces fashionable fern-like foliage and an explosion of dynamic daisy-like flowers from summer through autumn.  Cosmos sulphureus can grow up to 6 feet tall and spread 2 to 3 feet wide.  Its form is somewhat upright, wild, and bushy.  When it finishes flowering it produces nifty starburst-like clusters of slender seeds.  Both flowers and seeds make strikingly sublime elements as cut flowers.

Cosmos sulphureus likes full sun, well-draining, average soil, and regular to low water. In the right conditions, it can self seed.  Otherwise, seed collected from spent flower heads can be started indoors in spring or planted loosely in soil a few weeks before the last frost. Flower color can range from vibrant yellow, intense orange, rich red, or a combination of the three.  No matter the color, to see this plant full of its effervescently engaging flowers is simply beautiful.  It will remind you of all the warmth and comfort of a summer sun.

It's About Altitude Not Attitude - Fuchsia boliviana 'Alba'

 |Fuchsia boliviana 'Alba' floral detail|

|Fuchsia boliviana 'Alba' floral detail|

Sometimes in life beauty comes from above.  It rains down on you like snow.  So delicate yet so powerful; so beautiful, it causes you to stand still and bask in its spectacle.  Such is the case of Fuchsia boliviana 'Alba'.  It's a semi-evergreen, erect shrub that produces graceful clusters of slender trumpet-like flowers that open and flare their downward tips in opulent color.  It looks like the type of plant Bacchus would have had present at one of his rituals of ecstasy and madness.  Fuchsia boliviana 'Alba' comes to us from the high altitude cloud forests of Bolivia, Peru, and Argentina.  When blooming is in full swing, something about the multiple bunches of buds and bloom displayed is somewhat reminiscent of the visually delicious clustering of lusciously promising grapes.

 |Fuchsia boliviana foliage + flower + form|

|Fuchsia boliviana foliage + flower + form|

Fuchsia boliviana 'Alba' can grow to be 12 feet tall and 4 to 8 feet wide.  Slightly arching branches outfit themselves in plushly textured deep green leaves and throughout the year produce dangling clusters of two-tone narrow white trumpet-like buds that open to reveal engaging, tropically pinkish red flowers.  When flowers finish their display, they leave behind edible, subtly flavored, capsule-like black fruits. Fuchsia boliviana 'Alba' looks amazing grown among other structured plants, where it can subtly weave its branches here and there, later producing clustering ornaments of color in surprising places throughout its supporting plant.

Fuchsia boliviana 'Alba' likes part sun to shady situations, fertile, well-draining soil, and regular water.  It doesn't like extreme temperatures and needs protection from frost.  It's hardy down to around 30 degrees fahrenheit/-1 degrees celsius.  It makes a tropically elegant feature plant in a garden or container where in bloom its tropical tassels of color create an alluring air.  For a sophisticated display of tropical temptation try using branches with blooms as cut flowers in supportive vessels indoors or out.

Are U Experienced? - Nelumbo nucifera

 |Nelumbo nucifera floral detail|

|Nelumbo nucifera floral detail|

Imagine, if you will, a picture...you're sitting comfortably on a jet, traveling first class, gliding smoothly over distant lands as your airship rides tropical trade winds.  Out the window, down below, you see a mystical green sea dotted with tiny green tropical islands tasseled with golden clouds.  In reality, what you are witnessing is heaven on earth, if you entertain such things.

 |Nelumbo nucifera floral profile|

|Nelumbo nucifera floral profile|

This mystical moment is brought to you by Nelumbo nucifera also commonly known as Sacred Lotus. Indian Lotus, or Chinese Lotus.  This spellbinding bloom is considered to be the Buddhist symbol of purity, enlightenment, and self-awareness. In bloom, flowers are so mysteriously elegant, so divinely fragrant; floating above luxurious foliage like a floral cloudburst of beauty, they elicit a state of calm in those that witness their powerful purity first-hand.  Nelumbo nucifera comes to us from Asia, India, and Australia.  It is an aquatic perennial plant that grows from tuberous roots anywhere from 6 inches to several feet below water.  Its flower is one of the most coveted in the world.  Not only that...one of these plants can live for up to 1000 years!

 |Nelumbo nucifera foliage + flower|

|Nelumbo nucifera foliage + flower|

Nelumbo nucifera like to grow in still water and sprout only when water temperature warms.  This usually happens late spring/early summer.  They send up big, bold, super-cool, tropical umbrella-like foliage that can measure up to 2 feet across and stand 2 to 6 feet above the water's surface.  Once summer kicks in, plump flower buds rise up to unfurl delicate petals surrounding an otherworldly seed pod that eventually dries into an intriguingly striking structure.  Flowers can open up to an impressive 12 inches wide.  Their fragrance is unlike any other floral scent.  The essence is pleasurably sweet and fruity; lusciously intoxicating.

Nelumbo nucifera like full sun to part sun situations, grow best in planting baskets submerged in water, and should be protected from waters that freeze in winter.  In areas that freeze, when the weather gets colder, the foliage has dried, stop growing, and been cut back, pull baskets from water gardens and store in a cool dry place until spring.  Also, to grow new tubers in baskets, first allow tubers to root in water in late spring, then plant in baskets with water garden medium before placing them underwater for summer growth.  Provide plants with an aquatic plant fertilizer during growth for maximum magnificence.

Whether grown in a water garden, container water garden, or suspended in a vase, Nelumbo nucifera is truly a floral luxury.  Its presence is truly a gift from nature that must be experienced in a lifetime.  Once experienced you will know the meaning of heaven on earth!

Pelica Psychedelica - Aristolochia gigantea

 |Aristolochia gigantea floral detail|

|Aristolochia gigantea floral detail|

Looking like some sort of black light painting of floral fractal design comes something so awesome, so psychedelically stunning, so surreally stylish that you can't take your eyes off of it!  A visual vortex so mind bending you might think that there are clouds in your coffee while Led Zeppelin's Mothership plays on in the background.

 |Aristolochia gigantea floral profile|

|Aristolochia gigantea floral profile|

Feast your eyes on the future forward fashion of Aristolochia gigantea commonly known as Giant Dutchman's Pipe, Duck Flower, or Pelican Flower.  I gotta give props to my friend Sharon Lowe, one of the floral superstars at Clementine Floral Works/Silver Lake, for kidnapping yours truly and taking me to a secret location in Atwater Village, nearby, to see the spectacle that is presented before you.  I have never seen such a glorious display of Aristolochia awesomeness before.  So psychedelically delicious...it's ridiculous!

Aritsolochia gigantea comes to us from Brazil and parts of Central America.  It's an evergreen, fast-growing vine that twines and twirls with a luxuriously exotic energy. Vines can grow 15 to 20 feet long.  From summer to early winter they produce strikingly spectacular flowers with billowy, flaring calyces festooned with fractal patterns in a combination of deep wine and cream color.  At the center of it all is a mysterious looking vortex the color of a distant sun.  Flowers are usually 6 inches wide and up to 1 foot long!

 |Aristolochia gigantea details|

|Aristolochia gigantea details|

Aristolochia gigantea outfits itself in beautifully lush, heart-shaped foliage that is around 4 to 6 inches wide.  Flower buds form resembling a cross between an old time pipe and an upturned duck's head.  As the buds mature they begin to take on a form similar to a pelican's mouth.  Now, I know it all sounds so strange but, live and in concert the look is so ultra-vivid-cool it will hypnotize you into a state of joyful, beautiful bliss.

Aritolochia gigantea likes sun or partial shade, regular water, well-draining, fertile soil, and is hardy down to around 32 degrees fahrenheit/0 degrees celsius.  Planted with some support on a fence or trellis it can put on quite a show.  So if you're in the mood for something that's got some funky-fresh-super-psychedelic style try growing this florally fractal fashionista.  Oh, and for something totally different try using some as cut flowers.  They'll make your ordinary...extraordinary!

Love Mysterious - Epidendrum parkinsonianum

 |Epidendrum parkinsonianum floral profile|

|Epidendrum parkinsonianum floral profile|

How many times a day do you fall in love?  The Plant Provocateur falls an awful lot. It's usually the most unusual things that do it.  A quick glance and boom.  Direct hit. In this particular case, it's the architecture and the detail.  Combine that with the simplicity of color and you have something intoxicating.  Filigree, curls, long lashes of form.  Such is the case of Epidendrum parkinsonianum, a pendulous provocateur of orchid perfection.  Seeing this orchid live and in concert is like seeing an exquisitely handcrafted pair of shoes or a drop dead gorgeous luxury car for the first time.  It's got what it takes to make you fall in love.  A love that is mysterious.  When it's in bloom, it lures you in with its perplexing tassel-like flowers.  So simple.  So elegant.  Yet they make you wonder how beauty can constantly transform itself into something so awe inspiring.

 |Epidendrum parkinsonianum details|

|Epidendrum parkinsonianum details|

Epidendrum parkinsonianum further captures a mysterious essence with its interestingly pendulous succulent foliage.  It hangs down in lucsciously long lithe rivulets of green.  As plants add more foliage the look becomes that of a fountain-like cascade of tantalizingly rich green texture.  On closer inspection, the flowers take on a slightly wicked silhouette.  Its column with frayed anther cap resembles the teeth of something wild.  Delicate danger that exhilarates and  brings further excitement to the experience.

Epidendrum parkinsonianum comes to us from the forests of Central America. Plants can grow into 6 foot long cascades of green showering foliage.  In spring and summer, it produces falling star bursts of greenish white flowers with yellow detail. Flowers dangle out from the foliage and when the sun goes down they emit a delicate, yet subtle perfume.  When plants get large and produce many flowers it is such an arrestingly beautiful sight to see.  Epidendrum parkinsonianum like shaded conditions with bright ample light.  When they receive lots of light foliage tends to take on rich purple tones.  During the warmer months, water this orchid daily either by dunking it or dousing it.  In cooler months cut back to 3 to 4 times a week.  Use distilled water.  Tap water contains minerals that can burn roots.  As for temperature, this orchid thrives in temps between 50 and 95 degrees fahrenheit/10 and 35 degrees celsius.  If you live where temperatures get cooler consider bringing this orchid inside to enjoy its unstoppable exotica.  So, what's not to love?   Unique orchid loveliness. Check. Exotica overload.  Check.  Love mysterious.  Check!

Vivacious Violet Beauregarde Beauticiousness - Tomato 'Bosque Blue'

 |Tomato 'Bosque Blue' fruit profile|

|Tomato 'Bosque Blue' fruit profile|

I don't think you're even ready.... Have you ever seen such mysterious skin before? Well, something deliciously wicked this way comes.  Let me introduce you to the beguilingly beautiful and tasty new variety of tomato known as the Tomato 'Bosque Blue'.  This tomato is a combination of heirloom-tomato-flavor-awesomeness with a color as rich in antioxidants as blueberries!  Never in my life have I seen such a purplish-black tomato.  So cool!

 |Tomato 'Bosque Blue' fruit detail|

|Tomato 'Bosque Blue' fruit detail|

The color of Tomato 'Bosque Blue' is extraordinary and alluring.  It tends to darken in cooler weather or in full sun situations.  This is what the Plant Provocateur would call an ADULT tomato.  Not super sugary but not super tart.  The flavor is lusciously savory and screams "Tomato!"  I haven't seen it yet, but I expect to see these fruits de fantasie showing up in salads and on other plates at super hip foodie 'restos' in 5, 4, 3, 2...

 |Tomato 'Bosque Blue' foliage + fruit|

|Tomato 'Bosque Blue' foliage + fruit|

Why not avoid the frustration of not getting in at your local 'resto' and grow some for yourself?  That's what the Plant Provocateur did.  Tomato 'Bosque Blue' plants grow up to 6-7 feet tall and require some staking or trellising.  Plants kick out green, almost velvety foliage that is sometimes tinged with purple tones and when brushed, emits an intoxicating tomato plant perfume.  The scent conjures up that fresh growing garden vibe.  It's one of those strange garden smells I can't get enough of. Grow plants in a sunny location. Water regularly in growth.  When fruit begins to form cut back on watering to prevent fruit from splitting and further enhance flavor. When fruit begins to ripen, prune away unnecessary foliage to expose clusters to sunlight. This will deepen their mind-blowing blueberry-black coloring and give you an alluring addition to your palette.  Who knew that a tomato could be so beguilingly beauticious?!  Gotta get you some.