When it comes to plants I like to think of myself as a leader and not a follower. I always like to find those things that stand out from the everyday. A little punk rock. A little bit alternative. Those things that make people scratch their head and say what is it? Everyone has some concept of what a rose looks like, but what about an Isopogon? A what you say? Isopogon, a shrub from Australia that produces flowers that radiate like the sun, in this case a purplish one. A sun from another dimension. Now for Australians this plant is not so unfamiliar but for the rest of the world it is a rare and unique sight. I love Isopogon, especially Isopogon latifolius sometimes referred to as the coneflower or drumsticks. I first discovered this plant at Flora Grubb Gardens in San Francisco. I planted several in my garden in Berkeley and they put on quite a show. Since moving to Los Angeles, I've made sure to procure some for my new garden in Silver Lake. Got them from the amazing and wonderful Australian Native Plants nursery in Ventura. Tell Jo I sent ya.
Isopogon latifolius is almost thistle-like but its not nearly as vicious. It grows into a stately upright shrub up to 6 feet tall and wide. In spring, it goes psychedelic by pushing out purplish-pink supernova-like starbursts on the end of it stems. These starbursts make ultra cool cut flowers. Now, the flowers themselves are actually the individual sea urchin looking 'spines' that radiate from a globe-like cone. The look is like some sort of controlled chaos but super cool beautiful chaos. This amazing Aussie shrub likes full sun/part shade, well-draining soil, low water, and can tolerate temps down to 25 degrees fahrenheit/-4 celsius. One important thing to note is that it is in the Proteaceae plant family. These plants hate phosphorous in fertilizers. Hate it. So as long as you steer clear of the phosphorous you're good.
Roses may have their place, not always in my garden, but Isopogon latifolius is a refreshing change of pace. Something cool, something different.