Category Archives: Plant of the Week

Plant of the Week : Psoralea Fleta

Psoralea Fleta. A name fit for a beautiful, exotic princess in a far away land.

¬†Once witnessed, Psoralea’s long panicles are just plain sexy. They droop in this languid, fluid way and hanging from the tips are delicate wisteria-like purple flowers! And guess what? Yes, they smell just like grape soda bubble gum. A fragrance that assaults you throughout Spring.

Psoralea is as obscure as it is beautiful in bloom. and was discovered by Annie’s Annuals when it suddenly became a drooping tree, slightly different from it’s sister, Psoralea Pinnata.

To tell you the truth, most of the year, the tree is it bit awkward, slightly bare, it’s thread like drooping foliage seemingly lonely. Yet, at first bloom you suddenly realized why you planted this extremely fast growing South African tree. It grows 12 feet tall and is multi-branched. It deserves a bit of water but can survive with less.

It can sporadically be found at Annies Annuals, which is pretty much the only place it is available. If you are in the rare and unusual then this is the plant for you.

Plant of the Week: Prunus Amygdalus – Almonds

I first planted an Almond tree out of sweet naivete.

They say it won’t grow in the coastal belt in Northern California (though I have read some anecdotal information of them surviving in San Francisco) and I was so close to cutting it down, but it was so beautiful and stoutly strong as it grew. Then one day, poof!, it is filled with furry little developing almonds. So now I wait to see what happens. Will they be bitter? WIll it be hot enough? WIll they crack open?

Wild almonds are poisonous and contain deadly amounts of glycoside amygdalin, which when chewed up becomes cyanide. The almond cultivated today was a random genetic mutation that does not contain deadly components and so aptly is also called Prunus dulcis. Almonds are native to the Middle East and South Asia and spread slowly along the shores of the Mediterranean. And as one of the earliest cultivated nuts they are are easily grown from seed and could have been grown even before the invention of grafting (which is how most fruit/nut trees are capable of growing edible food).

This month I discovered that I had a wonderful, not quite delicious, but interesting surprise. Green almonds are edible! A delicacy in Iran, they are eaten covered in sea salt and eaten whole, furry coat and all. When cracked open, you will find a delicate little white covered, gelatinous filled developing almond. When eaten they are slightly grassy, tart, and green tasting. I find they are an acquired taste. Interesting but not a compulsion (though I have read that mean Middle Eastern people love them).

I bought this Almond from Peaceful Valley Farm Supply, which has an amazing deal on trees every year. If you are interested look up the “All- in – One” variety that is self fertile and specifically meant for home gardens. Otherwise, try to find some green almonds at your local farmers market, they have a short season, so hurry, they are only available for the next month or so.

Plant of the Week: Cerinthe Major purpurascens

I love to the easy ones. The ones that bloom when you needed it, because you are just too damn tired to plant anything in your garden, but you still need to see something beautiful. They come when you forget to water, as a surprise, and all while still maintaining their daintyness.

Strong yet still feminine.

Cerinthe Major purpurascens is one of my favorite easy reseeders. You plant it once and it will bring you joy for years. This one is for the people that kill everything. The color is a gorgeous branching, blush purple and flowers in winter and spring and sometimes inbetween. Bees and butterflies love it and I have often used it to make a unique bouquet. This Mediterranean plant is pretty much the easiest most beautiful plant around.

Buy it from Annies Annuals once and then collect seeds from it thereafter.

Plant of the Week: Magnolia x soulangeana

I am a green or gold kind of girl.

Sparkly, earth tones, a deep red earthy clay, mossy green, iridescent purple – these are the kind of colors in my palette.

I am definitely not a white kind of girl, occasionally a pastel, when the mood strikes me. Yet, sometimes when I least expect it, I’m walking down the street and I become a color that shocks you into approval. Magnolia x soulangeana is that kind of tree, a tree where its brilliant pinkness almost hurts your eyes because it is that girly and beautiful. Where you stop your car and take a million photos of it because Spring is just around the corner and this is the perfect reminder.

A cross between a Magnolia denudata and Magnolia liliiflora, it was bred by a French plantsman after retiring from Napoleon’s army. M. x soulangeana is a feast of blooms and all the better it blooms early! It is also relatively easy to grow and one of the most popular cultivars of Magnolia.

It is the ideal tree to give a special place, except for the fact, that you would then have to commit to pink. Which really is an awesome kind of color, but then, you might have to become a pink person with a pastel house, a perfectly manicured English garden, and a white picket fence (which really isn’t all that bad, is it?)

I am almost just as happy being surprised by it suddenly on a cloudy end of Winter almost Spring sort of day.

Plant of the Week: Ferraria Crispa

A flower fit for the bottom of the sea!

Also known as the Starfish flower, Ferraria Crispa will blow you away with its overpowering sickly sweet just-like-baked-goods wonderful smell. From the granite and sandstone lands of Namaqualand and the Cape of South Africa this corm is pollinated by flies often forming bizarre connected piles.

Then, the crinkly edges – sometimes I just come home and stare at them and then smell them and then stare, back and forth, they are just so delicate and creamy, and combined with the smell – definitely (not) edible.

So I bet you are wondering where and how, huh?

Where?

Annies Annuals in Richmond, Ca.

Annie’s is one the most magical, wonderful places you will visit in the world (especially if you are a plant obsessed). Their website is an edited encyclopedia of all the plants you’ve ever wanted to know about, that you never knew existed. They specialize in rare and unusual plants and are the only people I know who carry this plant along with many others like it.

How?

Ferraria appreciates a summer dry period. It is best grown in a pot which has the ability to give it good drainage and showcase its wonders. Blooms begin in late Winter and each day a different one will dazzle you.