Hidden flowers are the most rewarding

Some flowers get lost in the exuberance of a late summer garden. But the extra effort required to seek them out makes viewing them all the sweeter. Use those gardener's knee pads if you have, to and get close to the little things. In the language of flowers, Alyssum signifies "worth beyond beauty." It makes sense, as this diminutive plant seldom is mentioned without its label, "sweet."

Fragrance on the down low ...
The non-digitally-enhanced blue of 'Thumbelina Leigh'
Plants that haven't realized their full potential may send up a blossom or two, just to remind you they're there. My little Lavender 'Thumbelina Leigh' mustered up a couple of flower stems, so the least I could do is snap its photo.
All three of the varieties I purchased this year are English lavenders, or Lavandula angustifolia. 'Thumbelina Leigh' is known for its compact size (up to 12") and tendency to rebloom. English lavenders are often deeper in color than the hybrid lavenders.

Buried in the biggest container I own at the base of the vigorous Colocasia 'Mojito' and Salvia 'Wendy's Wish' is one plant that lights up the edge like a beacon. Pelargonium (also known as geranium) 'Wilhelm Langguth' would be hard to ignore in normal circumstances. But this plant is an absolute treat whether it's tucked into a pot with giants that cry out for attention or settled into a pot alone with a plain green accent. I chose 'Wilhelm Langguth' for its foliage and didn't expect much from it where flowers are concerned. But this geranium is certainly one you don't see in every planting scheme.

Pelargonium 'Wilhelm Langguth'

I chose a tiny plant with big promise for a mixed hanging planter. Porphyrocoma pholiana 'Maracas' is more easily called Brazilian fireworks. As my husband said as I stumbled clumsily through its name, "You might as well call it 'anna-banna-fo-fanna.'"

I'll have to practice up with its botanical name, but perhaps I'll have it down by the time it completes its bloom sequence.
Porphyrocoma pholiana 'Maracas'
The bloom is fun to watch as it evolves. It started out deep red and has been morphing into deep raspberry as it sprouts bright periwinkle blue horn-like protuberances and extends upward from its perch at the central junction of its silver-streaked leaves.

When I combined the coral-colored Reiger begonia, Euphorbia 'Diamond Frost', Acalypha hispida (chenille plant) and Porphyrocoma, the only blooms were on the begonia. Maybe I'm being too anal about the color mix, but as they start to bloom I'm not liking the combination. There is not much I can do about it at this point. I'm really glad, though, that I have blossoms to look forward to in planters I've been nurturing all summer.

Pachystachys lutea
Another tropical that has taken its sweet time to bloom is Pachystachys lutea, a plant I fell in love with in Jamaica 20 years ago. I tried to grow it several years ago without success, and I think I failed because I'd underestimated its need for plant food, especially if it's planted in a pot. This plant also likes it hot. This is another flower that expands and changes as it grows. Its common name is lollipop flower, and it consists of a stack of bracts expanding and then sprouting white florets that resemble that of a Salvia. I can't wait!


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