Saturday, May 16, 2009

Pink Saturday - Pink Tower

Pink Saturday - Beverly, at the blog "How Sweet the Sound" hosts Pink Saturday. Let the color pink inspire you!

I'm very lucky to have a friend who is a better gardener than I am, and living in the neighborhood. My friend F. lives with his wife in a small cottage off a rural road here in the canyon, and he's built a beautiful garden on a rocky south facing hillside.

If anyone harbors illusions that flower gardening is a delicate and feminine hobby, you're in for a big surprise.

This is a flower for a man's garden!

Echium wildpretii - "Tower of Jewels" - is native to the Island of Tenerife, one of the Canary Islands off the west coast of Africa. It's a biennial - which means it takes two years to complete its life and reproductive cycle. Biennial plants - Sweet William, Canterbury bells and foxglove among them - can be frustrating for a gardener if you don't know about this habit. The first year it sprouts from seed, the plant just grows leaves. The second year, it flowers, sets seed, and dies. You keep it in your garden by letting it set seed again, and trying to keep both generations in your garden to have regular bloom.

My friend F. said he wasn't sure where the first plant came from, but one year he noticed these rosettes of spiky grey leaves, and though quite pretty, they were unremarkable. But the next year! the soft, well-mannered plant roused itself and put up a central stem that grew, and grew and grew!

In their second year, "Tower of Jewels" grow up to 10 feet tall, their thick powerful stem surrounded by leaves that have coarsened and elongated - they're wiry and harsh, coiled at the tips. The flowers appear in bunches, a clear bright pink fading to violet as they age - or is it the other way around?

Bees love the flowers - the plant is beloved by beekeepers. F.'s plant was teeming with honeybees, gathering the sweet nectar and pollinating for the next generation.

"Tower of Jewels" likes dry, well draining soil. They are difficult to establish, picky about their habitat. F. says they seem happy on the upper parts of his southwest facing hillside. Topanga soil must be similar to the rocky and volcanic soil of Tenerife. Although this year only one plant was in bloom in F.'s garden, there were dozens of first year plants on the hillside. Starting them from seed seems to be the best way to propagate them - F. has tried giving seedlings to friends, but they don't establish themselves. He's promised me some seed this year - I'm hoping to find a good place for them on my dry west-facing hill.

Echium "Tower of Jewels" is a cousin of the more familiar Echium canadensis, "Pride of Madiera" that you see around Southern California a lot. "Pride of Madiera" is a perennial, similarly shaped though far more demure, with blue flowers.

There now. I wrote an entire post about a huge erect Tower of Pink Power without resorting to a single suggestive word.

I can't help it if you people have dirty minds!

26 comments:

Marie Reed said...

10 feet tall! Wow! What a flower! .....yes my mind is in the gutter:)

Tristan Robin Blakeman said...

amazing plant.

...and I won't even begin in on the double entendres! LOL

Eclectic Pink Rose said...

Lovely!!! Happy Pink Saturday!!
♥ Teresa

mo.stoneskin said...

For a man's garden? Really?

Gary Rith Pottery Blog said...

!!!!!

Woman in a Window said...

Are you happy to see me or is that just a tower of jewel in yer garden.

kari and kijsa said...

Happy Pink Saturday!
blessings,
kari & kijsa

Susan @ A Southern Daydreamer said...

wow...beautiful! Happy Pink Saturday ~ I hope you have a great weekend ~ Susan

Kate said...

Love it, love it....wish those would grow up here in Seattle.

Gabriela said...

Love these so very interesting and yet beautiful flowers.



~ Gabriela ~

♥Mimi♥ said...

How l♥vely! What a wonderful offering for Pink Saturday. It's raining cats and dogs today in Upper Michigan. A good time for me to stay inside and indulge myself in my passion for pink☺

I hope this weekend brings you joy and comfort surrounded by those you l♥ve.

someplace in thyme said...

We have those blooming all over right now. I never knew some blooms could possibly be so tall, Happy Pink Saturday, Char

Beverly said...

Whoa, that is amazing. I've never seen anything like it.

Please don't judge me for my dirty mind. ;-)

Happy Pink Saturday, Glennis. I knew you would find a pink inspiration.

Virginia said...

Wow! 10 ft. tall, amazing and lovely plant.
Happy Pink saturday!

Cottage Rose said...

Hello G;;; ha ha lol he he;;;
It never entered my mind,,,, lol
Love that flower never heard of it or seen on, it is just beautiful as are the others. Thanks for sharing.

Happy Pink Saturday....

Hugs;
Alaura

Nancy @ La Chambre Rose said...

That was so interesting. So interesting, in fact, I had to read all the posts below on the page. You kept me reading! Happy Pink Saturday!

DaisyDeadhead said...

Beautiful photos!

Jason, as himself said...

I love it. But you knew I would.

MyThoughtsMyVoice said...

10 feet? Wow! Love the name too "Tower of Jewels". beautiful.

Gilly said...

Well, its got a beautiful name! No chance of it growing in the UK, except perhaps down in the very south western bit. I've got a feeling us earthy anglo-saxons might have christened it differently!

Lovely photos - have a happy Pink Saturday!

Susie Jefferson said...

That tower is definitely something! And the florets are beautiful closeup. Happy Pink Saturday!

Claudia said...

You have me laughing! Love that big ol' flower! Happy Pink Saturday!

Beansieleigh said...

I'm speechless... (0; I don't know... More tower to ya?!!

Hope you had a Happy Pink Saturday, and a great week ahead!

kcinnova said...

The first thing I thought when you said it was a man's flower was unprintable. But then, I just returned from a girls' weekend where the tall wake float in the lake looked like a white bobbing tower of jewel...

Some of the best gardeners I know are men. I am sorry to report that I have a black thumb.

Deanna said...

Hi Glennis!
I have never seen those Tower of Jewels before. How amazing. It's very beautiful and very...uh, big....lol!

¸.·´¸.·*´¨) ¸.·*´¨)
(¸.·´ (¸.·´ Happy Pink Saturday
Deanna :D

Life with Kaishon said...

Wow. Very fascinating. My mind didn't go into the gutter until I read your sentence about the gutter : ). I love F's plants! I love your pictures. Very nice! It's always so nice to come here and visit!