October 2012

Quercus agrifolia

Coast Live Oak

Nativity:

California

Growth Habit:

Coast live oaks may grow to 50 or 60 feet, with a widespreading canopy many times that in great age. It is evergreen, dropping some of its old leaves in the dry period and growing new ones in the rainy season.

Growing Requirements:

This species is widely adapted; growing from the edge of riparian regions to grassy savannahs. It needs no supplemental irrigation, but can tolerate water in summer if given excellent drainage.

Features:

Oaks provide a multitude of resources to insects, birds and mammals. This month, the acorns are dropping; a major source of food for numerous insects, birds such as scrub jays and acorn woodpeckers as well as squirrels and other rodents.

Where at Lotusland:

Scattered throughout the garden, the oaks are a remnant of the native vegetation of the site. Lotusland staff protect and encourage seedlings that germinate in appropriate sites to preserve this resource.

October 2011

Begonia ‘Freddie’

Nativity:

Garden origin.

Growth Habit:

This begonia has large (about 1 inch diameter) creeping rhizomes. Large leaves arise along the length of the rhizome on long hairy petioles. Small, bright pink flowers are held in airy clusters above the foliage.

Growing Requirements:

Most begonias grow best in dappled shade or half sun and require even moisture. Brief exposure to light frost may burn the foliage. Freezing temperatures will kill the plant.

Features:

The large (up to 2 feet or more in diameter) leaves are glossy green on top and burgundy red underneath. This cultivar is a hybrid created by the famed Rudy Ziesenhenne by crossingBegonia manicata ‘Aureo-maculata’ with B. barkeri and was named for one of his sons.

Where at Lotusland:

In the fern garden.

October 2010

Euphorbia ammak ‘Variegata’

Ghost Euphorbia

Nativity:

Arabian Peninsula

Growth Habit:

Euphorbia ammak is also known as the African candelabra euphorbia (in spite of not growing on the African mainland), which accurately describes its growth as a central trunk with multiple branches. It can attain heights of 30 feet in its natural habitat.

Growing Requirements:

As with all succulent euphorbias, the Ghost Euphorbia requires well-drained soil and full sun. This variegated form can tolerate some shade. Minimal water needs make it suitable for drier climates, but it can be successfully grown in a pot and protected from rain in wetter areas.

Features:

The variegation in this form is extreme, giving the whole plant a ghostly pallor.

Where at Lotusland:

In the euphorbia plantings along the driveway.

October 2009

Metasequoia glyptostroboides

Dawn Redwood

Nativity:

Sichuan, China

Growth Habit:

Dawn Redwood has a conical shape that resembles the coast redwood, Sequoia sempervirens, to which it is related. The cones are distinctive and the dawn redwood is deciduous in winter rather than evergreen. It is the only species in the genus, but was originally described in 1941 from fossilized remnants with living material only noted in 1948. While initially fast growing, it only attains its ultimate height of 200 feet after many years.

Growing Requirements:

Metasequoia is quite frost tolerant; down to minus 10° F. It requires regular water, but grows in most soils.

Features:

In spring, the bright green foliage emerges and in fall, the entire tree becomes clothed in shades of rust before the leaves are shed.

Where at Lotusland:

In the butterfly garden.

October 2007

Encephalartos ferox

Tongaland Cycad

Nativity:

South Africa, Mozambique

Growth Habit:

This cycad is typical of many African species of Encephalartos. It has a rosette of very tough and spine-tipped leaves that arise from a large stem. The stems may be one and a half feet in diameter. This species grows in coastal areas in grass and other scrub vegetation from KwaZulu Natal north to Mozambique. It often occurs within 50 yards of the beach.

Growing Requirements:

E. ferox does best with full sun and regular water. It must have excellent drainage to prevent fungal problems in our cold, wet winters. Cycads are slow-growing.

Features:

The brightly colored cones of E. ferox as well as the glossy green foliage make this a very handsome garden specimen.

Where at Lotusland:

In the cycad garden.

October 2006

Vriesea fosteriana

Nativity:

Southern Brazil.

Growth Habit:

A perennial forming a loose rosette. The leaves can reach up to 3 feet long and the flower spike grows over 5 feet tall. The flowers bloom at night and in habitat are pollinated by bats.

Growing Requirements:

For best color V. fosteriana should be grown with filtered light but not in direct sun. The plant grows best in a well-drained soil as it is shallow-rooted and may rot in wet soils. It also obtains moisture collected in the “cup” in the center of the leaves.

Features:

This bromeliad is grown for its impressive foliage which has striking wavy patterns on a dark green background. The pale yellow bell-shaped flowers are arranged in rows on a spike that emerges from the center of the plant. There are several varieties and cultivars including “Red Chestnut” which has the same striking markings but with dark red coloring.

Where at Lotusland:

There are several V. fosteriana and one clump of “Red Chestnut” in the Lower Bromeliad Garden

October 2005

Dalechampia dioscoreifolia

Purple Wings, Costa Rican Butterfly Vine, Bow Tie Vine

Nativity:

From Costa Rica to Peru

Growth Habit:

This is a twining evergreen vine growing up to 25 feet long.

Growing Requirements:

Grows best in full sun to light shade with moderate water

Features:

The leaves are heart-shaped, dark green on top, and fuzzy on the underside. D. dioscoreifolia is in the Euphorbia family, and like its relative the Poinsettia it has very small flowers but large, colorful bracts. The bracts are bright purple and are arranged like wings in pairs of two with the tiny yellow flowers blooming between them. After the flowers, a red seed pod forms. Bloom time is nearly all year, with heaviest flowering in the summer months. It flowers best in a warm sheltered location, and is hardy down to 20- 25 degrees.

Where at Lotusland:

There is one specimen at Lotusland, planted in a large pot in the courtyard between the Pavilion and the Main House.

October 2004

Aristolochia gigantea

Giant Dutchman’s Pipe

Nativity:

Brazil and Panama

Growth Habit:

A rapidly-growing woody vine with heart-shaped leaves.

Growing Requirements:

Grows best in full sun to partial shade, with regular watering. It can also grow quite large planted in a container if given something to climb on.

Features:

The very large (up to 12” across) flower face is a dramatic burgundy with a large yellow center and lighter veining. Flowers bloom from summer through fall. The common name “dutchman’s pipe” comes from the tubular structure behind the flower face that traps insects for pollination. This Aristolochiais not carnivorous, and the insects will escape covered with pollen.

Where at Lotusland:

The Dutchman’s Pipe is growing in the courtyard between the main house and the pavilion

October 2003

Clerodendrum bungei

Cashmere Bouquet

Nativity:

China

Growth Habit:

A shrub up to 6 feet tall. It spreads quickly by underground runners, and can cover a wide area if new sprouts are not pulled up. It is deciduous, and the stems can be cut to the ground after the leaves drop.

Growing Requirements:

Full to partial shade

Features:

Clusters of very fragrant rosy red/purple flowers from mid summer to fall. The leaves are dark green, sometimes veined in purple.

Where at Lotusland:

There is a large planting of C. bungei in the Fern Garden, behind the wall alongside the pool.