Neighborhood gardens, heavy on purple

Walking around the neighborhood these days, in between heat waves, alone and with friends, mostly enjoying gardens and street plantings and identifying what we see. Most delightfully, this elaborate container garden in front of a house on Bryant St., just a block from mine:


This lovingly tended garden has a bit of everything: annuals like petunias and opium poppies (Papaver somniferum), ornamental perennials like geraniums (Pelargonium), ferns, cactuses, many kinds of succulents, citrus trees, gigantic coleus (Plecranthus) plants, flowering shrubs, and ground covers.

Two purple spots in the photo: in the foreground, flopped over, several statice (Limonium latifolium) plants with purple-blue flower heads; and way in the background, dots of intense purple in a considerable stand of glory bush (Tibouchina urvilleana).

(The tall white building in the far background is Palo Alto’s City Hall.)

Statice. Several gardens within a block of my house have plantings of Limonium latifolium, a tall perennial with big crinkly leaves and clusters of papery lavender-blue and white (mostly blue) flowers, seen in close-up here:


Some discussion of Limonium in a 9/5/15 posting here, with a photo in #8 there.

Glory bush. The Bryant St. garden’s Tibouchina area:


and the plant in close-up:


Great big velvety flowers, in at least three gardens within a block of my house. From Wikipedia:

Tibouchina urvilleana is a species of flowering plant in the family Melastomataceae, native to Brazil. Growing to 3–6 m (10–20 ft) tall by 2–3 m (7–10 ft) wide, it is a sprawling evergreen shrub with longitudinally veined, dark green hairy [some would say velvety] leaves. Clusters of brilliant purple flowers up to 10 cm (4 in) in diameter … are borne throughout summer and autumn. Common names include: glory bush, lasiandra, princess flower, pleroma, purple glory tree.

The specific epithet urvilleana commemorates the 19th century French explorer and botanist Jules Dumont d’Urville.

The plant is invasive in some places; in Hawaii it’s officially labeled a noxious weed.

Its plant family is a new one on this blog (#72). From Wikipedia:

The family Melastomataceae (alternatively Melastomaceae) is a taxon of dicotyledonous flowering plants found mostly in the tropics (two thirds of the genera are from the New World tropics) comprising c. 165 genera and c. 5115 known species. Melastomes are annual or perennial herbs, shrubs, or small trees.

Brunfelsia. Continuing the purple theme, I move to a neighborhood plant that manages to have purple, pink, and white flowers all on the same plant at the same time, as here:

(#5) Brunfelsia paucifolia

The neighborhood plant is possibly B. paucifolia, B. australis, or B. latifolia, the last described on the Australian Plants Online site as:

Gorgeous honey-scented evergreen shrub for frost-free gardens. Thrives in humidity. Pretty spring flowers start deep purple, then fade to lilac and white, giving it the common name of Yesterday Today and Tomorrow. [also known as Morning Noon and Night, and as Kiss Me Quick] Perfect for hedging, pots, or as a specimen plant. Grows to 1m around.

Linnaeus named the genus for the early German herbalist Otto Brunfels (1488–1534).

The plant, which is quite toxic, is closely related to the petunia, in the nightshade family (Solanaceae).

Abelia. Just around the corner from the garden in #1, on Homer Ave., there’s a big beautiful abelia shrub, with reddish leaves (not really purple, but then nobody’s perfect):


From Wikipedia:

Abelia is a genus of about 30 species and many hybrids in the honeysuckle family Caprifoliaceae.

… Abelias are shrubs from 1–6 m tall, native to eastern Asia (Japan west to the Himalaya) and southern North America (Mexico); the species from warm climates are evergreen, and colder climate species deciduous. The leaves are opposite or in whorls of three, ovate, glossy, dark green, 1.5–8 cm long, turning purplish-bronze to red in autumn in the deciduous species. The flowers appear in the upper leaf axils and stem ends, 1-8 together in a short cyme; they are pendulous, white to pink, bell-shaped with a five-lobed corolla, 1–5 cm long, and usually scented. Flowering continues over a long and continuous period from late spring to fall.

Type species of this genus is Abelia chinensis. The generic name commemorates Clarke Abel, a keen naturalist who accompanied Lord Amherst’s [William Pitt Amherst, 1st Earl Amherst] unsuccessful embassy to China in 1816 as surgeon, under the sponsorship of Sir Joseph Banks [of Banksia fame; see this posting].

The plant in #6 is undoubtedly one of the Abelia x grandiflora hybrids; there are a great many cultivars.

We had a small abelia back in Columbus, on the west side of the house, in the blazing sun, where it somehow managed to thrive.

(Photo credit to Juan Gomez for #1, 3, 4, and 6 above.)


2 Responses to “Neighborhood gardens, heavy on purple”

  1. [BLOG] Some Friday links | A Bit More Detail Says:

    […] Zwicky shares photos of the purple-heavy gardens of his neighbourhood in […]

  2. A walk around the block | Arnold Zwicky's Blog Says:

    […] Bryant. From my 7/12/17 posting “Neighborhood gardens, heavy on […]

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