Flirting with magenta

Visit to Palo Alto’s Gamble Garden yesterday, to enjoy the wild display of summer flowers, picking out three attractive plants I hadn’t previously posted about: Lychnis coronaria ‘Alba’ (a plant with — surprise! — white flowers); Montiopsis umbellata ‘Ruby Tuesday’ (from Peru and Chile, a rock garden plant with stunning deep purple flowers); and a Hebe hybrid (a small shrub with blue flowers). It turns out that the Lychnis usually has magenta flowers, and so does the Montiopsis; and the Hebe comes in lots of colors in the blue-pink-white range, including a magenta variant. So: no actual magenta, but three flirtations with it.

Lychnis coronaria. From Wikipedia:

Silene coronaria is a species of flowering plant in the carnation family Caryophyllaceae, native to Asia and Europe. Common names include rose campion, dusty miller (this also refers to Centaurea cineraria and Jacobaea maritima), mullein-pink, bloody William, and lamp-flower. A white form ‘Alba’ is available.

(#1) The white form

In the United Kingdom [and elsewhere, including at the Gamble Garden] it is still widely referenced under its synonym Lychnis coronaria.

The Latin coronaria means “used for garlands”.

It is a perennial growing to 80 cm (31 in) tall by 45 cm (18 in) wide, with grey felted leaves and single, bright magenta flowers produced in succession around July.

(#2) The usual magenta form (there’s also a red variant)

Though short-lived, the plant readily self-seeds in favourable locations. It is sometimes grown as a biennial.

Montiopsis umbellata. The genus Montiopsis (syns. Calandrinia, Talinum), and its species M. umbellata, red maids, redmaids, rock purslane — a native of Peru and Chile that grows in warm climates (zones 8-10), especially in dry rocky places.

(#3) M. umbellata ‘Ruby Tuesday’. The plants at GG were single plants separated from one another, with huge flowers, very dark purple in color (Photo from Jelitto Seed Co.)

From the Plant World Seeds site:

(#4) The usual magenta flower

Clusters of cup-shaped magenta flowers open in summer, above compact rosettes of narrow, lance-shaped, hairy, gray-green leaves. This is an ideal subject for the rock garden or scree, and makes an excellent container plant for the patio, as this compact, mound-forming perennial is often grown as an annual. [One source say it opens only about 4 hrs. a day]

On the plant family, from Wikipedia:

Montiaceae [now family #97 in my inventory — formerly in the Portulaceae] are a family of flowering plants, comprising about 14 genera with about 230 known species, ranging from herbaceous plants to shrubs. The family has a cosmopolitan distribution.

Among the genera in the family is just one familiar to me: Claytonia (syn. Montia), with two species I know well, one from living in the eastern US, one from living here in California.

— Claytonia virginica, spring beauty / springbeauty, a wildflower of eastern forests. From Wikipedia:

(#5) Eastern spring beauties (Claytonia virginica) at Radnor Lake in Nashville, Tennesssee

Springbeauty is found in the Eastern temperate deciduous forest of North America. It is noted for its abundance throughout many parts of its range, especially in forests. The plant can be found throughout many different habitat types including lawns, city parks, forests, roadsides, wetlands, bluffs, and ravines.

— Claytonia perfoliata, miner’s lettuce, a weed/wildflower that grows all over the place around me in California, including some a few feet from my front door. Examined in my 12/22/14 posting “Winter greenery”, from which this photo:


A photo showing the tiny white flower:


Hebe hybrids. From Wikipedia:

Hebe is a genus of plants [in the Plantaginaceae family] native to New Zealand, Rapa in French Polynesia, the Falkland Islands, and South America. It includes about 90 species and is the largest plant genus in New Zealand. Apart from H. rapensis (endemic to Rapa), all species occur in New Zealand. This includes the two species, H. salicifolia and H. elliptica, that have distributions extending to South America. The genus is named after the Greek goddess of youth, Hebe.

… Hebes are valued in gardens in temperate climates as evergreen shrubs with decorative (sometimes variegated) leaves. The flowers, in shades of blue, purple, pink or white, appear throughout summer and autumn.

(#8) Purple Hebe Donna®; the GG Hebe is blue

(#9) Magenta Hebe ‘Wiri Desire’

Their ability to withstand salt-laden winds makes them especially suited to coastal areas, for instance the South West of England, where they are often grown as hedges. Prostrate varieties can be used as groundcover.


One Response to “Flirting with magenta”

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

    […] Arnold Zwicky looks at flowers coloured magenta in his California. […]

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