Shady Way Gardens Bits and Briefs March 2004
A Lilac among the Twisted Myrtle


This March has come in a little differently than the ones in more recent years - more like a polar bear than a lion.  Nights and even days have been too cold for happy Peppers and Tomatoes, but the winter veggies like Broccoli, Brussel Sprouts, Chard, Lettuce, Radishes etc. are in their glory.  Also, plants such as Lantana, Bougainvillea and Natal Plum that got blitzed by the December freeze are making a slow comeback so it's still best to wait to cut back dead branches.  It's a good time to plant new trees and shrubs even though they may not look too great yet in containers.  Until we get some warmer temperatures many plants will retain the winterized look. 


It's  always a struggle to find a suitable plant to grace that north side of the house. You know the one - no light in the winter and blasted by sun in the summer-just the opposite of the ideal plant location.  A couple of less common plants that might work for you include Persian Lilac (Syringa laciniata) and Twisted Myrtle (Myrtus communis v. Boetica).  Persian Lilac is not your glorious-flowered eastern kind, but it does produce small fragrant, lavender colored flowers in the spring.  It has small deeply loved leaves and forms a rather loose, open shaped shrub to 6 ft. or more tall.  Leaves fall in winter.  Once established this plant needs surprisingly little water. 


Twisted Myrtle is a plant for the person with that leaning toward the exotic.  It's a big squirrelly looking shrub which might be likened to a large bonsai.  In fact, it can be used as a bonsai plant in a container.  The aromatic leaves are dark green.  In spring starry white flowers appear followed by dark blue fruits.  Myrtle is native to the Mediterranean area where leaves and berries were used as spices.  This plant needs good drainage and will develop yellow leaves if overwatered.  And, since it's not a perfect world, it will die in a heartbeat if you miss a summer watering! 


We have a real goody for the native plant buff (or even snob!).  It is the much sought after and rarely offered Crossosoma bigelovii.  "Plant me near that naked boulder clump.  I don't get huge.  I produce pretty white flowers in very early spring.  I don't freeze, and I'll bet your neighbor doesn't have me!  And of course I'm drought tolerant." 
Attention "herbies".  We know you're out there and just itching to try some different
Thymes and Oreganos in your garden or on that sunny window sill.  We have a few different varieties in 3" pots for your perusal.

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Web Comments September 13, 2004 Shady Way Nursery 2004