Cypress Vines grow perennially in our area. Its a species of Ipomoea Quamoclit morning glory - say THAT ten times fast, I dare ya! - which is native in tropical regions to include South America, North Mexico and even Bangladesh. This herbaceous plant is a fast growing twining vine reaching up to 10 feet in a season so it can be invasive unless controlled. I planted mine in a 1 gallon pot with a tomato cage for its trellis. As you can see the bright red trumpet flowers, though small, pack a punch of color against the feathery foliage. (lower left) This one survived last year's frosty winter in a 3" pot outside. When growth began a month or so ago I transplanted it as well as another seedling which had sprouted in another pot out on the deck. To the right of the Cypress Vine a cheerful cluster of Coral Honeysuckle Vine (Lonicera Sempervirens sp.) continues the whimsical pink theme. The color of the Coral Honeysuckle starts pink at the stem then gradually changes into its name's sake. The inside is a true coral hue reminiscent of conch shells found at the beach.
Both plants are hummingbird magnets as documented in the following photos.
Ain't this a Sweetheart of a hummer! Now this little one is a very young looking at the size of it compared to other hummingbirds which come and visit the same coral honeysuckle vine. Its tiny but not a baby since baby hummingbirds can't fly. Most hummingbirds in my area are of the Ruby-Red Throat variety. Identifying the sex of this bird is a quilled quandary query! Young males masquerade as females up until a year after birth when their red feathers around the front of their necks begin growing in. So for now I'll name this one the neutral gendered name Sweetheart since that's precisely what it is.
I've seen hummingbirds zone in for the Lantana for nectar, too. This pink and yellow one lives in the back edges of the property near the Dogwood tree. Lantana falls within the verbena family which covers over 150 species, of which at least four varieties that call the Celtic Garden their home. Australians consider this plant a noxious weed but here in the Carolina's they grow as shrubs four to five feet tall in full sun with well drained soil. When trimming back this shrub in the spring it smells of mint but nevertheless Lantana is not in the Lamiaceae family.
Zinnias are a favorite flower of Celtic Gardens since they are crazy easy to grow and love the sun. Not only that but they come in such a wide variety of colors from neon green to peppermint candy speckled flowers as well as the traditional orange, white and pink varieties. Every winter while drooling through seed catalogs new varieties are always added to the "must have" list. Most varieties are "cut and come again" so frequent pruning ensures healthy plants and bountiful flowers. If you're lucky you might catch me selling fresh cut bouquets at the farmers market.If you don't get a chance to cut back the flowers don't fret - the birds love the seeds which is a win-win since they sow next year's flower bed for free!
Dianthus are also a low maintance flowering plant that come in a multitude of colors. These magenta ones brighten up the serpentine shade garden, off setting the white and greenery backdrop quite nicely.
Dianthus is a genus of over 300 species. Maybe you've heard of Carnation or Sweet William varieties. They grow best in part shade but do enjoy a few hours of direct sunlight. Their fringed petals add yet more garden whimsy and texture especially strewn amongst inpatients.
That does it for this weeks entry. For note: in a few weeks Sunshine Soaps will have three batches of cured Patchouli, Chocolate Mint and Lavender Vanilla soap available for sale at the City Market. Depending on today's product delivery another batch of organic bug spray will also be available sooner rather than later.
Thanks for reading and as always may happiness be rays of sunshine in your mind, body and soul!