Not all of the plants in my garden are from mediterranean climates. There are a lot of cool Salvias and Cupheas from Mexico and South America that grow really well on the California Coast.
Salvia semiatrata is from the mountains of southern Mexico in Oaxaca. The overall plant seems rather brittle and delicate to me. I don’t think I would plant it in a very windy place. The dark violet corollas are pretty small but the calyces and stems are bright magenta and really stand out. It looks pretty nice in front of Anemanthele lessoniana. Both are in my plant ghetto but I’ll have to keep in mine how nice they look together when I finally plant them (in my next garden).
Salva mexicana ‘Limelight’, from central Mexico, has been blooming since spring. It was starting to die back and look a bit sad so I cut much of it back but some of its lower branches started blooming again so I left that part alone for now. It is a favorite of my resident Anna’s hummingbird and he often perches on the highest branches and chirps at me while I am working in garden. I posted a picture of this plant on a Facebook group and someone suggested that a pineapple sage with red flowers and yellow foliage was a nicer plant. That person was crazy.
There is something almost sinister and furtive about Peruvian Salvia discolor. The corolla is such a dark shade of purple it reads as black and the light green calyx is covered in little white hairs. The perfect plant for a black and white garden.
The stems of Salvia discolor are so sticky that they become an insect graveyard. Little gnats and flies land on them and can’t escape. Defense mechanism for the plant or do they derive some sort of nutrients from all the little insect corpses? I read a study recently that suggests that the carrion attracts predatory insects that may help control other insect pests on the plants. Cool!
Salvia coahuilensis is from Coahuila in northern Mexico. Its flowers are similar in shape to those of S. greggii and S. microphylla but they are intense blue-violet in color. My photo doesn’t do it justice at all. You really have to see it in person to appreciate it.
The individual flowers of Brazilian Salvia confertiflora are tiny and bright red-orange but entire foot long inflorescence is a deep velvety red. The plants grow quickly and can grow over five feet tall and wide. It looks wonderful paired with deep blue Salvia ‘Indigo Spires’ but mine is next to pink and white Nicotiana mutabilis. Perhaps not the best color combination but the hummingbirds are very happy with the arrangement.
Moving on from Salvias we have some Cupheas which are in the loosestrife family. The above plant is Cuphea ‘Strybing Sunset’. I’m not sure of the exact parentage of this Cuphea. I assume it is a hybrid and possibly has C. ignea as a parent which is from Mexico. The flowers are teeny tiny but the plant is covered top to bottom in hundreds of them and of course the hummingbirds love them. It sulks a bit in winter but seems to be in bloom all year.
Now speaking of macros as you can see I have mixed success on that front. Some of the above pics are pretty good. Some are so-so. Many more were rubbish and had to be deleted. My SLR camera is a Panasonic Lumix that I have had for almost 10 years. It takes pretty nice photos but to get the best flower shots I really feel like manual focus is the way to go and this camera is awful in that regard. The LCD display is rather small and hard to read in even the lowest light and for some reason when you use manual focus the view gets even smaller. A little box in the middle of the screen. It is difficult to be certain that your subject is in focus.
So eventually I will have to think about getting a new camera. Any suggestions? I’d like something with changeable lenses too so I can switch from wide-angle, zoom, and macro.