Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Summer Poinsettias

Today was another chilly one with Pat being the only one to head out in the gardens.  He continues to bring back in more Holiday Lights Show (HLS) elements and spent a couple hours processing lights for storage as well.  Our Volunteer Soup Dinner went well last night with over 100 attendees.  The soup was good although most of the crowd understandably slept through my presentation on The Gardens of Vancouver!  We had a great crew of volunteer assistance today.  Below is Myrt painting one of our pyramids with pink.  Pink will be prominent in our big color scheme and the structure Myrt is painting is the first of three that will be converted from orange (our 2013 "focus color") to pink.  Gena and her granddaughter Savannah (second photo down) helped Myrt as well.  Note the ladies have matching blue sweatpants outfits which ultimately include a historical reference to the paint colors they used today (as will Myrt's hair...).  Dr. Gredler was in for more painting and we had a solid crew working on preparing our vegetable tags for the Spring Plant Sale (Mother's Day weekend!).  The third photo down shows Patrea (left) and Kay who led the charge with label processing.  They were later joined by Kaye F. and Pat R.  We also saw Gary, Ron W., Maury, Rollie and many others today as well.  The fourth photo down shows our Chestnut House volunteers working on seed sorting this afternoon with Janice.  We will be growing a melon collection this year at the Horticulture Center and are focusing on smaller melons, cantaloupes and watermelons that can be trained to grow on vertical structures.  These varieties will also be offered at the Spring Plant Sale in these seed packets.  Great job Chestnut House Team!!!
I'm a big fan of amaranths (Amaranthus sp.) in general (despite pigweed being in that group!) and always enjoy the vivid foliage of the fountain plant or summer poinsettia (Amaranthus tricolor).  Also called tampala, tandalijo and callaloo, this leafy plant (native to South America) also has a long use as an edible with nutritious leaves eaten in a wide range of ways (fresh, steamed, stir fry, side dish, etc.).  This species of amaranth has long been used in Asian and African cuisine as well.  The name "Joseph's Coat" is used for the well known and long utilized variety seen below as 'Perfecta'.  This annual is easy to grow and offers wonderful foliage interest with the newest growth displaying a brighter color like the variety 'Early Splendor' seen at the top of this blog and both above and below.  The newest growth is bright pink which ages to the maroon as the plant gets taller and the newest, emerging growth continues to be the most vivid.  All of the varieties illustrated here get about 3' to 4' tall in a season and usually start waning by September.  The flowers of this plant can be seen along the stem and aren't showy as they are in the grain-type amaranths (Amaranthus sp.).  This is a true "ornamental edible" and will thrive in the full sun garden in a wide range of soils.  See some of the variability in selected varieties further below...
'Early Splendor' summer poinsettia (Amaranthus tricolor)
'Perfecta' summer poinsettia (Amaranthus tricolor 'Perfecta')
same as above
same as above
'Aurora' summer poinsettia (Amaranthus tricolor)
same as above
'Illumination' summer poinsettia (Amaranthus tricolor)
same as above
'Molten Fire' summer poinsettia (Amaranthus tricolor also listed as Amaranthus gangeticus)


Unknown said...

I am SO excited to try 'Illumination' Amaranth in my garden this year. Can you offer any recommendations for companion plants?

Mark Dwyer, Director of Horticulture, Rotary Botanical Gardens said...

'Illumination' is one of my favorites too and has a very unique color. Combining it with maroon leaf plants will make the new growth really pop but keep in mind that the brightest growth will get "higher" on the plant as the season progresses so you'll want some surrounding color "lower" around the plant. Limitless options in full sun!