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Lookalikes

Thursday 24 June 2010 - Filed under Plants

Echium fastuosum 'death star'
Echium death star is one of many plants I wish I could grow in my Portland garden, but I’m a zone or two outside of it’s range, and lacking the sunny spot and poor soil it would thrive in. I might get the chance to grow it as an annual some years, but I’m destined to mostly admire it from afar. I saw this particular plant at a local nursery a couple years ago before I knew what I was looking at. How I wish I could go back and pluck the leaf debris out of the picture.

Echium 'Star of Madeira'
This is my first year with a few test Echiums in the garden, hoping for a show of lush foliage, which is all I want out of a plant. Growing Echiums in Portland, I’ll probably never see that display of dozens of flower spikes that our Californian friends rave about. I’m a grinch when it comes to flowers, so that’s fine with me, but I did get one flower on my E. Star of Madeira this year. I waited patiently until it seemed like it had been a polite amount of time to let it flower and attract bees, and cut it down as soon as it showed signs of browning, and now I can enjoy the foliage again. I know, as a gardener, I’m supposed to love flowers, but I just don’t.

Lysimachia paridiformus stenophyll
While I don’t have the hot, sunny, dry, mild winter conditions for an Echium, I notice one of my hardy staples doing its best impersonation: Lysimachia Paridiformis F. Stenophylla, from Western China. It’s a low growing perennial, none of that crazy impressive 6 foot spread you see out of Echiums. Still, the foliage has the same gorgeous shape, although the leaves are leathery and glossy on the Lysimachia, rather than the matte sage-like texture of Echium.

Lysimachia paridiformus stenophyll
Where I am trying to trick my Echiums into thinking there’s enough sun to keep them happy, Lysimachia thrives in cool moist part shade that is far easier to come by in my garden.

Lysimachia paridiformus stenophyll
In June it forms charming spiky flower buds…

Lysimachia paridiformus in bloom
And in July it is covered in yellow flowers. As far as flowers go, I am warming up to these.

Lysimachia paridiformus var. stenophylla
In late summer, the foliage blushes bronze.

Lysimachia paridiformus var. stenophylla
In fall the green fades, leaving just red/gold leaves that stick around all winter. They’re evergreen, but I trim off the old leaves as the fresh growth begins to emerge. You don’t see this plant for sale very often around here, but if you come across it, I recommend you grab it.

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2010-06-24  »  megan

Talkback x 6

  1. Loree / danger garden
    24 June 2010 @ 8:15 am

    I was pretty sure you would know what my ‘mystery plant’ was…but then you did one better by actually having it in your garden and having fabulous photos of it throughout the year too boot! I’ve fallen even harder for it now.

    I would love to try to propagate it so yes, I’ll take you up on the stem offer. And if you ever see it for sale…well you know….

  2. Laura
    24 June 2010 @ 10:17 am

    I like any plant with so much seasonal interest. That one looks like it has something for every season!

  3. Grace
    25 June 2010 @ 10:30 pm

    Hi Megan, Seems like I just saw this plant on Loree’s blog if I’m remembering correctly. I want it. But dang those Lysimachias and there moist soil requirement. Oh well, water bill, be damned. :)

    When you mentioned lookalikes I thought you were going to write about how weeds place themselves among plants with similar leaf structures–sneaky devils. Your idea was much more enjoyable.

  4. tina
    26 June 2010 @ 4:38 am

    That is a really cool lysimachia. It’s nice it resembles the plant you liked so much but was outside of your zone. Plants are the best! Not like blooms?:)

  5. Denise
    28 June 2010 @ 1:32 pm

    That is such a new concept to me, growing echiums for their leaves! The variegated one, yes, definitely for the leaves. And that gorgeous lookalike of a lysimachia you found to me seems to have so much more going on in so many seasons. There’s just no accounting for plant lust, is there?

  6. ricki - sprig to twig
    28 June 2010 @ 5:44 pm

    I’m a leaf person, too. We’re so much luckier than those who hold vigil waiting for the brief appearance of some egocentric flower…but I am not above enjoying them when they are here…how about you?