A Hiatus for Holidays!

Even though our gravel is in, we will take a break this week for Christmas. Next week, a trip to the native plant nursery. All we have done this week is to plant Muhlenbergia capillaris ‘Regal Mist’ in the parkway.

Though not a Californian native, Muhlenbergia capillaris is native to the Southeast region of the US. For the parkway, we chose a pallette of grasses, based on their wind-waving qualities and color interest, and have selected from a variety of regions (rather than just California natives). My husband and I staggered the placement of the Muhlys – shifting each pot an inch here and an inch there till they were just so. We smiled in satisfaction as the grasses settled in their new home. They are placed in the westernmost corner of the parkway bed, sure to catch the last ray’s of the sun – the reason being that the panicles flame a deep maroon in late summer. Right now, near Christmas, the panicles glow golden, and shimmer in the slightest of breezes. The grasses and I are content on this sunny day in Long Beach.

Tackling another problem at the same time, the front brick beds now host burgundy Phormium tenax (New Zealand flax) and Cordyline australis – we successfully transplanted the unhappy roses into a sunnier spot in the back-yard. In a sharp contrast to the gentle Muhlys, the Phormium and Cordylines are rigid and military-like – painted a deep burgundy which blends them into the shadows, perfect for the back-ground. Phormiums will notice you before you do.

I have a gripe with how things are named in the Western world. Cordyline australis is mostly found in South Asia – but it’s somehow a better sell to name it Australian (Cordyline australis). Just as the Russian sage (Perovskia atriplicifolia) is mostly found in Afghanistan and Pakistan, but named Russian for some reason known only to the marketers. Better to call it Russian than Pashtun Sage? Naming sometimes has little to do with region of origin than with the preferences of the customer buying it. Farmer’s Market is overflowing with “English Peas” – which makes me want to tear someone’s hair out. Peas are native to northwestern India, the Punjab region. But are they called Punjabi Peas? Even though I love the alliteration of Punjabi Peas, sellers have chosen to call peas English. Is the Queen is a better sell than Slumdog? Does teh former bestow a veneer of respectability, the delicate whiff of crumpets than the fiery smell of naan?

Check out the very beautiful Pink Cordyline below (this one is definitely in the Mata Hari league):

We haven’t decided yet where this lovely Pink Cordy will reside- maybe in a large earthenware (painted/unpainted, ceramic/clay, style?), ready to welcome guests.


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