Tuesday, January 27, 2009

San Francisco 28.5.01: Old Haciendas and Exotic Flowers

Another story told to me by Mike F., partner of Steve’s cousin Chuck B. Mike taught first grade, and says he loved it. Says the students called him Mommy.

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More plants, plants everywhere: did I mention the very handsome bottlebrush? I think I did. I’ve seen it only in New Orleans, where the yard at Galvez and Esplanade had a specimen in a summer corner. There, it grew as a shrub, perhaps because of the humidity? Whereas in Oakland, it’s a tree. I remember Stanislaw C. telling me either that it’s a native of Australia or that it grows well there. This made me think it prefers a dry climate. I seem to recall Stan saying there’s a yellow variety.

At the old Perralta hacienda (the original large grantees of the region), I snipped a piece of what J. calls potato tree or shrub. It’s a shrubby tree or a tree that also grows as a shrub. One source I consulted at Barnes and Noble identified it as the potato vine, a Solanum. But another garden book indicates it has been removed from the Solanum category. It has inconsequential leaves a bit like Ligustrum vulgare, and purple flowers like flattened dark morning glories, with crinkly edges and a dark yellow throat. I fear it won’t do in our less-than-tropical climate.

J. also pulled up for me a bit of some curious shrub-like perennial with the square stems and opposite leaves of a mint. It is aromatic when crushed, and has a dark red small flower, tufted like a honeysuckle or shrimp plant.

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