Patience Yields Hidden Treasure

lavender trumpet vine (Clystostoma callistegioides)

lavender trumpet vine (Clystostoma callistegioides)

At the end of my street, completely covering a low chain link fence that borders a front yard on all three sides, the magnificent violet trumpet vine (Clytostoma callistegioides) has been flowering. The flowers are so dense that you can barely see the foliage. During the winter, by contrast, this same violet trumpet vine loses lots of leaves and those that remain are pale yellow and burnt around the edges.
If you knew nothing about violet trumpet vine, and had moved into a house during winter when it was dormant, you might assume it had seen its best days, uproot it on the spot, and toss it into the trash. People moving into new homes are urged not to remove any plants or do any serious digging for one year to avoid such mistaken first impressions. That way you give your garden a chance to express itself for at least four seasons. In addition, bulb plants that may be completely invisible for several months of the year would have sent up the shoots and flowers.
In my neighborhood, a front yard ground cover disappears from sight each winter but comes back in May with a plethora of blinding pink blossoms. This is the Mexican evening primrose (Oenothera Berlandieri), a plant that is sometimes avoided on account of its invasive tendencies. In truth, this ground cover has positive traits that more than compensate for its tendency toward rampant growth.
Mexican evening primrose, erroneously named since it flowers during the day, is a plant that requires little attention once it has established itself. It can exist on a bare minimum of moisture and is highly recommended for dry slopes or other lightly irrigated areas. It will smother both annuals and slow-growing perennials planted in its midst, but it also will not spread out of control like ivy.
Growing a few blocks away in half-day sun is the New Zealand Christmas tree (Metrosideros excelsa). Its thick limbs develop close to the base of its trunk, with leaves that are green above and white underneath; it also has dusky red flowers. It grows to 30 feet, about twice the size of the pineapple guava (Feijoa sellowiana), a botanically related tree that has similar foliage and flowers.
The New Zealand Christmas tree and the pineapple guava are members of the myrtle family, which is noted for its fragrant varieties of eucalyptus and many other plants.

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