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Posts Tagged ‘purple’

or at least a small part of it.

Hamilton VA house June 2009 286My mother was recovering from surgery*, yet needed some gentle exercise, so we spent time walking through the small towns in Virginia near her home. The town where I found this house and garden is Hamilton, VA, a tiny place that has mostly missed the great western sprawl of the DC suburbs. It’s a old town, along a former rail line, once both a village serving the area farmers and a summer escape for urbanites from Washington DC’s heat and humidity.  A lovely place, with large old shade trees for summer strolls, and this fantastically colorful and fun home garden. Hamilton VA house June 2009 345

Sometimes it seems we forget just how entertaining gardening can be. We worry about the pH of the soil, and whether or not we should fertilize or prune or aerate now, and whether those insects are serious enough a threat to haul something with a long name from the shed.  In the midst of all that, we can forget that gardening is play.

Hamilton VA house June 2009 295I love this house and it’s welcoming garden. It has cheerful bright seats, gnomes and gazing globes and twisty vine arbors and weird ornaments on the porch.  It has a brilliant yellow rocking chair that matches the hanging baskets and daylilies. Even the mailbox is decorated.

Hamilton VA house June 2009 274

This looks like a garden made by someone who was just handed the 64 color box of crayolas**. And you know they are having FUN.

*Mom’s doing great now. Thanks.

**Yes, that did just show my age.

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Iridescent purple is a good color for a native plant.

Iridescent purple is a good color for a native plant.

This first time I met this gorgeous beauty, I came close to falling off a rather hilly trail in Virginia. My hiking partner (after rescuing me from an embarrassing near face plant)  knew the plant only as French mulberry, a fairly common name for it in that area.

As it turns out, this stunning berried shrub isn’t French and isn’t a mulberry. It is a native plant throughout most of the Southeast, from Maryland on around to Texas.This is American beautyberry (Callicarpa americana), a shrub so gaudy it makes Asian beautyberries look shy and retiring. It is found growing in dappled light in open woodlands with rich, well drained soil.

Callicarpa americana habit klr

In full berry, the branches are so heavily loaded that they bend over to the ground, giving a weeping effect. The berry clusters themselves can be as large as a small child’s fist. The berries are preceded by lovely, surprisingly dainty lavender flowers in spring. American beautyberries easily grow to at least

6 to 8 feet tall.  Beautyberries usually appear best when planted in groups rather than individually.

For even more fun, there is a milky white berried cultivar – Callicarpa americana ‘Lactea’  – that can pull off being the main fall feature in a white garden.

Just a few days ago, I learned of the existence of a PINK American beautyberry. Obviously, this is a plant I need, and as soon as possible. Fortunately, it appears that Woodlander’s, a mail order nursery in Aiken, SC carries this plant, a cultivar called ‘Welsh Pink’ or ‘Welsh’s Pink’ or ‘Welch’s Pink’ depending on whose site you go by. Under any name, it looks irresistible to me.

(fixed a bit of grammar and spelling)

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