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Although this could very well be a picture of me finding a new treasure at a favorite nursery, it's actually an illustration by David Catrow for a children's book called Plantzilla.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Hardy Bocconia Frutescens?


 While I was visiting Dragonfly Farms, I once again saw this Bocconia frutescens.  Heidi has been growing them in her garden for a few years now.   Loree at Danger Garden fell in love with them and now has one as well.  They are beautiful and I was sorely tempted to buy one but then I remembered that fall was just around the corner and I didn't want to commit to another tender lovely that would need to be part of the annual migration.


The other day, I was walking through my garden, spotted this, and smiled.  Do you see the resemblance?  Kind of?

 Bocconia frutescens?  No.  Hardy?  Yes, indeed. This is our native Hydrangea quercifolia which is tough as nails. A mound-shaped shrub  3-12 ft. tall. Multiple stems are sparingly branched with picturesque canes. Older stems are exfoliating to reveal a rich, brown inner bark. The showy inflorescence of greenish flowers, turns white then purplish and persists on the bush until mid-winter. The foliage, shaped something like that of red oak, becomes colorful in fall.  (Description from Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center)
 The flowers are fading now and soon the leaves will be turning a purplish red.  And guess what?  I don't have to haul it inside for the winter. 
Do I think that Bocconia frutescens is beautiful?  Of course but for myself, I'll be satisfied with this somewhat similar - leafed and much hardier plant.  At least for now...

20 comments:

  1. I love my oakleaf hydrangea too. It's a couple of years old, and so far hasn't flowered. Maybe next year. I can see the resemblance to the Bocconia. Doesn't the Bocconia have indumentum on the underside of the leaves? That's an interesting feature.

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    1. the Bocconia leaves do have pretty undersides...

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  2. that is a beautiful plant. But I'm seeing bocconia frutescens in the future. You will be at dragonfly in the springtime ... minding your own business. BAM! Bocconia will jump out at you. you will fondle the foliage. pick it up. put it down, and pick it back up again. And before you even realize it, you are at the checkout. And before you even realize it you are making space in a coveted sheltered part of the yard. Thats how it always goes down for me at least.

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    1. Wow, you sure know the plant addict temptation cycle. I think we'll be o.k. until we hit rock bottom - living in our cars with our plants because we spent the mortgage money on some new palm.

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  3. With the last post and this one it seems you are finding ways to deal with zone issues. Not easy to stick with, but it is simpler to garden that way.

    The hydrangea has beautiful foliage.

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    1. I love all my tender plants too. As long as I'm able, I'll still haul the tropicals in and out each year.

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  4. If I remember correctly someone commented on a post of mine saying that that Hydrangea might be a good hardy substitute. Still for a minute you had me excited that you'd discovered the Bocconia Frutescens was hardy....

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    1. Must be getting old as I totally forgot making that comment. Sorry to get you excited just do dash your hopes. California dreamin'

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  5. I love your substitute...actually, I have a weak spot for Oakleaf Hydrangeas...plus, you get the bonus of flowers AND good fall color :-) I'm constantly trying to find room for one in my teeny-tiny garden, sigh.

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    1. Would it work in that vacant space you blogged about a while back? I think that most of us wish that we had more space and a budget to go with it.

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  6. That Hydrangea does make a good substitute for Bocconia frutescens. It's not hardy in our location, and even a few plants that were tried on sheltered outdoor areas in west Cornwall (which is one of the mildest areas in the UK) didn't sail through the winter. One or two did come back from the roots though, although significantly weaker.

    Sometimes it's all about getting look using susbstitute plants like on this occasion :)

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    1. I've always liked that hydrangea but Bocconia frutescens is sure tempting!

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  7. I think the one you have is the nicest, We get the hydrangea over here on the odd occasion in our nurseries.

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  8. My neighbors have an oakleaf hydrangea against our common fence and I like to pretend that it's mine.

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  9. Hydrangea quercifolia is one of my favorite plants in the gardens here. Do you grow H. 'Little Honey'? It's a real beauty with chartreuse leaves.

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    1. I've admired your pictues of Hydrangea quercifolia 'Little Honey' and think I have one that is getting strangled and shaded out by an unruly bamboo grove. Maybe I'll see if it's still surviving under there and try and rescue it.

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  10. I knew I had an oakleaf hydrangea, Peter, and now I look at your images and realize it's a Hydrangea quercifolia. (I thought I was doing well not to call it Fred, or Huge Greenie.) They are extremely cool and lush looking and an essential part of that 'edge of the jungle' element. But yeah, next year you will cave on the Bocconia frutescens. (I didn't even have to ask the Tarot cards to know that.)

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    1. You talk as if you think I might have a plant addiction problem. Whatever makes you think that? I can quit anytime I want! You're probably right.

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Thanks so much for taking the time to comment! I love to hear your thoughts.