Saturday, January 2, 2016

Our Blooming Patio - Through the Macro Lens

A blooming bacopa is intertwined with a calibrachoa.
The calendar may say January 1st but our window boxes are still in bloom.  I went out with my macro lens to study the beautiful blooms we've been enjoying over the past few weeks.

This past summer we planted ornamental trailing bacopa  for the first time. Chaenostoma cordatum, (not to be confused with the aquatic Bacopa monnieri that it closely resembles), is grown as an annual in cooler climates but is perennial where we live in USDA Hardiness Zone 9b.

We bought these plants by mistake when we were shopping for calibrachoa.  The bacopas were intermingled with the calibrachoas  on a display at the nursery.  We were choosing a variety of colors but neither of us was paying any attention to the tags (or to the plants themselves). 

Bacopas have smaller, more heart-shaped, textured leaves with serrated edges.  The blossoms have 5 distinct petals and are much smaller than the calibrachoas.

The calibrachoa is related to the pansy and some varieties have blooms that are so heavily scalloped, they almost resemble individual petals. The leaves are larger, smooth, and oblong. When you really look at them closely, there is no mistaking one for the other.  But we were looking only at the color and the distinct differences didn't even register in my mind until we got home and I was laying them out to plant them in the window boxes.

Although we acquire these plants inadvertently, this was definitely our happy accident this past gardening season.  This creeping perennial has out-performed most of the "recommended" plants for this climate.  It thrived in the summer's dry heat, never wilted even when the window boxes dried out, and it has continued to bloom in the cool winter temperatures.  Other than an occasional "haircut" to neaten the long trailing stems and encourage re-blooming, this is as low maintenance as a window box plant can get.

Amazingly, one of our calibrachoas has survived the growing season.  Although calibrachoa is also a perennial, it is considered "weak" and most people treat them as annuals in our area.  The bushy growth trailing from the window box is primarily from the no longer blooming calibrachoa.  I'm anxious to see if it will resume blooming in the spring.  All of the remaining blossoms belong to the shorter, sturdier bacopa.

When the blooms are first open, they are a deep lavender. They fade to nearly white as they age.
Young blossoms are deep lavender with an orange throat.  The color of the petals and throat fade over several days before the blooms eventually dry and fall off.

Bacopa is reportedly easily grown from cuttings and I may try to root some of the heavy, lengthy growth from the three plants that I currently have.  They are available in pale blue/lavender variety that we have as well as white.  I will be scouting the nursery in the spring for some of the white ones as well as a few more brightly colored calibrachoa.  That was a winning combination in our window boxes this year.

Bacopa (blooming) intermingled with calibrachoa.
Early in November, we planted some additional pansies to replace most of the annuals that faded during September and October. Two months later, they continue to bloom and provide bright pops of color across the window ledge.

The burgundy, rose and purple have been all-stars, blooming enthusiastically.  The blossoms have been large as well, despite the cool night time temperatures. 


The orange and yellow ones seem to have been more sensitive to the cooler temperatures.  The blooms are smaller and less prolific. But they continue to send up new buds.


My favorite is the periwinkle blue.  The variety packs that we planted contained just one but it has not disappointed.  I just picked off the last of the spent blooms and it has several buds that will be opening again soon.

One of the big surprises has been a snapdragon that simply refuses to quit.  This upright bloomer has become lazy over the winter and has taken on a trailing habit but that has done nothing to discourage it from blooming.  Snapdragons are cold season annuals and we originally planted two flats of them early last spring.  Most of them faded during the heat of the summer but this one remaining pink one got it's second wind when the fall temperatures returned.

This snapdragon has been blooming non-stop and is still sending out new shoots and buds.

In July, this pink snapdragon was the only remaining one of the cold weather spring plants we had planted in early spring to still be blooming and thriving.  We replaced the leggy pansies and wilted snapdragons with zinnias and calibrachoas.

We planted some miniature white chrysanthemums this fall and they continue to provide a pop of white here and there, a lovely contrast to the brightly colored pansies and snapdragons.

Our Meyer lemon also seems to have its calendar topsy-turvy.  I recently posted about it HERE but I couldn't resist getting a few more photographs, especially when I saw that some of the blooms had given way to tiny little lemons.  We will be having yet another crop in the next several months.


By the end of January it will be time to prune the roses and get them started on their next blooming season.  Having something in bloom in our container garden year round has been one of my guilty pleasures since moving to a Mediterranean climate.


  1. Happy New Year to you both. Seems like you have the ideal climate. At one time we grew trailing bacopa in the baskets every year, very much treated as an annual plant of course.

    1. Happy New Year to you and Myra as well! This was my first experience with bacopa and it did not disappoint. If we can get past this drought that we've been stuck in then yes, this IS the ideal climate! Thanks for dropping by Alistair!


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