In the Garden:
Southern Coasts
November, 2000
Regional Report

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Rosy lantana buds open bright orange in cool weather.

Surprise Plants

I am smitten by flowers that change their color as they age, particularly those that display more than one color at a time. Brunfelsia pauciflora 'Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow' first caught my eye in the Baton Rouge garden of the late Caro Lane, an educator of great renown. I found it tucked away around a curve in a path, the perfect landscape "surprise" plant. Glossy green, oval leaves were nearly covered with clusters of flat flowers about two inches across - purple (yesterday), lavender (today), and white (tomorrow) blooms in each cluster simultaneously. The paper-thin blossoms open from purple trumpets, then lighten with age.

A Favorite Run Wild

Little did I know my sedate Brunsfelsia above could turn vigorous. I planted one among some camellias and azaleas, looking for color later in spring and those great leaves on a shrub about 4 feet in each direction. Soaker hoses kept the area moist, the mulch was deep, and the shady location gave it the tender loving care it needed to soar to 10 feet tall! I cut it down the next spring as prescribed and rooted the cuttings in case the pruning killed it. No such luck. It spread around its neighbors and shot up amid them. I still love it but prefer a container full on the deck to a rampant shrub.

Multicolored Rose

Another multicolored plant I love is Rosa chinensis 'Mutabilis', the butterfly rose. Its flowers open yellowish orange, turn pink and then crimson before falling off the plant. For my money, there's no better shrub rose with such interest. New growth is very reddish, and the bush blooms in partial shade about 10 months out of the year, with major flushes fall and spring.

Changeable Lantanas

It seems that temperature changes the color of my lantanas, not age. I've never heard or read of this, but I love it. The big lantana by the driveway (who planted such a tough customer where it could sprawl over and scratch my truck?) flowers in yellow and orange all summer long. As soon as cooler nights arrive, the colors change, taking on a delightful pink hue where the yellow had been.

Some newer varieties operate in reverse palette. All summer, rosy pink buds appeared and opened to nearly fuchsia clusters every day. But now, after a few nights spent below 70F, the rosy buds open to orange! That's one more reason to look forward to our underappreciated fall.


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