Tuesday, April 10, 2018


David mentioned how much he enjoyed the view, through the shower window, of the little white flowers on that spindly tree. That spindly tree is the Anacacho Orchid tree, Bauhinia congesta.

There are a few reasons why it is so spindly. One is the terrible soil in which it grows. Although amended somewhat there is a depth of road base underneath it. This area was where they removed all the huge ledge stones you see around the garden, in order to get the house level right. Then they filled in with this road base. It is also a very dry spot sheltered from our recent rains by the house wall. But more significantly it bore the brunt of the 2015 hail storm which caused excessive damage to much of the bark. Still it soldiers on producing a nice bloom every spring. Its two lobed leaves are sometimes described as butterfly or clove-like and are characteristic of this genus.

Being a member of the pea family the blooms are replaced by wiry seed pots which are not very attractive. I usually snip them off but occasionally there is one that escapes me and germinates in the soil below. Sad to say I have had poor success in trying to transplant them. 
In this same garden are two variegated pittosporum, Pittosporum tobira 'variegate' Their flowers are sweetly fragrant which gives it the name Japanese mock orange. This afternoon my son visited the garden and he remarked he didn't like the way the plant was growing with such low branches. I have always liked that aspect of its growth but maybe I need to take a second look as to whether it would look better pruned up. I'm always open to suggestions.

You have to look closely to admire the blooms of the chain plant, Callisia fragrans.

The plant was given to me as a grandfather's pipe but I have never found any reference to this plant being named so. More often it is called the basket plant or chain plant. The latter because the plant produces a long shoot which forms a new plant on the end. If grown along the ground it will root at this point. This one is growing in a hanging basket where it has grown out of the side. More commonly I have it growing in the ground in a shady location. It is not truly winter hardy but does survive in a very sheltered location with overhanging branches.

But just wait until the flowers open fully. They are like delicate bouquets of bridal flowers and they have the sweetest fragrance which explains their species name 'fragrans'

The garden is full of sweet fragrances at the moment but this is one demands you get a little closer to appreciate.


  1. Callisia fragrans is utterly charming. I looked it up immediately, only to find that the local grower says it has high water needs, which, sadly, keeps it off my list of plant prospects.

    1. That's weird. Mine is in a planter that has no watering system. It survived the winter in the garage with not a drop. The other ones I have are also in a low water situation. It seem to take all the abuse I mete out. It's bigger problem would be winter cold.

  2. I love white flowers. We also have an Anacacho Orchid tree,it has been in the ground about 3 years and this last year filled out and grew several feet. I suppose it like all the rain.

  3. Your 1st pic is great!! We have pittosporum (10 years old) as well but sadly they are those plants that are planted in the wrong place. So I got the brilliant idea that they could be cut way back this winter. We have never done this before but have always kept them trimmed back a little bit. They have been a long time leafing out. Oh, well!

  4. I've never heard of that Orchid tree, but it is quite pretty! And how great to have something so tough in that spot. I love the flowers of the chain plant, too. Another one I've never heard of!

  5. The Bauhinia is very attractive in its airy delicacy! Bauhinia × blakeana is seen in our area.

    Green and white is underrated as a color combo. It's very soothing, don't you think?