Education & Learning
There’s always something in bloom in the garden. Every month offers new textures and colors as the garden changes with the seasons. Please check back periodically to see new stories and new plants we add to the garden as we strive to keep Hortense's collection intact.
Yellow Flower w/ Bee
Blue Potato Bush
Lycianthes Rantonnetii, the blue potato bush or Paraguay nightshade, is a species of flowering plant in the nightshade family Solanaceae, native to South America. Growing to about 6 ft (1.8 m) tall and broad, it is a rounded evergreen shrub with a somewhat lax habit. A profusion of trumpet-shaped, bright blue-purple flowers with a prominent yellow eye appear in summer, followed by red berries. It is widely cultivated and may be hardy in mild or coastal areas.
The Hortense Miller Garden ‘Blue Potato Bush’ greets you when entering the cul-de-sac garden gate behind the bamboo deer fence. Alternatively, it can be grown in a container and brought under cover in winter. It requires a sheltered location in full sun.
Though related to food plants like the potato and tomato, all parts of the plant are considered toxic to humans. It has been given the Royal Horticultural Society’s Award of Garden Merit. The species is named for Barthélémy Victor Rantonnet, a 19th-century French horticulturalist.
Lycianthes Rantonnetii has previously been placed in Solanum, a huge genus which has recently been the subject of major investigation, with species being transferred to and from several different genera. There are many rare and little-known species whose true placement has yet to be determined.
Tecoma capensis - Tecomaria
Tecoma capensis - Tecomaria - Cape Honeysuckle Despite its common name, it is not closely related to the true honeysuckle.
Tecoma capensis is a species of flowering plant in the family Bignoniaceae, native to southern Africa, and cultivated in other areas of the world, such as Hawaii and California. Here at the Hortense Miller Garden it can be seen outside the cul-de-sac garden gate and in other wild garden areas. It’s up to 6” green to dark-green pinnate leaves have 5 to 9 slightly serrated leaflets. Blooming at different times throughout the year, its orange to orange-red flowers are tubular, narrow, about 3” long and grouped in 4 - 6” long terminal clusters.
As an erect, scrambling evergreen shrub growing to between 7 - 10 feet in height and similar width, it shoots out long growth tips which lean on the stems and branches of other plants, as well as boulders, trellises, fences and walls, leading to the plant appearing untidy. To keep this shrub clean, tidy, and dense, it must be pruned back in late winter to promote new growth and flowers. The application of a balanced fertilizer after pruning will enhance the growth and flowering. It can be planted in semi-shade to full sun and can be grown in mild temperate areas or containers, and can make a fine hedge or dense groundcover if pruned. Tecoma capensis is an excellent plant for a wildlife habitat garden, is popular with hummingbirds and insects due to its nectar, and used as nesting site by wild birds.
Chinese Fringe Flower Loropetalum chinensis var. rubrum
Loropetalum is a very easy shrub to grow. It thrives in sun or light shade in any well-drained, slightly acid pH, sandy-loam soil, and once established, it is heat and drought tolerant.
The genus Greek name, Loropetalum, refers to the long, thin petals of its fringe-like blooms. It is native to China, Japan and the Himalayas, and also does well here in Laguna Beach.
The Chinese Fringe Flower, Loropetalum chinensis var. rubrum, was introduced to Southern California in the mid 1990’s by Monrovia Nursery. It is a patented raspberry red fringe flower named ‘Razzleberri’ with burgundy tinged new growth leaves maturing to olive green. This loropetalum sports fragrant, many-petaled, spidery, raspberry red flowers in late winter and early spring and sporadically at other seasons.
The Loropetalum ‘Razzleberri’ at the Hortense Miller Garden was planted by Brooke Taylor years ago in the Gazebo Garden, and delights year-round with its colorful silhouette contrasting against the light colored wall of the bedroom building.