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Regional Picks: Focal-Point Plants – California

Fine Gardening - Issue 134

1. La Palma Echium

Name: Echium gentianoides

USDA hardiness zones: 9 to 10

Size: 5 feet tall and 3 to 4 feet wide

Conditions: Full sun; poor to average, well-drained soil

This elusive echium is worth the hunt. It’s tough, drought tolerant, and such a magnet for bees that you might need a beekeeper’s suit. Unlike the two most popular species (E. wildpretii and E. candicans), this echium isn’t nearly as large or aggressive. It features the most vivid blue flowers, made more striking by bright red flower stems. Poor soil seems to bring on more intense flowering.


2. ‘Irene Nuss’ Begonia

Name: Begonia ‘Irene Nuss’

Zones: 10 to 11

Size: 3 to 4 feet tall and 2 to 3 feet wide

Conditions: Bright shade; fertile, well-drained, slightly acidic soil

‘Irene Nuss’ features stunning glossy, dark green leaves with attractive wavy edges. Deep, coppery red backsides and long-blooming clusters of pink flowers add drama to the foliage. This plant…

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