Are these cuties new to you?

Today I am sharing with you two lovely plants which have graced my garden for a few years now but were definitely opportunistic additions rather than specimens I went in search of!

The first came to me over the fence, so to speak, from my gardening friend Judi.  Actually it came in a lovely group of pass-alongs that traveled from her home in Orange County to mine here in Fresno–a rather long, wide fence!


This airy beauty is Impatiens balfourii, a reseeding annual from the same family as all those impatiens we buy at the nursery every year for our spring planting.  A few plant reference books I consulted list Balfour’s touch-me-not and Kashmir balsam as common names but I am not sure this plant, at least anywhere I have lived, is common to anyone.  I first saw it with Judi on a May garden tour in San Clemente four or five years ago in a setting where it had populated a very large area and waved in the ocean breeze.  The original seedling Judi gave me never did much but every year since I have had little colonies pop up here and there in the spring and they are always a delight. The one I photographed for this post is growing along with many succulents in a large fountain I planted a few years back.  The bowl sits several feet above ground so the breeze must have done the planting for me.

In sharp contrast to the fairy like quality of the Balfour’s touch-me-not I offer the structured and somewhat stiff Aristea ecklonii.


I picked up this plant, in a 4″ pot, at Plant Depot in San Juan Capistrano, never having seen it in person. The promise of the striking blue flowers in the description was enough  for me to give it a try.  I have never found it in a retail nursery since I snapped it up 3 years ago.  Sunset’s Western Garden Book lists no common names for it although a couple of websites refer to it as Blue Flies, Blue Eyed Iris and Blue Corn Lily.  It is a member of the iris family and its foliage very much resembles that of the Moraea iris which is grown all over California.  Much like the Moraea, the individual flowers only last a few days but each flowering stalk has many six petaled blossoms, resulting in good blooming power over many weeks.  Removing spent flowers will prevent you from having a whole flock of seedlings to deal with.  I have generally let a few of the seedling grow out to pass-along to a new home.  The ones I don’t want are easy enough to pull out.  The photos do not do justice to the clarity of the blue flower–they almost glow at night. In my garden this tough performer sits in full sun all day and gets only minimal water plus a quick clean up of spent stalks in early fall.  This serendipitous purchased has far surpassed my expectations!



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