Amicia zygomeris – ‘sexmex’ in the autumn border

| November 14, 2011 | 4 Comments

Sure we’ve leaves and berries in quanitity

for garden interest at the moment

But long gone

is the great outpouring of high summer flower

So what is left in the way of flower?

Salvias:  greggii, guaranitica, involucrata Mrs Pope and microphylla. Some dwarf Asters, tricyrtis, sedums and lots of miscanthus. Some hardy geraniums such as Anne Folkard and Rozanne. A smattering of flowers over all sorts of things -some hebes surprisingly – just what does Hebe ‘Midsummer Beauty’ think it is doing? And of course the winter stalwarts such as viburnums have begun to do their stuff. And the ‘graceful death’ of Hydrangea macrophylla glows away in the background behind it all.

So quite a lot really!

Yes and that’s just without really looking .

But what do we have that’s a real star?

Wasn’t it Napoleon in Animal farm who said ‘All animals are equal but some are more equal than others’. Its definitely true of plants. In theory they are all tools, but then you get one with class and you know it!

Friday’s touch of class was straight out of Mexico: Amicia zygomeris

Its six feet of the most unusual perennial you are likely to see. Its butterfly wing – shaped leaflets are set in pairs with large plummy stipules at the base

And now when the show is almost over this star sings out with large yellow pea-flowers.

I am sure my pics don’t do it justice.

And in any case now I am going to put you off.

Even here in South west UK – practically the banana belt – this is a warm wall diva with all the aura of cheating climates. Full sun, shelter, south facing, well drained soil – your best spot in short – and even then it’s a pile of grainy, free draining mulch, partly rotted bark chips and silver sand across its crown ahead of the winter. It will be due this benediction anyday sometime soon. I was ill last autumn and never got to do this – it just got through, but I am not risking it this time. We are on our third duff winter with ascending severity.

I might even fleece it too which is almost unknown. I did all that stuff years ago and really had said good bye to serious frost protection.

And after all why would I care so much?

Well, as Christopher Lloyd says ‘It is a plant that vistors notice without having it pointed out’. It provides ‘summer luxuriance’. I would actually go a whole lot further and say ‘exoticism’!

Nothing is quite like it. It has presence.

Lloyd talks of taking it in for the winter, potting it and doing cuttings. I would not be doing the lifting here, but now that he says it, I do remember doing the ‘belt and braces’ cuttings and then selling off the arising plants because the parent did overwinter.

The propagules sold on sight at about 6 inches high.

Its that sexy!



Category: The Planty Stuff

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  1. Robert,
    Glad to see that you are bring sexy back to the garden. I overwintered my Amicia zygomeris two years ago but lost it last year. I was looking back at some old pictures and realized how much I missed it. Next year, I will have to bring the sexy back again to my own garden. Splendid post, By the way.

  2. Robert says:

    Dear Michael,
    Great to hear from you.
    Well, I guess I think that gardens are amazing places and its good to try and get that across!
    Might know that you would have grown Amicia. Sorry you lost it and glad that you will try again.
    Think once they are established the over wintering becomes easier, which is why I am really against lifting and taking indoors – such disruption and so much hard work!
    But of course it does depend on climate.
    Thanks so much for your encouraging comment – it is much appreciated.
    Have not visited any blogs for a while – we are just so b usy that it is difficult to keep all the wheels on the wagon – but you are at the top of my list to check in when life frees up!

  3. This might be one for my wish list – although having had a quick look online, I might find it difficult to get hold of – so I am not surprised your cuttings used to sell out straight away!

    As you know, I am keen on late flowering things, but when does it start flowering?

  4. Robert says:

    Hi Karen,
    Yes it is exactly your sort of thing!
    I guess a plant fair or somewhere like Malvern which I know you go to might be your best bet. If you ever come to Bristol I’ll give you some cuttings!
    It flowers late summer to Autumn. Those pics were literally taken on Friday. But the summer long exoticism of it is hard to describe – it is the stipules which make it completely bizarre!
    Thanks for your comments.