Pied Beauty

Gerard Manley Hopkins (1844-1889)

Glory be to God for dappled things—
For skies of couple-colour as a brinded cow;
For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim;
Fresh-firecoal chestnut-falls; finches' wings;
Landscape plotted and pieced—fold, fallow, and plough;
And all trades, their gear and tackle and trim.

All things counter, original, spare, strange;
Whatever is fickle, freckled (who knows how?)
With swift, slow; sweet, sour; adazzle, dim;
He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change:

Praise him.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Coral Bean Tree

(Coral Bean Tree, at Fort Bend County Master Gardener Display Garden)

This fiery flower is a cross between the native Texas Coral Bean (Erythrina herbacea) and the South American Fireman's Cap (Erythrina crista-galli).  Although damaged in the freeze, this mature specimen recovered very well.  The flowers don't open quite as fully as those of the Fireman's Cap, but I love its brilliant red color. 

Coral Bean Tree blooms all summer, and its crimson flowers are pollinated by hummingbirds, making for quite a stunning show.  Although the stems are soft when the plant is young, as it ages, it develops a barky trunk that protects it from the cold and makes it more upright.  Mature plants are said to tolerate temperatures in the low 20s, but as you can see, this one survived temperatures in the high teens.  They are mostly evergreen in mild winters but can lose their leaves completely in cold weather.  Plant in a sunny or most sunny area and you'll be rewarded with a large shrub or small tree than can reach heights of up to 20 feet.  See the Coral Bean Tree at the Fort Bend County Master Gardeners' Display Garden, 1402 Band Road, Rosenberg, TX 77471.

The botanical name for this plant comes from the Greek word for red, erythros.  The "bidwillii" part probably is named after John Carne Bidwill, an English botanist noted for his work in New Zealand in the mid-19th century.

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