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.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Hamelia or Hummingbird Bush

One of my favorite flowering shrubs is Hamelia patens, commonly known as Hummingbird Bush or Firebush.  It's a veritable hummingbird magnet -- they love those scarlet tubular flowers.  Hamelia also attracts numerous butterflies, including the Zebra Longwing. It's a semi-evergreen woody shrub that usually tolerates our winters very well.  This winter, they all froze down to the ground and were slow to recover, but it was unusually cold, after all!  Normally, you can prune back freeze-damaged foliage to about a foot tall, and it will quickly recover its former height.

The "regular" Hamelia can get quite tall, depending on the weather.  A good average here is probably 6 feet.  It prefers full sun or partial sun, and a well-drained location.  (Doesn't everything?)  You may find "compact" varieties at local nurseriest; these will also get about 6' tall.  There is a dwarf variety on the market called Hamelia macrantha, native to Costa Rica.  This one only gets about 4' tall, and has flowers that tend toward yellow.  I do not believe it's as cold-hardy as the Hamelia patens.

If you have one, did it come back from the freeze?


  1. All 7 of mine came back this year. I never water them. They get 5-6 feet tall. They got aphids 3 summers ago and I released ladybugs...aphids gone. Not a better heat tolerant perennial. Morning Glory bush/tree a close second. Love your blog.

  2. Thanks! I think they are wonderful too. I know the people in Florida are a little concerned that they may become an invasive species over there, but I don't think it's a problem here at all.