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, August 13, 2010

Foliage Friday: Australian Rosemary

A post from the middle of the annual summer heat wave.

It's hot and humid.  The oppressive heat knocks you back on your heels if you set foot outside your air-conditioned prison.  Gardeners in Houston love to plant chilly silver-blue foliage -- we long for even a slight cooling effect.  Alas!  The hard, cruel fact is that most silver-leafed plants do not thrive here in the humidity.

Fruticosa means shrubby, not fruity!

I'm happy to report that Australian Rosemary or Westringia fruticosa is an exception.  This mild-mannered shrub isn't related to rosemary at all, but shares the pointy-leaved look.  Australian Rosemary has softer leaves and a more open form than the herbal rosemary does.  I cut mine back fairly severely this spring after the frost, and it has returned in perfect form.  I keep it trimmed somewhat to encourage a full look.  Australian Rosemary will perform in the sun, mostly sun or morning sun.  If there's enough light, it will also produce small lavender flowers.  I have mine on the east side of the house, so it doesn't bloom much for me, but it's a nice cool little row of shrubs against that hot, red brick.

This shrub is native to Australia and can reach heights of 4-6 feet, although I think it looks nice when it's kept a little shorter.  Australian Rosemary is a member of the mint family, and though I've never tried it, I understand it's easy to propagate from cuttings.  For me, it's been absolutely immune from insects and disease.  Try it -- it may be good for a degree or two off the heat index!


  1. I'd love to plant it in my Virginia garden. Bet I'm out of luck up here in zone 7b.

  2. Artemesia Powis Castle does really well for me in SW Houston.

  3. Not something that I'm familiar with but I like the look of this shrub. With all that heat and humidity, it could do well here too!