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A Lascivious Shrub

by germinatrix | April 4th, 2010

the mighty echium, stretching its big 'horns of plenty' to the sky...

Spring is when it happens. Things in the garden are fresher, signs of optimism and new life abound. And then there is the Echium. It stretches into bloom during this time of year, and while everything else is bunnies and new chicks and fresh green and tulips, this shrub sends another message entirely. And that message is, as usual, decidedly sexual in my eyes.

it can't be just me...

I mean, what is Mother Nature trying to say to us with this majestic shrub, proudly donning masses of … I’ll say it – erections… for all the world to see? And everybody LOVES Echium, they SWOON over it, they adore the big, fat, meaty flowerspikes adorned with tiny bluish purple blossoms. I can only think that it is sign that nature is getting busy. Bees love this shrub as much as, if not more, than everybody else. They are pollinating up a storm wherever echiums are in bloom, and thus begins the happy cycle of  the bees and the birds and what is very obviously breeding activity.

It is smart to plant something that is powerfully attractive ( ahem … to bees) in your garden. When bees are enticed by a big, obviously sexy plant, they stay around to take a run at all of the other cute little blossoms in your garden, meaning that over time your flowers bloom bigger and better, your vegetables are producing like maniacs, and all is happy and relaxed in your peaceable kingdom. It’s like having super crazy hot girl in a sorority ( I speak hypothetically – I have never been in a sorority, but this analogy holds true. Poke holes in it if you DARE). She will cause a swarm of boy activity around the sorority, and while she is the draw, the LURE, the rest of the sorority ends up happy because of the overflow. Everybody gets pollinated.

So look around your garden and think about what you have in it that is powerfully attractive to the birds and the bees – Aloes blossoms are pull in the activity in a BIG way in my garden, as do passionflowers.I also have grevilleas that do their fair share for the sorority that is my garden. They help keep all the plants happy and healthy because they do their jobs so well – they are hard to resist. Hummingbirds hover in line, waiting to take their turn, chirping excitedly. Notice which plants are bringing in the throngs, and put in more of them! Mother Nature will be happy, as will the birds, the bees, and most of all, YOU!

keep your garden satisfied - plant sexy

XOXO The Germinatrix

15 Responses to “A Lascivious Shrub”

  1. Plant Sexy. What a great concept that every garden will delight in.

  2. Echium are gorgeous! Thanks for sharing!

  3. Your sorority theory rocks Ivette! I do love Echiums, and I wonder why they are so rarely found up here in our Portland nursery’s? Sure technically they are not going to live through our winters but that pesky little fact doesn’t stop them from selling lots of other things that are the same hardiness as the Echiums. Why the Echium Embargo? Is it a conspiracy???? Are they just too sexy??? I think we are on to something here!

  4. Gawd I love echiums…no doubt you have seen pics of the eight foot echium wildpreti “Tower of Jewels” over at Annie’s Annuals. Giant floral erections punctuate the test garden there!
    If I lived in the proper climate, I would use echiums in a playful, sexy, foreplay garden. Echiums aren’t the only plants that look as if they are in the middle of some act of love!

  5. Sex aside (but only momentarily, I promise!), that blue is so amazing. I’m always a sucker for that color, hence my ceanothus fixation. Bees like that color in ceanothus, too – I’ve seen shrubs literally vibrating with them in spring. Is it the truly spectacular color or the sexiness of the shrub? Who cares – plant with abandon!

  6. I’ve heard of echium but never seen blooms like this before. They are an amazing color. Reminds me of the Ceonothus I saw blooming in England a few years ago. I don’t think it is a plant for Austin though.

  7. Those echiums are quite lovely. I tried some seeds last year but the seedlings died, will try again this year.

  8. OK, OK, I change my position on the echium I bought this spring for the foliage, and then was disappointed when it up and bloomed. I was worried the bloom meant flowers instead of good foliage growth (this is my first, I’m not sure what to expect). But you’re right, if the blooms start a trend with the bees, and then the rest of the garden benefits, I’ll have to decide to appreciate that purple flower instead. Thanks for helping me see it in the right light.

  9. As usual, Ivette, you’ve taken plant lust to a whole new level. That is one x-rated plant!

  10. Oh Germi, I adore this plant. Everywhere I go in San Francisco and points nearby, it’s EVERYWHERE. Planted “on purpose” as well as just popping up at the roadside. Embarrassingly enough, I didn’t know the name of my crush… now I do. And, you know, once you know the name of a plant… buying one is just the next logical step. Thank you!

  11. LOL blake. Understood; you can’t just go up to a plant and ask for its name and number. Which is too bad, really.

    Ivette, I got a good laugh out of your sorority analogy, but I just want to add that the sexiest plants and people are not always the most obvious. Take rosemary. The blooms don’t look like anything special, but the bees just go crazy for them!

    Anyway, we all know all the bunnies and chicks and tulips are really just innocent (or jaded?) sex symbols. Easter was first a fertility celebration. My husband suspects it still is among certain Christians who give up sex for lent.

  12. Susan C! I think “Plant Sexy” is a idea whose time has come! If we all plant for optimum pollination, just think! And then of course there are other notions of sexy in the garden – lush, big, welcoming, comfortable … I think all of these things fall under the rubric of “Plant Sexy”!

    Hi Aerelonian! I LOVE echiums – I am trying to find the room in my little garden for a specimen or two… how can I NOT have one of these beautiful plants for my very own?

    Loree you DOLL! I’m glad you agree with my sorority theory – I think it holds true! Isn’t it just a twist on the phrase “A rising tide lifts all boats?” (hmm… maybe not. Wait – is that even a saying? I heard it somewhere…). YOU should have this plant! In fact, I just heard from a gardenblogfriend up in your neck of the woods that the owner or designer from Cistus did a garden where echiums were kept in greenhouses to overwinter, and then brought out en masse to line a driveway! Or something like that! It sounded amazing … and right up your alley, you sexy plant zone pusher, you!

    Leslie – not only have I SEEN pics, I’ve grown ‘Tower of Jewels’ (AMAZING), and I am currently watching AnniesAnnual’s Echium wildpretii ‘Mr. Happy’ stretching itself skyward in my front yard! I’ll post a pic of it soon – it looking like it’s gonna be pretty MAGNIFIQUE!!! …and J’ADORE the idea of a foreplay garden! Ooolala!

    Jane – YEssss… the shade of blue is so lovely, and it IS that special kind of springtime color that ceanothus has that drives the bees crazy! I am usually one for crazy hot colors, but this blue looks so beautiful in the twilight, I can’t resist.

    Oh, Jenny – this seems like a plant that would THRIVE in Austin – but Austin is so difficult, what with the combination of winter freezes and intense summer heat! If only … this would be a glorious addition to your beautiful garden!

    Try again, Nicole – maybe the seedlings of a E. ‘wildprettii’ would be better – as a biennial, I’ve had better luck. And they are JUSt as marvelous, if not MORESO!!!

    Megan, if I can do the tiniest bit of mind-changing, then THIS is a great place to do it! I ADORE the foliage of the echiums – but this is ONE plant that I think I can say the bloom and the foliage are equally impressive. And, if bees love it, then I am mad about it. But I feel where you’re coming from – if yours is a perennial, cut those blossoms as soon as they are spent and you will have gorgeous foliage again in no time! XO!

    Dearest Andrea! YES! YES! YES to ECHIUM!!!

    Hi Blake – I see you know the charms of this heavy duty sexpot , and I am VERY happy to make the formal introduction. I love being a matchmaker! I know this crush will be “consummated” soon… (wink)

    Hi Summer! You are right … we can’t forget about the cool, understated girl – not in a sorority; the one that just does her thing and is awesome and isn’t obvious – but the swarms surround her. She is the rosemary of the college campus. She was my idol …
    Oh yes – and I agree with your husband. This holiday that just passed is a pagan festival co-opted by Christianity! All of the symbols are fertility symbols! I am a believer in Beltane Fire!
    But pagans like me don’t give up sex for lent – or for ANYTHING!!!

  13. The echium are awesome….the question is blue or purple. I love them both. Matti

  14. Cheeky Germi!

    “Sexual in my eyes…
    It’s like having a super crazy hot girl in a sorority…
    Everybody gets pollinated…’horns of plenty’
    Big, fat, meaty flower-spikes?”

    My word! Wait a sec, I just have to cancel my Playboy subscription! :-)

    No wonder you are writing a book G…next stop, directing a movie? : “The Germmanuel in Datura, perhaps”? Well we all know…old school is the BEST!


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