Aloe from the other siiiiiide


With apologies to Adele and her earworm of a song, aloes are still saying hello in my garden this mild winter with spring-like flowering.


I find their leaves equally eye-catching, with white spots reminiscent of disco-ball light effects.


Believe it or not, this is the same aloe (A. maculata), but it appears to have a Coppertone tan. Why? It’s been cold-stressed. Many succulents change color when they experience stress from cold or drought. Because it’s planted in a shallow dish container, this aloe has gotten a good deal colder this winter than the one pictured above, and its leaves reflect that. I think it’s pretty.


Also showing off right now are the abutilons.


This unnamed pink one — my last survivor of three over the years — is blooming well, with more buds ready to pop.


At its feet, native heartleaf skullcap (Scutellaria ovata) carpets the ground with its blue-green leaves — its winter incarnation. Come spring, spires of lavender flowers appear, and then it’ll go dormant for the summer. In the culvert-pipe planters, squid agave (A. bracteosa) offers fountain-like form and dependable, cold-hardy winter interest.


As do the ‘Winter Gem’ boxwoods. A pair of them guards each of the four “doorways” into the circular pond garden.


And one more abutilon to end with: ‘Marilyn’s Choice’, glowing in the fading light of last evening.

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All material © 2006-2016 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

10 Responses

  1. Jenny says:

    You abutilon is gorgeous. Enough to make me want to try again. I too noticed my aloes quite stressed by cold and drought. The tips of the leaves are quite brown. I just don’t really want them to get dry and brittle because of a heavy freeze. As for flowering nothing in sight over here. Is maculata the new name for A.saponaria or is this a different variety?

    • Pam/Digging says:

      Yes, maculata is the new name for saponaria. According to Wikipedia, “This species was previously known as Aloe saponaria (a name that came from the Latin “sapo” meaning soap, as the sap makes a soapy lather in water). Its currently accepted name, according to the South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI), is Aloe maculata (“maculata” means speckled or marked).” —Pam

  2. Nell says:

    In the top photo, the individual aloe florets at the top of the bloom spire look like they’re imitating the bottle tree! Neat. Nice jolt of color for those of us in The Grey Time…

  3. Renee says:

    Very pretty! I like the aloes and how they change colors. That last picture is beautiful too.

  4. Kris P says:

    I love that last Abutilon photo! You caught the sun at exactly the right moment.

  5. rickii says:

    Sleep refused to come last night and that song kept replaying in my brain. I must play it often enough to get all the words down. I find that if I can sing a song clear through in my head, it will sometimes go away and leave me alone. Aloes are dear to my heart but mine pale in comparison to the ones you can grow.

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