Saturday, August 25, 2012

The Elephants of Summer

Years ago, I drove by a home
that had white and green caladiums, white impatiens, silver dusty miller,
and English ivy interplanted along the entire front of the house.
The green, white, and silver-gray plants reflected light inside the shade,
and I imagine all that white and silver 
must have also bounced moonbeams right back into the night sky.

I've always intended to duplicate that planting scheme,
especially since I have lots of shade here 
and, as I've mentioned in an earlier blog,
 I love the concept of the night garden.
But life intervenes regularly, so I'm still just thinking about it.

Another reason I haven't planted caladiums
 is that they have to be dug and overwintered indoors. 
Digging plants before a freeze is seldom on my list of things to do.
I have grown caladiums in pots, however.
Here are some leaves with bright red centers and green edges
that I planted last summer:

(Here's an interesting fact unrelated to the topic:
 the rough wood at left in the photo is not ocean driftwood. 
It is a late 19th- to early 20th-century hedge post hand cut 
from an Osage Orange tree that my father dug out of a field row 
for me decades ago. But back to caladiums...)

This year, I planted these bi-color pink and green caladiums 
with white impatiens, variegated ivy, springeri fern, and red begonias.
The caladium leaves have easily outgrown the other plants
and the impatiens are often obscured in their shadow:

Even though they are big, they can't compete 
with the common deep green giant elephant ears seen here:

The term elephant ears as a common name may well be too common,
as it is applied to caladiums, taro (which is edible), 
and several varieties of the elephant ears above,
all of which have different Latin names.
It's hard to know which is which 
because the shape of the leaves is a prominent feature shared by each.
Depending on the context, the term might also apply 
to a delicious cinnamon-sugar confection,
made either with baked puff pastry or fried bread (even better).
Now that's an elephant ear I would overwinter in my house.

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