New 'Old Blue' (and company)
All plant fanatics understand the thrill of getting a box that says "Live Plants." I left behind a lot of plants in Wisconsin to make the move a bit easier. They were ones that had declined in the dark, dry winter to the point that I'd rather replace them or not bother with them altogether. Others just didn't interest me as they did when I got them.
One plant in particular was one I really wanted to replace. My Begonia 'Old Blue' suffered from my failure to repot it (for many, many months after it should have been upgraded to a bigger home) and the dark and dry Milwaukee apartment I lived in reduced it to the point where it was easier to leave the old one behind and replace it when I got back to Washington. I just love the big leaves with their satin-like finish and subtle variations in color depending on the light and other conditions they grow in. It had gotten quite leggy though, so I cut it back hard rather than repotting it. In the aftermath, I never did really give it good conditions to recover from that.
|The old 'Old Blue', back in North Carolina where it reached its peak, color-wise. Those varying shades of silver, blue, green, and even subtle purple are why I absolutely had to get another.|
So when I got settled back in Washington, I quickly put in an order to Steve's Leaves. 'Old Blue' is the result of their breeding program, along with several other fantastic foliage begonias. This has become one of my favorite mail-order sources for interesting indoor foliage plants. They are reasonably priced and the plants are very healthy and large for the pot size. And no, I was not compensated in any way to say that. I just think they do a good job.
|Ample newspaper packing kept the plants snug and secure on their journey.|
|One thing I appreciate about Steve's Leaves is that they tape the label to the outside of the wrapped plants. Though I also appreciate the mystery of opening up each one without knowing what you'll see next.|
|The new 'Old Blue'. I really do love these leaves. Pictures just don't do them justice. They only show a static image, rather than the constant play of light on the satin surface.|
|Begonias arrive a little rumpled and crumpled in the mail, but they adjust after a few days. The new 'Old Blue' is even better than the original, larger and with lots of growing points. This will make a nice full plant.|
Begonia 'Moonlit Snow' is the final traveling companion. With this I've completed my begonia trifecta from Steve's Leaves. They have many other fantastic plants, including new hybrids from their own breeding program, but 'Old Blue', 'Moonlit Snow', and 'Starry Nights' are the three that I first fell in love with when I found their website and that hasn't changed. For some reason, 'Moonlit Snow' didn't make it onto my first order, so I made sure to rectify that situation for this second order. I'm so glad I did.
|'Moonlit Snow' came out of its wrappings especially rumpled and stuck out all to one side, like a bad case of bedhead, but like the other two it is big and healthy.|
|Named for its resemblance to a field of snow in the moonlight, this begonia will get the same charcoal color as 'Starry Night', below. I think that may be why I only got 'Starry Night' at first, but they really are totally different.|
|'Starry Night', from my original order from Steve's Leaves, has shorter, less pointed leaves than 'Moonlit Snow', and a large field of silver surrounded by small silver "stars", instead of the scattered "snow catching the moonlight" of 'Moonlit Snow'.|
|'Moonlit Snow' really impressed me as it unfurled from its travel-induced crumple and spread out more evenly. I think this one may have the most elegant form out of the three begonias, though there's something about the subtlety of the colors textures in 'Old Blue' that still makes it my favorite (which surprised me at first).|
|Left to right: Primulina 'Patina', Primulina 'Betty', Streptocarpus 'Waterbug'|
|Left to right: Nematanthus brasiliensis, Nematanthus corticola, Columnea 'Janella'|
Of course, I haven't just been feeding my houseplant addiction. I've been spending time out in the garden moving things around, cleaning things up, and adding new plants. I just haven't been very good about taking pictures. It's been an "action over action shots" kind of week, getting things done and not bothering to drag the camera along with me. Most of the results don't look very impressive yet, being largely comprised of very small plants in a very large landscape, but I will be sharing some of these developments with you.