On the short list of ways I enjoy spending my time, and money, traveling comes right after buying plants. Or maybe they should be equal, because while traveling I can buy plants?
Wherever I venture I make a point of visiting neighborhoods. Walking up and down streets and seeing how the residents garden (or don’t) tells me a lot about an area. My most recent explorations took place in the Bay Area of California, a climate that sends me into plant lust overload. Seeing a garden like the one pictured below is escapism at its best!
(more photos of this garden here)
However it is one thing to lust over something you cannot have, it’s another when you discover a new obsession that just might be in your growing zone. Let me back up a bit…
My husband has a fondness for bookstores, and used bookstores in cities we’re visiting are the best. Whenever he finds a good one I make sure to check out the garden section, you never know what you might find. This book, The Trees of San Francisco by Mike Sullivan was one of my discovered gems on this trip. We spent most of our time east, in Berkeley, however since the plant choices are basically the same as in San Francisco the trees discussed in the book were all around me. I devoured most of the 70 (ish) tree profiles the first night and spent the next few days trying to match “real life tree” with “book tree” – it was a fun exercise. The one tree I was certain would be written about when I picked up the book (because every third house seemed to have one) was Eriobotrya japonica, the loquat, oddly it was only mentioned in passing. There was however a listing for the bronze loquat, Eriobotrya deflexa. I was suitably intrigued.
From the book: “Bronze loquats are recognizable by the coppery bronze color of their new growth, which eventually fades to green, giving the trees an attractive two-tone appearance for much of the year. The tree, which grows to 25-30 feet, has creamy white flower clusters from March to May, but it rarely bears fruit. A related variety of loquat, Eriobotrya japonica, is also found in the Bay Area (but more often in backyards) and bears edible, orange-yellow fruit 1-2 inches in length. The bronze loquat is native to Taiwan; its edible relative is from China and southern Japan.” Sounds pretty wonderful right? I thought maybe I’d spotted one when I saw this…
I pulled over and snapped a couple of photos from the car, not exactly sure what I was looking at. Once I walked across the street to check it out in person I was even more puzzled. It was definitely loquat-like, but the bark was so white.
And the leaves were bigger, flatter, and more scalloped on the edges.
Online research seems to confirm that indeed I discovered a Eriobotrya deflexa, however additional research turns up slightly conflicting information about hardiness, so it may (or may not) be something I can grow in my USDA Zone 8 garden. That certainly doesn’t dampen the excitement of finding a new tree to lust after, after all I’m up for challenges.