It was 14F outside. I was at the Calloways Nursery in Hurst recording radio rejoinders (short pieces that end ad breaks) with all of their managers and assistant managers, and I came to a short break where I could get up and stroll out to their greenhouses.
One of my friends, Steve Rosenbaum of Steve’s Leaves, grows perhaps the most incredible assortment of unusual foliage plants anywhere in North Texas (sold as “Steve’s Leaves”), and he supplies Calloways. It’s always fun to see what he’s brought to their benches. These caught my eye.
Pilea ‘Moon Valley’
This is a small plant that’s well suited to terrariums and dish gardens. There are many types of pileas, but this is one of the prettiest. The texture of its leaves sings to my soul. It would blend really nicely with other foliage of finer textures. I haven’t grown it yet, but I’m going back to get a couple soon. I’m sure our local Calloways will have them.
It probably had a variety name on a label somewhere, but I didn’t see it. I believe it’s Troy’s Gold, but that really doesn’t matter. It’s unusual in that most other cultivars of this genus have white variegation. This one is especially showy. It’s a fairly compact grower that would do well in a patio pot or hanging basket. You could also use it in a larger decorative pot as the “spiller” plant pouring out around a blue salvia or red wax begonias. Or maybe interplanted with New Blue Wonder fanflower.
Rex begonia ‘Fireworks’
Now we’re talking! I’ve grown Rex begonias since I was a kid. At one point about 30 years ago I had 200 varieties. ‘Fireworks’ has always been one of the easiest for me in Texas’ summer conditions. I grow it in shade (bright windowsill in the winter), and I repot it to a larger container as it grows.
Eventually ‘Fireworks’ ends up in a 12- or 14-inch pot with 8- or 10-inch leaves. It’s absolutely stunning when you give it just enough light to color the foliage, but not so much that it wilts and burns at the edges. If a leaf goes bad, you just pinch it off. I love this plant!