Bottlebrush

bottlebrush to the right of the pink rhodo
photo by SVSeekins

Most of the time the Bottlebrush is just an unusual evergreen weeping shrub.  Its spiky, lance-shaped leaves don’t look like the needles of any coniferous tree I’ve ever seen.  But it’s kinda funky – – and you know, I appreciate funky.   🙂  So it makes perfect sense to me to plant one as a backgrounder in the shrub border.

bottlebrush in bloom Callistemon garden Victoria BC Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

It gets very little notice when the rhododendron right beside it blooms in May.

But come July, the spring spectacular in the garden fades.  The hummingbirds & butterflies shift their attention as the Callistemon commands centre stage.  For a couple of weeks, the red blooms are spectacular: a true summery colour.

bottlebrush blooms Callistemon garden Victoria BC Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

The flowers are 5 inches long + 2 inches wide, but STRANGE….

Instead of bobbing at the top of stem-like normal flowers do, the bottlebrush flower petals circle the branch itself.  These blossoms remind me of the gizmo we use to wash out wine bottles.  The name bottlebrush is àpropos.

As the blooms fade the seed clusters add a little interesting texture as the shrub returns to its regular backdrop duties.

bottlebrush seed head Callistemon garden Victoria BC Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

I know bottlebrush has coastal Australian origins, so I”ve crossed my fingers it’ll survive our occasional winter freeze.  So far, so good.

It’s reputed to like a little moisture too, but after it became established I’ve really reduced the mollycoddling.  With a whole lot more mulch & a lot less water, it seems as drought tolerant as it needs to be in this pacific northwest garden.

bottlebrush blooms Callistemon garden Victoria BC Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

Because of the tough needle-like leaves, I didn’t expect any trouble from the deer, but we did have a problem the first year this bottlebrush was planted.

A young buck came into the yard.  Frustrated with his velvet antlers, he was rubbing them on anything that might help remove the itchy felt.  He took on the trunk of the evergreen magnolia (surviving still, but will never reach its grand potential)… he took on the columnar cedar bushes (recovered well)…  He took on the bottlebrush & it shredded under his antlers. Poor thing.

recovering bottlebrush Callistemon garden Victoria BC Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

It was a good thing I was broke at the time because otherwise I might have just dug it up & replaced it with something else.  Instead, I cut back the broken stems darn near the ground. It was delightful the following year to see it spring back & grow like crazy.  I caged it for a year or so, but now it’s larger & unprotected.  

protected bottlebrush, Callistemon garden Victoria BC Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

There’s another young buck coming around this summer, so I’ll keep an eye out for any signs of antler rubbing & be on the ready with more wire fencing.

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© SVSeekins and Garden Variety Life, 2013

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Blooming Roosters

Now here’s a special photo of hens & chicks.  KS’ mum grows them at her place a couple of km away from ours.  In summer the roosters came to visit her flock too.  Then they bloomed!!

hens and chicks and roosters in bloom
photo by E C Jewsbury

Aren’t they pretty?  I’m so glad to see what their true potential is.

Unfortunately deer came to dinner soon after…. no more blooms.  At least the hens & chicks ‘coexist’ with deer.  Not so much for the Roosters.  Pity.

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© SVSeekins and Garden Variety Life, 2013

Previous post in series:
Hens and Chicks – – & Roosters
Roosters On The Chopping Block

Roosters on the Chopping Block

Yes, I said it.  “Hens & Chicks get along fine with Deer. ” I said.    “They co-exists.”  I said.  Well that was a cocky thing to say.  I’m sorry. I spoke too soon.

hens and chicks - sans rooster heads
photo by SVSeekins

CF called me up this evening to invite me to see her flock after today’s visit from a deer….  Doesn’t that just make you FLINCH ?

As it turns out, when the Roosters fully develop they flower on top.  Who knew?  Those on our mountain never seem to get that far.

nibbled hens and chicks in bloom
photo by SVSeekins

It’s nice to see a few blooms left on CF’s plants.  Isn’t it amazing how carefully the deer can select a bloom, but leave the adjacent buds for another day?  How do they do that?

It’s a good thing that hens & chicks can propagate (via off-sets) without the roosters going to seed.  Even so, these poor roosters… isn’t it a kick in the balls?

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© SVSeekins and Garden Variety Life, 2013

Other post in series:
Hens and Chicks – – & Roosters
Blooming Roosters