Tag Archives | poinsettia

That poinsettia you bought? Here’s the back story.

Of hundreds of articles I’ve written for the San Diego Union-Tribune, this one is my all-time favorite. Above: A wild poinsettia. (Photo by Bruce Leander, Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.) 

It was a Quasimodo of a plant.

Even so, Franz Fruehwirth was intrigued by the gangly poinsettia he saw growing in a sunny corner of the Paul Ecke Ranch in Encinitas, CA. The year was 1962 and, for 40 years, the Ecke family had dominated the poinsettia market nationwide. True, customers preferred traditional-looking plants, but that didn’t mean tastes wouldn’t change, given an appealing alternative.

The oddity had a grand name, Ecke’s Flaming Sphere, but its ball-like red topknot and tightly curled leaves suggested not a comet so much as a tarantula. It had been discovered in the mid-’50s, as a mutant shoot of a normal pointy-leaved plant.

Maybe, Fruehwirth mused as he went about his routine work of mating poinsettias, Flaming Sphere could light the flower market on fire. Continue Reading →

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December Calendar Photos

Poinsettia nursery

Poinsettia - Euphorbia pulcherrima in commercial greenhouse,

December is now the most commonly requested calendar photo by my various publishers.  This is because many calendars now include 13 months, adding December of the year it is sold to the 12 months of the upcoming year.

So, for my posting here, I thought it might be fun to show the variety of photos I have used to illustrate December.   There are some obvious choices such as Poinsettia but for a gardener’s calendar I want to go beyond the obvious, so I try to include images with some subtleties that might appeal to a discriminating gardener. Continue Reading →

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