The idea was to get a few perennials to fill in a few spaces in my garden. Gardeners know what a tremendous high it is to spend part of a beautiful afternoon at a garden center. It is almost impossible not to become a plant junkie. My cart was filling up with rosemary, basil, some thyme, a couple of hostas, a flat of Sweet Alyssum, some Impatiens for the shade. I lingered longingly over a dark purple Hellebore that I did not buy but am tempted to go back for. I stood inhaling the perfume wafting from a massive Gardenia in full flower….. actually circled back a few times to smell it again and again. Almost made it out of there with a reasonable haul, when I passed what appeared to be an alien plant from outer space bearing wild looking florets. Which of course I just had to have.
Up until now it seemed the Passion Flower was in a league of its own, holding the Alien Plant title, but I think this new plant is right up there and deserves a place on that space ship.
The plant was just labeled “hanging plant” with no other explanation, so I had to hunt down a garden center person to identify it. She said it was called an Osteospermum, which instantly conjured up images of disintegrating bones and flailing sperms to me. To remember the name, I have filed it in my brain as “The Osteoporosis Plant”. Actually, Osteo does mean bone and spermum means seed in Greek…. which still does not explain much. Is this cool, or what?
Once I got it home, my research revealed that the common name is “African Daisy”, a native of (guess!) southern Africa, with some species found in southwest Arabia too. They like a lot of sun and will act like annuals unless you live in one of the warmer zones. There are different types of florets - the Disc kind and the Ray kind. The Disc kind can come in a variety of bright, parrot-like colors and have both male and female flowers (pseudo-bisexual). Some have blue centers (blue centers!). This particular one that I have happens to be the ray variety, with spoon-shaped petals that give it that freaky look I so admire. The colors on the rays are a bit more subtle. The ray variety are females.
Here is another photo of my lady alien plant in silhouette. The Aliens Are Landing!!!