It’s Gardener Bloggers Bloom Day, the 15 of every month. Winter is a good time to visit the local conservatories to get one’s fix of “Bloom.” Recently I discovered Blueberry Ice bougainvillea at the Brookside Gardens conservatory in Wheaton, Maryland. This plant fascinated me because it was exactly opposite of the type of bougainvillea I grew up with in the Philippines, Thailand, and Indonesia. In the tropics, we had bougainvillea vines climbing up the sides of houses and buildings, as common as wisteria is where I now live in Northern Virginia. The green leaves and papery thin salmon flowers (really modified leaves called bracts) colored the buildings for months at a time. So I was intrigued by Blueberry Ice at the conservatory because it had cream/green variegated leaves, it was only about 2 feet tall, and it had bracts the color of grape popsicles. Think of how useful this small tropical plant could be here in the Washington DC metropolitan area. Grown as a summer annual, Blueberry Ice would thrive in a hanging basket, window box, or container. It will scoff at our heat and humidity and reward us with color all summer long. I love it when a new cultivar changes the paradigm and gives new meaning to what a bougainvillea could be in my garden.
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