Monday, August 2, 2010

Day in the Life of a Plant Geek

If you walk outside Twin Lakes Restaurant in Sunset Beach to wait for a table, this is what you will see.  I drove over there to see if I could find passion flowers which I had seen on this bank once upon a time, when the children were still little.  Passion flowers, Passiflora incarnata, are not uncommon at the coast of North Carolina, but it always feel like finding treasure  to come across them.  Few flowers are so uncommonly lovely.

But on this bank today, no passion flowers, just lots of catbriar, Smilax bona-nox, twining its spiny self all around, over and under.

Some Virginia creeper, Parthenocissus quinquefolia, was mixed in, too.  This is a weed that crops up all over my shady yard at home, but rarely flowers like this one in full sun.  There will be dark berries later in summer which birds love.

Look left and see one of the last of the sailboats that will have to wait for the bridge to move so it can pass through - the new bridge will open up shortly.  Looks like wax myrtle at the left of the photo.  Myrica cerifera is one of the first shrubs you will see just beyond the dunes.

Back at Ocean Isle Beach, sea ox-eye daisy, Borrichia frutescens, grows along the canal. The leathery leaves don't mind salt spray at all. Perennial clumps of this native plant start easily from seed.  Bees and butterflies love them.

The sun is beginning to set but I still haven't found passion flowers.  My husband offers to chauffeur me around in the golf cart, so I take him up on it.

Do you see what I see?   Maybe I should have Picniked in an arrow.  There's a deer out there!  I think he saw me first.

We stared at each other for a while, and then...

He's off to the shrub thicket to hide.

We pull away and drive a few feet - "Honey, STOP!"  He's tired of hearing that by now, but he does one more time.

Just at sunset, before it was too dark, I found them!


  1. Such beauty! And at Sunset Beach! We've talked about this, haven't we? That we always vacation there too?! I know that spot near Twin Lakes well!
    You have such an eye. I would probably have missed those gorgeous flowers and plants. Thanks for showing them to me!

  2. Oh how lovely! On Oak Island, not far from Sunset Beach, we have Venus Fly Traps that grow wild on the island. Hubby and I look for them everytime we go to the cottage. But the Passions Flowers are truly a treat to see. Hugs, Jane

  3. Gorgeous. Love the Passiflora! I want to grow that species here. It's not native this far North, but it's hardy enough.

  4. rebecca, thank you for your kind words! that's awesome that you're a regular at sunset beach - small world! we have eaten at that restaurant off and on for years. of course there aren't a lot of places to eat down there. :)

    jane, i am so envious of the venus flytraps! i have looked for those many times, but never found any wild ones. my husband remembers when they grew around ocean isle, but those sites are long since gone. as many years as we've been to brunswick county (for me 30, my husband 50), i've never made it to oak island - i'll have to look there!

    xris, i hope you do grow it and let me know about the results. you probably already know about the tropical ones you can grow inside? lots of pretty ones in all colors.

  5. Virginia creeper is quite common up here, too, including in my garden. I only pull out the vines that are overgrowing other garden plants - as far as I'm concerned it's a much better plant to be covering untended spaces than most of the other weeds that we get!

    We use the term "ox-eye daisy" to refer to a completely different plant - a non-native white-petaled daisy that looks a lot like a smaller version of a Shasta daisy but usually grows as a weed.

    No passion flowers here, unfortunately.

  6. rps77, i actually love virginia creeper. the looks of it, that is. it has really nice fall color, too. but here it gets to be quite a nuisance if you let it go, so i pull it. i've been considering letting it grow on one side of my house, but i'm afraid to let it start setting seed. maybe i could grow it in a big pot with a trellis.

  7. ps. rps, i thought sea ox-eye was a surprising name for that borrichia. small roadside white daisies have always been ox-eyes to me, too.

  8. They say the journey is half the fun, maybe in this case the search is half the fun. I found a very nice specimen on Ocracoke growing outside a closed store. I was not sure it was planted by a human, but it was in a great spot twinning itself up the porch railing.