From our Landscape Architect
"The Path Less Traveled" by Janielle Guzinski
The task of plant selection for a home garden, a commercial property, or a public space can be pretty daunting. So we turn to our favorites, plants we know from experience will do well and look good here in Galveston. That is a great thing! We always want to use plants that are going to live in our difficult conditions. BUT sometimes we get stuck in a rut and don't consider other/new/different plants. I'd like to show you some of the more unusual plants we have here at Tom's Thumb that you might want to consider adding to your newest gardening project.
Mexican Orchid Tree - Bauhinia mexicana
This 10'-20' shrubby tree is related to the orchid tree that we all know. However, the flowers on this plant are smaller, white, and really remind me of butterflies. It is a drought tolerant tree that attracts butterflies, especially swallowtails.
Pineapple Lily - Eucomis comosa
A perennial bulb, this flower is characterized by fleshy, tropical-looking leaves and flowers that are shaped like pineapples. They tolerate a variety of light conditions, but are not salt tolerant enough for a house on either beach or bay. The flowers last a long time on the plant and off; I like them in floral arrangements.
St. Thomas Tree - Bauhinia tomentosa
Another orchid tree relative, this is a medium shrub that usually grows 6'-9' tall and wide. The branches are a bit twiggy, but the evergreen leaves cover up that fact. The leaves are much smaller on this shrub than on the majority of orchid trees, giving a fluttery look when they move in the breeze. The yellow blooms start in early summer and continue sporadically well into fall. It is drought tolerant, but prefers a moist, well-draining soil.
Banana Shrub - Michelia figo
This is not a banana, I have to make that clear. It is related to magnolias. The name comes from the fragrance of the yellow flowers. When it blooms, mostly in the spring with some flowers later in the season, it smells like bananas. This is a plant that likes water, so I would only plant it in a garden with regular irrigation. However, if you have a good spot for this shrub by an entrance where you would smell the fragrance every day, it really is fantastic.
St Thomas Tree
Mexican Orchid Tree