I’ve grown coleus for many years now, but last year I grew one from seed that was quite different from any I had ever seen before. It’s called Giant Exhibition Marble, part of a series of at least 11 different heirloom varieties of coleus.
According to Park Seed, The Giant Exhibition Series coleus were “at the heart of the ‘Coleus craze’ that swept England around the turn of the last century”. Wildly popular with Victorians, they are also loved by 21st century deer. Our resident herd ate some of the ones growing just outside our screened in porch. Now they are protected with Deer and Rabbit Repellent spray.
There seems to be much variability within some of the Giant Exhibition varieties. The Marble variety is quite variable, which makes for some very interesting and unique plants.
Last year, my wife even used some of the giant coleus leaves to make some hammered leaf artwork. Doesn’t that sound like fun – pounding coleus leaves with a hammer to make art?
I’m also growing the Tartan, Magma, and Rustic Red varieties of the Giant Exhibition series. When I hear “Tartan” it reminds me of plaid material. But who ever heard of a plaid coleus? It’s an interesting look, whatever you call it.
The Magma variety features leaves in shades of pink to red, outlined in green. The edges of the leaves look like they were cut with pinking shears.
The Magma seems aptly named. Some of the leaves look like they have molten lava flowing on them. It’s certainly a hot looking plant for shady spaces.
By comparison, the Rustic Red seems a bit more refined. It has large red leaves edged in green on a compact plant. It also seems to be a bit less variable.
Keeping an eye on me while getting these images was new cat Dusty. He’s a medium sized gray cat of unknown parentage. The jury is still out on whether he’s refined or compact! He also follows my wife around when she waters the coleus in containers – from the safety of the screened in porch. I guess now he’s into photography as well!
I also grow Petunias from seed. We have them growing in containers to help brighten up some of the sunny areas. The Purple Wave in the photo below is near the steps leading to our deck.
Upon closer examination, I see what appears to be some Beedy’s Camden kale growing in the middle of the petunias. I wonder, is that the ‘thriller’ amongst the ‘spiller’? I mixed some compost into the potting soil, and the kale seed must have been in the compost. Either that, or aliens did it.
I hope you enjoyed these photos, and I hope all your coleus is colorful, and doesn’t wind up as deer salad!