Photo Friday: A Plaid Coleus, and Other Curiosities

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.

Giant Exhibition Marble coleus plants (click on any image to enlarge

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.

a multi-colored Marble plant

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.

another Marble coleus

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?

closeup of two-tone Marble coleus leaf

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.

Giant Exhibition Tartan coleus

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.

Giant Exhibition Magma coleus

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.

closeup of Magma leaf

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.

Exhibition Giant Rustic Red coleus

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!

Dusty, watching me and my camera

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.

container planting of Purple Wave petunias

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.

kale plants in petunia container

I hope you enjoyed these photos, and I hope all your coleus is colorful, and doesn’t wind up as deer salad!

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6 Responses to Photo Friday: A Plaid Coleus, and Other Curiosities

  1. Lou Murray's Green World says:

    I must be hungry. That Tartan coleus looks delicious. Yes, I know they aren’t edible. Gorgeous photos though. Wish I had had time to visit your place when we were in Indiana, but I ended up sleeping until 3 pm Indiana time on our day of arrival to catch up on my sleep after our red eye flight from California. my husband woke me up to go outside and experience the derecho wind that blew through that day. You guys have some interesting weather. Now I think I’ll take some Photo Friday pictures. What a good idea. are you hosting?

    • Dave says:

      I was thinking that your flight would leave you tired, not to mention sleepy. I know it would me!

      I hadn’t really thought about hosting a Friday photo series. It might be interesting to do, but I’m reluctant to commit to anything like that. I seem to have too many irons in the fire as it is – if you know what I mean!

  2. jenny says:

    Lovely plants and i love the coloring on them. And speaking of coloring, your kitty is Russian Blue variety 🙂

  3. bonnie says:

    The coleus remind me of my grandmother who always had some growing.

    I have another good memory of coleus as well. Years ago, my husband and I ran out of gas. A very kind lady who went by the nickname Bambi stopped, got gas for us, and even opened the hood to get the car started again. As a last act of kindness, she retrieved a little six-cell pack of coleus from her pick-up and gave them to me.

  4. kitsapFG says:

    All those variations in leaf coloring is so beautiful. Your petunias in pots are looking good too. I am really happy with how my front flower containers turned out this year. I should take a few pics one of these days and share. I tend to always ignore ornamentals on my blog, but I actually do have some! Dusty is a darling. I love garden cats that help me by hanging with me while I work.

  5. Noelle says:

    I do love the beautiful colors of Coleus. I remember having to look at them under the microscope in my Plant Anatomy class because their bright colors made them easy to see.


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