The very next morning after posting my plea, on my desk at work I found an open book, "The Garden Planner," with a slim sticky note attached to its fourth illustration. "It's a form of pieris. Marsha'" the note read. I knew someone up here in Portland would know the answer. Marsha lives and breathes gardening, so it came as no surprise to me that she had the book with the answer in her desk. Neat-o! Marsha also gave me the name of those beautifully delicate and odd chartreuse plant-thingeys I had posted back in March, part of the natural pink and green photographs that led up to the Sweet Potato Queens. According to Marsha and her book, those chartreuse parts on euphorbia are "big bright flower heads ... particularly striking in spring and early summer." How understatedly true.
That flagged entry mentioned that Pieris Forest Flame mimics the red shoot tips of Photinia Red Robin. Catherine, another avid gardener I work with every day, had e-mailed photinia as a possibility for my mystery plant. Using Google Images, I saw that while photinia fit somewhat because of the color, it was not this particular mystery plant. Serendipitously, it turned out to be the answer to the question I'd been asking myself almost every morning as I walked to the Burger King for my senior Coca Cola. "What is that shrub? The one with the brand new, bright, shiny red leaves, glowing in the early morning sun?"
Y'all in Mississippi know which one I'm talking about; I believe I saw them for sale at Home Depot, in smallish black plastic tubs, labeled Red Tips. Folks love 'em in this area, too. Just this morning I saw a man pruning the photinia border around a downtown parking lot between SW 1st and 2nd Avenues, at the western foot of the Hawthorne Bridge. Unfortunately, the slicing electric blades denuded the chest-high shrubs of the majority of their beautiful red leaves.
Man's intervention is unbounded; in fact, that entire little block is destined to become filled with a 15-story building. One can only imagine the construction/traffic havoc that will ensue. What will happen to the traffic flow once it's built? Busy intersections will define its corners. When you consider that 30,000 vehicles cross the bridge daily (from Sharon Wortman's "The Portland Bridge Book") and that the streets to the north and south of this building cross the bridge either going west or east, do you cringe? I do, and then I thank my lucky stars that I ride the bus!
Pat, a bud since the late 1970s--transplanted to Seattle from Kansas City, Missouri, by way of Tallahassee and Houston, Texas--also e-mailed me. "Those shrubs are Pieris--Lily of the Valley Shrub," she sent. I found some great photos of it on Google Images. Her husband of 30 years (Happy Anniversary!!!!) Bob Robert had e-mailed me that she'd be the one in their family who would know.
Last week as I waited for the #10 bus at the usual spot on SW 3rd, just north of Salmon, I noticed that the trimmed Lily of the Valley shrub had undergone a transformation, from the sort of salmon red of the April 30 post to what you see below. Wondrous.