However, for a short period of time, I was assigned to work with Jeff Weiser, horticulturalist, and his crew at the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center. While there I completed various tasks including watering, feeding, weeding and pruning of plants in and around the center. One of the tasks I quickly grew to like was the maintenance of several raised planter beds in front of the center.
|Planter beds at the main entrance to Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center|
These plant beds contained three different plants; Amur maple, sweet potato vines, and coleus. On a routine basis, I would go to this location and water the plants or prune the flowers off of the coleus in order to keep uniformity. The reason I enjoyed this task so much was due to the coleus which I was taking care of. I've always been a fan of shade gardens and cooling off from the summer heat under a large shade tree, but one problem I've always run into is finding something with nice bright vibrant colors that can tolerate the shade which I so love.
When I discovered coleus, I couldn't have been more excited. Coleus, known by the scientific name of Solenostemon scutellarioides, is a partial shade to full shade tropical plant commonly used in this area as a summer annual. It's greatest feature is the diverse variety of colors and shapes of the leaves in different cultivars which have been bred over the years. Coleus can vary in color from deep red and green to bright yellow and orange.
|Coleus 'Kingswood Torch' behind 'Margarita' sweet potato vine|
'Kingswood Torch' Coleus, the plant that I was working with, is one of the new cultivars of coleus that can withstand sun and prefers full sun-partial shade. The beautiful pink, red and green foliage in the planters provided a nice colorful view for people sitting on the nearby benches. The coleus also benefits from being placed under the Amur maple, as they can tolerate shade.While the sweet potato vine, Ipomoea batatas 'Margarita,' flowing over the edge of the planter, benefits from being placed near the edge, as it needs a lot of sun.
Amur maple, 'Kingswood Torch' coleus and 'Margarita' sweet potato vine