Coke is a Dyckia or dryland bromeliad with exceptional cold
tolerance. Its spiky blooms attract hummingbirds.
One of my
favorite garden quotes comes courtesy of Thomas Jefferson who said ‘but
though an old man, I am but a young gardener.’ Though I am not quite
ready to take ownership of the old part, I have been feeling that I
too am but a young gardener. This is largely thanks to Jamie Burghardt
our Horticultural coordinator here at the Coastal Georgia Botanical
Gardens and his knowledge and affinity if you will, for bromeliads.
Though I have
been a horticulturist for 35 years and have grown and done TV shows on
both neoregelia and vriesea bromeliads Burghardt has opened my eyes to
cold hardy species and the most glorious tropical selections that
cannot only take the sun but sensationalize a container or landscape
bed. These have caused quite a stir in this seasoned horticulturist.
Right now our
Mediterranean Garden, which he designed, is displaying an incredible
array of texture, color and fragrance. It is amazing what was
accomplished between two historic old buildings erected in 1929. This
garden is always a favorite with hummingbirds and the glorious golden
spikey blooms of Cherry Coke, a Dyckia bromeliad variety with burgundy
foliage, is capturing the attention of all visitors whether winged or
in the Mediterranean Garden is Silver Nickel. This 2010 Florida
Nursery Growers and Landscape ‘Garden Select Winner’ has been
known to take 16 degrees without damage. This silver leafed
bromeliad is eye catching with its foliage but top it with fiery
orange flowers and it becomes dazzling. You might be wondering, how
drought tolerant are these plants? I can tell you our irrigation
regimen comes only from the clouds.
everyone’s breath away last year by incorporating giant sized orange
bromeliads, Aechmea blanchetiana, into the circle in front of the
Andrews Visitor and Education Center. Almost every visitor inquired
about this picturesque species. Though sun tolerant they are not cold
tolerant, so as we dug them for winter protection we were able to
propagate about 20 pups or new plants that were among the
hottest items at our spring plant sale.
This year we are
using them again but with SunPatiens and Gold Mound duranta in beds
directly in front of the Visitor Center. But as you walk in the door
you will become awestruck with the Imperial bromeliad, Alcantarea
imperialis. A couple of hundred years ago our colonies used a
pineapple, which is a bromeliad, as a welcoming sign of hospitality.
These Imperial bromeliads act in much the same manner.
Then as you
prepare to enter the garden you will notice more glazed pottery with
Aechmea Loie’s Pride as the obvious thriller plant with Pazzazz
Orange portulaca. Burghardt watches to keep the cup or tank filled
with water on the Aechmea and Alcantarea selections we have at the
Visitor Center. He further recommended that gardeners should avoid
letting them go bone dry and do not put fertilizer in the cup or tank.
season is young and perhaps you are looking for a plant with a little
more flair for the exotic then why not consider a large bromeliad.
Maybe you need some spiky blooms to create excitement in the garden
while bringing in hummingbirds. Then make this the season you plant
some of the great varieties of the dryland Dyckia bromeliads.