Thursday, August 14, 2008

'Alabama Sunset' at night . . . sort of

I'm making this post because 1) I haven't made one in a little while and had promised myself that I would make regular posts until Coleus Day and 2) I want to see if I've figured out how to post vertical photos. So we shall see. If it doesn't post vertically, then it's back to the drawing board.

I still use a little 3.2 megapixel camera with a tiny display screen, and I have very few options to manipulate the light entering the camera. So as night approaches and the shadows thicken, the camera automatically goes into flash mode. Sometimes this results in a rather atmospheric shot, as with this one of 'Alabama Sunset'. Nightfall was still at least half an hour away, but darkness was creeping into this part of the Red Border at Atlock Farm, so I pointed and clicked to see what would happen. Although the colors are a bit off from how they appear in natural light, this picture illustrates one of the many reasons why I rate 'Alabama Sunset' at the top of my list of favorite coleus.

Aside from its vigorous growth, compact habit, and reluctance to go to flower, 'Alabama Sunset' is a chameleon. The more light it receives (and this can include full, blazing sun), the more of that in-your-face redpink coloration it produces. But it grows quite well in shade, too, the foliage showing progressively more yellow and chartreuse tones as the light decreases. Although it's not readily apparent in this picture, the plants in front (which receive some sun) show more redpink than those in the rear (which never see any direct sun). Every color variation I've seen on 'Alabama Sunset', including the almost solid redpink found on the plants in the sunny Shop Garden, is beautiful. That can't be said of a great many other coleus, which can look just plain awful in too much or too little light.

Please note the all-green plant in the rear. It's a rare sport of 'Alabama Sunset'. Normally I'd have already cut it back to propagate it, but it appears so similar to 'Granny Smith', 'Green Giant', 'Lifelime', and others that I haven't succumbed to my usual urge to try to save every sport that pops up. Plenty of potentially worthwhile sports have arisen at Atlock over the past couple of years, and I'll show some of those sports in a later post.

Time to head off the the nursery! The editor/photographer from Fine Gardening magazine will be working with me this evening to shoot the photos for the article on coleus I'm writing for FG. I'll take some pictures and post them soon.