It's late summer in the south - the Princess Flower is blooming (I think it's Tibouchina urvilleana). This plant, often classified as a large shrub or small tree in Florida (and an invasive Genus in Hawaii) - is just perfect here in South Carolina (and north of southern Florida) because the winters are cool enough that it dies back each winter and doesn't get a chance to get too leggy or large. I also have (in a pot) it's relative, often called Purple Glory Bush (T. heteromala) - it's spectacular in bloom, although mine hasn't cooperated yet - I'm optimistic about it blooming this fall. I'll keep you posted.
A nice thing about Tibouchina's is that they propagate from cuttings really easily - if you've got one, you can easily take some cuttings, perhaps use a little rooting hormone, and stick them into some potting soil - I've had success with and without rooting hormone, and I generally consider myself a neglectful propagator (so, it didn't get much attention - I'm horrible with things in pots generally - I don't have a single plant inside my home). My cutting came from a colleague-friend where I did my postdoctoral work in Florida. I've always had a soft spot for Richard - he was moody, often cranky, a bit whiny, and perhaps one of the most intelligent and methodical scientists that I've ever known. Once you cut through whatever mood he was in, he was a wealth of information - and off-hours he and his spouse (who was an incredible quilter) were wonderful to spend time with. While I was there, they were just getting into gardening - and so during my first visit to their home, Richard gave me a cutting of his princess flower. That cutting took off, and grew happily in my backyard during my two-year stay along Florida's Gulf Coast, and as I was driving away in my U-haul to relocate to South Carolina, at the last minute I remembered to grab a cutting. So now - Richard's cutting is gracing my garden along the Atlantic coastal marshes.
I haven't talked to Richard in a long time. A number of years ago I got a surprise gift from him in the mail - a copy of Taylor's Guide to Heirloom Vegetables by Benjamin Wilson. When I called him to say thanks, he had told me that he was relocating to New Orleans. This morning, as I noticed the purple flowers gracing my plant, I felt horribly that I hadn't touched base with him after Katrina.
I need to do that.