Far Out Flora

Always Awesome Amaranthus


Allen Centennial Gardens

Long time no blog! We’re still alive and well. Made it to Madison, Wisconsin. It’s been one of the hottest, driest summers ever. I’ve been known to call it, “hell on earth”. Between the hormones and swollen feet it hasn’t been pretty, but then it happened. We’ve had consecutive days with temps below 80 and regular rain again. The grass turned from crunchy dead straw back to green and trees stopped dying.  My feet didn’t swell up for five days in a row, too. Last Sunday we took advantage of the weather and checked out Allen Centennial Gardens on the UW campus (I’m due August 30th).


Not sure what cultivar this guy is, but I’m loving the dark red foliage. We’re going for more annuals in our garden these days since we’re renting and don’t have access to the coolest free/severely discounted plants in town. I like the instant gratification of big, flowery annuals. With a shorter growing season I don’t have the patience for perennials to establish themselves these days. We were also blessed with some nice perennial bones. Don’t freak out, but I’m not all about succulents anymore and more about big bee/butterfly/hummingbird attracting blooms.

Amaranthus caudatus “Love-Lies-A-Bleeding”

Our Amaranthus

Here are our guys. Not sure what type they are, but they’re just starting to get blooms. I picked up plants from a vendor at the Farmer’s Market who was growing some old school (heirloomy) annuals for crazy cheap in mid-June.  I’ve added more pics of our backyard to flickr if you feel like checking them out.  Next spring we need to move some stuff around like that iris at the front of the bed and we’ll start more cool annuals next year.


  1. Good to see you back! I can’t remember which Amaranthus you have but it should seed around quite a bit. We had it for a few years in my dads garden in NJ.

    • Next year we’re planting ‘Dreadlocks’ for sure. Our neighbor has a bunch of nice deep red ones and there’s a little sprinkling of seedlings all around the bases. We’ll have to try throwing them in a salad.

  2. That flower bed looks wonderful for being in its first year!

  3. Glad to see you back! I visited the Allen Gardens about a year ago on a really hot day. I remember that they had some beautiful ornamental features made from old tools. I’ve become a big fan of amaranthus as well over the years. I recently learned that here in Rwanda, people cook and eat the leaves. Wishing you a easy, happy time before the big day!

  4. Megan I shared your blog with my friends after we talked at Mandy’s shower. They love you. Glad to hear that you are branching out a bit from your succulents. The Allen Bicentennial Gardens is a favorite of mine. Also check out the Botany garden off of University Avenue.

    • Succulents are awesome and all, but one of the main reasons we grew them in SF is because they were super easy! Great to meet you at Mandy’s shower :)

  5. We went to Allen Centennial gardens when we were back in Wisco too! Very cool.

  6. You’re alive!!! I am so glad to see hear you guys are settling into Wisconsin despite the hellish weather you’ve all had out that way. The garden is looking good. I hope you brought a nice agave parryi with you (will that survive Madison?).

  7. Glad your back! Much luck on your new arrival. Good luck with the annuals they are great for instant gratification. Happiness and blessing.

  8. Glad you are safe and sound in WI, bet you miss the SF cool summers this year! Hope all is well. It won’t be too long before the heat becomes cold. Winter can be fun! Keep us posted, we all miss you!

    • I actually hated SF in the summertime… July & August were my most hated months of the year. It’s nice to be able to wear a tank top and sandals every now and then :)

  9. So good to read a blog post and see you and your fabulous baby tummy! Can’t believe how soon it is now (easy for me to say right). I look forward to more pictures of all you guys are growing back there!

  10. I didn’t know for the baby. Felicitations !
    Take pictures of your trip !

  11. Congratulations and for the heat your garden looks quite lovely!

  12. Just decided to see if anything was happening on the blog. You and the new garden are looking good! A shame you moved back in time for such a miserable summer. Not the WI you remember!! Saw pix of your old garden on floradora recently. I just bought a huge Begonia at the west side farmers’ market for $6 (was about $25 at the start of the season) to perk up the garden. Where are you living? How are you both doing?

  13. Firstly…congrats, as it is the second and I am hoping that you and you new little one are at home. Secondly ….love the monarda in you flicker pics..so pretty!

  14. I have just come across your blog. It’s wonderful! I read it with my morning coffee:-) And oh I wish I lived where it’s warmer (for my succulent collection).

  15. This is quite a drastic change from where you were living, but I guess you already knew that! Good luck with it all and thanks for the photos.

  16. Amaranths or “Love Lies Bleeding” (what a name??) is a fun plant to grow. The only problem I have with it is that it seeds itself everywhere here. Still worth growing though.

  17. Thanks for the kind comments. The amaranth in the images is Amaranthus ‘Hopi Red Dye’. We had ‘Dreadlocks’ and ‘Red Tails’ out front. There are a large number of cultivars available with upright flowers and drooping blooms. Amarathus caudatus, or love-lies-bleeding is the drooping form (and one of my favorite Elton John songs combined with Requiem for a Friend). They have become an important source of flour for celiacs and wheat intolerant folks in the U.S. – has been a predominant grain in many other countries. They do seed down, rampantly, but are easy to identify and remove, often we let some grow back. They can be robust, the clump pictured has other annuals mixed in and the amaranth took over! If you don’t mind the seeding down, they are great for foliage color, odd flowers, drama and wildlife food.

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