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Central west garden guide

Scaevola is a versatile grou

p of flowering plants from Australia that grow well in mild climates (Sunset zones 8, 9, 14 through 24).

Until recently, 'Mauve Clusters' was the only scaevola commonly available. This bright green, matting ground cover grows 4 to 6 inches tall and eventually 3 to 5 feet across. It stays green all year and is nearly ever-blooming in mild climates, producing 1/2-inc-wide lavender-blue, fan-shaped flowers in clusters.

A recent introduction findings its way into nurseries is S. aemula 'Blue Wonder'. It produces a profusion of 3/4-inch-wide, purplish blue flowers. Plants grow to 1 1/2 feet tall and are good for hanging baskets.

There's confusion about the name, UC Santa Cruz introduced S. aemula 'Diamond Head' several years ago; some botanists think it's the same plant as 'Blue Wonder', while others think the two are different varieties. Though similar in appearance, 'Blue Wonder' blooms more profusely and over a longer period than 'Diamond Head.'

All scaevola grow well in full sun (filtered sun or afternoon shade inland) and are fairly drought tolerant once established. Soak them twice a month in coastal areas, once a week in the hottest inland areas.

If you can't find 'Blue Wonder' at your nursery, have the nursery order it from Weidners' Begonia Gardens in Leucadia, California; (619) 436-5326.

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