Thursday, September 3, 2015

Always welcome:Bluebells of spring

There is only one small clump left, not the "sheets" of shown in gardening books providing a blue carpet underneath (usually) Silver Birch.
This one clump is delightful to see however after a long cold winter and provides a brief respite from doing battle with the morning glory, the leaves of which can be seen lurking in the background

welcome to spring !

 Two days into spring and I notice the first Hibiscus beetles have set up home in the top leaves of some of my stock plants; the flea beetles have landed on their favourite Heliotrope and Plectranthus; and the plague of curl grubs, pictured above, never really went away. Welcome to spring! It is predicted that we are heading for a dry summer with below average rainfall so I am concentrating on all the waterwise plants which add interest to a garden both large and small.
 Agave 'Arizona Star'

 Agave filifera
Furcraea foetida var mediopicta, Euphorbia lambii ,Yucca elephantipes

Monday, June 22, 2015

a few winter Hibiscus

 June is still a good month to have Hibiscus coming into flower particularly if the days are sunny and there is no wind chill factor. The surprising thing is the blooms often take on richer and darker colours and they may last for several days instead of the normal one or two. Here is a small selection of flowers from the past week or so.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Crassula arborescens 'Bluebird'

Crassula arborescens 'Bluebird' (Crassulaceae)

Crassula arborescens subsp. undulatifolia

  For many years I have been successfully growing the wavy leaved form of the 'silver dollar jade' 'undulatifolia' which forms a compact neat shrub to about 60cm. Recently I bought the 'Bluebird' variety after seeing its used in a bold and effective way by a landscape designer. However I hold reservations as to how it will go over the humid summer months when silver foliage succulents can be susceptible to mold, mildew and leaf drop in over-wet conditions. In the back of my mind I can recall growing a similar grey leaf shrub Crassula which I discarded for this reason.
'Bluebird' is a famous "el cheapo" record label from the 1930's and early 40's which featured many jazz greats including Fats Waller. Here singing about the positive aspects of winter........there has to be some.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Hibiscus paramutabilis

 Hibiscus paramutabilis (Malvaceae)
Yep, it's as bright as the photo depicts ,visible from a hundred metres away like a beacon. Fuchsia pink or cerise pink, hot pink take your pick.This Hibiscus is now starting to become more widely known perhaps because it is suitable for a wide range of climates owing to its frost tolerance. Deciduous in cold climates and perhaps not in mild coastal ones .This photo was taken a couple of weeks ago and note the grub having a chew on both the bud and open flower. Pass the Diepel...
Taking the prefix para to mean allied to, this is a close relative of the other China native Hibiscus mutabilis, that old fashioned garden shrub with the big double flowers which change colour from white to pink.(I think it gets called cotton rose.) This one does not change colour but may do in cold climates for according to Barbara Perry Lawton in her book Hibiscus (Timber Press) the flower petals open white and darken to rose-pink during the day. It is supposed to grow to about 4 metres but I think 2 might be a more reasonable estimate. Still only available from specialist nurseries, it will no doubt become a popular garden shrub in years to come as it is continually in flower during the warmer months.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Osmanthus fragrans

 Osmanthus fragrans (Oleaceae)
This shrub from China and southern Japan scrapes into the top twenty best perfumed plants for the delicious intense ripe apricot scent which is released from the very small brownish white flowers. It can be elusive though as when I stuck my nose up close one afternoon last week I could barely detect a fragrant note. No doubt it is timed to deal with the appearance or not of a suitable pollinator. When not in flower it can be a bit of an unappealing and straggly shrub with tough leathery olive green leaves and growing from 3 to 5 metres; so the suggestion would be to plant it in groups of 3 or more or merge it with other shrubs in a border. It would be useful to plant in one of those narrow corridors between buildings which get zero sun in winter as it will tolerate some shade though I have seen specimens grown in exposed windy positions suffering dreadful leaf scorch. Most plants available in the nursery trade are sold in 140mm/6inch pots as it can be slow growing.The common name for it of 'Sweet Olive' is just too confusing as some punters may imagine that it belongs in a martini glass.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Hibiscus rosa-sinensis 'Outstanding'

 Hibiscus rosa-sinensis 'Outstanding'
All my Hibiscus have been through hell during the past few weeks ,not appreciating the cold windy weather and thus suffering from leaf scorch and bud drop. And then along comes a few fine sunny days and they buck up and start to send out more flowers. Flowers are getting smaller with the approach of winter and the colours of some are entirely different from the pictures of type, though at least the flowers last for a few days as opposed to just one or two like in the middle of summer. 
There is not much information available about 'Outstanding' as the International cultivar register lists it as being of unknown origin which means it could be an Aussie.The colour also appears more orange than golden but I am not complaining. The bud opens with a delightful crimped edge to the petal and then turns wavy and folds back as the flower opens fully. Ten out of ten.