Sunday, August 24, 2014

2 cascading plants

 Tillandsia sp
Rhipsalis sp
I obviously spend way too much time reading literature or creating music playlists on 'Spotify' and so I tend to miss the boat when it comes to "fashionable" plants. Last year's Australian Garden Show Sydney featured display gardens using plants which cascade either from 'Green Walls', vertical gardens or hanging baskets; plus the Sydney re-development of the old Carlton and United Breweries site at Broadway, now known as Central Park, has fostered an interest in vertical gardens on a grand scale.
 Many of the plants used in this style of gardening are either epiphytic, like the two pictured here, or are 'eco friendly' and have low water, fertilizer and maintenance requirements.
As a grower, the frustrating part of the demand for these type of plants is being able to keep up the supply; as you cut back your stock plants to next to nothing and then wait for ages till they grow back enough so as to take another batch of cuttings. 

 

Pelargonium 'Snowflake'

 Pelargonium 'Snowflake'
Just to confuse everyone,there are three or probably more scented leaf Pelargoniums which have the 'Snowflake' title. This is the Australian version which was bred by the late Mr Ted Both of South Australia who was a horticulturist and plant breeder of some renown by all accounts.It is a small shrubby plant and has large 'trilobed crenate' leaves which are well marked and flecked with creamy white. They have a fresh minty rose scent when crushed.
The American, Logee's Snowflake' is more of a spreading plant as it has the groundcover species capitatum as a parent, while 'Atomic Snowfake', also from the USA, has leaves edged with cream or yellow. It originated in Camden, Maine at the famous Merry Gardens Nursery of Mary Ellen Ross who specialized in scented Geraniums and herbs.

Nursery notes

 August is the worst month for me as I have very little stock ready to take to market. When you grow a lot of perennials, grasses and sub-tropical style plants you play a waiting game until the weather warms up and these plants come back to life. I am not one for pampering plants by supplying the sub-tropicals with a warm glasshouse over winter so instead they have to tough it out with temperatures of 5C when they prefer a minimum of 10C. Hibiscus keep on flowering despite the cold though the petals fade to a pastle colour and the double flowered varieties fail to open properly.
 Winter flowering Hibiscus
 In a week or so I start to propagate grasses such as Miscanthus sinensis by division. This task is not one I look forward to as the sharp edged leaf blades invariably cut deeply into fingers however careful you are to avoid it happening It is only succulents which look terrific at this time of year as many such as Echeveria and Crassula respond to the cold weather by producing richer and or more vibrant colours.
The upcoming Australian Garden Show Sydney, which is on at Centennial Parklands from the 4th to the 7th of September, has been a real boon for growers and nursery owners this month as designers scramble to select the best plants on offer to use in their display gardens. Last year I had some of my large and in flower Dietes robinsoniana, the Lord Howe Island wedding Iris, used in a garden and this year a batch of my Agave americana 'Medio-Picta alba have been included in a design. This display garden is to dismantled and relocated after the show to a real home. I can't wait to see it.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

The Berry Camellia and Floral Show

 This show was actually on last weekend and gives a terrific picture of what is in flower during the winter months on the South Coast of New South Wales in Australia. Sadly these events are not particularly well attended as ornamental horticulture loses ground to food production gardening.


















The Flower Beard

 'The King O'Malley' 2014
photo:Melissa Adams
Australian political legend, King O'Malley (1854-1953)
At the Canberra beard competition, held last Thursday at the King O'Malley Irish Pub, there was not a flower beard to be seen; perhaps more indicative of a Canberra winter than anything else. Flower beards, which have been a feature of the Northern Hemisphere summer are in fact just plain ridiculous!
'Adams tugged at his beard, which was a white version of Lodge's beard as Hay's beard was a grizzled compromise. What did beards imply? he wondered. The early Roman emperors, like the early presidents, were clean-shaven: then decadence .....and beards, then Christianity and the clean-shaven Constantine.'
 'The look-good-in-a-coffin' beard
Someone failed to tell this chap that the flowers and foliage of the 'woodlander',Anemone nemerosa, which form the centrepiece of this arrangement, are quite poisonous and toxic to the skin and mouth.The white Chrysanthemum on the left is a traditional funeral flower in some countries while the 'grape hyacinth', Muscari sp. below his ear are also poisonous and more at home on the grave of a deceased person during the late Victorian era. The saving grace is the tiny Geraldton Wax flower, Chamelaucium uncinatum just below his lip.

'The Aussie-Winners' beard
Delightful silver foliage from Leucophyta brownii and golden paper daisy flowers of  Calocephalus platycephalus or Chrysocephalum apiculatum compliment the cable-knit sweater in pure Australian wool.

'The Far-from-Heaven' beard
Those who enjoyed the Todd Haynes film 'Far from Heaven' will recall the sepia, chestnut and flame tones of the garden which formed the background to this movie.This arrangement includes lots of way-side weeds and a spiky centrepiece of 'sea holly' Eryningium sp. Small bunches of the Australian 'False Baeckea', Astartea fascicularis, grace his cheeks.

The Salvador Dali Paper White Jonquil 'tache
The iconic Surrealist painter knew how to turn heads and was obviously a dab hand at applying the 'gentleman's stiffener' aka moustache wax but how did he sleep at night?
 'Keeping a Stiff Upper Lip regardless' is Captain Fawcett's motto and this bee's wax based product contains lavender essential oil which gives it a wonderful scent. To soften the wax after applying you need to use a hairdrier on low heat to work it into place, but hair often has a mind of its own and may refuse to do what you want it to without a lot of effort. In other words you need to get up an hour earlier in the morning if you don't want to be late for work if deciding to use it.
'Have a Lucky Day' is the motto for Sandahl's 'Lucky Tiger' wax.This is a softer styling and conditioning wax for both beard and 'tache. It contains lanolin and cocoa butter and has a neutral scent.

The San Francisco, Californian beard
Works in the garden for me, the sea-side daisy Erigeron 'LA Pink', Miscanthus sinensis 'Adagio' and organic sow thistle, Sonchus oleraceus.

The Boston-after-Mass beard
Rich dark velvety red Violas in flower now.

 More suggestions for flower beards would be most welcome


Monday, July 28, 2014

Camellia Showtime

 The Illawarra Camellia Show was on the weekend before last and this year I just took some photos using an iPhone. Every year I go I see different ones which have never made an appearance before. Perhaps some open better or earlier depending on temperatures or other weather conditions. I have not tagged any of these pics as many are not available commercially which may frustrate those who are trying to track down a particular favourite and its name comes up in a Google search.
  For those further down the south coast, the Berry Camellia Show is on at Berry School of Arts in Alexandra street next weekend (August 2nd and 3rd). Details on (02) 44642061