Friday, December 12, 2014

Festive flowers for the outdoor room

 A massed display of red and white Petunias in a large flat bowl has instant appeal.

 Pentas or 'Star Flower' are at their best right now and will flower right through the festive season. They are rain resistant and are quite happy growing in sun or shade.
These plants are from 'Ability Options Wholesale Nursery', a not for profit organisation giving support and work for people with a disability.

 The ever popular Clerodendrum tomsoniae hits the right note with its red flowers enclosed in white bracts.I grow this in a large 30cm pot so it can be moved to a more prominent location when in flower. Grown as a shrub by pruning off the long adventurous stems, it is a tough old thing which will spring back to life even after a drought.

An alternate Xmas tree? This is the large flower appearing now on a 'Pony-Tail Palm' Beaucarnea recurvata. As it has a distinctive Nordic fir tree appearance, I am very tempted to cut it for use as a table decoration. Anyone tried that?

Best wishes to all for the Festive Season

Sunday, November 23, 2014

a tickseed

Coreopsis grandiflora (Asteraceae)

According to Dr Brian Morley, the genus Coreopsis comprises 120 herbaceous or shrubby species belonging to the daisy family and they occur in tropical Africa, Hawaii and America. Two of the herbaceous species most often found in gardens are C. auriculata, which is about 60cm tall, and C. grandiflora growing o about 1 metre tall. Garden races have been selected from both species and these tend to have golden-yellow flowers with a crimson-maroon blotch at the base of each ray-floret, or buttercup yellow flowers overlaid with Indian yellow. While the plain yellow form is now regarded as a roadside weed and rarely offered for sale, this one with the crimson blotch is quite decorative and is one not often available. I bought this from The Plant Niche nursery at Thirroul earlier in the year and it has produced a mass of flowers on a very compact bush to about 30cm.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

the library jacarandas

The local library building is painted a vibrant shade of burnt orange and has contrasting Jacarandas planted as street trees outside as well as in the adjacent park. They are at their peak right now.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Ranunculus repens 'Buttered Popcorn'

Ranunculus repens 'Buttered Popcorn' (Ranunculaceae)
A green and gold mauvaise herbe ? (Pardon the French, the Wallabies v France rugby is on at the moment) . The gold leaved form of this water loving buttercup is a real winner but it can be a bit invasive if given a damp spot in shade. I am keeping mine in a pot half submerged in water so it can be moved from sun in spring to deep shade at the height of summer. Technically you could describe it as a woodland margin plant fond of damp ditches in Northern Hemisphere locations and this selected form is useful for brightening dull  garden corners, though its leaves may become less yellow in deep shade.
There are some 400 species of buttercup found in temperate zones across the world including Australia. Most have shiny yellow ,cream or white flowers.

Bulbine frutescens

 Bulbine frutescens (Asphodelaceae)
This grassy onion leafed succulent is a recent find for me and one I see adding to the range of commercial plants I grow in time. Plants with attractive bright flowers which are able to tolerate dry shade are always welcome in my book. This 30cm high clump forming perennial groundcover is found growing in South Africa to Mozambique but has been much used in xeriscaping in Arizona, Texas and dry gardening communities in the US. A mention of it in a garden forum from a South Australian resident shows it does have a small fan base here, and the comment from that person praised its use as a sun burn cure in a similar way to Aloe vera.The 'tiny tangerine' flowers with their fluffy yellow stamens are carried on tall stems up to 60cm in length and are produced in succession up the stem from spring onwards.

Neoregelia tigrina

 Neoregelia tigrina (Bromeliaceae)
All this talk about the alleged Parisian tiger on the loose, which may turn out to be just a large marmalade tabby on the prowl, got me thinking about the 'tiger' bromeliad. I bought this at a spring bromeliad show and it came already attached to a block of wood for placing in a tree or against a wall. It's a miniature species from Brazil with strikingly marked leaves and one which is tolerant of more sun than other species. I can't wait for it to get a bit bigger and start sending out new 'kittens' into the world.