Sunday, January 31, 2016

Nursery: ten years on

Florez Nursery November 2005
 It is always interesting to look back to see what you were growing ten years ago and have a "then and now moment". No more plants in green pots all replaced with basic black to start with and those daylilies/hemerocallis in the background I no longer grow, while the purple and yellow foliage plants are still on the production line. Red geraniums, bottom right, which I still love, have the 'treat them like an annual' approach as they do in the Northern Hemisphere and not for reasons of frost but for the difficulty of keeping rust and rot at bay during the summer.
In the centre of the picture is the succulent Glottiphyllum fragrans, 'tongue leaf' which I recall I could not sell for love or money. It is a spreading ground cover with big fleshy leaves and large yellow flowers. Maybe a bit gross in the eyes of many and I no longer even have a stock plant of it and it is rarely seen in the commercial nursery world. 
I still grow lots of the Crassula and Agave, seen here, but ten years on it is Hibiscus which have captured my attention and time.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

summer silver

Helichrysum italicum (Asteraceae) 
Curry Leaf plant 
 Retreating indoors during the hottest time of the day should give me more time for blog writing this summer. Having been through the warmest spring for I don't know how many years I wonder what the next few months will bring. Providing enough shade and water for most plants becomes a priority as even those plants which you expect to flourish such as succulents and cacti may become stressed by lack of attention. Not so many of the silver foliage plants such as this 'curry plant' which revels in heat and dry and is in fact more likely to collapse through summer watering and humidity than dry conditions.
I grow mine on a well drained embankment and give it the occasional trim to keep it in shape; usually around flowering time as the yellow flowers dry well and retain their spicy aroma. This is not a culinary plant though I wonder how many have tried using it so given its name.   

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.