Sunday, April 23, 2017

Plectranthus cremnus

                Plectranthus cremnus
I call this the Byron Bay Plectranthus as it is from that part of northern New South Wales. Like a lot of native plants it has failed to cross over into the general garden scene despite having these extraordinary deep marine blue flowers and lovely velvet soft heart shaped leaves. The problem is that it is an untidy plant and a bit of a sprawler. Along the way it sheds its stem leaves so you are left looking at a mass of bare stems with leaves and flowers at the terminal. I have tried tip pruning in the hope of making it more compact but this has not made a difference to the overall appearance. Nevertheless it is a hardy plant and does not have any special water or fertilizer requirements.


Salvia microphylla 'Pink Blush'

                Salvia microphylla 'Pink Blush'
There is nothing blushing about the flower colour of this Salvia. It is a strong dark cyclamen  pink which really stands out in the garden. Like others in the 'microphylla' group, such as the ever popular 'Hot Lips', this is a tough long blooming plant which forms a small rounded shrub to about a metre. If it gets too untidy it can be sheared off almost to ground level and it will return with renewed vigour in no time.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Philodendron 'Gold Bullion'

                     Philodendron 'Gold Bullion'
I have been growing this for about a year now in a pot on the deck in a semi shaded position and noticed this week that some of the leaves are changing colour in response to cooler weather. The leaf veins are developing a delightful pink tinge.
This Philodendron is related to 'Xanadu' and is just as hardy as long as it is given some protection from frost. In a garden situation 'Gold Bullion' could be mass planted under trees as it is able to cope with dry shade and the leaf colour would certainly add brightness and vigour to the garden picture.
It is equally at home as an indoor or balcony plant and its low water requirements means means it can be left unattended for a period of time without looking back.
There does not seem to be any insect or disease problems associated with it either. Ten out of ten. 

Salvia muelleri

               Salvia muelleri 'Royal Purple Sage' 
There is much debate among Salvia enthusiasts as to whether this species is the real deal or an imposter. There is certainly nothing very 'Royal Purple' about the flower colour. 
Native to Mexico and thus one of the dry hardy small twiggy plants, it is certainly one of the bright sparks in an autumn garden. It is a useful filler in front of taller shrubs or half hidden with just the bright magenta purple flowers poking out from surrounding foliage.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Lan Xue Hua

Ceratostigma sp. 'Blue Snow Flower' or Chinese Plumbago
This has to be my flower of the week.
I have forgotten what species this is and I have just one plant of it with only two branches hanging on for dear life which are producing these intensely dark blue flowers. 
This Ceratostigma is dreaming of a better life in a cool temperate garden away from the coast where it can reach its full potential as a hardy small shrub in a sunny or part shade position. The Chinese name 'Lan Xue Hua' means 'Blue Snow Flower' .

Antigonon leptopus, 'Chain-of-Hearts'

             Antigonon leptopus (Polygonaceae)
With all the autumn rain, this climber has taken off and has scrambled over everything in its path. I don't have the heart to cut it back right now as the flowers are a magnet for bees. The flowers grow out from the tendrils at the end of long trailing stems and are the most vivid shade of hot pink. Being in the buckwheat family, the seeds are said to be edible if you fancy going through a long collection and winnowing process. The tuberous roots are also claimed to be edible. This root system allows for cutting back the entire plant to ground level during winter, which I do knowing it will re-shoot as soon as the warm weather returns. Treating it as a summer annual climber seems to be the way to go but I am just hoping nothing has been smothered under all that lush growth.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Hibiscus heterophyllus Variegatus

      Hibiscus heterophyllus 'Variegatus'
The bonus of having a shrub with variegated foliage is that you get year round interest when the flowering time has finished. Variegation is sometimes not a very stable trait however and the appearance of green branches can sometimes indicate that the plant is fighting to caste off its gaudy party frock and return to being a 'plain Jane'. Such is the case here though the variegation is remaining on the uppermost stems and leaves which are vividly marked with white and cream; with this style of variegation being easier on the eye than yellow or gold which can look quite harsh in our Australian sun.
The flowers are produced from a very early stage as the top photo attests and are the typical Hibiscus big one day pale pink to white ones. 
This is a good quick growing screen shrub with a long summer blooming time. The only downside to the native Hibiscus is that the stems may be prickly and the slightly hairy stems and leaves may be a bit irritating to the skin. Given a position in sun or semi shade it may reach a height of three to five metres.
I currently have stock of this in 140 mm pots.