Thursday, April 17, 2014

Justicia brandegeeana 'Fruit Cocktail'

 Justicia brandegeeana 'Fruit Cocktail' (Acanthaceae)
'Shrimp Plant'
Fruit cocktail? Make mine with lime, pineapple and coconut on a warm sunny beach.
I acquired this shrub recently from the garden of horticulturist Helen Curran. It has the typical shrimp plant form of being a lax shrub to about 30cm high with all stems topped with flowers weighing down the branches. Outside the tropics shrimp plants do quite well in full sun and this has the effect of strengthening the stems and making them not quite so floppy. I like to grow plants 'hard' to get a more robust garden worthy plant by giving them lots of sun and less water. Because these Justicia flower most of the year it is difficult to get enough cutting material from which to propagate more plants and thus I assume this is the reason why this variety has not become more commercially well known. Give me five years and I might have enough plants to offer for sale. I love the colour combination on this, probably best described as Venetian red flowers emerging from chartreuse bracts. Does that sound a bit Bob Carr? Cue a tune from the Venetian red priest Antonio Vivaldi (1678-1741) which is not the dreaded 'Four Seasons'

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

chops for tea mum?

 In Sydney this week the sport of wood chopping is in full swing at The Royal Easter Show and now the weather has cooled I am missing not having a woodpile of my own and an open fire at night. In urban areas most fireplaces have been blocked off and their use is frowned upon if not illegal. No such rules apply for country folk. An abiding image for me is in a country garden with a woodpile stacked against a "galv" iron and rough timber shed which is sagging under the weight of vast climbing rose in bloom. Nearby is the chopping block, a big hardwood stump set on a patch of ground where grass refuses to grow, muddy in winter and littered with sawdust and shavings.The working dogs fawning on their chains as you pass by.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Hibiscus rosa-sinensis 'Golden Girl'

Hibiscus rosa-sinensis 'Golden Girl'
This is a tall growing bushy Australian bred Hibiscus. It was produced by Bert Hardy from a pod parent of 'Big Tango and a pollen parent of 'Monique Maria'. 
In Australia the term 'Golden Girl' is usually associated with the great Olympic athlete Betty Cuthbert.

Hibiscus rosa-sinensis 'Vanilla'

 Hibiscus rosa-sinensis 'Vanilla'
This is another of the 'Klahanie Greenhouse' Hibiscus from Canada ("the Big Kahuna of Hibiscus") I have the other varieties in the series and all have been bred with the smaller garden in mind and show attributes of compact growth and continuous flowering during the warmer months.This ivory white flower has a colour bleed of hot pink towards the centre which is very telling.

Agave americana 'Medio-Picta'

Agave americana 'Medio-Picta'
This Agave has been slow to grow for me, though now it measures about a metre in diameter mainly due to my re-potting it and giving it more attention this summer. Unlike its closest relative, the smaller growing variety 'Alba", it has been shy at producing offsets. I have only removed one so far and even it has been slow to increase in size.

Coleus 'Wasabi'

Coleus cv 'Wasabi' (Solenostemon scutellariodes)
I have garden designer Peter Nixon to thank for the cutting of this vibrant lime green Coleus with the very hot name. Here is hoping it shows good cold resistance and survives the winter without going to ground.The leaves on this one are large and frilly.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Agave attenuata

Sunburn on Agave attenuata
Fleshy leaved agaves often suffer burnt leaves following prolonged cloudy wet weather. The upward facing leaves become soft and full of water during rainy periods and are unable to cope with the effects of returning strong sunlight. They usually take some months to recover from this phenomenon during which time many people discard them thinking they will never improve in appearance. It's just one of those weather related things over which we have no control. Agave attenuata will tolerate some shade so the problem can be minimized to some extent though growth in shade tends to be lax and not as robust.
The comment below by reader Craig puts it much more succinctly than I. Thanks Craig