Friday, May 22, 2015

Osmanthus fragrans

 Osmanthus fragrans (Oleaceae)
This shrub from China and southern Japan scrapes into the top twenty best perfumed plants for the delicious intense ripe apricot scent which is released from the very small brownish white flowers. It can be elusive though as when I stuck my nose up close one afternoon last week I could barely detect a fragrant note. No doubt it is timed to deal with the appearance or not of a suitable pollinator. When not in flower it can be a bit of an unappealing and straggly shrub with tough leathery olive green leaves and growing from 3 to 5 metres; so the suggestion would be to plant it in groups of 3 or more or merge it with other shrubs in a border. It would be useful to plant in one of those narrow corridors between buildings which get zero sun in winter as it will tolerate some shade though I have seen specimens grown in exposed windy positions suffering dreadful leaf scorch. Most plants available in the nursery trade are sold in 140mm/6inch pots as it can be slow growing.The common name for it of 'Sweet Olive' is just too confusing as some punters may imagine that it belongs in a martini glass.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Hibiscus rosa-sinensis 'Outstanding'

 Hibiscus rosa-sinensis 'Outstanding'
All my Hibiscus have been through hell during the past few weeks ,not appreciating the cold windy weather and thus suffering from leaf scorch and bud drop. And then along comes a few fine sunny days and they buck up and start to send out more flowers. Flowers are getting smaller with the approach of winter and the colours of some are entirely different from the pictures of type, though at least the flowers last for a few days as opposed to just one or two like in the middle of summer. 
There is not much information available about 'Outstanding' as the International cultivar register lists it as being of unknown origin which means it could be an Aussie.The colour also appears more orange than golden but I am not complaining. The bud opens with a delightful crimped edge to the petal and then turns wavy and folds back as the flower opens fully. Ten out of ten.

Saturday, May 16, 2015


 Euphorbia lactea crest form (Euphorbiaceae)
 Finding time to write blog posts these days has become difficult and so, like a lot of others, I am spending less time in front of the desk-top and more on the mobile device which is great to use while on the go outdoors. So I have slipped into the habit of using instagram @ianisgardening to spread the word about plants I am acquiring, growing or selling while staying in touch with family and friends. 
 This morning I did the usual Saturday morning thing of checking out the local markets from which I never come away empty handed as I always make a beeline to the plant and produce stalls with the odd dust-gatherer thrown in for good measure.

 The chrome cat
 a crest form of a Sedeveria
variegated cactus yet to get ID

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Hibiscus rosa-sinensis 'Boondah'

 Hibiscus rosa-sinensis 'Boondah'
The name 'Boondah' is an Aboriginal word which refers to the native tree Angophora floribunda found in local bushland of the Sydney suburb of Warriewood where Hibiscus breeder Les Beers produced this classic pink Hibiscus many years ago. It is a hardy prolific variety growing to average height. A sport of it called 'White Wave' was introduced by David and Vicki Ponman and registered in 2002. It retains a slight blush pink in the centre of the bloom.
 Hibiscus rosa-sinensis 'White Wave'
The word 'Boondah' was used by Indigenous Health Services in their successful quit smoking campaign 'Butt out Boondah' and a terrific ad showing two young footy players talking about why they didn't smoke was shown on TV earlier this year.

Brisbane residents may be familiar with the historic house 'Boondah' in the suburb of Rosalie. It was built in 1907 and designed by architect Richard Gailey who is remembered for the elegant Regatta Hotel in Toowong.
In 1915 Boondah hosted a fete raising money for the 'Wounded Soldiers' Fund' led by Lady Elsie Goold-Adams the wife of Queensland Governor Sir Hamilton Goold-Adams

Lady Elsie Goold-Adams

Monday, April 20, 2015

Mossy Rose-Galls

I had never heard of mossy rose galls (Diplolepis rosae) until reading about them in a novel by the great French writer Colette. In 'Chance Acquaintances' she cheers the ailing Antoinette Haume by placing 'these briar tumours' (Rosa canina) on her counterpane so that they might spread, as they dried, their delicate smell of pine and rose.'
Their folktale uses are interesting. Place under a pillow to induce sleep and my favourite, mix as ash with honey as a cure for baldness.
I don't think this gall insect is present in Australia but most would be familiar with galls which form on wattles /Acacia species
Photos are from Wikipedia.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Hibiscus in cooler weather

As the weather cools down Hibiscus flowers often change colour slightly and this 'Surfrider' is showing two tone orange/pink most noticable on the top petals which were probably exposed to more sun.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015


 Paspalum dilatatum (Poaceae)
One of my treasured books is Pasture Legumes and Grasses which was published by The Bank of New South Wales in Sydney in June of 1961. It gives the botanical history of this South American native grass which was introduced into Australia in the 1890's by German Australian botanist Baron Sir Ferdinand Jacob Heinrich von Mueller (1825-1896). This "tough as" pasture grass 'provided a foundation for the dairying industries' of both New South Wales and Queensland and of course eventually made its way into the suburban backyards of coastal cities and towns. By mid-twentieth century mischievous boys had learnt that if you tied the flower stalks together you could easily trip up a few of your opponents in a backyard game of footy or cricket.
Present day applications for its use could include as a 'scratch proof' ground cover for chicken pen/'ranch' and it is probably goat grazing proof as well.
The only down side to that suggestion is that the developing flower heads and seed can be affected by ergot fungus which, by reputation, can lead those who have ingested it to imagine they have entered the world of an Heironymus Bosch painting.

Meanwhile, my lawn, which consists of at least 45% Paspalum, needs mowing; having been neglected of late through my involvement with the Collectors' Plant Fair in Sydney.