Wednesday, May 17, 2017

An Autumn Gazania

 This Gazania was in flower a few weeks back which surprised me as they normally do their thing in spring and summer. It is an American bred variety whose name escapes me. What was most unusual about it was the number of flowers which appeared, forming a crown across the entire top of the plant growing in a squat six inch pot. Now if only I had a hundred or so they would have been a sure fire winner in the plant markets. Definitely one to set aside and try to build up the numbers of.

Agave weberi 'Arizona Star'

              Agave weberi 'Arizona Star'
This Agave was in need of a repot which also gave me the opportunity to remove some of the smaller plants growing around its base. Easier said than done when it comes to handling Agaves as it is often difficult not to damage the soft succulent leaves and get spiked in the handling process. The plain green form of this species has always been a slow grower for me so I was surprised at just how quickly this variegated form filled out the pot. Though it looks similar to an A americana the leaves are certainly much thinner and have that 'Grey Nurse' shark skin texture to them. 
This cultivar originates in the United States as the name suggests.
I don't have any plants of it for sale at present but will do at some stage in the future. 

Two Autumn Hibiscus

Hibiscus rosa-sinensis 'Shelley'
Hibiscus rosa-sinensis 'Spring Song'
A couple of iPhone pics in passing and a nice reminder that Hibiscus blooms can be found at almost any time of year. The flower colours are often more distinct now compared to mid summer when they can fade in the strong sun. 

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Salvia involucrata 'Bethelli'

            Salvia involucrata 'Bethelii'
Some Salvias turn into monsters overnight and before you know it they have covered three metres of ground and have even taken on the likes of a big clump of Miscanthus  'Cosmopolitan'.
Bethelli is doing its thing most succesfully at the moment and is producing loads of bright cerise pink flowers on the ends of long arching branches. It must be all the rain we had a month or so ago that set off on this growth spurt. Once flowering has finished it can be trimmed back and even given a harder prune next spring so the whole process can start again. It's a ten out of ten shrub for quick growth, hardiness and brilliance of flower.

Senecio haworthii

                          Senecio haworthii
Some succulent plants refuse to budge and are very slow growing. This Senecio is one of them and it is probably the reason it is rarely offered for sale except as a collector's plant.
A common name given to it of 'Cocoon Plant' refers to the resemblance the leaves have to silk covered insect pupae cases. This 'silk' has a traditional African use of being collected to use as tinder and it does peel off the leaves revealing a pale green underside (just visible in this photo).
Silver foliage plants can be tricky to keep going during periods of high rainfall or humidity so I have incorporated lots of grit and perlite into the potting mix of this plant to make sure it is free draining.

Plectranthus 'Cape Angel Pink'

Plectranthus 'Cape Angel' with a pale pink Malvaviscus penduliflorus
The 'Cape Angel' Plectranthus, of which there are white, purple and pink flowering forms as well as the dark foliaged 'Mona Lavender' variety, have been around in the garden scene for over ten years now and have become a real highlight of the autumn garden scene. Long flowering and tolerant of drier shade locations they can be grown in pots or garden beds and reach a height of about a metre. Their 'shelf life' is only around five years however as they can become woody with age and lose vigour and they are susceptible to being disfigured by the dreaded flea beetle which damage the foliage leaving it permanently pock marked. I find the use of a granular systemic insecticide breaks the life cycle of this pest if caught when the first sign of damage occurs. Replacement plants are fairly easy to produce by cuttings and the old method of sticking a stem in the ground where required may suffice such is the ease of propagation of this plant
'Cape Angel' a hybrid between two South African species, P. saccatus and P. hilliardiae, the former which is also in flower now has delightful flowers resembling the Jacaranda.

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.