Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Viburnum x burkwoodii

Viburnum x burkwoodii (V. carlesii x V.utile )
This is one spring flowering shrub with an exceptional sweet perfume . It is very hardy and grows to about 2.5 metres and can take quite hard pruning to keep it in a good compact shape. The dark green leaves which follow the flowers are glossy and have a toothed margin and a slightly quilted appearance.
2017 update: I currently don't have any plants for sale.

Kerria japonica 'Pleniflora'

Kerria japonica 'Pleniflora' 
 in a shady garden with blue forget-me-nots
This hardy spring flowering shrub is found naturally in woodland and thickets in China and Japan but it has been cultivated in gardens for hundreds of years as well. The bare wiry stems carry small canary yellow double flowers at this time of year and later are clothed in attractive apple green leaves. Sometimes it is given the common name of Japanese Rose and in China it is known as the Ditang flower. It grows to about 1.5 metres and naturally suckers but is very easily managed and can be pruned to a rounded shape after flowering.
2017 update: I currently don't have any plants for sale.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Echeveria agavoides,"Moulded Wax"

Echeveria agavoides  
a cultivar with pink foliage
Echeveria agavoides ,a rosette succulent which is sometimes given the common name "moulded wax" because of the translucent waxy leaves is native to Estado de San Luis Potosi , a central State of Mexico. The pointed boat shaped leaves are quite tough and much more resistant to damage by insects, snails or hail which can pit and distort the leaves of many soft foliaged succulents. Unlike many of the other Echeverias it does not grow up on a stalk but slowly increases its circumference and sends out a few "babies" crowded under the tight rosette of leaves. The variety E.a corderoyi is the most hardy form and the leaves develop brilliant red margins from late winter through spring. The colours are also stronger if fertiliser is limited and the plants are grown "hard".This is a great pot or garden specimen.
2017 update: Always have plenty of stock available of the variety 'Cordroyii' in various pot sizes.

Cercis siliquastrum,The Judas Tree

Cercis siliquastrum  
The Judas Tree in Wollongong Botanic Gardens
This spectacular spring flowering tree which has masses of rosy-purple pea flowers crowding the bare branches is native of the eastern Mediterranean and is a familiar sight on the dry sunny hillsides throughout the French Riviera. With age it develops an attractive gnarled appearance ,a bit like a giant bonsai. The branches are in fact quite pliable so it can be trained to grow over a pergola or similar structure. In the Cote d'Azur garden Villa Noailles at Grasse it has been trained in this way and has been combined with the white flowering form C.s.'Alba' to great effect.
The rounded leaves which appear later are similar to a Bauhinia. After flowering, purple tinged flattened seed pods appear which last on the tree well into summer. They are also very decorative.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Stachyurus praecox, Early Spiketail

Stachyurus praecox
 Early Spiketail

This is one of those forgotten deciduous shrubs which is rarely grown now . It is from Japan ,grows to about 2 metres in an open vase shape and at the moment the greenish yellow drooping bell shaped flowers are starting to open from the shiny red branches. The leaves are an interesting shade of copper green and there is a cultivar called 'Magpie' with cream edged leaves. Cut stems are excellent for floral work.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Pandorea pandorana 'Snowbells' Wonga Vine

Pandorea pandorana 'Snowbells'
This is a fairly familiar native garden climber and it is one which is both reliable  never failing to put on an extravagant display of flowers at this time of year. It grows over such a broad range of habitats from Tasmania to far north Queensland and can be either a slender plant in dry places or develop a massive trunk in moist rainforest gullies. I like to see it growing up a tree and, even though you miss the up close view of the flowers ,you know it is in flower by the wonderful carpet of blossom on the ground.

Dawsonia superba, Giant Moss

Dawsonia superba ,Giant Moss
This giant moss which is native to the east coast of Australia resembles a ground cover of minature pine trees. It changes colour from bright green to blue depending on how much water it receives.
Given shade and a spot in moist leaf mulch or around rocks it is easy to grow.
2017 update: Disappeared from my garden long ago though possibly available from specialist native nurseries

Monday, September 15, 2008

Tagetes lemmonii, Mexican Marigold

Tagetes lemmonii ,Mexican Marigold
This small shrubby Marigold which grows to about 1 metre is noted for the strong scent emitted from the foliage when it is brushed against or crushed. Anyone who has been on an "army bivouac" through Lantana scrub and encountered the wild passionfruit (Passiflora foetida) would recognise the smell . It is the combination odour of the stinking passionfruit and the Lantana. This may not sound inviting but it is certainly memorable and a talking point in the garden.if you plant one near a walkway or stairs. It is a fairly hardy shrub, tolerates light frost and begins to flower in late winter through spring, with odd flowers throughout the year.
2017 update: I usually have plants available for sale.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Crithmum maritimum, Rock Samphire

Crithmum maritimum, Samphire  
growing out of a rock wall in Sydney
This aromatic succulent herb is a maritime plant found on sea cliffs in England and southern Ireland as well as in Europe and the mediterranean. The spicy tasting leaves are rich in iodine and are added to salads and or can be pickled in vinegar. The name samphire is a phonetic corruption of the French herbe de St. Pierre. In Spain it is know as hinojo marino.
It is mentioned in Shakespeare's King Lear "Halfway down hangs one that gathers samphire:dreadful trade" Perhaps this is a reference to those who fell to their deaths while gathering samphire for the London markets .The market cry in Shakespeare's day was for "crest marine" as it was a popular salad and pickled item. Another common name for it was pierce stone and that is how it grows ,sending long roots down through rock crevices and growing in what seems impossible stony ground. The foliage is an attractive bluish grey colour and the jagged pattern of these leaves make it a great foliage contrast plant with rosette succulents or with Senecio serpens ,the blue chalk sticks. The flowers are interesting umbells of pale yellowish green though they do seem to attract flies to do the pollination.
2017 update: Still not widely known or used. I have a stock plant and can propagate on request.

Rose,Tea Rose General Gallieni,1899

Tea Rose General Gallieni 1899
This is another one of those free blooming roses which looks great in spring when the normal strawberry pink flower colour takes on more of a copper and cream colour. Later flowers become darker with more of a raspberry and crimson look to them. The flowers are also quartered and have a bit of a square look to them. I find the bush a bit angular in its growth form with some branches almost horizontal to the ground . However the Tea roses are the best to grow in warm temperate and sub tropical climates as they form quite large shrubs and show good disease resistance and just never stop flowering.
2017 update: One of the best 'Teas' and available from specialist rose nurseries

Trachystemon orientalis,

Trachystemon orientalis
This is the first time I have seen this perennial in flower. These dainty blue flowers with the white flash are just starting to emerge and will eventually grow to about 15cm. Later will come large coarse textured leaves which look a bit like Comfrey and grow to about 30cm. I cut down these leaves just before winter as they were looking a bit tatty. It is certainly a plant well suited to growing under trees in a woodland style garden.
The flowers are a bit similar to the herb Borage to which it related. I am not sure however that it is a plant for the coast as it is native to Turkey, Bulgaria and Georgia. Apparently in Turkey it is used as a vegetable called "aci hodan" or "dogu hodani".The flower stems, young leaves and the rhizome are all cooked and eaten.
2017 update: I no longer grow this as it prefers a cool temperate climate.

Diosma alba syn Coleonema album

Diosma alba grown as a low hedge edged with sun hardy Bromeliads
Diosma, a lovely soft aromatic shrub from South Africa is sometimes called by the botanical name Coleonema album and the common name "Breath -of-Heaven". It makes an ideal low hedge to just over a metre in height and it will even tolerate a bit of shade. It is a naturally compact shrub but benefits from shearing during which the warm scent from the leaves is released. Because of its low water requirements it can be grown with spiky or rigid formed plants such as succulents or bromeliads which contrast well with its soft foliage.

Rose ,Veilchenblau,1909 a Rambler

Rose 'Veilchenblau' a Rambler from 1909

This is the kind of rose you can grow over an old shed or chook house or even down an embankment. The colour is bright and difficult to describe .It's a sort of violet,lilac blue mix, made more telling by the white centre to the flower. The bunches of flowers are on short stems emerging from the long cane like growth. It is mainly spring flowering but small bunches of flowers appear at other times of the year. It is very hardy and reliable. Plants available from specialist rose nurseries.

Wisteria sinensis

Wisteria sinensis is the one spring flowering climber which needs mild weather to make it last in flower before the first flush of leaves appear, especially on the coast . With temperatures going to 31 C yesterday, the first leaves have appeared along with the flowers. The fragrance of the flowers is exceptional though and it is worth growing for that reason alone.
It does need constant attention in regards to pruning for to be grown at its best.
The most memorable Wisteria were grown by Peter Valder at Nooroo at Mt Wilson in New South Wales.

Eupatorium megalophyllum syn Bartlettina sordida

Eupatorium megalophyllum is an exotic spring flowering shrub with quite a distinctive appearance. The large furry leaves have a purplish tinge and the large mop of flowers look attractive both in bud and when they come out .It lasts for at least six weeks in flower ,after which it needs to be pruned hard to allow a new batch of stems to emerge and to maintain a good compact shape.It usually grows to about 2 metres and will tolerate both shade or sun. The leaves tend to be larger in the shade, while in sun they become smaller and darker in tone. Shelter from wind is desirable with any large leafed shrub and this is no exception but otherwise it is very hardy, though tolerant of only light frost.
2017 update: Name change to Bartlettina sordida. I find this shrub really difficult to propagate and the strike rate of cuttings is almost nil. Any suggestions?

Rose HT Lorraine Lee

Australian bred Rose 'Lorraine Lee' (1924) in New Farm Park ,Brisbane

The Spring Racing Carnival and roses go hand in hand and this rose, bred by Alister Clark, is hardy and always in flower. Lorraine Lee was a distant relative of Clark from Frinton in Essex in England. and while she was visiting Australia he took her to the races and also invited her to choose a rose she would like to be given her name.The fragrance could be described as rich and fruity and it is remarkable in that it produces flowers almost continually ,even in the middle of winter.
.Alister Clark who died in 1949 was a great patron of the Moonee Valley Racecourse which is home of the famous W.S.Cox Plate held in late October.His name lives on at Moonee Valley with the running of the Alister Clark Stakes in February. Good luck to all punters this Spring!
2017 update: Highly recommended and readily available from specialist growers.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Some perennial Artemisias

The plant genus Artemisia was named after the Greek goddess Artemis
The perennial Artemisias spread by underground runners and make very useful ground cover plants .They are briefly dormant in Winter though there is obviously much activity below ground because when they reappear in Spring it is often a metre away from where you originally planted them.The foliage is soft and feathery and ,though usually silver, the cultivar 'Lemon and Lime' is cream ,green and gold and is very bright . It is very useful to lighten a shady corner of the garden.

Artemesia 'Lemon and Lime' with purple Tradescantia pallidaThis Artemisia also weaves it way around other plants without ever becoming invasive .Here it is growing around Aechmea recurvata aurea, a spiny sun hardy and frost hardy bromeliad.

It also looks good with Geranium 'Rozanne' PBR which produces large saucer shaped purple flowers for much of the year. Geranium 'Rozanne' is a hybrid between G.wallichianum and G.himaleyense and is a very tough plant performing well on the coast and in the mountains.

Geranium 'Rozanne' PBR
Artemisia in flower during Summer
When the Artemisias flower they produce tall feathery plumes which are quite decorative and useful as cut flowers. They also provide a bit of shade for some of the sun hardy Bromeliads , the blade shaped leaves of which may scorch on the very hottest of days.

Artemisia ludoviciana 'Valerie Finnis'
The one Artemisia which deserves special mention is A. dracunculus or French Tarragon . It is a favourite herb, as the use of just one leaf is sufficient to give flavour to a dish especially when used in the cooking of chicken. "Dracunculus" means dragon-tail alluding to the serpent coil of roots from this plant. The new shoots are just making an appearance now.
2017 update: I no longer grow the 'Lemon and Lime Artemisia but have a range of other species and cultivars. I also currently have stock of Geranium 'Rozanne'

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Aloe lutescens

Aloe lutescens growing with Sanseviera trifasciata 'Silver Sheen'

This densely clustered Aloe is distinguished for its dark "army" green leaves and bi-coloured flowers.The foliage is a good contrast to the silvery leaves of the Sanseviera.The flowers are wonderful. Dark red buds open yellow and are quite striking. The clumps eventually grow to about 1 metre across on a plant to 60 cm tall. Birds always visit and the flowering time is about 6 weeks ,a bit longer than some other Aloes. It will flower in semi shade and is tolerant of full coastal exposure. In its native habitat of South Africa it is found in an area between Soutpansberg and the Limpopo River at an altitude of 20 to 1200m. Highly recommended for garden and commercial landscaping.
2017 update I have currently have limited stock available in 200mm and 300mm pots

Syzygium luehmannii,Riberry

Syzygium luehmannii
Riberry, in a formal garden setting

This native lillypilly is one of the best to grow because of its graceful weeping habit and eventual compact form. It initially grows as an untidy open shrub and can be quite slow but patience rewards those wait, for once it gets to about 2 metres it starts to develop into a beautiful small tree.Eventually it reaches about 5 metres but can get bigger in a "rainforest" style garden or in fertile rich soil.
New growth is flushed pale green to pink and is very attractive. The small pear shaped berries which are produced in huge quantities are pleasantly clove tasting and suitable for a range of recipes. The Vic Cherikoff cookbook called "Uniquely Australian" has recipes for both savoury and sweet dishes using the riberry. There are also a couple of dwarf forms of this lillypilly available including "Lulu" and "Royal Flush".

Le Jardin Exotique ,Monaco

Cactus Flower (coussin de belle-mere)
The Jardin Exotique in the Principality of Monaco is one of the must see gardens to visit for those who are interested in cactus and succulents.
The idea for the garden began in the late 19th century under Prince Albert 1 who was keen to establish a garden for succulent plants which he greatly admired. Work commenced on the garden in 1913 ,though originally the garden was planted on the Rocher de Monaco ,in the old town of Monaco-Ville ,it was finally established on a site to the west of the town on the Corniche Road facing due south and protected from damaging north and western winds.The slope of the garden is at a 45 degree angle so this meant a long and slow construction process under the guidance of Louis Notari , with Prince Albert overseeing every step of the work.
Pockets were created in the rock face for planting, paths cut into the rock to twist and turn in all directions and even bridges were built over clefts in the rock. It is a marvel of landscape construction. Work on the garden continued until 1933 when it was inaugurated by Albert's son, Prince Louis II.
Today the Jardin Exotique is involved in conservation projects and in particular on the island of Madagascar which has an extraordinary flora of succulent plants.On the occasion of the celebration to mark 700 years of the Grimaldi Dynasty of Monaco, Madagascar benefited with the construction of a Visitors Centre being undertaken at Fianarantsoa. In 2004,the Bureau de la Cooperation of the International of the Monegasque Government established a joint project between the two countries in the field of protecting the ecosystem and safe-guarding biodiversity.
For more information email jardin-exotique@mairie.mc

Rondeletia amoena

Rondeletia amoena

This early Spring flowering shrub has the sweetest perfume and is always full of bees and honey eater birds. It is tough and hardy and can grow up to about 3 metres but needs to be pruned from when it is quite small to maintain a compact shape. The large heads of pink flowers often weigh down to the ground when it is in flower.
2017 update: I still grow this though I have sold out at present.

Friday, September 5, 2008

That's gold! A Geranium

A Gold leaf Geranium (Pelargonium x hortorum)
About ten years ago ,I bought a lot of Geraniums from Marjorie Edward's Nursery Pelargonium Place at Golden Square in Victoria. This is one of them and it is a real star performer especially in the shade. It never gets any rust or disease problems and really brightens up the garden in dull spots. If grown in the sun it takes on bright red markings on the leaf as per photo below.

If it is grown with a bit of maroon foliage it makes a really loud combination!

 Growing with Iresine herbstii
2017 update: I still grow this golden geranium and offer it for sale on request.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Insects in the garden

This is one of the more interesting creatures(a Lepidoptera) which turned up in the garden. The pattern on the wings is quite unusual.
However with the recent warm days, the dreaded cabbage white butterflies have been active and are making an unwelcome return as are the green vegetable bugs. Better know as stink bugs they seem to hide in mulch and amongst weeds .It's a case of search and destroy now to avoid problems in the vegie patch later in the season.

Lamium galeobdolon 'Herman's Pride' with Dicentra formosa 'Langtrees'

Dicentra formosa 'Langtrees' (left) with Lamium galeobdolon 'Herman's Pride'
These two shade loving perennial ground covers do quite well on the coast even though their origins are more temperate. I like the silvery blue combination and the flowers of the Dicentra always look so delicate. Both are non invasive easy care perennials.
2017 update: short lived in my climate and best in cool temperate region

Abutilon megapotamicum variegatum

Abutilon megapotamicum variegatum Weeping Chinese Lantern

This is a really versatile shrub from Brazil. It grows to about 2 metres but because the stems are quite lax, it can be either trained as a climber flat against a wall or even used as a standard. As a tall standard it makes quite an impact because of the pendulous flowers and brightly splashed ivory /yellow /green foliage.It flowers from late winter through to autumn, will tolerate a range of climates and can take full sun or shade position. It does not have any particular water requirements either.It's a real winner.
2017 update:Makes quite a good standard or espalier.

Leschenaultia biloba

Leschenaultia biloba
Blue-----blue--as if the sky let fall
A flower from its cerulean wall
W.C Bryant

When this little W.A. perennial comes into flower about now I always long to see it massed planted by the hundreds .The exceptional blue flowers are an intense colour. The plants habit though tends to be on the limp side and it often has its thin stems tied to a stake in a pot to prevent it from looking too forlorn,hence the suggestion for mass planting. In a garden bed it needs some strong structural plants around it such as Agaves or Aloes to maintain a fluent structural picture for the time when it is not in flower.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Some Spring Flowering Annuals

Blue Anemone with navy blue pollen

Tall Poppies

Stocks with their strong fragrance


Prunus persica 'Lilian Burrows',Peach Blossom Tree

Prunus persica 'Lillian Burrows' ,
Ornamental Flowering Peach
This is a favourite Spring flowering tree. It grows to about 4 metres and the branches make good cut flowers if you want to try your hand at an Ikebana arrangement.
The only down side of these trees is that you have to deal with the masses of rotten fruit which litter the ground under the tree during summer and they are always full of fruit fly larvae.
2017 update: Sadly I no longer have this tree