Thursday, November 13, 2008

Ray's Garden

Ray is a retired school teacher who lives just around the corner He has created a garden of biodiversity and of great delight. There are no manicured lawns ,just a wonderful jumble of native plants and roses. The roses he has favoured are mainly those bred by David Austin. I took some photos on an early morning visit this week.


Tess of the d'Ubervilles

Souvenir de St Anne's

Rugosa rose Rugspin

Radio Times


Pat Austin

Early Morning Light

Mayor of Casterbridge

Kangaroo Paws

Gertrude Jekyll


Belle Story

Abraham Darby

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Lathyrus odoratus, Sweet Peas

Sweet Peas climbing on an Acanthus mollis flower
Sweet Peas are at their best during November on the coast while in more temperate climates the season can be extended into summer .They like it cool with no extremes of temperature.
Picking them regularly also extends the season but the stems get shorter especially if there are some hot days. I just wish the season was longer here so as to keep enjoying the delicious scent .
The Italian- southern European sweet pea was introduced into cultivation during the early 18th century. They were celebrated by the great Italian American film director Martin Scorsese in his 1993 film The Age of Innocence. A huge bowl of sweet peas, the centrepiece of a table in a vast conservatory held our attention and were privy to a conversation of gossip and intrigue. The camera slowly circled the table while billowing curtains carried the sweet pea fragrance on the breeze straight to the viewer.

Xanthosoma atrovirens 'Variegata Monstrosa'

Xanthosoma atrovirens 
'Variegata Monstrosa'

This Aroid from Ecuador is most unusual because at the end of the leaf is a small pouch with an attached tail. In the definitive book on the subject of Aroids by Deni Bown (Aroids :Plants of the Arum Family. Timber Press 2000) it is called "a would-be carnivorous Aroid" because this pouch is thought to have served the purpose of catching food not unlike the "pitchers" of insectivorous plants.
In the garden it is winter dormant but makes quick growth once the weather warms up unfurling leaves with wonderful colouring of blue grey green with bands of white and grey.

2017 update: I no longer have this plant and would love to get it again. I have found that many of the aroids rot during cold wet winter conditions.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Tropaeolum majus, Nasturtium

Nasturtium 'Alaska'

Tropaeolum majus 

This charming annual , a native to Peru and the West Indies, is at its best during Spring when, if given a spot in not too rich soil and a partly shaded position .it produces masses of flowers in a huge array of bright colours ranging from cherry rose, gold, tangerine, apricot and blacky red, plus some delicate creamy colours as well, such as the form 'Milkmaid' which is as close to white as you can get. There are also some different leaf colours such as the variegated 'Alaska" and the ruby tinted 'Empress of India'
The double flowered forms were originally developed in Italy in the mid 18th century and the Gleam Hybrids of the mid 20th century from California were the first with a scent . The perfume is subtle ,sweet and peppery at the same time .
Dwarf and non trailing forms have been introduced including the 'Jewel' mixed and 'Whirlybird'
Nasturtium flowers and leaves are edible and if you can stand the hot taste which may bring tears to your eyes ,they make a colourful addition to the salad bowl and are full of vitamin C Hence the common name of Indian Cress, though the German is more expressive....Kapuzinerkresse. Nasturtiums are a great gardening plant for children as the seeds are large and easy to plant and reliable in any conditions . When the flowers start to fade, it can be quite a bit of work to remove the masses of trailing stems left behind . The large quantity of seed which have dropped ensure its return in the following season .A second flush of flowers often occurs after autumn rain and that is always welcome. The colour Nasturtium Red has been in use in the paint and textile trades since the end of the 18th century and is pictured below.

Zieria granulata, llawarra Zieria

Zieria granulata 
 Illawarra Zieria
This native plant is listed as one of the threatened plants of the Illawarra and occurs in a small area of local government managed sites in Shellharbour and Kiama.
It is worth growing in the home garden because it is a great texture plant . The foliage is covered in small raised dots which release an intensely aromatic citrus smell when crushed or bruised.
It grows to be an attractive rounded shrub to about 2.5 metres and is smothered in tiny white flowers during Spring.
2017 update: I no longer have any plants for sale.

Dianthera nodosa, syn Justicia nodosa

Dianthera nodosa
This small shrub which grows to about a metre is almost continually in flower .The flowers appear in the leaf axils and cascade down along the branches (not upright as shown in this photo)
It has been given a couple of cultivar names including "Brazil" after its country of origin and "Lady in Pink" . It should be more widely grown in a frost free climate as it tolerates shade and will thrive in spots under trees where there is some root competition.
In sun the foliage can turn a bleached or yellow colour.
Given a light pune after flowering will encourage a more compact shape from what is normally an open weeping shrub.
2017 update: I have some plants for sale.

Rothmannia globosa ,Tree Gardenia

Rothmannia globossa 
the tree Gardenia
This Spring flowering shrub can grow to tree like proportions (about 7 metres) and is a familiar sight in old gardens . It produces masses of creamy perfumed flowers followed by large round black seed pods which persist on the branches for many years. If you don't want it as a tree ,it should be pruned well after flowering so as to retain a compact shape. It is tough and drought hardy and is useful for difficult spots such as narrow spaces between buildings which receive low winter light and are sunny and hot in Summer.
2017 update: I no longer have any plants for sale. It is usually available from the Growing Friends Nursery at the Royal Botanic Gardens in Sydney.