Friday, December 30, 2011

Anthricus sylvestris 'Ravenswing'

Feathery black foliage of Anthricus sylvestris 'Ravenswing'with white striped Iris japonica 'Variegata'
and with Carex elata, Bowles' Golden grass
The common name for this plant is black cow parsley and it is really more suited to a shady cool English woodland garden but I am giving it a go in full shade and keeping it well watered. It remains to be seen whether I can get it to flower so I can collect some seed so as to grow more of it. It would look terrific if mass planted beside some pale foliaged plants like the ones above for it could easily disappear in the landscape without something to highlight its seductive dark leaves.
2017 update: I no longer have this plant.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Platycerium superbum, Staghorn fern

Staghorn fern
 Platycerium superbum
Looking like a giant moth, the newly emerging fronds of this fern will eventually divide and turn into streamer like lobes as it matures . I will have to take more photos of it over the coming months. It is found naturally on trees in the rainforests of northern New South Wales and tropical Queensland but makes a spectacular garden specimen when given lots of room. It can be grown on a wooden garden fence or retaining wall as is this one.
2017 update: I do not have any plants available.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Impatiens 'Congo Cockatoo'

Impatiens niamniamensis 'Congo Cockatoo'
This is one of the perennial small shrub Impatiens from central Africa which grows very well in full shade as long as the soil is moist. It lets you know very quickly when lacking water by drooping rapidly. Though the flowers are vibrant and resemble a parrot's beak they remain fairly hidden amongst the foliage. To take the photo I had to cut a couple of leaves off to reveal them.
Solution would be to grow it on an embankment or in a container above eye level so you can admire the flowers. Apart from the watering requirements, it is fairly hardy and goes through a cold winter tolerating a light frost.
2017 update: I no longer have this plant.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Red flowered Nerium oleander

Nerium oleander 'Cherry Surprise'
I grow two types of red flowering Oleander. This dwarf growing one 'Cherry Surprise' and a taller one called 'Delphi'.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Crassula ovata Tolkein cultivars

Ballantine Books NY
Cover painting: Bilbo comes to the Huts of the Raftelvesby J.R.R. Tolkien

It is not often that you get a book/movie/plant tie-in but such is the case with The Hobbit. Some very fine succulent plant cultivars of Crassula ovata, which have been in the Nursery trade for years were named after it. I have to confess to never having read Tolkien and even worse to have not seen The Lord of Rings movies, but now, one hundred pages in, I am hooked ,even if it is the kind of book which you need to read on a dark stormy night and not on a sunny day at the beach.

The Crassula plant cultivars 'Gollum', 'Hobbit' and 'Fingers' are mainly distinguished by their leaf shapes. 'Gollum' has tubular trumpet shaped leaves with suction cup tips. 'Fingers' leaves come to a tapered point and 'Hobbit' leaves are more open and spathulate. Variation in leaf shape can occur from plant to plant which can lead to some confusing naming. All form small shrubs to about 40 cm and will grow in full sun or shade. In sun and hot positions leaves will often reveal red tips or attractive yellow and gold edges. Frost will burn the leaves but plants recover well and produce new growth over summer. They make excellent container plants and are popular as hardy bonsai as they form aged "tree" trunks over time and are undemanding as to watering.

Crassula ovata 'Hobbit'
Crassula ovata 'Hobbit' in sun
what is a hobbit? They are inclined to be fat in the stomach; they dress in bright colours (chiefly green and yellow); wear no shoes, because their feet grow naturally leathery soles and thick warm brown hair like the stuff on their heads (which is curly); have long clever brown fingers, good-natured faces, and laugh deep fruit laughs........
Crassula ovata 'Gollum'
Deep down here by the dark water lived old Gollum, a small slimy creature.I don't know where he came from, nor who or what he was. He was Gollum-------as dark as darkness, except for two big round pale eyes in his thin face.

Crassula ovata 'Fingers'
Gollum was looking out of his pale lamp-like eyes for blind fish, which he grabbed with his long fingers as quick as thinking.....

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Barleria obtusa 'Purple Gem'

Barleria obtusa 'Purple Gem'

Despite it being a cool summer so far, it is time to get some inspiration for tropical style gardening and this small shrub would make a colourful addition to a warm frost free garden. Growing to only about a metre, it is an ideal balcony container plant or if used as a garden specimen amongst Bromeliads or perennials. In cooler districts it could be grown as a pot plant and over-wintered in a dry spot or indoors. The foliage is an eye-catching combination of grey and pale green with new leaves emerging purple with hot pink flashes. The clusters of small pink flowers are striped with darker markings and are quite dazzling.
2017 update: I no longer have this available for sale.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Erigeron karvinskianus 'Los Angeles Pink'

Erigeron karvinskianus 'L A Pink' 
Seaside daisy
I have been looking for weed suppressing ground-cover plants to grow and the seaside daisy fits the bill despite its reputation of being with you for evermore once you have planted it, as It will find a way of coming up in the cracks of paving and in walls. English garden writer Anne Wareham devoted a small chapter to it in her book The Bad Tempered Gardener and called it 'one of those furnishing plants that we all should have unless you're stark modern and clean'. The Los Angeles pink form has slightly larger flowers than the type and they are more of a soft pink than white like the species.I like plants which can be cut back almost to ground level and are off and growing before you know it. This is one of them. It is hardy across a range of climates preferring semi shade in hot districts and sun in cool climates.
2017 update: I am currently out of stock

Friday, December 16, 2011

Citharexylum spinosum, Jamaican Fiddlewood tree

Fiddlewood, Citharexylum spinosum

I used to plant this quick growing tree for screening purposes and then regretted having done so as the space turned out to be too small for it...... a common problem in city gardens. It easily reaches 12 metres after a couple of years especially if it receives plenty of water and the soil is reasonably fertile. The summer born flowers are sweet though not particularly spectacular but the foliage is something worth talking about as it goes through a stage when the entire tree turns a vibrant orange, usually during November. If you want a real colour show in your garden plant one next to a Jacaranda, an Illawarra Flame tree and grow a Bougainvillea 'Magnifica Trailii' through them or close by. I have seen this orange, mauve, red and magenta combo in an old Sydney garden and it is quite a sight.
2017 update: I am currently out of stock but will have more at some stage in the future.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Gardening in Sydney 1953:A chemical romance

F R Green Daily Mirror Gardening expert
Cover photo flowers by Mrs Z Tregenna
of 'Jane Ann Florists', Double Bay, Sydney

"You can play golf and have a garden too......." only a Sydneysider could use those words as the chapter heading on growing perennials. With the tone thus set of gardening as a bit of a chore which keeps you away from doing something more interesting, how best to manage your quarter acre block in the suburbs? F R Green's advice, like many other garden writers of the time, was to go and talk to someone at a "scientific technical service department" in a city garden store to have all your pest and disease problems solved and then carry the purchased "deadly weapon" home on the tram. DDT, the organochlorine insecticide was already well established as a "cure all" but 1953, when this book was published, saw the release of new products to help gardeners. One was the German manufactured insecticide E605 or Parathion (E = entwichlungsummer) which is closely related to the nerve agent Sarin. Though proving the Germans have a sense of humour it was called schwiegermuttergift or mother-in-law poison.
The soil fumigant chloropicrin was recommended to control soil nematodes or eelworms. This had become well known as a chemical warfare weapon in 1917 through its use by the Germans on the Italian front ,though it was first synthesized by Scottish chemist John Stenhouse way back in 1848.
Monsanto also released the soil conditioner Krilium as an aid to improving soil tilth and aeration and reducing compaction. The perfect product for vegetable growers when sowing seeds directly into the soil. Krilium was made from highly water absorbent non toxic polyacrylimide. However unpolymerized acrylamide is a neurotoxin and a percentage remains after synthesizing. Current data suggests that the "evidence of acrylamide posing a cancer risk has been strengthened'
1953 advertising from Monsanto Chemicals
(Australia) Limited
Happy Gardening!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Yucca pallida

Yucca pallida

This Yucca is from the Blackland Prairies of north central Texas. I am not sure how long I have had the plant as it has not changed size for years but suddenly it has decided to flower. It is one of the stemless non spiky Yuccas with lovely pale blue leaves and delightful pendant mint green flowers with white margins. I am hoping for seed when it has finished flowering . Seeds are apparently small matt black with a rough surface and measure a mere 4-6 x 2-3 mm.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Romneya coulteri, Californian Tree Poppy

Californian tree poppy Romneya coulteri
Every nursery has a rubbish pile where plants are dumped because they have remained unsold or have outgrown their pots and can't be potted on. The more tenacious plants often gain a foothold and if weather conditions are right they will start to grow despite being tipped sideways or on their head. One such plant for me has been the Californian tree poppy which is known for its drought tolerance and suckering habit. It really prefers a drier climate and lighter soil than I can offer it and would be more a home in a garden in South Australia where summers tend to be hot and dry. When well grown, It forms a shrub to about 1.5 metres with glaucous blue leaves and a display of "poached egg" style flowers in late spring. The tissue paper quality of the flowers is delightful even though they only last a few days.
2017 update: I no longer stock this.