Sunday, March 23, 2014

Calliandra surinamensis 'Pink Poodle'

Calliandra surinamensis 'Pink Poodle'
Getting inspired about garden design, plants and planting combinations by visiting 'open gardens' is the way to go at any time of year. Last weekend I was lucky enough to visit the open garden of horticulturist and garden writer Helen Curran MAIH. Her 'Tropical Breeze' garden in the Sydney suburb of Seven Hills is a marvel of sub-tropical planting, and, of the many shrubs which caught my eye, I ended up on a mission this week to find this Calliandra. This species has different leaves to the more commonly grown C. haematocephala, the red, pink or white flowered 'powder-puff' flower, resembling in fact that dreaded weed of the tropics the sensitive plant Mimosa pudica.The similarity ends there and this shrub, which can grow from 3 to 5 metres in height with a similar spread, has a structure of long arching branches allowing to support an understory of smaller shrubs or bromeliads. Helen used Iresine herbstii and Alcantarea imperialis 'Rubra' to great effect as these highlight the neon pink Calliandra flowers. 
2017 update: I currently don't have any stock of 'Pink Poodle'

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Hibiscus rosa-sinensis 'Shiner'

Hibiscus rosa-sinensis 'Shiner'
This is another John Richardson bred Hibiscus from a pod parent of 'Kylie Ritchie' and pollen parent of 'Herm Geller'. It is a huge flower and, unusually, there is a gap between the petals and an almost distinct separation of colour zones. The white streaks on the petal's pink zone increase the impact of the dark eye zone ...a real 'shiner' indeed.
I am currently out of stock of the variety.

Hibiscus rosa-sinensis 'Melon Cocktail'

Hibiscus rosa-sinensis 'Melon Cocktail'
 This is an Australian Hibiscus bred by John Richardson from a pod parent of 'Rosalind' and a pollen parent of 'Byron Metts'. It is a fully double flower suffused with shades of pastel orange and pink. It glows in the centre from a flush of bright flamingo pink. As the flower is quite heavy from the density of the petal formation it tends to hang its head so the blooms are noticed more from the top looking down or side on.
I am currently out of stock of this variety

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Pelargonium carnosum

With the Collectors' Plant Fair vibe in the air (April 12 &13) it is time to fess up and admit to being a collector of obscure plants of one genera or another. One of my favourite nurseries at the Fair is that of Robyn Bible who specializes in all things Geranium/Pelargonium. I like this group of plants because many species have scented leaves and they are able to survive on very little water or attention. Pelargonim carnosum resembles a bonsai tree, a deciduous one at that, and is given a common name of 'fleshy-stalked pelargonim' .It occurs in semi desert regions or karroid vegetation localities of South West Africa, Richterveld, Namaqualand, South Western Cape and dry areas in the Eastern Province.
The flowers are an unfortunate shade of pus yellow/green with inflamed streaks on the upper petals.They are quite delicate and demand closer inspection with a hand lens to appreciate their form. Inflorescence 'tech heads' take note that the peduncles are usually branched to bear several pseudo-umbels with 2 to 8 flowers each.

Nerium oleander 'Docteur Golfin'

Nerium oleander 'Dr. Golfin'
Luminous is the word to describe this cerise pink oleander. It is in flower this week.
Who is/was Docteur Golfin? Nothing on Google but I am thinking perhaps a colonial Belgian Docteur who spent time in the African Congo where this may have grown? or a character played by Alec Baldwin in a very Bostonian episode of 30Rock?

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Allium 'Millenium'

 Allium nutans x senescens 'Millenium'
This onion family member (Alliaceae/Liliaceae) has been in flower for about six weeks with its lavender coloured spheres carried on strong stems emerging from a clump of strap shaped leaves which resemble garlic chives, though they are more glossy green than chives in appearance. I am anticipating it will have some 'down time' during the cooler months ahead with the foliage shriveling or turning yellow and needing a haircut at ground level. As this is a cool temperate climate bulb tolerant of snowy winters ,originating from Allium breeder Mark McDonough in the United States, it remains to be seen how it will perform in the coming year. I am hoping it may find a place as a flamboyant substitute for Tulbaghia, the 'society garlic', which has smaller flowers.
2017 update: I am currently sold out of this.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Orange-Peel Thyme, Thymus richardii spp. nitidus

Thymus richardii spp. nitidus 
 Orange Peel Thyme
If you bury your face in a pot of this prostrate thyme your senses are assaulted by a fragrance of bitter oranges and pine, not a combination which endears it for use in the kitchen in a culinary foray, but more a scent one would expect to find in a men's cologne.
I grow this in a pot because the closely packed leaves and dense habit make it susceptible to fungal rot in late summer humid days. It perhaps needs to clamber through some rocks or across paving so as to avoid this habit of up and dieing for no apparent reason in a mild coastal climate. It also fails to flower for me so maybe needs a cold winter trigger to implement this though no matter as the it is worth growing for the unique scent alone.

 'What time the mighty moon
Was gathering light
Love placed the thymy plot
of Paradise'
Alfred Tennyson

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Hibiscus rosa-sinensis 'Ben Lexcen'

 Hibiscus rosa-sinensis 'Ben Lexcen'
This wonderful rich apricot coloured Hibiscus with its pale pink eye zone is named for the late 'Sailing Australian' Ben Lexcen (1936-1988), as naval architect and yachtsman, he was 'a designer prepared to look for and try ideas that were outside the mainstream.'
This a Les Beers Hibiscus bred from 'Miss North Miami' x 'Joan Kitchen'. It was registered in 1985.