Sunday, June 29, 2014

Great Gatsby Gardening

 I have been looking for a vintage 1920's rose to grow over a shed and I have chosen the Alister Clark bred 'Lorraine Lee' which was released in 1924 by Hackett and Co of Adelaide. The climbing version came later in 1932. Lorraine Lee was a cousin of Alister Clark's wife and she picked it out in 1920 from his batch of seedlings. It went on to become the most popular rose in Australia for decades following, mainly because it flowers non-stop for most of the year in warm climates.
 Rosa 'Lorraine Lee'
Bred from 'Jessie Clark', a Rosa gigantea seedling, and 'Capitaine Miller', a seedling of the China rose 'General Schlablikine'. The colour is described as rosy apricot pink or terracotta.
Rosearian Susan Irvine suggests an under-planting of Achillea 'Salmon Beauty'.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Crassula multicava 'Purple Dragon'

Crassula multicava 'Purple Dragon'
The plain green form of this succulent is quite weedy. It is called a 'sleeper weed' as in 'one to watch', for it has the potential to become a 'transformer weed' by changing a habitat and displacing native vegetation. Able to grow in shade and spreading rapidly in sandy soils it has been noted in littoral rainforest and I suspect that it has been introduced as a result of being used in those coastal holiday parks where owners with a cabin or caravan may create a small garden to enhance their surrounds or define a boundary. "I want to plant a garden which survives when we are not here", the story goes. The appeal is the sprays of fluffy pink flowers, general neat appearance and ability to grow in sand.
It remains to be seen whether this red form follows suit into the weed category. A nursery colleague who grows it for sale in hanging baskets told me "it seeds and comes up in trays all along the benches."    Warning bells?
I am growing it in a pot as it is a nice foliage contrast to silver foliage plants nearby. The less water it gets the more the leaves curve back to reveal their attractive purple/red side. It grew rapidly and has stayed compact and is now topped with attractive dark pink flowers, and that said I won't be growing it commercially.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Euphorbia 'Diamond Frost'

 Euphorbia hypericifolia 'Diamond Frost'
photo:Cornell University School of Horticulture
'Diamond Frost' has become something of a garden classic in recent years. It ticks all the right boxes for general hardiness and sustainability and is long flowering in mild climates.
I admire its use in a garden I drive past from time to time. It is planted to great effect in some planter boxes near the entrance to a house which was built a few years ago in a fairly modern style. Perhaps I notice it more because it has been mass planted and you see a lovely sea of frothy white flowers against the hard edges of the building.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Agaves, Hats & Beards

 Agave in urn on plinth
Illustrated Sydney News c.1869
I have been looking for pictures of Agaves and their use in gardens in Australia during the 19th Century but have ended up reading about the history of men's hats and the fashion for the beard from that time. This is a small selection of pictures.
 Agave for sale at Hebrew Ladies' Bazaar
Illustrated Sydney News c.1876

 Agave americana behind bicycle riders c.1896
He wears a cloth cap, single breasted Norfolk jacket designed for active wear and Knickerbocker trousers.
 Gold digger of Victoria c.1854
He wears a broad brimmed 'wide-awake' felt hat with green veil allowing for protection from flies and dust. Probably enough space to smoke a pipe as well without letting the veil catch on fire.
 White hat with sun flap worn with check suit c 1870's
This style of hat is still available today especially in Queensland.
 'Sugar-loaf' cabbage-tree hat c.1867
This style of tall conical hat was worn by explorer Burke when he and Wills set off from Melbourne in 1860. He sported a blue coat with a red shirt and took thirty cabbage-tree hats on the ill-fated expedition.
Charles Todd and the 'Overlanders' SA c.1872
The men have straw hats and white 'troppo sun helmets' worn with striped and spotted Crimean shirts.
Tropical cork-lined helmets appeared in the 70's and 80's and were sold in Sydney and Brisbane by B Mountcastle and Sons until the end of the century when straw boaters became popular.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Erodium reichardii 'Flore Pleno'

Erodium reichardii 'Flore Pleno' syn. Erodium x variabile (Gerinaceae)

Native habitat: Limestone cliffs, Cap de Formentor, Spain

It is at this time of year that I pay most attention to the propagation, by division, of species Geraniums. After late summer and autumn dormancy they spring back to life during short cooler days and start to produce new foliage and the first flower buds which will carry them through to a peak of flowering in a few months time. Congested clumps with their long swollen roots can be teased apart and those tipped with a rosette of leaves can be potted on. The roots themselves often have dormant buds and may send up new shoots if placed in a tray and re-covered with potting soil. Even the Australian species Pelargonium rodneyanum and the un-named Western Australian P. 'Mallee Magic' are propagated in this way at this time of year.
As I am fascinated by miniature thumbnail sized flowers, as much as big blousey ones, this Erodium fits the bill when it comes to the former flower size. It is a variable species and flowers may be white, pale pink and double or semi double.The dark pink stripes on the petals enhance the pink ones, hence 'Roseum' is sometimes tacked onto the botanical name. Cultivar names include 'Charm' and 'Pink Galaxy'. The original white flowering species was named by Swedish botanist Johan Andreas Murray (1740-1791) (he of Murraya paniculata) for his German mate and fellow plant hunter Dr Johann Jakob Reichard (1743-1782). 'Die schonsten arbenteuer in Deutschland' before Reichard died young of TB. Both worked out of Gottingen Botanic Garden.
This is a great plant for a rock garden or scree bed of 'alpines', where the term alpines refers to small rock hugging or scrambling plants and not necessarily a cold climate. I like to grow plants such as this in small flat troughs topped with a gravel mulch, ideally limestone chips for best growth. Bonsai pots are ideal for this. As it is a fairly tough little plant, not demanding of water or fertilizer, it will tolerate moderate frost but during the full heat of summer it is best moved to a shady location and given a rest until it comes to life again when the weather cools down.

the 'macro'

A way to go before it fills out this pot.
Just potted Pelargonium rodneyanum