Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Florez Pop-Up

This Sunday March 2nd Florez Nursery will be selling plants at a 'Pop-Up' shop in Sydney.
Where : Home of garden designer Peter Nixon whose garden will be on view as part of Open Gardens Australia.
Address: 52 Lander Street cnr. Shepherd Street Darlington (near Sydney Uni)
Open 10am to 4pm rain or shine 
I look forward to seeing you all there.
Here are some of the plants you may expect to find:
 Hibiscus and Brugmansia
 Medinilla species
 Pentas 'Candy Stripe'
 Allamanda 'Siam Snow'
 Miscanthus 'Cosmopolitan'
 Gardenia 'Forever More' from Vietnam
 Orange Browallia
 Ervatamia coronaria
 Quisqualis 'Red Riot'
 Daintree Pine
 Organic sage
Sun hardy Bromeliads

Hibiscus rosa-sinensis 'Sassi'

Hibiscus rosa-sinensis 'Sassi'
A tartan Hibiscus? The rich red and dark centre of this flower have all the hallmarks of a good Scottish tartan, though this was probably not on the mind of the Florida grower Elanor Suchonic who bred it from a pod parent of 'Topaz Glory' and a pollen parent of 'Herm Geller'. It needs to be grafted for best success and is an average grower with an open bushy appearance. The word 'sassy' is usually associated with jazz legend Sarah Vaughan (1924-1990)

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Hibiscus rosa-sinensis 'Tiny Tina'

 Hibiscus rosa-sinensis 'Tiny Tina'
Tiny Tina has been annoying the hell out of me for months. The buds were forming and not opening or dropping off before opening, and then I discovered what she was waiting for; a warm day, 90% humidity, with light drizzle to showery conditions. In actual fact she was responding to the conditions of her place of origin namely Malaysia. The cerise pink flowers and dense foliage that resembles a cut-leaf birch add up to what is really a hedging plant of great versatility. It can be kept as a low hedge or border plant to a metre or allowed to grow taller to 2.5 metres.
 It makes a perfectly good standard as pictured here or can be trained as a bonsai, more of a kind of cheat's bonsai as the flowers are already miniature and the growth is rapid. 

 Hibiscus flowers of Malaysia with 'Tiny Tina' top right
photo : Shail Mohan
Hibiscus is the national flower of Malaysia and has been since 1960. It is known as bunga raya.
Hibiscus Fountain
Perdana Botanical Garden
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Brugmansia double white

 Brugmansia x candida 'Double White'
If you want to grow a shrub/tree which has elegant starched white crisp flowers it is hard to go past the double white form of the Brugmansia or Angel's Trumpet. This week all the Brugmansia are responding to the heat and rain by producing lots of flowers, though, as this one is growing in the shade, the flowers are not in great quantity. It was planted so as to be viewed from a dining room window with the window open in the evening to allow its sweet perfume to enter the room. Perfect for formal dining.......

Dean Martin (1917-1995)
"Who do I have to sleep with to get a Stoli Martini with a twist of lemon..."

Allamanda 'Creme Caramel'

Allamanda 'Creme Caramel'
This climber may be the perfect gift for a food obsessed person or someone with a sweet tooth? Topically MKR? 
Allamandas love the muggy weather we are having at the moment with new flowers opening every other day. The shiny caramel coloured buds on this one open to lovely custard petals infused with more caramel at the centre of the flower. It certainly glows but perhaps it may be too subtle for those used to the bright daffodil yellow flowers of the typical form.
It is deciduous in cooler climates outside the sub tropics but is generally hardy preferring it on the dry side over winter. It likes a hot site against a western wall and needs to be tied onto a support as it will not climb with tendrils but merely sends out arching branches topped with sprays of flowers. It is perfectly happy when grown in a large pot.

Hibiscus rosa-sinensis 'Bumble Bee'

Hibiscus rosa-sinensis 'Bumble Bee'
This is a 1970's Hibiscus from Florida courtesy of Harry R Goulding who bred it from a pod parent of 'Many Times' and a pollen parent of 'Lovely Rea'.
To give this Hibiscus its proper technical colour description it is cadmium orange with a mandarin red centre and a currant red 'eye'. As it is a two day flower, the outer petal edge fades on the second day to pastel orange 'smoke'.
It is a low bushy plant but disappointing when grown on its own roots so grafting is advisable.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Suburban archeology 2

 Good things come in glass...
There was a story in the paper this morning about a builder who uncovered some antique bottles and vessels while restoring a cottage which was formally the home of an Anglican Minister. Question is, was said Minister having a tipple or two in the garden or merely entertaining parishioners with good cheer. A small stash of coins was also found in the ceiling.
Digging up bottles can be a bit tricky. Often a spade will slide off the glass surface without shattering it especially if you are working in clay soils. Once you see that glint of intact glass it is time to go down on hands and knees and carefully work around the bottle removing soil with a small trowel. When the bottle is out of the ground intact I usually wash off the excess dirt with a combination of shaking vigorously to dislodge stuff at the bottom and then soaking it for a few days to loosen any other things like tree roots or fibre. 
The most sort after bottles are those which were once sealed with a glass stopper. I like "bottle green" ones for the colour of course. Medicine bottles often have a flat face as an indication that once a paper label was attached probably with a pharmacist note of instruction. Classic Coca-Cola bottles with their familiar and distinctive design never fail to please as does the miky blue glass of an early Ponds Cold Cream jar. Keep digging...

Hibiscus rosa-sinensis 'Elandem'

Hibiscus rosa-sinensis 'Elandem'
The French word 'elan' means ardor or zeal inspired by passion or enthusiasm and it is appropriate to use when describing this flower. Coloured tie-dye crushed strawberry it certainly draws the eye and the bush itself is vigorous and robust with glossy healthy foliage. The flower formation is of two layers of five petals with a solo petal fused to the staminal column. The stigma pads are bright apricot.
As this is an unregistered cultivar I have no background information as to who bred it or when it was released. It bears some similarity to the Fred Westerman 'Crested Candy' so it may be one from his breeding program .

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Suburban archeology

 One of the eccentric habits acquired over my years of digging in gardens has been to keep any items or objects I come across in the soil. The most common being decorated shards of pottery, matchbox cars, plastic war figures once placed in cereal boxes, lots of marbles, coins (Australian Pennies!), unidentified metal pieces, bits from dolls etc. I keep them all in an old metal tool box and occasionally rifle through them, eyeing them with wonder about their former life.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Hibiscus moscheutos 'Luna Pink Swirl'

 Hibiscus moscheutos 'Luna Pink Swirl'
This is one of the so called hardy Hibiscus and is a herbaceous perennial species, much hybridized, originating from the eastern United States. In warm coastal climates like mine it can only really be grown successfully as a summer bedding plant as it requires a certain amount of freezing over winter for the dormant buds to develop properly and reemerge in late spring. 
It is a compact grower to about a metre and as this species originated in boggy water logged soils it could be used as a decorative addition to a water feature during the summer if grown in a container or, as a border plant, it compliments a background planting of the grass Miscanthus sinensis 'Variegatus' with its finely striped green and white leaves.
Those who are familiar with this Hibiscus may be nostalgic for the dinner plate sized flowers of the 'Disco Belle' series which appeared in the late 1980's and early 90's. They were developed at the Sakata Seed Corporation's Chigasaki breeding station in Japan and were a real sensation.
Luna Pink Swirl has a 'fun fair' appeal to it and could even be renamed Luna Park Swirl in my book. It can be grown from cuttings or seed ,though seed may not come true to type.
2017 update: I no longer grow this Hibiscus

Monday, February 10, 2014

Hymenocallis littoralis

 Hymenocallis littoralis (Amaryllidaceae) 
 This is a fairly common bulb and is a very hardy plant for warm gardens from the tropics to temperate regions. It originates from Mexico and Guatemala and forms a clump of leaves to 90cm or more under favourable conditions. Mine are growing in poor dry stony soil which provides testament to its toughness.They receive the full blast of hot western sun in the afternoon. Ideally however they could be positioned under trees in semi shade or even in heavy boggy soil as they tolerate seasonal, ie summer, waterlogged soils as well as dry.
The flower has a lovely structure. The virginal white flat cupped shaped flower quivers in the slightest breeze while the extended scaffolding structure of stamens have nodding filaments on their tips. However it is the scimitar like outer petals which command the most attention as they change during the heat of the day to tentacles as on a jellyfish as they wilt.
Propagation is by division of established clumps.