Sunday, February 19, 2017

Geranium 'Azure Rush'

Geranium 'Azure Rush'
Following in the footsteps of Geranium 'Rozanne' is another fine perennial ground cover plant from Germany. The flower colour is not really azure blue, as say like the colour of the sea around a Greek Isle, it is more violet-blue.
Jane Taylor, in her terrific book Collecting Garden Plants refers to this colour as 'Nurseryman's blue' where the blues are all shaded with pink or red and are not true blue at all. Fact is blue flowers sell regardless how "true" they actually are. The book has an interesting chapter on the species and hybrid geraniums and in particular the collection held at Cambridge University Botanic Garden and the work carried out on sorting out the genus by Dr Peter Yeo, who also has written a book specifically about them. She gives some good reasons for why they make such great garden plants, referring to their 'ample finely cut foliage making dense mounds surmounted by a long succession of clear blue flowers on branching stems'. They are also sterile hybrids and therefore waste no energy in setting seed but provide a constant supply of flowers for six months of the year especially if given the occasional 'haircut' of any straggly stems. Geranium 'Azure Rush' would make an ideal companion plant to pink or yellow roses or if grown alongside daylilies or kniphofia. It is a hardy easy care plant suitable for coastal or mountain gardens
Published by J.M. Dent & Sons Ltd, London
Cover photo: Geranium platypetalum by Dr P Yeo

Geranium 'Azure Rush' originated from zu Jeddeloah Pflanzen in Germany.

Japanese Garden at Cowra

Subdued, subtle and elegant would be appropriate words to describe the Japanese garden of Cowra in New South Wales. On a fine bright day it is the gleaming white sand of "the beach" which first draws your eye as you enter the garden. The Japanese word ikedori is used to describe this "capturing alive" of a scene from "real life" nature. - Welcome

Friday, February 17, 2017

Solanum wendlandii, Blue Potato Vine

Solanum wendlandii  
Paradise Flower, Blue Potato Vine, Divorce Flower
(Flowers described as lavender coloured, showy terminal panicle of cymes up to 20cm long)
Fading flowers set against a Golden Robinia Tree

Dense climbing branches up to 4 metres long covering a pergola
I have been admiring this climber in my neighborhood for years . It grows across a pergola walkway at the entrance to a townhouse complex. This plant could be considered a cool tropical as it native to mountainous areas of Central and South America, and therefore tolerant of a wide climate range. It was first collected by German botanist and horticulturist Hermann Wendland (1825-1903) in Costa Rica in 1882. He sent seed from the Royal Garden of Herrenhausen in Hanover to Kew Gardens where it was subsequently described in the Curtis' Botanical Magazine of 1887. Debate has raged ever since as to an exact species description and habit. The leaves are variable in shape and can be entire and ovate or deeply lobed. Leaf and stem prickles can be present or few and absent. So I hit the jackpot with this plant as it has very prickly leaves. When I went to take a few cuttings, the leaves attached themselves to my fingers like Velcro hooks and also to each other so I was left with a tangle of stems clinging to my hands. As climbing roses can be thorny I guess this should not be a deterrent from growing it. In Australia there are only male plants so seed does not appear and it must be propagated vegetatively. It appears on weed lists in Queensland but this may be because it goes absolutely rampant in the sub-tropics not because it throws off loads of seed which invade bushland.
2017 update: I have limited stock available.

Ceratostigma willmottianum, Chinese Plumbago

Ceratostigma willmottianum  
Chinese Plumbago
 This small hardy shrub is named to honor Miss Ellen Willmott (1858-1934) who in her day was called 'the greatest living woman gardener'. She was fabulously wealthy and during her glittering and spectacular career she sponsored plant hunter Ernest 'Chinese' Wilson who brought back this plant from China in 1910. The electric blue flowers cover the bush during summer and these are followed by bristly "shaving brush" heads of seeds. The leaves are attractively quilted and turn brilliant shades of orange and red during autumn and winter. It is hardy over a range of climates except the very hot and does well in shade under trees.
Dawn Macleod calls it 'that blue-eyed darling' in her book Down to Earth Women (Those who care for the soil) Edinburgh, 1982. Germaine Greer has a soft spot for it as well and gives an interesting insight into the life of Ellen Willmott in the following article:
Country notebook: Ellen Willmott - Telegraph

Dahlia 'Star Sister'

Dahlia 'Star Sister'

This is one of the charming small growing dahlias which has been flowering its head off for weeks. It is not a flower for picking as the stems have no length but it would make an ideal container specimen which could be brought inside for special occasions. The only down side to it is that you have to go down to ground level to dead-head the spent flowers to ensure continuous blooming.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Turk's Cap Cactus, Melocactus bahiensis

Melocactus bahiensis

Photo taken at a Cactus and Succulent Show. Not in my collection.