Saturday, May 20, 2017

Senecio barbertonicus

                     Senecio barbertonicus
I have been growing this succulent sub-shrub for about a year now and it has reached posssibly its mature height and spread of about a metre. The pointed leaves are an unusual colour green, changing from chartreuse in winter to olive green in summer. The daisy like flowers are said to be perfumed though I will have to wait and see as none have been produced as yet. Senecio flowers tend to be fairly insignificant daisies which end their life as balls of fluff at the end of the stems. 
The species name relates to the region of South Africa where it hails from, with its more famous cousin being the Barberton daisy or Gerbera.

Sedum adolphii 'Firestorm'

           Sedum adolphii 'Firestorm'
This Mexican groundcover succulent is putting on a display of intense orange and red leaves at the moment. The other two forms of this Sedum, the more familiar 'Golden' and 'Pat's Pink' are equally appealing but just not quite so bright.
As a trailing plant, leaves are prone to drop off exposing bare stems as it matures. If this is not appealing pruning back closer to the centre of the plant will result in a more compact specimen. New plants can be propagated from these stems or from the leaves themselves if placed on the surface of potting soil.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

My seed packet history

Seed Merchants of yesteryear.........
I have to confess to being something of a gardening hoarder. If by definition that refers to someone who has kept all packets of seed, plant labels, gardening magazines and newspaper clippings, as well as an assortment of rusting no longer in service tools that have ever crossed my path during the past forty years or so. 
Then you wake up one day and ask yourself why am I keeping all this? So before the old seed packets went into the recycle bin I took a few photos of a range from various companies some of whom are no longer trading. 
Not much changes however......
It is impossible for me to walk past a seed rack in a Nursery or Hardware store without picking out a couple of packets of something I would like to try. As well, these days it is seeds saved from cross pollinated prize shrubs which hold my attention. What will the resulting seedling turn into?

These lines from the V Sackville-West poem The Garden convey the wonder and reward of growing plants from seed.
'He is a millionaire for a few pence.
Squandering nature in her gift exceeds
Even her own demands.
Consider not the lily, but her seeds
In membrane tissue packed within the pod
With skill that fools the skill of human hands;
The poppy with her cracking pepper-pot
That spills in ripened moment split asunder;
The foxglove with her shower as fine as snuff.
Consider these with thankfulness and wonder.'

An Autumn Gazania

 This Gazania was in flower a few weeks back which surprised me as they normally do their thing in spring and summer. It is an American bred variety whose name escapes me. What was most unusual about it was the number of flowers which appeared, forming a crown across the entire top of the plant growing in a squat six inch pot. Now if only I had a hundred or so they would have been a sure fire winner in the plant markets. Definitely one to set aside and try to build up the numbers of.

Agave weberi 'Arizona Star'

              Agave weberi 'Arizona Star'
This Agave was in need of a repot which also gave me the opportunity to remove some of the smaller plants growing around its base. Easier said than done when it comes to handling Agaves as it is often difficult not to damage the soft succulent leaves and get spiked in the handling process. The plain green form of this species has always been a slow grower for me so I was surprised at just how quickly this variegated form filled out the pot. Though it looks similar to an A americana the leaves are certainly much thinner and have that 'Grey Nurse' shark skin texture to them. 
This cultivar originates in the United States as the name suggests.
I don't have any plants of it for sale at present but will do at some stage in the future. 

Two Autumn Hibiscus

Hibiscus rosa-sinensis 'Shelley'
Hibiscus rosa-sinensis 'Spring Song'
A couple of iPhone pics in passing and a nice reminder that Hibiscus blooms can be found at almost any time of year. The flower colours are often more distinct now compared to mid summer when they can fade in the strong sun. 

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Salvia involucrata 'Bethelli'

            Salvia involucrata 'Bethelii'
Some Salvias turn into monsters overnight and before you know it they have covered three metres of ground and have even taken on the likes of a big clump of Miscanthus  'Cosmopolitan'.
Bethelli is doing its thing most succesfully at the moment and is producing loads of bright cerise pink flowers on the ends of long arching branches. It must be all the rain we had a month or so ago that set off on this growth spurt. Once flowering has finished it can be trimmed back and even given a harder prune next spring so the whole process can start again. It's a ten out of ten shrub for quick growth, hardiness and brilliance of flower.

Senecio haworthii

                          Senecio haworthii
Some succulent plants refuse to budge and are very slow growing. This Senecio is one of them and it is probably the reason it is rarely offered for sale except as a collector's plant.
A common name given to it of 'Cocoon Plant' refers to the resemblance the leaves have to silk covered insect pupae cases. This 'silk' has a traditional African use of being collected to use as tinder and it does peel off the leaves revealing a pale green underside (just visible in this photo).
Silver foliage plants can be tricky to keep going during periods of high rainfall or humidity so I have incorporated lots of grit and perlite into the potting mix of this plant to make sure it is free draining.

Plectranthus 'Cape Angel Pink'

Plectranthus 'Cape Angel' with a pale pink Malvaviscus penduliflorus
The 'Cape Angel' Plectranthus, of which there are white, purple and pink flowering forms as well as the dark foliaged 'Mona Lavender' variety, have been around in the garden scene for over ten years now and have become a real highlight of the autumn garden scene. Long flowering and tolerant of drier shade locations they can be grown in pots or garden beds and reach a height of about a metre. Their 'shelf life' is only around five years however as they can become woody with age and lose vigour and they are susceptible to being disfigured by the dreaded flea beetle which damage the foliage leaving it permanently pock marked. I find the use of a granular systemic insecticide breaks the life cycle of this pest if caught when the first sign of damage occurs. Replacement plants are fairly easy to produce by cuttings and the old method of sticking a stem in the ground where required may suffice such is the ease of propagation of this plant
'Cape Angel' a hybrid between two South African species, P. saccatus and P. hilliardiae, the former which is also in flower now has delightful flowers resembling the Jacaranda.