Feature Plant For August: South African Bulbs in My Garden

Last week, I discussed some well-known garden plants from South Africa, but because the post was fairly lengthy, I reserved the South African bulbs for their own separate post and designated them to be my feature plant for August! Even though, I know officially that it is the 31 July today, given that tomorrow is the first day of August and gladioli are known as the Flower of August in the Northern Hemisphere, I wanted to start the month with my feature plant post and specifically, gladioli!!!

Gladioli

Our Glads‘ were made famous in Australia, as well as the rest of the world by Dame Edna Everage (Barry Humphries), See: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qqGeQXCmRJI; http://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-2117434/Dame-Edna-Everage-creator-Barry-Humphries-reinvented-comedy-TV-chat-shows.html; and http://www.bbc.com/news/entertainment-arts-18973102, though in reality, these particular showy large-flowered varieties hail from the Cape region in South Africa!!!BlogSouthAfrBulbs20%IMG_9184The genus belongs to the Iris family Iridaceae and contains 260 species endemic to South Africa; 76 species endemic to Tropical Africa and 10 species native to Europe.BlogSouthAfrBulbs20%IMG_9188Also known as Sword Lilies, the Latin diminutive for ‘gladius’ meaning ‘sword’ and referring to their sword-like leaves, they also bear tall flower spikes, over 1 metre tall, in Summer, though here in Australia, successive planting can ensure a continuous display from early Summer to early Autumn. In Europe, they are known as the Flower of August.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThey are very popular in the cut flower trade and have a long vase life, their flowers opening from the base up. They should be bought when the two lowest flowers are showing strong colour, with at least 5 buds up the spike showing clear colour. Avoid spikes with most of the flowers open, as they will not last long.BlogSouthAfrBulbs2016-01-01 00.00.00-19Gladioli were introduced to Europe between 1739 and 1745, the first hybrid produced by William Herbert in 1806, with hundreds of varieities bred by the 1850s. Today, there are over 10 000 registered cultivars of a variety of solids and bicolours, brights and pastels,  and colours ranging from pink, red, purple, white, yellow orange and even green. Tesselaars has a good range of cultivars, including Dame Edna’s Delights: https://www.tesselaar.net.au/gladioli.

BlogSouthAfrBulbs2517-12-21 11.41.27The corms should be planted in late Autumn and Spring in a warm, well-drained sunny position, protected from the wind. They don’t like damp feet and may need staking once their stalks reach a certain height. Plant 10 to 15 cm deep and 8 to 15 cm apart, with the point of the corm facing upward, in soil, which has been pre-prepared with a little blood and bone, aged cow manure or complete fertiliser. Often planted at the back of borders, they also look good in clumps.BlogSouthAfrBulbs2518-05-22 10.28.57While we inherited two of the large hybrids, a mauve one and a soft yellow, I think I prefer the slightly daintier varieties. I have just planted some G. nanus ‘Blushing Bride’ beside the house. Each corm produces strong compact stems, 45 cm tall, which do not need staking, and two or three flower spikes, each with up to 7 white flowers with pink markings.

BlogSouthAfrBulbs4016-11-18 23.45.10-2

They multiply rapidly and are tolerant of heat and frost, so should do well in my white bed at the feet of my Tea rose, Mrs Herbert Stevens, along with another South African bulb, also in the Iridaceae family: Freesias.

Freesias

Named after German botanist and physician, Dr Friedrich Freese, freesias are native to Southern Africa from Kenya to South Africa, with the most species found in the Cape Provinces.BlogSouthAfrBulbs2016-09-13 17.33.44Most of the freesias sold today are hybrids of crosses made in the 19th century between F. refracta and F. leichtlinii, as well as with the pink and yellow forms of F. corymbosa. They have fragrant funnel-shaped flowers in a range of colours from whites and yellows to pinks, reds and mauves, over a long period from the end of Winter through Spring.BlogSouthAfrBulbs2016-09-23 18.31.41 The most fragrant of all are Grandma’s freesias, R. refracta alba, but some of the Bergunden and semidouble forms have good fragrance as well.BlogSouthAfrBulbs2016-09-23 18.31.25The flowers are zygomorphic, all growing on the one side of the stem in a single plane. However, because the stems turn at right angles just below the bottom flower, the upper part of the stem grows almost parallel to the ground and the flowers bloom along the top side of the stem, pointing upwards. They are popular in wedding bouquets and have a long vase life.BlogSouthAfrBulbs2016-09-11 11.37.14They can be grown from corm and seed, the plants naturalising well in lawns, beneath trees and along roadsides and embankments. Corms should be planted from late Summer to early Winter in well-drained soil in full sun or light shade. They look wonderful in massed plantings and really brighten up the Spring garden.BlogSouthAfrBulbs2016-09-25 12.50.47I originally planted Grandma’s freesias in my cutting garden and despite the subsequent move of their corms to the embankment above the tea garden, they are still popping up in amongst their old neighbours, the Dutch Iris. They compete with the couch grass and are naturalising well and their white flowers with splashes of gold complement the white and gold colour scheme of the Tea Garden.BlogSouthAfrBulbs2016-09-25 12.51.08This year, I decided to splash out with the brighter colours with some mixed massing Freesias and have planted these with my Blushing Brides in the bed on the front wall of the  house.

Nerines

Growing on the back wall of the house along the entrance path at the opposite time of the year, these wonderful Autumn bulbs provide welcome colour, when everything else is winding down for the year!

Also called Guernsey Lily, after naturalising on the island’s shores, they are not true lilies and are members of the Amaryllidaceae family and are more related to Lycoris and Amaryllis. Native to South Africa with 20 to 30 evergreen and deciduous species, they were named after Nereis, the sea nymph in Greek mythology, who protects sailors and their ships.BlogSouthAfrBulbs2017-05-18 14.31.13They bear clusters of up to 15 flowers with narrow reflexed petals in a range of colours from white to gold, orange, red and pink. In many species, the flowers appear before the leaves and require full sun to flower well, however, my nerines bear flowers and foliage at the same time and flower quite happily in the shade, so I suspect they are N. flexuosa alba.BlogSouthAfrBulbs2016-04-29 18.44.38Nerines are the ultimate low maintenance flower. Very tough and frost hardy, their only stipulations are to be left to dry out during their dormant period (Summer) and to be left to their own devices and not disturbed! Only lift and divide if overcrowded, as the plant will not bloom for two years after lifting.BlogSouthAfrBulbs3018-05-01 15.02.28-2Arum or Calla Lilies Zantedeschia aethiopica

Named for the Italian botanist Giovanni Zantedeschia (1773-1846) and hailing from South Africa north to Malawi, these so-called lilies are also not true lilies, belonging instead to the family Araceae. Classified rather as herbaceous tuberous perennials, they grow from fleshy rhizomes and form 1 m high, large dense clumps, wherever there is good water.BlogSouthAfrBulbs2016-06-26 17.43.24There are eight species in the Zantedeschia genus, as well as many hybrids with a colour range from white and pink to yellow, orange, purple and black. See: http://www.gardeninginsouthafrica.co.za/index.php/1243-november/zantedeschia-hybrids-are-easy-to-grow-and-offer-gardeners-a-vast-array-of-rainbow-colours-to-enjoy.

BlogSouthAfrBulbs2016-09-18 16.50.08BlogSouthAfrBulbs20%IMG_1320Popular with florists, especially in bridal and funeral arrangements, these elegant plants have attractive, lush, glossy green, upward facing, arrow-shaped foliage and a rigid vertical flower stalk, ending in a spathe flared funnel with a yellow spadix, followed by yellow oval berries. The variety I inherited in my hydrangea bed is called Green Goddess and has a creamy white spathe, splashed with green on the outer edge.

However, while I love their elegant blooms, I have also am a bit wary of them! These vigorous plants love moist sunny areas like creek banks and swamp edges and spread easily by seed and rhizome offsets, so have naturalised easily throughout the world and in some areas are so invasive that they are declared pests and banned from sale.BlogSouthAfrPlants25%IMG_3644 They can also tolerate full shade (like my hydrangea bed!), invade pasture in moist sites and have caused stock deaths, being highly toxic on ingestion. Their irritating sap can also cause eczema. Below are photos of the elegant black form.BlogSouthAfrBulbs25%jarod's 007BlogSouthAfrBulbs25%jarod's 008BlogSouthAfrBulbs25%jarod's 014Another hardy invasive South African bulb, with invasive tendencies is:

Monbretia Crocosmia x crocosmiiflora

Belonging to the Iridaceae family with 8 species and many hybrids, Crocosmia hails from tropical and eastern South Africa, its name coming from the Greek words: ‘krokos’ meaning ‘saffron’ and ‘osme‘ meaning ‘odour’, referring to the saffron-like odour produced when water was spilt on a dried specimen.BlogSouthAfrBulbs3018-01-05 16.59.59Monbretia is a hybrid bred in France from a cross of C. aurea and C. pottsi, then introduced as a garden plant in the United Kingdom in 1880. By 1911, it had escaped the garden, then spread rapidly throughout the UK and Europe (as well as all states of Australia except for the Northern Territory) both naturally (by rhizomes) and the disposal of garden waste in the late 20th century. It is now considered an invasive weed and is banned for sale in the UK, as well as in New South Wales! It thrives in moist well-drained soils sun or part shade and is frost- and heat- tolerant.BlogSouthAfrBulbs20%IMG_1083Its strappy, upright, spear-shaped, bright green leaves emerge from underground corms in early Spring and are followed by long, arching, zigzag spikes, bearing bright orange to red tubular flowers with long stamens in late Summer and Autumn.BlogSouthAfrBulbs2015-12-19 10.03.40BlogSouthAfrBulbs20%IMG_0967 Despite its bad reputation, I am still happy to have it in my old garden, as it is very much a plant of my childhood and I still love its nodding stems and its pretty bright orange dainty bells, which complement the neighbouring agapanthus so well, both in the garden and in floral arrangements!BlogSouthAfrBulbs2015-01-20 16.04.30BlogSouthAfrBulbs20%IMG_5179BlogSouthAfrBulbs4018-01-02 10.01.58 For more information on other species and hybrids, most of which are not invasive at all, see: https://www.pacificbulbsociety.org/pbswiki/index.php/Crocosmia and https://www.gardenia.net/plant-variety/crocosmia-montbretia.

BlogSouthAfrBulbs20%IMG_0380BlogSouthAfrBulbs20%IMG_0379Far more politically correct in growth habits, though perhaps not its alternative name, Kaffir Lily, is another bright orange South African bulb, the Clivia, a member of the Amaryllidaceae like the nerines.

Clivias : Clivia miniata

Indigenous to woodlands in South Africa (Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal and eastern Mpumalanga) and Swaziland, Clivias were named after Lady Charlotte Florentina Clive, the grand-daughter of Robert Clive (Clive of India), the species name ‘miniata’ meaning ‘cinnabar red’.BlogSouthAfrBulbs2016-09-20 16.01.08 There are only six species of clivia, all of them having pendulous heads except for Clivia miniata, whose flowers point upwards. The other species can be seen at: https://www.pacificbulbsociety.org/pbswiki/index.php/Cliviahttp://www.australiaclivia.com.au/clivia.aspx   and http://www.melbournecliviagroup.org.au/articles/clivia-species/.

BlogSouthAfrBulbs2016-09-29 11.25.20Clivia miniata is the most common form in Australia, their low water requirements and preference for shade making them popular under-plantings for trees here for more than 150 years!BlogSouthAfrBulbs20%IMG_0172 They are often found in old gardens like ours, where they are growing under the big old pepperina tree. We divided the old clumps last year and replanted them, in a bid to increase their mass, as a sea of bright orange clivias in full bloom is a marvellous sight!BlogSouthAfrBulbs20%IMG_7206Forming large clumps, they have evergreen strappy leaves and clusters of bright orange flowers  on 40 to 60 cm long stems from August to October, followed by fruiting heads, which turn from green to a luminous red.BlogSouthAfrBulbs20%IMG_1262 They have been hybridized extensively in Belgium, China and Japan to now include pale yellow, lemon, apricot, pink, deep orange and red and bicolour, single and double blooms, and even variegated leaf forms.BlogSouthAfrBulbs20%IMG_7273BlogSouthAfrBulbs20%IMG_0285Rhodohypoxis baurii

A small genus of tuberous flowering plants in the family Hypoxidaceae and native to South Africa, Lesotho and Swaziland, where it forms carpets in grasslands and rocky places. Tufts of grassy leaves appear from rhizomes in early Summer, followed by clusters of pink, red or white star-shaped flowers in Summer, then the plant dies back in Winter.BlogSouthAfrBulbs20%IMG_1683The genus name derives from the Greek: ‘Rhodon’ meaning ‘rose’ or ‘red’; ‘Hypo’: ‘Below’; and ‘Oxy’: ‘Pointed’, while the species was named after Rev Leopold Baur, a pharmacist, missionary and plant collector, who first collected this plant in the Cape in the 1800s.

While R. baurii is the most common species, there are a number of other species and cultivars.See: https://www.pacificbulbsociety.org/pbswiki/index.php/Rhodohypoxis.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThey like well-drained acidic soil  with a high organic content,  full sun, adequate water in Summer and dry Winters. Often planted in alpine rockeries, I grew mine in my treasure garden, but suspect I have lost it to the frost, despite the claims of frost tolerance on the tag,  and I understand other nurseries have experienced the same. See: https://www.ballyrobertgardens.com/products/rhodohypoxis-baurii!OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I hope that you have enjoyed this brief taster to some of the more common South African flora, which we grow here in Australia.  I would love to visit South Africa one day during its peak flowering season. It sounds amazing!

South Africa is home to more than 22,000 indigenous seed plants from almost 230 different families and representing 10 per cent of the world’s flowering species. Their enormous diversity and abundance, coupled with the varied climates and topography, supports 9 distinct biomes: Fynbos; Succulent Karoo; Desert; Nama-Karoo; Grassland; Savanna; Albany Thicket; Forests; and the Indian Ocean Coastal Belt. The Cape Floristic Region alone contains 6210 species of endemic plants. For those readers, who would like to know more about South African flora, I found these sites very informative: https://www.sa-venues.com/plant-life/ and https://www.thesabulbcompany.co.za/.

And for those of us, who may never make it to the actual source, a good place in Australia to see South African plants is the Wittunga Botanic Garden: https://www.environment.sa.gov.au/botanicgardens/visit/wittunga-botanic-garden/gardens-collections.

For the next four weeks, I am describing some of my favourite embroidery books, before featuring the Viburnum family for September’s post.

Oldhouseintheshires

 

Feature Plant For July: South African Plants in Our Garden

Last month, I described some of the wonderful Australian native plants in our garden, and since like ours, many Australian gardens often grow proteas and diosma as well, I thought I might write a post about some of the South African native plants in our garden. Hailing from a similar latitude in the Southern Hemisphere and with a common Gondwanan ancestry (South Africa and Australia were joined 150 to 80 Million years ago), many South African plants share similar growing requirements to our native plants and have adapted easily to our climate.

Many were introduced from the 1830s on during the Australian Gardenesque period of garden design, as they were hardy and sufficiently different and colourful to lend an exotic air to the garden. The Strelitzia or Bird-of-Paradise plant is a superb example and looks like a brilliant blue crane with a golden orange crown. Unfortunately, it hates the cold and I suspect would not survive our heavy frosts here in Candelo, though they grow well on the coast!

BlogSouthAfrPlants3018-05-19 14.42.38-1However,  Leucospermums, Leucadendrons and Proteas are far tougher! They are the South African cousins of our Waratahs, Banksias and Grevilleas, all belonging to that ancient family Proteaceae, and the similarities in their flowers and leaves is very obvious.

I was surprised by the large number of common garden plants that originated in South Africa like pelargoniums, red hot pokers, plumbago, aloes (top 2 photos below), pigface (bottom photo below), felicia, diascia, agapanthus and gladioli.

Bulb lovers also owe an enormous debt to South Africa with the export of freesias, clivias, dietes iris, nerines, babianas, crinum lilies, amaryllis, ixias (below), watsonia and eucomis (pineapple lily), BlogSouthAfrPlants25%grampians 1 304BlogSouthAfrPlants25%grampians 1 301though perhaps we should have let them keep their Arum lilies, which have become a major weed problem in Western Australian national parks (first photo); oxalis, the bane of every gardener’s life, especially in old gardens; and even that roadside escapee Leonotis leonurus (Wild Dagga) in the second photo below!

Because this post was quite long and there are quite a few South African bulbs in our garden, I will be discussing them in their own separate post next week.BlogSouthAfrPlants25%IMG_3644BlogSouthAfrPlants20%IMG_0579Please note that I am restricting my post solely to those plants which I am growing in my garden. I will also be avoiding agapanthus, which I have already discussed in some detail in its own feature post at the beginning of 2016 at: https://candeloblooms.com/2016/01/12/one-year-on-and-januarys-feature-plant-agapanthus/.

BlogSouthAfrPlants4017-12-27 18.06.33 - CopyBlogSouthAfrPlants2015-12-24 12.37.58I am beginning with Proteas and Leucadendrons, the quintessential South African plants, as they share a common ancestry with Australian natives, so are a good link to the previous post, followed by some old-fashioned and very familiar favourites!!!BlogSouthAfrPlants50rly nov 2010 727

Proteas (Sugarbushes)

A member of the Proteaceae family like waratahs, it has conical flowers composed of  large leathery outer bracts (modified leaves), which look like petals and surround the central banksia-like cluster of styles. BlogSouthAfrPlants2015-10-10 09.25.13There are 194 species, as listed on: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Protea_species, but common ones here include the Oleander Leaf Protea, P.nerifolia; the Common Sugarbush P.repens; the Queen Protea P. magnifica and the most famous of them all, the King Protea, P.cynaroides, which is the National Flower of South Africa.BlogSouthAfrPlants2518-06-09 10.09.53BlogSouthAfrPlants50rly nov 2010 720BlogSouthAfrPlants50rly nov 2010 734BlogSouthAfrPlants2016-01-01 01.00.00-58A friend gave us a protea called Special Pink Ice, P. nerifolia x susannae, for a garden warming present.BlogSouthAfrPlants2016-05-22 18.20.30 It is supposed to be one of the hardiest proteas, which is just as well as we have just transplanted it to its third position and the root ball was very poorly-developed, so we have given it a good prune and hopefully, it will like its new home in the native garden area next to the waratah. We have seen 2.5 metre tall trees locally, so the climate obviously suits them.BlogSouthAfrPlants2518-02-18 15.49.54 They also like well-drained slightly acidic soils, so it should like growing in front of the cypress. I think the problem has been that both previous positions were in slightly shady situations, whereas they really need full sun. It has flowered for us with beautiful long-lasting pink blooms in the Autumn and Winter.BlogSouthAfrPlants2518-04-08 14.48.04To see these amazing plants in full bloom, it is well worth visiting the National Rhododendron Garden in Olinda, Victoria (http://parkweb.vic.gov.au/explore/parks/national-rhododendron-garden) or the Blue Mountains Botanic Garden at Mt. Tomah, NSW (https://www.bluemountainsbotanicgarden.com.au/). For more on their growing conditions, see: http://www.protea.com.au.

Leucadendrons (Conebushes)

Another South African plant genus, which flowers in Autumn and Winter and which I will definitely be growing, is the Leucadendron, also a member of the Protaeaceae family. A medium to large evergreen shrub, 1 to 3 metres high, it has large showy colourful bracts, which conceal the flower at the tip.BlogSouthAfrPlants50rly nov 2010 716 There are many different species and hybrids and I find it hard to choose between the colours- green, red, yellow and orange.

They all look so fantastic in floral arrangements.BlogOzNatives50%OC 015  Some of the hybrids, which I would like to grow include:

Safari Sunset  L. laureolum hybrid     https://www.gardenia.net/plant/Leucadendron-Safari-Sunset-Conebush;

Winter Gold L. laureolum https://www.flowerpower.com.au/gardening/pick-of-the-proteas/;

Amy L. laureolum x salignum https://www.kings.co.nz/leucadendron-amy;

Burgundy Sunset L. aureolum hybrid http://www.protea.com.au/our-plants/burgundy-sunset; and

Inca Gold L. aureolum x salignum  https://proteaworld.com.au/product/uncategorized/75mm-inca-gold/.

They like similar requirements to proteas- full sun and slightly acidic, well drained soil. Because they have shallow roots, they dislike soil disturbance, so mulching is important to prevent weeds.BlogSouthAfrPlants5013-06-16 15.48.11 Again, they are tough and hardy, low maintenance and drought tolerant.BlogSouthAfrPlants50rly nov 2010 711BlogSouthAfrPlants2016-01-01 01.00.00-39BlogSouthAfrPlants2016-01-01 01.00.00-54Diosma (Confetti Bush/ Breath of Heaven) Coleonema pulchellum

Native to the Cape Province in South Africa, this is a pretty little shrub with a rounded growth habit, fine fragrant evergreen  leaves and masses of scentless tiny pink flowers from late Spring to Spring (July to October). I love using them in floral arrangements as their dainty blooms and foliage are a great filler. Very hardy and frost tolerant, they like full sun and good drainage.BlogSouthAfrPlants2016-08-22 15.02.13Euryops

A member of the daisy family Asteraceae, the Euryops genus includes 100 species, the majority originating in South Africa, with only a few species from further north in Arabia.BlogSouthAfrPlants2518-05-20 09.56.28 The genus name is derived from the Greek words ‘eurys’ meaning ‘large’ and ‘ops’ meaning ‘eyes’, referring to the large bright yellow flowers, which are borne on long erect stalks throughout the year.BlogSouthAfrPlants2518-05-20 09.56.34 They are useful in small bouquets, as their flowers don’t close at night like other daisies. They love sunny warm positions and well-drained soils, so thrive in the centre of my Moon Bed.BlogSouthAfrPlants2016-05-11 16.36.38I transplanted my plants from an old neglected garden, where they were growing wild, and I believe they are the African Bush Daisy or Paris Daisy, E. chrysanthemoides (‘chrys’ meaning ‘gold’ and ‘anthemoides’ meaning ‘flowers’ in Greek).  An upright half-hardy fast-growing evergreen, 1.5 metres high and 1.2 metres wide, with mid-green glabrous leaves and masses of yellow glowers from Spring to Autumn, with the odd flower throughout the year. Bees and butterflies love them! It dies back with the frosts, but fortunately self-seeds prolifically, so I am never without a plant!BlogSouthAfrPlants2016-05-11 16.36.58Perhaps, I should have the frost-hardy Golden Daisy Bush  (or Yellow Marguerite), E. pectinatus instead! It has deeply lobed ‘pectinate’ (meaning ‘narrow divisions like a comb’) downy grey leaves; and golden flowers from Summer to Winter. See: http://pza.sanbi.org/euryops-pectinatus. However, all parts of this plant are poisonous if ingested, so given that I sometimes use the odd flower to decorate cakes, it is just as well that I grow the other species!!!

Osteospermum (African Daisies)

Another very familiar sight, Osteospermum (‘osteo’ meaning ‘bone’ and ‘spermum’ meaning ‘seed’) has 50 species from South Africa and 15 species from the Arabian peninsula. They used to be classified in the genus Dimorphotheca, but now the latter only contains annual forms.BlogSouthAfrPlants20%IMG_0224They are half-hardy perennials and subshrubs, which do not handle frost well, so I am growing my specimens in terracotta pots up by the house, where it is warmer.BlogSouthAfrPlants2015-10-09 14.37.37Osteospermums have alternate lanceolate leaves and daisylike composite flowers, which bloom from late Winter to Spring and which close at night. They are composed of a central blue, yellow or purple disc, surrounded by white, cream, pink, mauve, purple or yellow petals in the shape of ray florets.BlogSouthAfrPlants2016-08-12 14.58.53 There are so many different types. The common old-fashioned tough and hardy trailing varieties are mainly pink, purple and white,BlogSouthAfrPlants2016-01-01 01.00.00-20BlogSouthAfrPlants2016-01-01 01.00.00-21 but hybridization has added more compact yellows and oranges to the mix like Sideshow Copper Apricot.BlogSouthAfrPlants2016-08-22 15.02.42 There are even double varieties or spooned varieties like Whirlygig.BlogSouthAfrPlants20%IMG_0170 (2) Some of the varieties can be seen at: https://www.bhg.com/gardening/plant-dictionary/annual/osteospermum/.

Osteospermums love rich soil and warm sunny positions, but will tolerate dry soils and drought. They make an excellent ground cover on roadside banks.BlogSouthAfrPlants20%IMG_0087 For more information, see:  http://www.osteospermum.com/.

Other African Daisies: Gazanias and Gerberas

Gazanias are also known as African Daisies or Treasure Flowers; belong to the Asteraceae family; have 16  annual and perennial species, all hailing from South Africa except for one species in the tropics; have composite flowers with ray florets and a central disc of a contrasting colour, which do not close at night; and do not like frosts either, which is a great shame as I love their large bright sunny faces!BlogSouthAfrPlants50%late sept 354 Traditionally yellow or orange, colours now include: white, pink and red, with two toned, multicoloured and double forms.BlogSouthAfrPlants50%late sept 356 They have narrow, silvery-green lance-shaped leaves with lighter undersides and bloom from late Spring to early Autumn.BlogSouthAfrPlants50%late sept 358A fast-growing ornamental ground cover, they used to cover roadside banks at Castlemaine, Victoria.BlogSouthAfrPlants50%late sept 364 They are easy to grow, low maintenance, love sun and tolerate drought, dry poor sandy soils with low fertility and coastal conditions.BlogSouthAfrPlants50%late sept 360 Gerberas (Transvaal Daisies, also called African Daisies) are another love and another genus in the Asteraceae family, hailing from tropical regions in South Africa, as well as Asia and South America.BlogSouthAfrPlants2016-01-01 01.00.00-103 There are 40 different species, of which G. jamesonii is the most popular and was first described by Robert Jameson in 1889. Most domestic cultivars are the result of a cross between two South African species, G. jamesonii and G. viridiflora.BlogSouthAfrPlants2016-01-01 01.00.00-115BlogSouthAfrPlants2016-01-01 01.00.00-111Classifed as a tender perennial plant, these long-lasting flowers have a large capitulum, composed of hundreds of individual flowers and surrounded by striking two-lipped ray florets in yellow, orange, white, pink and red. There are single, double, crested double and full crested double forms.BlogSouthAfrPlants2016-01-01 01.00.00-105BlogSouthAfrPlants2016-01-01 01.00.00-108 Tesselaars have an excellent range at: https://www.tesselaar.net.au/gerberas.

Gerberas are very popular with florists, who wire their stems to stop the head from drooping, as well as with researchers studying flower formation.BlogSouthAfrPlants50%octo 093Happiest in warm climates, they love sun and well-drained soil. Unfortunately, like osteospermums, they are frost tender, so it is just as well that they make excellent pot specimens! Another plant for the side path by the house!!!BlogSouthAfrPlants50%octo 084BlogSouthAfrPlants50%octo 085 For more on growing gerberas, see: https://www.gerbera.org/ and https://www.gerberaresearch.com.au/Growing.html.

Pelargoniums

Commonly known erroneously as Geraniums,  who in turn are also known as Cranesbills and are their cousins in the family Geraniaceae, the genus Pelargonium (‘pelargos’ is Greek for ‘stork’, referring to the beak-like shape of the seedpods), contains 250 species, 200 of which originated in South Africa, with a further 18 species from the East Africa Rift Valley and 8 species from Australia. The first species to be cultivated was P. triste, which was introduced to England in 1631.

BlogSouthAfrPlants50%nov 2010 234

They have alternate and palmately lobed or pinnate leaves and bear five-petalled flowers in umbel-like clusters and have been classified into 8 different groupings:

Zonal: P. x hortorum: Derived from P. zonale and P. inquinans, these bushes have succulent stems; leaves with zones and patterned centres and single or double flowers of red, pink, salmon, violet or white;BlogSouthAfrPlants50%nov 2010 021Ivyleaved: P. peltatum: Trailing lax growth with thin long stems; thick waxy stiff ivy-shaped fleshy evergreen leaves, giving them excellent drought tolerance; and single, double or rosette blooms;blogsummer-gardenreszd202017-02-04-13-18-42Regal: P. x domesticum: Derived from P. culcullatum, these large, evergreen, floriferous bushes have compact short-jointed stems; no zoning of the leaves; and single flowers in mauve, purple, pink or white.BlogSouthAfrPlants20%IMG_9383 Angel: Derived from P. crispum, they look like small Regals, with compact and bushy growth; small serrated leaves; and much smaller flowers;

Unique: Derived from P. fulgidum, but uncertain parentage and do not fit into any of the above categories. Shrubby and woody evergreens, they look like upright Scentedleaved Pelargoniums; have fragrant and often bicoloured leaves; and flowers with blotched or feathered petals;

Scentedleaved: One of my favourites, these shrubby evergreen perennials are grown for their leaf fragrance, which is used in cooking, perfumery, pot pourri and essential oils.BlogSouthAfrPlants2015-10-10 08.05.42 I grow Rose-scented; Lemon-scented; and Peppermint-scented varieties. I was also aware of apple, nutmeg, cinammon and coconut varieties, but other fragrances include:

Raspberry; Strawberry; Peach; Apricot/Lemon;

Grapefruit; Lime; Orange ; and Pineapple;

Lemon Balm; Apple Mint and Lavender;

Almond and Hazelnut; Celery and Ginger;

Old Spice and Spicy; and the stronger more pungent scents of

Balsam; Camphor; Pine; Eucalypt; Eau-de-Cologne; and Myrrh;

Species: The forefathers of all the other groupings; and

Primary Hybrids: the first-time crosses between two different known species and usually sterile.

Pelargoniums are evergreen perennial and are heat and drought tolerant, but can only tolerate minor frosts, so I grow my pelargoniums in pots by the house. These include: Zonal, Regal, Ivyleaved and Scentedleaved Geraniums.BlogSouthAfrPlants2518-05-22 10.27.17 The Geelong Botanic Gardens has an excellent Pelargonium collection, housed in the Florence E Clarke Conservatory, built in 1972 and housing over 200 cultivars. See: https://www.geelongaustralia.com.au/gbg/plants/pelargonium/article/item/8cbf43e7c1d1574.aspx.

BlogSouthAfrPlants50%late sep 2011 051For more on Pelargoniums, see: http://www.geraniumsonline.com.

BlogSouthAfrPlants50%nov 2010 241Nemesia caerula (Perennial Nemesia)

Delicate perennial, up to 50 cm high, with linear to lance-shaped leaves and dainty two-lipped slightly fragrant flowers of white and pink (though other varieties may be blue, purple or cerise) in Winter and Summer. BlogSouthAfrPlants2518-05-23 15.25.47Hailing from South Africa, where they are found in sandy soil near the coast and scrubby soil inland, Nemesias like well-drained moisture-retentive slightly acidic soil with organic matter. They thrive in full sun or part shade and prefer protection from the hot afternoon sun in Summer.BlogSouthAfrPlants2518-05-23 15.26.13Perfect for cottage gardens, hanging baskets and borders, I am growing my Nemesia on the edge of the Soho Bed.

Plumbago auriculata blue (Leadwort)

A tough old-fashioned plant, which has crept through the fence from my neighbour’s garden.BlogSouthAfrPlants2518-05-22 16.00.13 It is a sprawling shrub, which spreads by suckers, with pale baby blue flowers in Summer and while it is not my favourite plant, it really is very tough and manages to survive in the dry soil  and shade under the Pepperina tree.BlogSouthAfrPlants2518-02-07 14.31.24 For more about its care, see: https://www.dayliliesinaustralia.com.au/plumbago-plant-hedge-plants/.

Kniphofia (Red Hot Pokers/ Torch Lilies)

Also surviving under the Pepperina Tree is a large clump of the original Red Hot Pokers, K. praecox. These hardy perennials have grassy to sword-shaped  strappy leaves, which are popular with basketeers and which emerge from vigorous rhizomes, and eye-catching bottlebrush-shaped blooms at the top of long stems from Autumn to Spring.BlogSouthAfrPlants20%DSCN0527 Popular with nectar-loving birds like rosellas, honeyeaters and wattlebirds, the original flame-coloured blooms have been superseded by breeding programs to include a wide colour range from lemon and golden yellow, scarlet, apricot and salmon, and bicolour mixes, as well as a range of sizes and flowering times.BlogSouthAfrPlants2016-12-16 17.54.40 Some of these hybrids can be seen at: http://www.drought-tolerant-plants.com.au/a/Perennial_collection/Kniphofia and https://www.gardenia.net/plant-variety/kniphofia-red-hot-poker.

They love full sun, moist humus-rich, well-drained soil and regular watering in Summer, but having said that, they really are as tough as old boots and can survive drought, neglect and light to moderate frosts.BlogSouthAfrPlants3017-12-30 07.19.27And finally, there are a host of very well-known and loved bulbs hailing from South Africa: the gladioli; freesias; nerines; clivias; arum lilies; clivias and rhodohypoxis, which I didn’t even realize was a bulb until this post!!! Stay tuned for their own special post next week!

Oldhouseintheshires

 

Feature Plants for June: Australian Natives in Our Garden

Even though the garden slows down in the cooler months, we are lucky here in Australia that many of our native flora bloom in the Winter, so it makes eminent sense to include a few Australian native plants in our garden for their colour, scent and bird food to tide us all over till the garden awakening in Spring!BlogOzNatives2017-07-07 09.25.12 Some of the plants, which we are growing, include  iconic Australian native species like Wattles and Eucalypts, Banksias and Grevilleas, and Correas and Westringias.BlogOzNatives20%DSCN2442 That splash of gold provided by the wattle certainly lifts the Winter spirits (photo above), especially in our garden against the backdrop of bare trees ! BlogOzNatives2017-08-11 13.31.09I will be featuring each plant group with a brief introduction, followed by more detail on the particular plant specimens in our garden. The Eastern Spinebill in the photo below loves our Lady O grevillea flowers, which bloom all year round!BlogOzNatives20%IMG_1351Most of them are planted in the garden on the southern side of our house, bound by some very tall old cypress on the fence line, which form a contrasting dark green backdrop to the flowers of the native species. The photo below shows the view from the street with the Banksia in the agapanthus bed in the centre and the main native area to the left on the hill above the Tea Garden.BlogOzNatives2017-01-17 14.49.36This photo is the view of the native area from the house with a hedge of grevilleas on the left and a waratah on the right.BlogOzNatives2016-01-01 01.00.00-16Wattles

Wattles and gum trees are two of the most iconic Australian symbols.BlogOzNatives2015-07-29 15.54.35 The Golden Wattle, Acacia pycnantha, is Australia’s national floral emblem, our sporting teams are instantly recognisable in the famous green-and-gold, and Wattle Day is on the 1st September every year. I love their golden display and their distinctive scent!BlogOzNatives2017-08-08 17.46.04 Wattles belong to the genus Acacia and the family Mimosaceae, with 1350 species worldwide, 1000 of which are Australian. It is in fact the largest genus of vascular plants in Australia and has a wide range of habitats, leaf forms, flowers and blooming times. Wattles are very fast-growing, but short-lived, being very effective pioneer plants in disturbed or fire-ravaged areas. The photo below shows a selection of Acacias, which grow on the Far South Coast of New South Wales.

While we have seen many different species in our local area, one species which is indigenous to Southern NSW is the Cootamundra Wattle, A. baileyana. It is a hardy evergreen with silvery-green fern-like leaves and golden-yellow fluffy spheres of stamens in Winter. It has a magnificent display and its pollen-rich golden blooms are highly attractive, not only to birds and bees, but also florists.BlogOzNatives2016-05-27 15.54.08BlogOzNatives2016-05-27 15.54.13We are growing the purple-leafed form, Acacia baileyana purpurea, which has leaves with a bright purple to burgundy tint, being another very attractive foliage filler in vases. See: http://www.thetreeplantation.com/afgan-pine.html.

It is a good screening plant, 5 to 8m tall and wide, which is very tolerant of soils, extremes in temperatures and coastal exposure. It is also frost hardy and can be grown in full sun or part shade. BlogOzNatives2518-05-16 16.04.34BlogOzNatives2518-05-16 16.04.41We are growing it beside the house, whose purplish-pink walls should contrast well with the darker foliage. It will also screen the carport and car and be able to tolerate the afternoon sun.

Eucalypts

Eucalypts or gums are another symbol of Australia, being the main food source of koalas; the reason for the blue haze of the Blue Mountains in NSW; and the source of the antiseptic, anti-inflammatory and decongestant eucalyptus oil.BlogOzNatives25%IMG_0796Eucalypts are immortalised in popular songs like ‘Kookaburra Sits in the Old Gum Tree’ (http://alldownunder.com/australian-music-songs/kookaburra-song.htm) and ‘Home Among the Gum Trees’ (http://alldownunder.com/australian-music-songs/home-among-the-gum-trees.htm) and the paintings of Hans Heysen (1877-1968) and Namatjira (1902-1959).BlogOzNatives20%midMar 2014 026Old gum hollows are so important for providing homes for our native fauna and birds. The Guildford Tree (photo 1) in Victoria was already a giant when the early settlers arrived in the 1840s and hosts a variety of birds from kookaburras, magpies, wood ducks, honeyeaters, rosellas, boobook owls, lorikeets (photo 2), corellas (photo 3) and parrots, as well as insects, native bees and possums.BlogOzNatives50%late sept 251BlogOzNatives50%late sept 262BlogOzNatives50%late sept 268Eucalypt trees  are also an important food source for honeyeaters and lorikeets like this varied lorikeet at Riversleigh, North Queensland.BlogOzNatives25%IMG_2786The Eucalyptus genus belongs to the family Myrtaceae and has over 700 species, most of which are native to Australia and which vary in height, plant form, foliage, flowers and seedpods. Here are some photos, showing the diversity in their flowers and gumnuts.

Eucalypt identification can often be quite challenging, as their taxonomy is always changing, and often, gums share common names in different states. The Blue Gum is a classic example and can be any of a dozen species, depending on where you live (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blue_gum)!

Another case, shown in the photos above and below, is the eucalypt we grow, E. cinerea, which goes by the common name of Argyle Apple, Blue Peppermint or Silver Dollar Tree, the latter also the common name of E. polyanthemos.BlogOzNatives2016-01-01 01.00.00-9 The silver dollar describes the decorative soft blue-grey round leaves, which makes it so attractive to florists! It makes a great filler, which is the reason that I am growing it. I also love the smell of eucalypts!BlogOzNatives50%late sep 2011 092It is a hardy fast growing evergreen tree, up to 10 m tall and 7 m wide, which retains its lower branches to near ground level, making it an excellent screen or windbreak.BlogOzNatives2016-01-01 01.00.00-12 It bears masses of creamy-white flowers in late Winter and Spring, attracting plenty of nectar-feeding birds and bees. It is tolerant of frost, wet or dry conditions and salt-laden winds.

Banksias

Known as Australian Honeysuckle, the genus Banksia belongs to the Proteaceae Family and includes 173 species, ranging from prostrate woody shrubs to trees over 30m tall.

They were named after Sir Joseph Banks (1743-1820), who was the first European to collect them in 1770 on James Cook’s first voyage in the Endeavour. He collected four species on that first trip: B.serrata (Saw Banksia), B.integrifolia (Coastal Banksia), B. ericifolia (Heath-Leafed Banksia) and B. robur (Swamp banksia). All but one living Banksia species is endemic to Australia, the exception being the Tropical Banksia B. dentata, which occurs throughout Northern Australia, as well as Papua New Guinea and the Aru Islands.

South-Western Australia has the largest biodiversity, as seen in the photo above, with 60 species only occurring there from Exmouth in the north to Esperance on the Southern coast. Eastern Australia has far fewer species, but have widespread distribution of B. integrifolia (Coastal Banksia- seen in the photo below) and B. spinulosa (Hairpin Banksia).BlogOzNatives2016-06-26 16.53.23 The fossil record includes pollen 65-59 Million years old; leaves 59-56 Million years old and cones 41-47 Million years old.BlogOzNatives50%IMG_3434BlogOzNatives25%IMG_4171Banksia foliage varies with the species from the tiny 1-1.5 cm needle-like leaves of Heath-Leafed banksia (B. ericifolia) to the 45 cm large leaves of the Bull Banksia B. grandis. Most species have leaves with serrated edges, though B. integrifolia does not. The next two photos show B. integrifolia (entire leaf margins)and B. serrata (serrated leaf margins).BlogOzNatives2016-06-18 17.32.56BlogOzNatives20%IMG_5987Banksias all have long flowering spikes and woody cones, which were immortalised in Australian children’s book, Snugglepot and Cuddlepie by May Gibbs, where the Big Bad Banksia men were based on the cones of Banksia serrata (Old Man or Saw Banksia).BlogOzNatives20%IMG_0192BlogOzNatives2016-06-01 15.06.57 The flowering spikes are mostly yellow, but also orange, red, pink and even violet.

All are heavy producers of nectar, so are very attractive to a wide range of birds (honeyeaters, lorikeets, wattlebirds and cockatoos), mammals (antechinus and bush rats, honey possums and pygmy possums, gliders and bats) and invertebrates (Dryandra moth larvae, stingless bees and weevils), which also act as pollinators. The Noisy Miner below certainly was enjoying its feast on the flowers of the Acorn Banksia B. prionotes. BlogOzNatives20%DSCN2122Indigenous Australians even used to soak the flowering spikes in water for a sweet drink. Rainbow Lorikeets love drinking the nectar of the flowers of the Coastal Banksia, B. integrifolia,BlogOzNatives2015-06-14 11.23.05while Baudin’s Black Cockatoos enjoy breaking open the banksia cones on the southern coast of Western Australia.BlogOzNatives25%IMG_5361BlogOzNatives25%IMG_4178Most banksias grow in sandy or gravelly soils, though B. spinulosa can often be found in heavier, more clay-like soils.BlogOzNatives50%Image (9) - Copy Most are found in heathland and low woodlands, while B. integrifolia forms forests.BlogOzNatives20%IMG_5984Banksias are adapted to bush fire, the latter stimulating the opening of seed-bearing follicles in the cones and the release of seeds, which quickly grow and regenerate burnt areas. Some banksia species can also resprout after fire from lignotubers.BlogOzNatives2016-06-26 15.34.24While we have a number of different species growing wild here in Southern New South Wales, as seen in the photos below from our recent Winter visit to the Blue Mountains, west of Sydney,BlogOzNatives20%DSCN2231BlogOzNatives20%DSCN2333BlogOzNatives20%DSCN2337BlogOzNatives20%DSCN2339I believe our specimen is probably called ‘Giant Candles’, a naturally-occuring hybrid of B. ericifolia and B. spinulosa collina.BlogOzNatives2016-01-01 01.00.00-46 (2) It will grow to 5m tall and bears 40 cm large bronze-orange flowering spikes from late Autumn to Winter.BlogOzNatives2017-07-07 13.46.16 It likes well-drained soil in full sun, both conditions which are fulfilled in its position and it is certainly thriving!BlogOzNatives2016-01-01 01.00.00-13 I love banksias for their golden candles and attractive seed cones and this hybrid is a real beauty!BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-11 17.14.18BlogOzNatives2017-07-07 13.47.23Stenocarpus

A member of the Proteaceae family, the Stenocarpus genus has 25 species of trees and woody shrubs, 10 of which grow in Australia in the Subtropical Eastern Rainforests of New South Wales and Queensland and the northern tropical monsoonal forests of Queensland, Northern Territory and Western Australia.BlogOzNatives2016-01-01 01.00.00-1One of the most well-known species in Australia is the Wheel of Fire, Stenocarpus sinuatus, which originates from Nambucca, Northern NSW to the Atherton Tablelands, Qld. It is also known as Firewheel Tree and interestingly White Silky Oak, due to its widespread planting as an ornamental street tree in subtropical, tropical and temperate climates.BlogOzNatives2016-01-01 01.00.00-2Growing from 10 to 30 m tall, this evergreen tree has dark green leaves and large ornamental bright red flowers in Summer (February to March) in the form of umbels in a circular arrangement, hence the name. The flowers are followed by 5 to 10 cm long boat-shaped pods with many thin seeds.BlogOzNatives2016-01-01 01.00.00-49A slow grower, it can be grown in full sun or part shade, and is hardy to frost once established, so it is important to protect young trees. We have lost two specimens to frost, so this time, we have bought a more mature tree and are crossing our fingers! I just adore the decorative flowers, made so famous by printmaker, Margaret Preston (1875-1963). See: https://www.artgallery.nsw.gov.au/collection/works/204.1977/.

Pittosporum

We are also growing a Pittosporum undulatum, as well as an exceedingly slow cycad (Macrozamia communis), but I have discussed both plants in detail in my post on Bush Harvest. See: https://candeloblooms.com/2016/03/01/march-feature-plants-bush-harvest/.

BlogBush Harvest20%Reszd2016-02-10 10.12.09BlogOzNatives2016-01-01 01.00.00-10Grevilleas

Named after Charles Francis Greville (1749-1809), a close friend of Sir Joseph Banks, Grevilleas or Spider Flowers also belong to the Proteaceae family and are the third largest genus in Australia.BlogOzNatives20%IMG_0102 (2) It includes 365 species and 100 subspecies, with 350 species endemic to Australia, and has a huge range of habitats, sizes (from ground covers and prostrate shrubs to 35m tall trees), and flower colour and a long flowering period. The photo below features a grand old Silky Oak in our local park at Candelo and a dwarf grevillea growing in coastal heathland at Green Cape on the Far South Coast of New South Wales.BlogPeonypoppy20%Reszd2015-11-10 11.28.43BlogOzNatives2017-08-29 15.03.19Birds, especially honeyeaters, and the larvae of Lepidoptera love their nectar-filled flowers, which are basically a long calyx split into four lobes. They are such attractive flowers! Below are photos of a Rainbow Lorikeet, an Eastern Spinebill, a Helmeted Friar Bird and a Bar-breasted Honeyeater all enjoying Grevillea feasts!

Cold and frost tolerance varies between species. They do best in well-drained soil in full sun. They interbreed freely, making extensive hybridization possible and resulting in a huge number of cultivars.BlogOzNatives25%IMG_0947 Many cultivars can be seen at Grevillea Park, Bulli, NSW, just north of Wollongong, but opening times are limited. See: http://www.grevilleapark.org/ and http://www.grevilleapark.org/GrevilleaCultivars.html.BlogOzNatives20%DSCN2239BlogOzNatives20%DSCN2237 The Australian Botanic Garden at Mt Annan, just south of Sydney (https://www.australianbotanicgarden.com.au/) is also an excellent place to see Grevilleas, as well as a huge range of banksias and other Australian natives, and is open every day of the year. BlogOzNatives20%DSCN2286BlogOzNatives20%DSCN2242We grow three types of grevilleas in our garden. The photo below shows a hedge of Fireworks on the left and Lady O on the right.BlogOzNatives2016-01-01 01.00.00-20Grevillea robusta, the Silky Oak tree, is the largest Grevillea species at 35 m tall. BlogOzNatives2016-01-01 01.00.00-24This fast-growing ornamental evergreen tree, which grows on the East Coast of Australia, has ferny green leaves and orange-gold bottlebrush-like honey-laden blooms.BlogOzNatives2017-06-05 15.00.42Lady O, a cross between a G. victoriae hybrid and G. rhyolitica, is a hardy medium evergreen shrub, 1 to 1.5 m tall and 2 to 2.5m wide, which flowers most of the year with 5 cm long terminal clusters of spidery red blooms, rich in nectar and a magnet for honeyeaters like the Eastern Spinebill. It requires minimal care and is cold- and frost-tolerant.BlogJulyGarden20%Reszd2016-07-10 11.51.07BlogOzNatives2016-09-14 11.36.09Fireworks is a slightly smaller, more compact shrub, 1 to 1.2 m tall and wide, with blue-green foliage and attractive red and yellow flowers from Autumn, through Winter and Spring. It was bred by introducing the pollen of G. alpina to flowers of Grevillea ‘Pink Pixie’.BlogOzNatives20%IMG_0192Other grevillea cultivars, which I would dearly to grow include:

Honey Gem’ (http://anpsa.org.au/g-honey1.html);

‘Peaches and Cream’ (https://www.gardenia.net/plant/Grevillea-Peaches-and-Cream);

and  ‘Pink Surprise’ (https://www.grevilleas.com.au/grev31.html).

Waratahs

Another very well-known Australian symbol used in decorative art and architecture, with T. speciosissum being the State flower of NSW, and not to be confused with the name of a prominent New South Wales rugby team, Waratahs belong to the genus Telopea and the Proteaceae family.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Telopea comes from the Greek word meaning ‘seen from afar’, referring to the bright red dramatic flower heads, which can be seen from a distance. They are so spectacular and always exciting to see in the wild!BlogOzNatives50%Image (7) - CopyBlogOzNatives50%Image (8) - CopyTelopea are large shrubs and small trees, endemic to South-East Australia, with 5 species:

T. aspera, the Gibraltar Range or New England Waratah, which we saw in the wild on a Spring camping trip. See photos above;

T. speciosissima, the New South Wales Waratah, the species name deriving from the superlative form of the Greek ‘speciosus’, meaning ‘beautiful’ or ‘handsome’. See next three photos below;

T. oreades, Gippsland or Victorian Waratah;

T. truncata, Tasmanian Waratah; and

T. mongaensis, Braidwood or Mongo Waratah.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAll are long-lived woody perennials up to 4 metres in height, with dark green alternate leathery coarsely-toothed leaves and small red nectar-rich flowers, densely packed into rounded compact heads, surrounded by crimson bracts, though there are white and yellow cultivars.BlogOzNatives20%IMG_0078 (2) They bloom from September to October, are pollinated by nectar-loving birds and butterflies and produce woody seedpods, packed with winged seeds in Autumn.BlogOzNatives20%IMG_0074 (2)Good drainage and aeration is essential. All five species readily hybridize in cultivation.BlogOzNatives20%DSCN2573BlogOzNatives20%DSCN2095We have recently planted Shady Lady, a crimson hybrid of T. speciosissima and T. oreades. A hardy vigorous dense shrub 3m tall and 1.5 m wide, it has grey-green foliage and spectacular large red flat flowerheads from late Winter to Spring.BlogOzNatives2016-01-01 01.00.00-48 It likes well-drained acidic soil in sun or part shade, with protection from the afternoon sun, so should do well in front of the large pine trees, as well as dramatically contrasting with their dark green foliage.BlogOzNatives2016-01-01 01.00.00-21 It has moderate frost tolerance once established,  though we may have to protect it from the frost while still young. It makes a great bird attracting screen plant and is an excellent cut flower. I am very excited to see the opening of its first flower!BlogOzNatives2016-01-01 01.00.00-22Correas

Named after Portuguese botanist, Jose Correia de Serra (1751-1823), Correas belong to the family Rutaceae (along with citrus fruit), with 11 species and 26 subspecies, all endemic to Australia, and hundreds of cultivars.BlogOzNatives20%IMG_0191 There is huge variability in size (from ground covers to large shrubs) and colour (from white to deep burgundy), the nectar-rich flowers falling into two types:

Bell eg White Correa, C. alba, and cultivar Dusky Bells; andblogsummer-gardenreszd20%2017-02-09-10-09-41Fuchsia eg Chefs Hat Correa C. baeuerlenii and Native Fuchsia C. reflexa (red and green).Blog Summer dreamg20%ReszdIMG_9021BlogOzNatives2017-08-29 16.54.20Perfect for the temperate garden, they provide lots of nectar in the cooler months for nectar-loving pollinating birds and are frost hardy, pest free, low maintenance and tough, their wide shallow root system allowing them to survive under trees, including gums, as well as drought. The hybrids are more compact and heavy flowering than the wild species.

Maria Hitchcock holds the National Living Collection of Correas. See: https://www.gardenclinic.com.au/how-to-grow-article/star-of-the-season-correa and https://correacollection.weebly.com/.

I love their dainty bells and am growing a cultivar called Dusky Bells, which is thought to be a cross between C. reflexa and C. pulchella.BlogOzNatives2016-01-01 01.00.00-17 This attractive evergreen shrub is 1m high and 2 to 4m wide and has pale carmine pink 2.5 cm long bell-shaped flowers from March to September (Autumn to Winter), though it still flowers sporadically at other times of the year.BlogOzNatives7016-01-01 01.00.00-17 (2) It likes moist well-drained soil and prefers shade to full sun and is drought and frost tolerant, so should thrive in our garden. We have planted our correa to the left of the grevillea hedge in the photo below.BlogOzNatives2016-01-01 01.00.00-26Westringia

Named after Swedish lichen authority and royal physician, Johan Peter Westring(1753-1833), Westringias belong to the Lamiaceae (Mint) family, has 31 species and is endemic to Australia, growing in all states except for the Northern Territory.BlogOzNatives2016-01-01 01.00.00-5An identification key to the different species can be found online at: http://plantnet.rbgsyd.nsw.gov.au/cgi-bin/NSWfl.pl?page=nswfl&lvl=gn&name=Westringia.

Tough and hardy, this dense fast-growing shrub has grey-green foliage and mauve, blue-lilac or white flowers throughout the year.BlogOzNatives2518-05-16 16.04.15 Like other members of the Mint Family (eg Salvias), the upper petal of the flower is divided into two lobes. The upper two stamens are fertile, while the lower two stamens have been reduced to staminoides. Bees and butterflies love them!BlogOzNatives2016-06-14 17.36.29They are low maintenance, have very low water requirements and tolerant of drought, cold, frost and coastal conditions (salt-laden winds, sun and dry sandy soils).BlogOzNatives2017-08-29 16.26.09 They are also used for a wide variety of purposes in the garden from ground covers to formal hedges and screens, box garden edgings and ornamental shrubs.BlogOzNatives2016-01-01 01.00.00-3Coastal or Native Rosemary, W. fruticosa is one of the most common forms, grows wild on the New South Wales coast and is used in many cultivars, including Westringea fruticosa ‘Wynyabbie Gem’, which we grow in our garden.BlogJulyGarden20%Reszd2016-07-24 10.44.41Hailing from Wynyabbie Nursery, Jindalee, Queensland, it is a hybrid between W. fruticosa and the mauve form of W. eremicola, the Slender Western Rosemary.BlogOzNatives2016-01-01 01.00.00-6A very hardy compact shrub, 1.5 to 2 m high and wide, it bears lilac flowers for most of the year, though it is most prolific in Spring. It can be grown in full sun or part shade and is tolerant of most soils and conditions, though it grows best in well-drained soil in a sunny open position.  I love using the dainty blooms in floral arrangements.BlogTinyTreasures20%Reszd2016-07-06 17.33.14I would dearly love to grow more natives over time- boronias, eriostemons and croweas for their beautiful flowers, hakeas for their interesting woody pods and tree ferns for their beautiful fronds!BlogOzNatives2015-12-14 18.12.50 I still yearn to grow New South Wales Christmas Bush (Ceratopetalum gummiferum), which bloomed briefly for one season, as seen in the photo above, and Native Frangipanis (Hymenosporum flavum), but having already lost two specimens of each, I will wait and see whether I have any success with my third Wheel of Fire!!BlogOzNatives2017-01-17 14.49.47 The photo above shows the position of my second Native Frangipani in the corner of the Tea Garden, where it was growing so well until killed by frost last Winter. BlogOzNatives50%Image (12) - CopyIt bears beautiful golden scented blooms (photo above) and attractive seedpods (photo below) from our tree at Dorrigo, New South Wales. I have seen tall specimens down on the river at Geelong, Victoria, so am very tempted to try a mature specimen in the future!BlogOzNatives70%Image (11) - CopyNext week, it’s back to the fireside with the next three posts featuring some of my favourite knitting and crochet books!BlogOzNatives25%IMG_5652

Oldhouseintheshires

 

Feature Plant for May: Divine Dianthus

Pinks are one of my favourite flowers, for their wonderful spicy clove-scented perfume; their heritage and history; their butterfly-attracting qualities; and their low maintenance and ease of growth, being heat and drought tolerant with very few pests. While I only have a few varieties in my garden, I would love to grow more, so I thought I would find out a little more about them, hence this post. These are the varieties I grow in my treasure garden: Coconut Sundae; Doris; Valda Wyatt; Sugar Plum and Mrs Sinkins.

Pinks belong to the family Carophyllaceae and the genus Dianthus, whose name originated from two Ancient Greek words: Διός  (Dios) meaning ‘of Zeus’ and  ἀνθός  (anthos)  meaning ‘Flower’, hence its symbolic meaning ‘Flower of the Gods’ or ‘Divine Flower’. Their naming was attributed to the Ancient Greek botanist, Theophrastus, and the flower was extensively grown by the Ancient Greeks and Ancient Romans. In the first century AD, Pliny wrote that the clove carnation was discovered in Spain in the days of Augustus Caesar, when it was used in garlands.

The genus Dianthus contains 300 species, which are mostly native to Europe and Asia (Zones 3 to 9), with a few species extending to North Africa and one species, Dianthus repens, native to arctic North America. The photo below is a pink called Coconut Sundae.BlogDianthus2518-04-10 08.50.43Common names include:

Pinks, the word deriving from the Old English pynken and referring to the fringed edges of the flowers, which look like they have been cut with pinking shears, rather than their colour, which ranges from white, pink, rose, deep red and even a lavender/purple;

Cheddar Pinks (Dianthus gratianopolitanus), after the Cheddar Gorge, England, where pinks have naturalized;

Chinese Pinks or Chinnies (Dianthus chinensis), a low-growing annual, 6 inches high, which has deeply fringed, single scented flowers, which bloom for longer than biennial or perennial pinks;

Clove Pinks, due to the scent; and the delightful name,

Gillyflowers, again due to the scent, their name being a corruption of  ‘le giroflier’, which is the French name for the Clove Tree (Syzgium aromaticum).

Popular in Medieval times for flavouring mulled wines and during the Tudor Period (1485-1603), Dianthus have been extensively bred and hybridized since 1717 to produce thousands of cultivars for use in the garden and floristry, with a wide variety of sizes; shapes; patterns and markings; and colours and shades from white to pink, salmon, yellow and red. Carnations with coloured stripes were very popular in the 17th century, but were soon supplanted by those with different coloured spots, which were called piquettes.

Today, there are more than 30,000 cultivar names registered on the International Dianthus Register, but many of these lasted commercially for only a short time. See: https://www.rhs.org.uk/plants/plantsmanship/plant-registration/dianthus-cultivar-registration and https://www.rhs.org.uk/plants/pdfs/plant-register-supplements/dianthus/dianthus32nd.pdf.

They include:

Bizarres (clear ground, marked and flaked with 2 or 3 colours, and categorised according to the dominant colour);

Flakes (clear ground, flaked with one colour);

Selfs (any one shade);

Fancies (varieties not falling into the previous classes, having a yellow or white ground, or mottled, flaked or spotted with various colours) and

Picotees (colours confined to the petal margins).

Over 100 varieties of Dianthus have received the RHS Award of Garden Merit.

Most pinks are short-lived herbaceous perennials, though a few species are annuals, biennials and low sub-shrubs with woody basal stems.

The most common types are:

Carnations Dianthus carophyllus;

Sweet William Dianthus barbatus (biennial);

Perennial Pinks, Dianthus plumarius (Cottage Pinks) from Eastern Europe;

Dianthus deltoides (Maiden Pinks), native to Britain;

Dianthus gratianopolitanus (Cheddar Pinks); and

D. armeria (Grass Pinks or Deptford Pink).

Below is a photo of Valda Wyatt.BlogDianthus20%IMG_1083Description:

Pinks and Carnations

Plants: Tufting or spreading perennials, which form a rounded erect mound or trailing mat, from 6 cm (2.5 inches) to 0.9 metres (3 foot) tall, more commonly up to 0.4 metres (18 inches) high, though Sweet William is a biennial or short-lived perennial up to 60 cm (2 foot) tall. Carnations are not as hardy as their smaller cousins, but have longer stems and grow up to 2 foot high.

Foliage: Opposite; simple; mostly linear and strongly glaucous grey-green to blue-green leaves. Modern pinks have heavier, coarser leaves and stems than older varieties, whose leaves are more finely divided. Carnations have larger thicker leaves, which curl at the tip.

Mule Pinks, which are a cross between Dianthus caryophyllus (carnations) and Dianthus barbatus (Sweet William), have greener leaves, with a more erect growth habit and smaller flowers than carnations. Mule Pinks date back to around 1715 and include Emile Pare, bred in France in 1840 and Napoleon III.BlogDianthus2518-03-01 17.30.32Flowers: Single, semi-double and fully double flowers, ranging in size from less than 2.5 cm to 6.35 cm, all varieties have five petals, a frilled or pinked margins of varying depth and a strong spicy fragrance.

Species Dianthus have a limited colour range from pale to dark pink and blooms are borne singly or in small heads on the top of wiry stems from late Spring and early Summer (their peak blooming time) to Autumn and until the first frosts.

Pinks tend to have smaller, more highly fragrant, white to pink/ maroon flowers, which only flower once in early Summer, while carnation blooms are larger, less fragrant, have a larger colour range and flower perpetually.

There are three types of carnation:

Large Flowered/ Sims: One flower per stem;

Spray: Multiple smaller flowers per stem; and

Dwarf-Flowered Carnations: Several small flowers on one stem.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASweet William  Dianthus barbatus

Native to the Pyrenees and Balkan mountains, Sweet William was introduced into Northern Europe in the 16th century, growing at Hampton Court since 1533, and has become an archetypal cottage garden plant. They are easy to grow and very hardy, but do not like warm, humid Summers. A short-lived perennial, it is normally grown as a biennial, flowering in the second year from Spring to mid-Summer. If they are cut back hard after flowering, they will flower just as well the next year. Colours range from pale pink to a deep black-red. The Latin name ‘barbatus’ means ‘bearded’, referring to the markings around the entrance to the pollen that the flowers carry to entice butterflies and moths to pollinate them. To view an assortment of Sweet Williams, see: http://www.mr-fothergills.co.uk/Flower-Seed/Sweet-William-Single-Mixed.html#.WwylMYpx3IU.

Varieties of Pinks and Carnations

See: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dianthus for a list of all the different species, but for gardeners, interested in growing Dianthus, especially heritage varieties, it is well worth looking at: https://www.allwoods.net/. Allwoods Nursery (London Road, Hassocks, West Sussex BN6 9NA;  Phone: 01273 844229) was started in 1910 by Montague Allwood, who crossed oldfashioned hardy clove-scented pinks D. plumarius, and perpetually flowering carnations D. caryophyllus to produce a new race of perpetually-flowering pinks with scented, double flowers, which became known as Dianthus x allwoodii, and were often given Christian names like ‘Doris‘, a salmon-pink bred in 1945. They are the leading Dianthus specialists in the world and stock over 500 different varieties of pinks and carnations, as well as pelargoniums and succulents.

Pinks are divided into four categories:

Long Flowering Garden Pinks (Allwoodii Pinks) : Repeat flowering over at least 8 weeks with a beautiful clove scent, though in some varieties, scent has been sacrificed for flower production. Most have double blooms and come in two sizes, 7.5 to 15 cm (3 to 6 inches) and 25 to 45 cm (10 to 18 inches) tall. eg the slightly perfumed Doris 1945; and  Valda Wyatt 1981.

There are some modern breeders like John Whetman from Whetman Pinks (http://www.whetmanpinks.com/), who have focused their attention on scent, for example, his Devon Cottage Series and Scent First Series, which is long-flowering and highly fragrant and includes Coconut Sundae, seen in the photo below.BlogDianthus2517-11-15 09.27.44Alpine Pinks: Mat-forming perennials, growing to 10 cm (4 inches), which make terrific ground covers, with masses of scented flowers throughout the summer. They are perfect for the rockery or alpine garden. Eg Maiden Pinks Dianthus deltoides; and Alpine Pinks D. alpinus.

BlogDianthus2518-04-12 09.44.44

Laced Garden Pinks: Very popular in Victorian times and deservedly so! These beautiful blooms are quite stunning, having dramatic markings and lacings on the petals, a long flowering period (like the Allwoodii types) and a lovely clove scent.

During the mid-nineteenth century, the weavers of Paisley, Scotland bred Laced Pinks from Dianthus plumarius, producing over 80 new varieties, known as the Paisley Pinks. Only a few types survive.

Some of my favourite Laced Pinks include: Old Velvet https://www.allwoods.net/online-store/Old-Velvet-age-unknown-p83926316; Paisley Gem 1798 Maroon edged white, grown during the Industrial Revolution: https://www.allwoods.net/online-store/Paisley-Gem-1798-p83926296Dad’s Favourite 1800s Semi-double highly scented, white ground laced with velvety maroon. See: https://www.justplants.net/DIANTHUS_dads_favourite/p1363092_6350642.aspx; and Oxford Magic 1998 https://www.allwoods.net/online-store/Oxford-Magic-1998-p83926295. Below is a photo of Valda Wyatt.BlogDianthus2518-03-31 16.30.04-1Heritage and Old World Garden Pinks: Strongly scented evergreen perennials, which form clumps to 45 cm (1.5 feet) of blue-green foliage, with masses of flowers in early to mid summer only. Some examples include:

Mrs Sinkins, bred in 1868 and named for the breeder’s wife, it is white with a green eye;

Cheddar Pink D. gratianopolitanus, a gray-green leaved mat-forming type that blooms once a year. Highly scented, they were so popular with 19th century gardeners that they were collected nearly to extinction. See: https://www.gardenia.net/plant/Dianthus-Gratianopolitanus-Cheddar-Pink.

Carthusian Pink, Dianthus carthusianorum, found growing wild on dry limestone hillsides in southern, central and western Europe and introduced into Britain by the Carthusian monks in 1573. More like Dianthus barbatus, it has a grass-like mound of fine green leaves, tall straight stems and small, flat-headed clusters of seven or eight bright magenta, single, slightly fragrant flowers from Summer till early Autumn, followed by a decorative seedhead. It is best grown from seed. See: https://www.sarahraven.com/flowers/seeds/perennials/dianthus_carthusianorum.htm.

Caesar’s Mantle (Bloodie Pink or Abbotswood) 15th century, a deep carmine pink with a maroon central zone. Increasingly rare.

Pheasants Eye Pre 1600s Semi-double white with dark velvety maroon centre, extending in a thin line around the deeply fringed edge. https://www.selectseeds.com/old-fashioned-pinks/pink_inchmery_plants.aspx. One of the earliest cultivars still available.

Queen of Sheba Early 1600s Single white with delicately traced magenta lacing. See: http://www.sequimrareplants.com/Dianthus%20%27Queen%20of%20Sheba%27.html;

Fountains Abbey Early 1600s. Semi-double bloom similar to Queen of Sheba, but with darker crimson markings;

Sops in Wine Highly clove scented semi-double creamy white blooms with a raspberry eye. See: https://www.allwoods.net/online-store/Sops-in-Wine-age-unknown-p83926326. Please note that there is another type grown under this name and sold by many UK nurseries, which looks totally different. See: http://www.sequimrareplants.com/Dianthus%20%27Sops%20in%20Wine%27.html.

Fimbriata 17th Century Ivory double white;

Painted Lady 1700 Heavily scented compact lilac pink flowers with a deeper centre. See: https://www.allwoods.net/online-store/Painted-Lady-1700-p83926317.

Cockenzie Pink/ Montrose Pink 1720 Semi-double heavily-fringed dark carmine pink with a darker damson pink central eye. See: https://www.allwoods.net/online-store/Cockenzie-Pink-1720-p83926301;

Inchmery 1800  Shell pink flat double strongly-perfumed blooms. See: https://www.selectseeds.com/old-fashioned-pinks/pink_inchmery_plants.aspx.

BlogDianthus2518-04-12 09.44.54

Carnations are divided  into two categories:

Border Carnations: Hardy garden carnations, which do not require a heated greenhouse. They have a wide range of colour combinations and a heady perfume, but only a short flowering season (late Spring to mid-Summer) and are no longer grown commercially.

Perpetual Flowering or Greenhouse Carnations: Often used for exhibition purposes, they are grown in greenhouses or polytunnels or outside in the Summer only. They are generally not winter hardy in the garden, as they don’t like to be too wet and cold at the same time, so it is advisable to bring them into a greenhouse or conservatory end September / October and keep over winter inside. If they are kept at 7 degrees Celsius, they will flower in winter as well as during the summer.

Most are scentless, but some of the older varieties like Malmaison carnations and other old greenhouse varieties are scented, though they flower less frequently. Malmaison carnations, which grow to 70 cm (4.5 foot), are derived from the variety ‘Souvenir de la Malmaison’, and have an  intense clove fragrance.

Below is a photo of a new favourite pink in my garden: Sugar Plum, bred by Whetmans Pinks.BlogDianthus3018-04-04 13.48.26-1For Australian gardeners, read: http://www.pennywoodward.com.au/dianthus-gillyflowers-carnations-pinks-sweet-williams-picotees-selfs-and-fancies/. The main sources for Dianthus appear to be: Lambley’s Nursery, Victoria, which grows 50 different cultivars in their Dianthus Walk and is in full bloom in November. See: https://lambley.com.au/search/content/Dianthus and Woodbridge Nursery, Tasmania: https://www.woodbridgenursery.com.au/search?orderby=position&orderway=desc&search_query=Dianthus.

Dianthus seed is available from: Swallowtail Garden Seeds, United States: https://www.swallowtailgardenseeds.com/perennials/dianthus.html; and in Australia: Australian Seedshttps://australianseed.com.au/search?type=product&q=Dianthus*.

Cultivation:

Full Sun, at least 6 hours a day. Dianthus love clean air and open skies and perish in polluted conditions or when grown in the shade of overhanging trees. Scottish weavers, who bred and named 3,000 laced pinks in the 18th and 19th century, lost most of  their plants, when the air quality deteriorated in the Industrial Revolution.

Light well-drained moist soil, though they will tolerate poorer soils. Drainage is important, as they will develop stem rot in water-logged soils, so if your soil is heavy clay, they are better grown in pots or raised beds. Only water one a week at most, otherwise the foliage will yellow. Be careful with using mulch to suppress weeds and avoid crowding the crown (top of the roots) or stem rot will occur.

Soil pH: Neutral to slightly alkaline. 6.75 is ideal. Soil alkalinity can be increased with the addition of dolomitic limestone or fire ash.

Feeding: Dianthus are light feeders and only need an occasional feed (a shovel of compost in the soil once a year), as well as a light annual dressing of dolomite lime to prevent the centre of the clumps dying out. Even the perennial pinks are short-lived, so they will need renewing every 3 to 4 years. It is worth taking a few cuttings every year to ensure the survival of your plants over Winter.

Otherwise, they are very low-maintenance, only requiring deadheading after flowering to promote reblooming. There are few pests and diseases. Spider mite can be a problem during hot dry weather for Sweet William and carnations, while the latter and Dianthus chinensis and hybrids can be susceptible to thrips and aphids as well, but the old-fashioned pinks are pretty hardy and healthy.BlogDianthus2017-10-15 07.21.29Propagation:

By seed, cuttings or layering.

Cuttings: Two methods:

Pulling a leafy stem with a heel and cutting off any buds; or

Cutting a 5 to 7.5 cm non-flowering stem just below the node.

Insert the cutting into a 50/50 mix of grit and compost or sharp sand and peat or merely damp horticultural sand and place the seed tray or pot in the shade, keeping the cuttings damp.

New plants will form at six to eight weeks and can be planted out in a well-drained open position in Autumn for flowering the following season or kept in the greenhouse over Winter and planted out after the last frost.

When planting, make sure the crown (top of the root structure) is level with the soil surface and never bury any of the stems.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAUses:

Garden

Low perennial borders; Potted displays; Rockeries and alpine troughs; Heirloom cottage gardens; Cutting gardens; and Butterfly and hummingbird gardens.

Dianthus are the food plants for the larvae of some Lepidoptera species, including Cabbage Moths; Double-striped Pugs; Large Yellow Underwings; and the Lychnis, as well as three species of Coleophora: C. dianthi; C. diantivora; and C. musculella, which feeds exclusively on Dianthus superbus.

They are also deer-resistant, but unfortunately not rabbit-resistant!

Floristry

Dianthus, with its naming as ‘Flower of the Gods’, has a long history of use in floristry, with carnations also known as the Flower of Love. There are around 300 species, however there are only 50 to 60 types commercially grown for cut flowers. Their flower meanings vary with colour:

Light Red: Admiration

Dark Red:  Love and Affection

White: Purity of Love and Good Luck

Pink: Gratitude

Purple: Capriciousness

Yellow Disappointment and Rejection

Striped: Regret and Refusal.

While often used for Mother’s Day and funerals, carnations have also been used for other significant days. A red carnation is a symbol of socialism and the labour movement, commonly worn at demonstrations like International Worker’s Day (May Day) and was worn in the 1974 coup d’etat of the Estado Novo regime in Portugal, while a green carnation was seen as a symbol of homosexuality in the early 20th century, but are now used for St Patrick’s Day.

These days, carnations are often grown under glass, with Colombia being the largest producer in the world.

Pinks are often used in nosegays and tussie-mussies.

When buying carnations, look for bunches with clean, undamaged petals, which are not curling inwards. Sims and sprays are sold half-open; Chinnies (D. chinensis) and Sweet William more open, the latter when one quarter to one half of the flowers are open.

Recut 2 to 3 cm from the stem ends on the diagonal just above the node, strip any leaves which would be underwater and use preservative in the vase water. They should last 2 to 3 weeks, so long as the water and preservative are changed every 3 to 4 days. Wear gloves when handling as the sap from the stem is poisonous.

To dry them, either hang the flowers in bunches or pull the petals from the flower head and spread over brown paper.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERACulinary: The flowers can be used fresh in salads and desserts or candied, with or without the slightly bitter white heel of the petals removed, and as a flavouring in syrups, cordials, vinegars, liqueurs and mulled wine. In medieval times, when cloves were expensive, wines and possets were often flavoured with clove-scented gillyflowers. They can also be frozen into ice cubes and added to your favourite drink, or stirred into desserts such as fruit jellies, ice-cream, mousse, soufflés, custard and cakes. Once dried, petals can also be added to sugar to sweetly scent it.

Aromatic: The dried petals can be added to potpourris and scented laundry sachets. Flowers can also be used in perfumery. Carnation oil is used in beauty products to moisturize skin, minimize wrinkles and treat skin conditions.

Medicinal:  Carnation tea has been used to reduce stress, relieve tension and restore energy; reduce fever; and treat stomach aches, heartburn and flatulence. Chinese Pinks D. chinensis have been used in Chinese herbal medicine for over 2000 years.

I have learnt so much about pinks during my research for this post and look forward to expanding my collection! For other devotees of pinks and carnations, another wonderful site is: http://www.britishnationalcarnationsociety.co.uk.

I am finishing with my latest cushion cover design, inspired by the beautiful clove pink varieties described in this post and all available from Allwoods Nursery, except when otherwise specified. From left to right and top to bottom: Plumarius (age unknown); Sugar Plum (Whetman Pinks Scent First series); Coconut Sundae (also Whetman Pinks Scent First series); Anders Melody 2010; Gran’s Favourite 1966; Old Velvet (very old- age unknown); Dad’s Favourite 1800; Fair Folly 1700; and Kesteven Kirkstead 1988. BlogDianthus2518-04-14 12.42.10I  am giving it to my Mum for her birthday, complete with a card identifying all the different varieties depicted in their position on the cushion.BlogDianthus2016-01-01 01.00.00-14 (2)Please note that their depiction on my felt cushion were not supposed to be, and definitely are not, photographically accurate representations! The photos were more a starting point for design, hence the depiction of Plumarius and the even more absract representations of Coconut Sundae; Gran’s Favourite and Dad’s Favourite! I loved stitching their beautiful pinked forms. The only thing missing is the scent!BlogDianthus2016-01-01 01.00.00-12 (2)Next week, I am featuring my favourite calligraphy books.

Oldhouseintheshires

 

Feature Plant for April: Versatile Salvias

Flowering Salvias are my new passion and are my feature plant for April, even though May has just begun!!! While I have always known about the culinary herb sage, Salvia  officinalis, with its fragrant grey-green leaves and spikes of pretty mauve flowers (photo below), I knew very little about its flowering cousins. In fact, I don’t think that they were even on my radar until we lived down south.BlogSalvias2514-11-26 16.37.51 My first introduction to them was the Salvia Collection in the Geelong Botanic Gardens in 2012 (photo below), so when we were developing our new garden in Candelo, salvias were definitely on the list of desired plants!BlogSalvias50%IMG_1550 While I have bought the odd specimen, most of my salvias have been struck from cuttings from my sister’s gardens and while some of the seedlings from plants in her South East Queensland garden have since died, all the ones from her Tenterfield garden are flourishing, due to their ability to either withstand or recuperate from frost! The photo below shows my salvia collection in my Moon Bed.BlogSalvias3018-02-08 08.29.28Salvia is the largest genus in the mint family (Laminaceae)  and includes over 900 species from herbaceous shrubs to perennials, biennials and annuals, and there is a salvia for every climate, environment, season and gardening style! The photo below features salvias with their cousins Mint and Lavender.BlogSalvias2517-12-09 17.57.14Salvias come in a huge variety of form and flower colour, including blue, mauve, cerise, pink, red, white, yellow and orange. Most types bloom from Spring through Summer to Autumn, though there are some Winter-flowering salvias from the cool, mountainous areas of Central and South America.

The genus is distributed throughout Eurasia and the Americas with three distinct hot spots of diversity with 500 species in Central and South America; 250 species in Central Asia and the Mediterranean and 90 species in Eastern Asia. Many species and hybrids easily interbreed, so new cultivated varieties are constantly appearing, resulting in its huge diversity and climatic tolerance. Below is a photo of all the different types of salvias in our garden.BlogSalvias2518-01-31 12.01.00Types:

I have to admit I get very confused when it comes to identifying sages, but here are the names of some of the salvias we grow!

Salvia microphylla, Small-Leafed Sage or Baby Sage or Mountain Sage

One of my favourites for its generosity, being  constantly in bloom, their light airy flowers complementing the roses, both in the garden and in the vase! It has tiny dark green leaves, as indicated by its species name ‘microphylla’ meaning ‘small leaves’, which have a fresh fruity fragrance like those of black currants, giving it its final name, Black Currant Sage.BlogSalvias3018-02-08 08.30.27-2However, it is a very complex species which easily hybridizes, resulting in a huge number hybrids and cultivars, making it very difficult to identify accurately. It has a wide colour range from magentas to rose pink and reds.  Unfortunately, because all my forms were produced from cuttings from my sister’s garden,  I am a bit hazy about their names!

One variety I do know for sure is the unmistakeable bicolour red and white form called ‘Hot Lips’, though it will also throw pure white and pure red blooms.BlogSalvias2017-04-23 18.31.24 Apparently, its  flower colour varies with the weather and water and nutrient availability. Cooler weather and  more nutrients and water result in more red flowers, while heat and nutrient stress in warmer Summer weather results in the blooms turning white.BlogSalvias2518-01-31 12.00.18However, I have a major problem identifying my magenta and deeper red salvias and I’m not the only one! Apparently, Salvia microphylla is often confused with Autumn Sage, S. greggii, with which it frequently hybridizes. Maybe, one of my readers can help me? Here are some photos!

The magenta variety with small fragrant leaves and dark stems:BlogSalvias2016-01-01 00.00.00-140BlogSalvias2518-04-11 16.06.45The red variety with larger more deeply veined rounded leaves and dark stems:BlogSalvias4018-03-29 09.59.08The photo below shows the differences between both varieties: magenta on top, red on the bottom.BlogSalvias2518-01-31 11.59.58However, I do know my Pineapple Sage, S. elegans, especially because it was labelled when I bought it from a nursery!!! I love the pineapple scent of its long, light green pointed leaves and have planted one at the top of my new herb garden next to the path, so that every time the gas bottles are changed, there will be a whiff of its beautiful fragrance! It bears spires of bright red flowers which are highly attractive to birds and butterflies and which bloom for a long time! Growing to 1.5 to 1.8 metres high, it is frost tolerant, though it is more compact in colder climates.BlogSalvias2518-04-11 09.23.54I am a bit more definite about my blue salvias!

‘Indigo Spires’, another labelled nursery purchase, is a hybrid cross between S. longispicata and S. farinacea. It is a large shrub, at 1.5 metres tall and 1 metre wide, and has 30 to 38 cm (12 to 15 inches) long spikes of purple-blue velvety flowers, from early Summer through to late Autumn. While easy to grow, it is not frost tolerant, but it does regrow after frost.BlogSalvias2518-04-11 16.10.26BlogSalvias2016-01-01 00.00.00-129Salvia uliginosa, Bog Salvia, is another tall prolific flowerer, bearing clear sky blue flowers on long stalks all Summer and Autumn. It is one of the few salvias, which likes wet feet, though it will still grow in dry conditions, though probably not as tall and unruly!BlogSalvias3018-03-03 10.09.25-2BlogSalvias25%IMG_4994I think my third blue salvia is Salvia x chamelaeagnea “African Sky”, a cross between two South African species, Salvia scabra and Salvia chamelaeagnea. It has leathery sticky stems and leaves and beautiful soft azure blue flowers on long floppy spikes from late Spring to Autumn.BlogSalvias2518-04-11 16.08.53BlogSalvias2016-01-01 00.00.00-78BlogSalvias2518-04-11 16.09.22Three more blue salvia species I would love to grow and photographed below in order are:

Salvia nemorosa ssp tesquicola with spikes of rich violet flowers set in large lilac bracts from late Spring until Autumn; Gentian Sage, Salvia patens, with its royal blue flowers; and  the attractive Salvia mexicana ‘Limelight’ with its lime green calyces and electric blue flowers and lime green calyces.BlogSalvias2514-11-26 16.27.12BlogSalvias20%IMG_0532BlogSalvias2014-04-06 12.28.16And then, there is the monstrous Rose Leaf Sage, Salvia involucrata Bethelii! This was one of the cuttings I took from my sister’s subtropical garden in South-East Queensland and because I lost its identifying tag, I mistakenly planted it in the Moon Bed, where it then proceeded to grow like Jack-and-the-Bean Stalk, engulfing my poor roses and totally dominating the garden bed! It would have been at least 2.5 metres tall, though they can grow up to 4 metres tall and 1 metre wide!BlogSalvias2017-04-28 11.58.13BlogSalvias2017-04-28 11.50.54It has heart-shaped, long-stalked leaves to 10cm in length and  5cm long, tubular, two-lipped, deep cerise pink flowers, with conspicuous rose-pink bracts, that give it its common name, Roseleaf Sage, and which fall off as the flowers grow bigger. BlogSalvias2017-05-15 15.43.17The Eastern Spinebills LOVED it! This salvia does get frosted, so we propagated some more cuttings last year and this time, we planted them against the fence behind the Moon Bed, where they were free to romp to their hearts’ delight!BlogSalvias2017-05-23 11.54.54BlogSalvias2017-05-23 11.56.26-1For anyone interested in knowing more about the different types of  salvias, it is well worth visiting the Nobelius Heritage Park in Emerald, Victoria, where the Salvia Study Group of Victoria has a wonderful display garden. See: http://salvias.org.au/about-us/. They have a wonderful website, with descriptions of all the different salvia varieties and their suitability for different climates (http://salvias.org.au/lists-of-salvias/) , as well as an excellent Links page (http://salvias.org.au/links/) with links to other sites like: http://www.robinssalvias.com/ (UK); and http://salvias.com.ar/ (Argentina). Another good website is: http://www.salviaspecialist.com/catalog/.

BlogSalvias20%DSCN0753Cultivation and Uses:

Most salvias love well-drained soil and full sun or semi-shade, with some tolerating cold temperatures and frost. Many are drought-tolerant. They are long-flowering, easy to propagate and easy to grow, providing copious nectar for bees and birds. In fact, the labiate design of the salvia flower includes a bottom lip which makes a perfect landing pad for bees. For more about their flower anatomy, see: http://www.worldofsalvias.com/flower1.htm.

BlogSalvias2518-03-29 10.08.10Our salvias are full of the constant buzz of bees from dawn to dusk every day! I particularly love watching the Blue-Banded Bees, Amegilla cingulata, which positively adore the Bog Salvia, though they will never sit still long enough for a decent photograph!BlogSalvias2518-04-05 10.17.44BlogSalvias2016-01-01 00.00.00-54 Butterflies and beetles also love the salvias!BlogSalvias2518-03-03 09.55.57-3BlogSalvias2518-03-31 16.17.24-2BlogSalvias2518-03-03 09.56.28-1BlogSalvias2017-02-09 10.13.43So, salvias are fabulous for encouraging pollinators in the garden! BlogSalvias2518-03-03 10.01.09I also love using them in floral arrangements as fillers and dots of delicate colour, though the flowers of the Bog Salvia often start falling the first day and the flowering stems of the Indigo Spires salvia wilt easily the minute they are cut from the plant! Nevertheless, both provide beautiful colour and contrast in both pastel and bright floral arrangements.BlogSalvias2518-04-14 15.52.44BlogSalvias2518-04-03 08.39.26Culinary Sage, Salvia officinalis, has a long history in the kitchen, being the main ingredient in stuffings for goose and pork dishes, as well as flavouring soups and pâtés.BlogSalvias20%2016-01-01 00.00.00-102.jpg The leaves can be made into a tea for colds and sore throats and gum disease. In fact, ancient herbalists used salvia to cure a multitude of ailments from snake bite to epilepsy, the genus name, ‘Salvia’  deriving from the Latin ‘salvare’, a reference to the plant’s ability to heal. It is also said to enhance memory and lift the mood. See: https://www.healwithfood.org/health-benefits/sage-medicinal-salvia.php.

Clary Sage, Salvia sclarea, also has a strong tradition of medicinal use, the essential oil being used to treat menstrual pain and hormonal imbalances, depression, anxiety and  insomnia, stomach and digestive problems, and kidney complaints. See:  https://draxe.com/clary-sage.

Salvia chamelaeagnea is used to treat colds and coughs, colic and heartburn in the Cape region of South Africa, while the roots of Red Sage, Salvia miltiorrhiza, are highly valued in traditional Chinese medicine to treat cardiovascular disease and chronic renal failure. In Mexico, Salvia microphylla is used as a medicinal and tea plant, while Diviner’s Sage, S. divinorum, is a psychedelic drug , which was used by Mazatec shamans to produce hallucinations and altered states of consciousness during spiritual healing sessions. White Sage, Salvia apiana, was also used in religious ceremonies and purification rituals by Native Americans tribes on the Pacific coast of the United States. The seed is the main ingredient in pinole, a staple food and was also ground into a sticky paste for removing foreign objects from the eye, much in the same way as the Europeans did with Clary Sage. Other medicinal uses include the treatment of colds and fevers, stomach upsets, heavy or painful menstruation and  to promote healing and strength after childbirth. See: http://www.herbcottage.com.au/white-sage.html.

All in all, Salvias are a very useful and beautiful addition to the garden! Next week, I will tell you a little more about our recent trip to Victoria, in which we explored a number of gardens, including the Salvia Display Gardens, mentioned previously in this post!

Oldhouseintheshires

 

Feature Plants for March: Our Tea Garden

When you own animals, it’s inevitable that they generally pass away before you do, so it’s important for every garden to have a special cemetery corner. When we first moved to Candelo in 2015, we brought our very old and much loved dog, Scamp, with us to eke out his final days. In fact, my husband  had to make a special trip back to Geelong to pick up Scamp and our rose plants after the initial big move!Blog Mid Winter20%Reszd2015-02-03 15.32.17Scampie loved the garden , even though he had limited mobility , and played a big part in its early development, often sitting right on top of a freshly dug hole for a new plant or enjoying the warmth of a pile of fallen Autumn leaves.Blog Early Autumn20%Reszd2015-03-22 11.26.41When he finally died six months later at the ripe old age of almost 16, we buried him in the corner of the flat with a beautiful funeral service, laying him to rest on his favourite old pink blanket, covered with freshly picked blooms from the garden.Blog Mid Winter20%Reszd2015-07-07 15.18.44 The flat lies between the old shed (on the right of the first photo below) and the rainforest bank (left edge of the first two photos below), in front of the entrance steps, where he can keep an eye on all our visitors! The bottom photo shows the view of the flat from the house.BlogTeaGarden2518-02-07 11.48.15BlogTeaGarden2518-02-07 11.48.02OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Since then, Scampie has been joined by a succession of my daughter Caroline’s budgies, all of these pets playing a special part in her growing up years and much loved by the whole family.BlogTeaGarden2517-12-08 08.55.44As you might know, we all love our tea, especially Caroline, so we thought this dedicated area was perfect for a tea garden, somewhere where we could sit and contemplate, chat to our animal friends and remember the good time we shared, so we planted a Camellia sinensis, the original tea plant (second photo below), along with a seat of Chamomile, with an adjoining carpet of Peppermint and Moroccan Spearmint (see photo above), which can run to their heart’s delight in this area, providing us with many future cups of delicious herbal tea. One small pot of peppermint (first photo below) is far too restrictive for my needs!!!OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-12 11.48.00When Scampie died, we originally marked his grave site with a native Frangipani tree, one of our favourite rainforest trees back at Dorrigo, where Scamp spent many happy hours. It has beautiful scented golden blooms, fading to white, dark green glossy leaves and interesting purse-shaped seedpods.BlogTeaGarden50%nov 2010 452BlogTeaGarden50%nov 2010 453 Having seen huge specimens down in Geelong, we thought it might be able to grow here, but unfortunately, it was cut right back by the frost in the Winter of 2016. We moved it to a pot to recover and planted a new specimen, both plants growing vigorously over the following year, but again, both were hit badly last Winter, unfortunately with fatal results this time! So, I’ve given up on being able to grow native frangipanis, but then had to decide on another tree for the same spot. Below is a photo of Winter Sun daffodils, which we had planted beneath the Native Frangipani – very much in keeping with the gold colour scheme!blogsept-garden20reszd2016-09-11-11-42-44While the thought of a Lemon-Scented Tea Tree was an attractive option, because space is at such a premium in our small garden, especially these days, it is extra important to get double the value out of any future plantings! So we decided on a golden peach, which not only satisfies aesthetic requirements, but also culinary ones! A friend gave us a whole box of homegrown peaches last year, after which we decided we had to have our own tree! While we love eating peaches, you can also make a delicious herbal tea with cinnamon and orange zest.blogsummer-gardenreszd20%2017-02-02-11-58-33The colour scheme of this area is very much happy golds and whites, uplifting the spirits and  complementing the mature hill banksia behind in its bed of blue and white agapanthus.blogsummer-gardenreszd20%2017-01-17-14-52-51BlogAprilGarden20%Reszd2016-04-07 13.19.34BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-11 17.14.18 Above the bank at ninety degrees to the banksia, a red hedge of two grevilleas, a correa and a Red Riding Hood azalea, separates the Tea Garden from the rainforest garden.BlogJulyGarden20%Reszd2016-07-10 11.51.07BlogWinterGardenReszd20%IMG_0192blogsept-garden20reszd2016-09-21-10-33-13blogsummer-gardenreszd20%2017-02-09-10-09-41Other plants near the Tea Garden on the flat include: a Kerria japonica  seedling, struck from a cutting in my sister’s garden, which sports bright golden flowers in early Spring. See: https://plantsam.com/kerria-japonica-pleniflora/, as our shrub hasn’t flowered yet!;BlogFestiveSeason20%Reszd2015-12-23 20.08.45BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-11 17.15.23a Golden Hornet crab apple (photos above), whose crabs turn a deep gold on maturation, underplanted with Golden Dawn daffodils;BlogSpringGardenReszd2017-09-14 18.37.24a naturalised bank of Grandma’s highly scented freesias;blogoctgarden20reszdimg_0250an entrance arch (first photo) covered in golden Noisette roses: Alister Stella Grey (second photo) and Rêve d’Or (third photo), which leads through past the cumquat trees (fourth photo) and a Lemonade Tree to the main pergola;BlogTeaGarden2518-01-18 10.53.28bloghxroses20reszd2016-11-16-09-46-38OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-11 17.12.41and the back wall of the old shed with its wall of Albertine roses, trained on a frame, with their skirt hems covered in brightly coloured dahlias.BlogTeaGarden2517-12-02 15.06.54OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABlogTeaGarden3017-12-04 10.50.02BlogSpringGardenReszd2517-11-22 11.00.12BlogTeaGarden3017-11-13 06.43.12While celebrating the animal friends in our lives, the Tea Garden is also a good spot to honour family members, who have also passed on, so last year, we planted a beautiful golden rambler called Maigold below the hill banksia for my dad, who passed away at the age of 91 in January 2017.BlogSpringGardenReszd2517-11-22 11.10.53 Bred by Kordes in 1953, this exceptionally healthy and vigorous rose, with glossy dark green foliage, is thriving and has already produced a number of golden single blooms.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIt has been a wonderful season and all the plants in the Tea Garden are growing well, as can be seen in the photos below of chamomile and Moroccan spearmint. From small beginnings….blogsummer-gardenreszd20%2017-02-04-13-21-25 OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABlogTeaGarden2518-03-13 16.45.09BlogTeaGarden2518-03-13 16.45.03After an initial slow start with six well-spaced plants, the chamomile has gone wild and is now competing well with the original couch grass.BlogTeaGarden2517-12-02 15.07.16BlogFestiveSeason2517-12-02 15.07.20 We have been harvesting its bloom all Summer, often picking 450 flowerheads at a time to dry for chamomile tea.BlogTeaGarden2517-12-08 08.55.54BlogFestiveSeason2517-12-08 15.46.22 I have just chopped back all the flowering stems and cleaned up the bed for Autumn.BlogTeaGarden2518-03-13 17.06.45While I use chamomile tea for relaxation and getting to sleep, it has numerous health benefits, as documented in: https://draxe.com/chamomile-benefits/. We have also cut and dried mint leaves, BlogSummerDays20%Reszd2015-12-26 12.06.26but are resisting the temptation to harvest the Camellia sinensis until it is much bigger! Below is a photo of my daughter Caroline next to a huge tea plant, taken in 2008 at the Nerada Tea Plantation on the Atherton Tableland. I probably won’t wait this long though!BlogCamellias25%ReszdIMG_8763

Here is a link to a site detailing the health benefits of Peppermint and Spearmint: https://www.teamindbody.com/blogs/healthy-tea-info/9928062-health-benefits-of-mint-8-qualities-to-better-your-health.

And a closeup photo of the fresh foliage of Camellia sinensis, which is dried to make tea.BlogCamellias25%ReszdIMG_8768I own a lovely book called Healthy Teas: Green, Black, Herbal and Fruit by Tammy Safi 2001, which not only discusses the history, types, methods of brewing and health benefits of tea , but also contains a number of recipes for delicious herbal tonics for energy, stress, cleansing, immunity and springtime.BlogTeaGarden30%Image (2) Another good book is Herbal Tea Remedies: Tisanes, Cordials and Tonics for Health and Healing by Jessica Houdret 2001, which specifically focuses on herbal teas with chapters on their cultivation; harvesting, drying and storage and brewing, including tea recipes for digestion; coughs and colds; zest and energy; calm and sleep; headaches, anxiety and depression; tonic teas; and fruit and flower drinks.BlogTeaGarden30%Image (3)In the back is a compendium of herbs suitable for a tea garden and I grow many of them in other parts of the garden like angelica, bergamot, black currant, borage, calendula, dandelion, elderflower, feverfew, honeysuckle, lavender, lemon verbena, marshmallow, mulberry, mullein, nasturtium, roses, rosemary, sage, strawberry, thyme, valerian and yarrow. The first group of photos below shows angelica, feverfew, calendula, borage and bergamot; while the second grouping includes rosehips, valerian and thyme, dandelion, honeysuckle and strawberry.BlogSummerDays20%Reszd2015-12-29 10.31.45blogsummer-gardenreszd20img_0811BlogTeaGarden2517-12-07 16.41.19BlogSpringGardenReszd2017-09-28 12.02.46blogdecgarden20reszd2016-12-16-18-10-36 I am quite tempted to plant a hibiscus shrub, lemon balm and some more mints,  perhaps Eau-de-Cologne Mint,  Pennyroyal, Apple Mint and Chocolate Mint, down in the Tea Garden.blogspeciesrosesreszd50image-192BlogSummersplendrs20%Reszd2015-12-18 19.11.24BlogTeaGarden2017-09-22 10.39.13blognovgarden20reszd2016-11-17-08-48-54blogoctgarden20reszd2016-10-08-11-03-15 If you would like to know more about mint, a good little volume is Book of Mint by Jackie French 1993. It describes the different types of mint, their cultivation and harvest/ storage, and their uses in medicine, cosmetics, teas, sauces, sorbets and after dinner mints, complete with recipes!BlogTeaGarden30%Image (4)

Next month, we will be exploring the wonderful world of Salvias, but first, a post about Hegarty’s Bay, followed by a swag of books on Textile Printing and Natural Dyeing in my series on Craft Books!

Oldhouseintheshires

 

Lovely Lavender: Feature Plant for February

I have always loved lavender and given its future potential use in our garden, I thought it would be useful to research this lovely plant for my feature plant post for February. Every Winter, the steep agapanthus bank between our top terrace and the main part of the garden gets badly frost-damaged, to the extent that photography of the Spring garden with the house in the background is severely compromised due to the dead brown patches, prompting thoughts about other suitable plants, which could withstand the frost and better utilise the terraced beds. In the photo below, the frost-prone area is on the bank, directly in front of the verandah with smaller recovering bulbs, couch grass and weeds.BlogLavender2517-12-09 08.59.04 A friend suggested lavenders as they have mild frost-tolerance, a long flowering period (mid-Spring through to Autumn), a beautiful scent and multiple uses, as well as their colour being very complementary to the soft mauve exterior colour of our house.BlogLavender2016-10-11 12.40.06History and General Notes

Lavenders belong to the Lamiaceae (Labiatae) family, which also includes mints (Mentha) and sages (Salvia), as seen in the photo of the bouquet below. The genus Lavandula has 28 species and many subspecies, hybrids and cultivars, divided into five main groups: Stoechas; Spica; Pterostoechas; Chaetostoechas; and Subnuda. For the purposes of this post, I will be concentrating on the lavenders belonging to the first three groups, as they represent the majority of plants in cultivation and the home garden.BlogLavender2517-12-09 17.52.17Lavenders have a widespread distribution from the Mediterranean region (France, Italy, Greece, Spain and Portugal) to the Middle East; Western Asia; India; tropical Northern Africa and the Madeira, Canary and Cape Verde Islands.BlogLavender50%jens visit jan 2010 174They also have a long history of use since Ancient Greek and Roman times, when it was used for its cleansing and medicinal properties. In fact, the name Lavender is derived from the Latin word ‘lavare’, which means ‘to wash’.  The Ancient Romans perfumed their baths with the oil of Lavandula spica (photo above), while the Ancient Greeks used lavender more for its medicinal qualities. Ancient Greek physician, Dioscorides described Lavandula stoechas (photo below) as a laxative and stimulant in his Materia Medica 60 AD, stating that it grew near Gaul on the islands of Stoechas, now known as Îles de Hyères.2017-10-25 06.44.06The expectorant and antispasmodic properties of the flowers were also used in the 6th century Byzantine Empire, as well as by later Arabs, who also used them in a skin toner, a cheek rouge and a perfumed hair powder. It was introduced into France by Charlemagne in 800 AD and was grown extensively in medieval monastery gardens for its medicinal properties, scent and use in the kitchen. Sticadore (Lavandula stoechas) was one of the ingredients, along with rosemary, wormwood, rue, sage and mint, in the Four Thieves Vinegar, used to combat the plague. BlogLavender2517-11-13 07.07.13Lavendar was also very popular in Tudor and Elizabethan times from 1485 to 1603. English Knot Gardens were defined by lavender hedges and Elizabeth I is said to have always had a bowl of lavender conserve on the table. During the 18th Century, Oil of Spic (or Aspic, made from Lavandula latifolia, a member of the Spica group) was used in quick drying varnishes and to dilute paint colours used in porcelain painting. The oil was distilled in Southern France, especially Provence, and Spain. See: http://www.sca3p.com/en/cooperative-essential-oils-provence/production-history-perfume-plants. Lavender sellers were a common sight in the streets of 18th Century London.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIt was imported into Australia during the 19th Century. In Britain, its cultivation was markedly increased, along with other herbs, during the First World War for its medicinal properties. Today, it is still widely grown for its oil, its scent and its use as a valuable hedging and border plant in the garden.BlogLavender20%IMG_1863General Description

Lavender is an aromatic shrubby perennial with erect or spreading branches and variable size,  leaves and flowering spikes, according to the particular type, as well as its location, soil type, weather conditions and climate.BlogLavender3016-06-24 12.23.18 Generally, the width of the plant is 1 to 1.5 times the height of the plant. For ease of description, it is worth consulting the photo below from page 17 of The Essential Lavender: Growing Lavender in Australia by Virginia McNaughton 1996.BlogLavender4017-12-08 13.34.32Leaves: Have revolute (curled back) margins and are arranged in opposite pairs along the branches. They vary in shape from linear-oblong or spatulate to oblong lanceolate and their margins are simple and entire or dentate, pinnate or bipinnate. The leaves below have dentate, revolute margins.BlogLavender2517-12-09 16.02.41Inflorescences: Flower spikes are terminal, at the end of short or long peduncles (flowering stems) and are composed of individual flowers, arranged in a whorled fashion along the stem. The terminal flowers open last.  They have bracts (modified leaf at the base of the flowers) and/ or bracteoles (small bract borne above the bract and below the calyx (outer petals), according to the type. The scent also varies from the sweet true lavender fragrance of Lavandula angustifolia to the more camphoraceous scent of the Stoechas group (especially L. viridis) and Lavandula latifolia.

Types of Lavenders

Rather than get bogged down in all the botanical anatomical differences, I will be giving a very basic account of the obvious visual differences, used in identification. It is also well worth consulting: http://www.lyndochlavenderfarm.com.au/plants.html or www.bendigobotanicgardens.com.au/files/…/Lavender_species_descriptions.pdf.

Stoechas Group (Rabbit’s Ears)

Large petal-like sterile bracts (see photo below) on the top of the spike (rabbit’s ears); no bracteoles; and fertle bracts on the rest of the spike. They flower most of the year with short intermittent breaks (eg Christmas) and prefer warmer areas. They are more frost-tender than the Spica group (though can still survive mild frosts), but more tolerant of humidity, though no lavender grows well in areas of high humidity or heavy rain. They are also very tolerant of soil type and have actually been declared a noxious weed in Tasmania and rural Victoria.BlogLavender20%IMG_1912Species: L. stoechas (Italian and Spanish); L. dentata (French); and L. viridis (Green).

Lavandula stoechas

Has a number of subspecies:

Lavandula stoechas ssp stoechas: Italian; Mediterranean and North Africa; Dark violet, though there is a white form. 70cm bush to 1m tall in flower. Short peduncles (1-3 cm) and grey green leaves. Hardy and withstands mild frosts.

Lavandula stoechas ssp pedunculata: Spanish/ Butterfly; Portugal and Spain, North Africa, South Balkans and Asia Minor; Longer greener leaves, sterile bracts and peduncles (10-20 cm); 60 cm sprawling bush to 90 cm in flower; Rounder reddish-violet spikes; Less hardy and needs frost protection.

Other less common subspecies include: L. stoechas ssp cariensis; L. stoechas ssp sampaiana; and L. stoechas ssp luisieri.BlogLavender20%IMG_0425There are also a large number of Stoechas cultivars, resulting from crosses between the subspecies, especially L. stoechas ssp pedunculata (Sugarberry Ruffles; Princess and Sensation). I am only describing the varieties in my garden, with a nod to future desires or more famous varieties.

They include, in order of height:

Sugarberry Ruffles 50-70 cm; Soft pink sterile bracts.BlogLavender20%IMG_0055Princess: 70 cm; Pink sterile bracts; Flowers late Winter to early Summer.BlogLavender2517-12-13 08.40.07 BlogLavender2517-12-07 16.28.49Avonview: 80 cm tall and long peduncles with large purple sterile bracts; Floral arrangements. BlogLavender20%IMG_0438Sensation (Senblu): 1 m; Blue sterile bracts;BlogLavender2517-12-10 10.11.22Other cultivars that I would love to get in the future include: Pastel Dreams (60-80 cm; Lilac pink); Helmsdale (80 cm; Burgundy purple); Marshwood (80cm-1m; Reddish-violet); and Pippa (1m; Electric dark blue).

Lavandula dentata (French Lavender)

Also known as Toothed Lavender, due to the dentate margins of the grey-green leaves. This large shrub, 1 to 1.5 metres tall, hails from France, Spain, Italy and Greece; the Madeira, Canary and Cape Verde Islands; Arabia, Algeria and Abyssinia.

BlogLavender50%lavender-2595328_1920
Courtesy of https://pixabay.com/

It has long peduncles and 2.5 to 5 cm lavender-purple flowering spikes for most of the year. L. dentata ssp candicans has greyer soft hairy leaves and darker flower spikes. Cultivars include: Ploughman Blue; Allwood; and Monet.

BlogLavender50%lavender-2814306_1920
Courtesy of https://pixabay.com/

It prefers warmer climates and is not frost hardy, requiring protection in cooler areas. The plant makes a good hedge or topiary specimen and the flowers are used in floral arrangements (tussie-mussies), wreaths and pot pourri.

Lavandula viridis (Green Lavender)

Hailing from South-West Spain, Southern Portugal and Madeira, this 1 metre tall bush has green sticky foliage and stems, covered in dense short green hairs; greenish-cream sterile bracts and has the strongest camphoraceous fragrance of the Stoechas group. While it survives mild frosts, I probably won’t be racing out to buy this one!!!BlogLavender20%IMG_0215 (2)Spica Group  (English Lavenders and Lavandins)

Have no sterile bracts at the top of the flowering spike, entire hairy grey lanceolate/ oblong or linear leaves and a sweet lavender fragrance. They prefer limestone areas; light well-drained soil and warm rocky slopes and dislike areas of high humidity, so are difficult to grow in Queensland. However, they grow well here! See the photo above!

BlogLavender50%lavender-flowers-1469761_1920
Courtesy of https://pixabay.com/

Species: L. angustifolia; L. latifolia; and L. lanata

Lavandula angustifolia ( syn. L. vera; L. spica and L. officinalis) True Lavender

Subspecies:

Lavandula angustifolia ssp angustifolia: Western Mediterranean; 60 cm to 80cm in flower; fragrant flower spikes 3 to 7 cm long; One of earliest lavenders to flower (late November in Australia); Makes a small to medium hedge. Good for lavender bags; toiletries; pot pourri; culinary recipes and floral decorations; and lavender oil, though the lavandins yield more flowers.

Lavandula angustifolia ssp pyrenaica: Pyrenees and Northern Spain; Rare in Australia; Bracts very wide and as long as calyces (outer petals): 6-7 mm long; and hair confined to veins.

BlogLavender50%lavender-2117366_1920
Courtesy of https://pixabay.com/

Cultivars :

Have small to medium single unbranched peduncles and flowering spikes from lavender and violet to pink and white simultaneously or 2 to 3 weeks later than L. angustifolia. They include:

Lavender/ Violet: Munstead (45-60 cm dwarf, so good for knot gardens); Twickel Purple (60-90 cm);

Dark Violet: Hidcote (70 cm); Nana Atropurpurea (40-60 cm); Blue Mountain (60 cm, greyer foliage);

Pink: Rosea (40 -60 cm; very green foliage; early flowering; mauve pink);

White: Alba (40-60 cm; grey green linear leaves; sweet scent.

BlogLavender50%lavender-573906_1920
Courtesy of https://pixabay.com/

Lavandula latifolia (L. spica) Spike Lavender

Western Mediterranean and Portugal; Rare in nurseries; 50 cm high bush, whose broad oblong to lanceolate leaves are a more greyish-green and have a denser coverage of hairs than L. angustifolia. Flower spikes have long slender peduncles, up to 45 cm long or more, which frequently branch into three and have a camphoraceous smell . It was used to produce Oil of Aspic. They flower up to 3 months later than L. angustifolia (February in Australia) and can be difficult to grow and have a shorter lifespan here, so it is wise to keep some young stock in reserve. They are not frost hardy and hate cold poorly-drained soil.  They can get woody at the base and along the stems.BlogLavender20%IMG_0104Lavandula x intermedia cultivars (Lavandins)

A cross between L. angustifolia and L. latifolia, these 1 metre tall shrubs flower 3 to 4 weeks later than L. angustifolia and have broader leaves and  large flower spikes with a paler colour and a more camphoraceous smell. They are sterile, so must be propagated from cuttings and are used for cut flowers and the commercial production of lavender oil. They include:

Lavender/ Violet/ Purple:

Grosso (Masses of violet blooms late December to Autumn; Leading world producer of Lavender oil);

Seal (80 cm-1m ; Over 1000 spikes in one season and retain scent well when dried; Lavender bags);

Super (Over 1m and similar to Seal, but different shape and size; One of first lavandins to flower, continuously blooming over long period and one of the sweetest scents of all lavandins)

White:

Alba (60-70 cm tall with 30 cm long peduncles; white corollas with grey-green calyces; sweet scent. This is the white lavender most commonly sold in nurseries.)

BlogLavender50%lavender-2472926_1920
Courtesy of https://pixabay.com/

Grey-Leaved:

Grey Hedge (1m silver hedge);

Old English (over 1m and similar spikes to Seal)BlogLavender2017-04-03 13.49.46Intersectional Crosses:

Lavandula x allardii Mitcham Lavender : A cross between L. dentata and L. latifolia, this hybrid is over 1 metre tall and wide, has grey semi-toothed leaves and long flower spikes like Spica lavenders on long peduncles with a scent, the blend of lavender and camphoraceous.

BlogLavender50%australian-2153194_1920
Courtesy of https://pixabay.com/

The flowers stems can be dried for floral arrangements, but tend to droop. I suspect the lavender in the two photos above and the three photos below, grown from a cutting, could be Mitcham Lavender as it has leaves with dentate margins like L. dentata, but a flower spike on a very long branched peduncle like L. latifolia. The plant is also similar to the latter with its tendency to woody stems as the plants age.

Lavandula x heterophylla: Another cross between L. latifolia and L. dentata, this plant is similar to Spica group lavenders, being up to 1 metre tall with branched stems. It also has a sweet camphoraceous scent .BlogLavender2517-12-09 15.58.36BlogLavender2517-12-12 08.57.53BlogLavender2517-12-09 16.02.41Lavandula lanata Woolly Lavender

Native to the mountains of Southern Spain, this shrub, 1 metre high and wide, has 1.2 cm wide and 3-5 cm long, grey tomentose (woolly hairs) leaves with a soft flannel feel and 10 cm long narrow flowering spikes on long peduncles in late December. The individual flowers open gradually, providing a splash of purple along the spike and have a slight camphoraceous scent. These lavenders like dry chalky soils and sheltered positions and have a deep root system, so hate being moved. They are frost-tolerant as might be expected!

Pterostoechas Group

This group hails from North Africa and Mediterranean regions and has the largest number of species, three of which are available in Australia. Slightly woody at the base, they have multi-branched stems and fine feathery pinnate or bipinnate leaves and wing-like (ptero-) corollas when viewed from the side. All the bracts are fertile and there are no sterile bracts at the top of the spike. There are also no bracteoles and the flowers do not have the classic lavender fragrance. They are not very hardy and best grown against the house or a warm brick wall, protected from frost, as in our old garden in Geelong (photo below), where they thrived with the French Lavender.

Species available in Australia include: L. multifida; L. canariensis; and L. pinnata.BlogLavender50%IMG_9463Cultivation and Harvesting

So easy to grow, lavender really only has two requirements:

: Well-drained Soil

While they prefer lighter soils and thrive in a loamy gritty mix, they can grow in most soil types. English lavenders like alkaline soil with a pH of 6-8, while Stoechas lavenders are very tolerant and can even grow in slightly acidic soil. Lavenders hate poorly-drained heavy clay soils, so add compost or humus to the soil; dig in underwater drainage pipes or grow in rock gardens or on hillsides, where the water can run off. So, the steep bank should be perfect for them! They do not need fertilising, though a foliar spray of nitrogen in the Spring will increase the growth, the number of flowers and the stem length. Well-rotted compost will enrich the soil and act as a mulch to suppress weeds.BlogLavender20%IMG_0204: Full Sun for three quarters of the day at least. Stoechas and Pterostoechas lavenders prefer warmer climates and shelter from frosts, though the former can survive mild frosts and the occasional severe one. English lavenders like cool winters and warm sunny Summers. They are reasonably hardy and can withstand frost, though a late frost can damage the flower buds.BlogLavender20%IMG_0093Lavenders don’t like : Severe frosts; over-watering; drought; wind or humidity, which can cause root rot. There are few pests, except for spittle bug (hose, spray or pick off) and the odd assault by caterpillars or rabbits. Diseases include the Alfalfa Mosaic Virus (AMV), spread by aphids and causing yellowing of the leaves and twisting of young Spring growth; Lavender Leafspot; Bacterial Blast; and Shab, an overseas fungal disease, fortunately not found in Australia. Here is our garden in the depths of Winter (photo 1) Unfortunately, the frost killed off our French Lavenders (photo 2)!BlogLavender2017-07-07 09.25.18BlogLavender2017-08-06 14.44.33Spacing: Lavandins should be planted 1 metre apart (unless used for a hedge, in which case plants can be 50-70 cm apart), while L. angustifolia cultivars can be planted 30-70 cm apart. Make sure that enough room is available for the mature plant. While these lavenders marked the vertical axis of the Soho Bed, they really were much too large and I think the Soho Bed looks better in the second photo without these lavender plants.BlogLavender2016-11-01 09.43.04OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAPruning:  Depends on the type of lavender and should be done to remove dead wood and encourage young growth from the base. These plants were very undisciplined (photo 1) and the Soho Bed looked so much better after a haircut (photo 2)!BlogLavender2017-04-10 12.50.31BlogLavender20%IMG_0105 English lavenders should be trimmed hard after flowering and well before Winter to allow the new growth to harden. Once the stems become too woody and bare, the plant should be replaced. Unfortunately, none of the Mitcham Lavenders below survived the Winter. Normally, Mitcham lavender can be pruned to 15 cm from the ground, so I don’t think I pruned them too hard. Maybe, their new growth did not have time to harden before the cool weather set in or the plants had just become too old and woody! Fortunately, I had taken cuttings on pruning and was able to replace the dead plants, but I will keep them well-trimmed this time to a more appropriate size!BlogLavender2017-08-06 14.12.20 Stoechas lavenders, which produce flowers more frequently, can be pruned during the Summer as well and can be pruned quite hard, due to their fast growth in Summer. I definitely have to deadhead this Lavender bush!BlogLavender2517-12-07 16.32.33Propagation: Usually done from cuttings to produce a plant, which is true to type, except for Pterostoechas, which is difficult to propagate from cuttings and is true from seed; and L. latifolia and L. lanata, which also reproduce true from seed, so long as the plants are kept separate from other lavenders. Below is a photo of one of my Mitcham lavender cuttings, which has developed into a new plant.BlogLavender2517-12-09 15.57.13

Cuttings, 5 to 10 cm long, can be made in Spring (tip cuttings) and Autumn (tip cuttings or heel cuttings of semi-hardwood growth), dipped in hormone rooting powder or honey, and inserted into a pot with a mixture of soil and sand; soil and perlite; pure perlite; or coarse river sand; and kept damp, but not wet, until established. They can be kept in cold frames or with bottom heat and misting, then transplanted into a larger pot or the garden, once the roots have reached the bottom of the pot.

BlogLavender50%butterfly-1003060_1920
Courtesy of https://pixabay.com/

Harvesting and Drying:

Harvest mid-morning on a dry sunny day after the dew has evaporated and watch out for bees!

Cut the heads when only the first two flowers on the spike have opened and strip off the leaves.

Hang flower spikes upside-down in bunches or dry on muslin trays in a dark room with good air circulation. They are dry when the stem breaks cleanly. A dehydrator/ microwave can be used too.BlogLavender50%jens visit jan 2010 153Store in opaque containers in cupboards in a dry environment and avoid light or moisture. Use within the year before the colour fades and scent goes.

BlogLavender50autiful-flowers-1866481_1920
Courtesy of https://pixabay.com/

English Lavenders and French Lavender (L. dentata and subspecies) dry well, but the other Stoechas lavenders are more difficult to dry, because of the rabbit’s ears, though they do press well.

Uses of Lavender:

Garden Plant : Hedging, Knot Gardens and Topiary

: Paths, enclosures, knot gardens, outlining ornaments; statues; sundials and birdbaths.BlogLavender50%jens visit jan 2010 172: Space plants half the width of the mature plant apart and keep regularly pruned, so the new growth is produced from the base. Trim at least twice a year and well before the Winter cold sets in. Both photos above and below were taken at Lavandula, Hepburn Springs, in Victoria.BlogLavender50%jens visit jan 2010 173: French lavender makes a good topiary specimen, while good varieties for hedging include:

Lavandula angustifolia: Munstead or Blue Mountain (small to medium hedge or knot gardens); Twickel Purple (medium to large hedge); or a combination of Nana Atropurpurea; Rosea; and/or Alba;

Lavandins: Impress Purple or Grosso for a medium hedge; Grey Hedge for a hedge higher than 1 m.

Stoechas group: Italian lavender (low hedge); French Lavender (1.5 m hedge warm areas); and  L. viridis.BlogLavender2517-12-09 16.01.28

Medicinal Properties of Lavender Essential Oil

Useful for the treatment of a wide range of conditions:

Skin conditions: Burns, bruises, wounds and leg ulcers; eczema, dermatitis and nappy rash; boils and herpes; stretchmarks; bee and wasp stings; fungal infections; acne; dry skin;  and sunburn. It can be used as an insect repellent (a few drops added to olive or safflower oil) and a skin toner.

Muscle, joint and back pain : 1 part lavender oil to 6 parts massage oil for a relaxation massage.

Migraines and Headaches.

Hair: When added to shampoo, it can reduce dandruff, and in the past has been used to eliminate head lice. It has also been used to treat ear ache.

Sore throats, stubborn coughs and mouth infections: Gargle with lavender oil /honey in boiled water.BlogLavender2517-12-09 17.21.01

Lavender Oil is produced by steam distillation (photo below was taken at Balingup Lavender Farm, Western Australia).

BlogLavender25%IMG_3698Cleansing

Lavender Water: 4 tbsp lavender oil to 2 litres warm water: Good antiseptic cleanser;

Lavender can also be used in furniture oil and polish; in lavender bags (photo below) to protect clothes and linen from insects and moths; and can be burnt or simmered in water to induce relaxation.BlogLavender2517-12-09 16.24.48Culinary

Lavender vinegar can be used in salad dressings, for cleaning, to reduce bruising and as a hair rinse.

BlogLavender50th-oil-2510783_1920
Courtesy of https://pixabay.com/

Lavender sugar can be used to flavour desserts, biscuits and cake icing;

Lavender tisane (L. angustifolia ssp angustifolia) to relieve extreme fatigue and physical exhaustion. It obviously had an uplifting effect on my husband at the Bella Lavender Estate, South Australia.BlogLavender2014-10-26 12.14.53Fragrance: Lavender bags, fans and bottles; scented writing paper and ink; pressed flowers; pot-pourri mixes; sleep pillows; soap and toiletries; incense and candles; tussie-mussies, wreaths and floral arrangements.BlogLavender20%IMG_0133Lavender has also been used in healing and purifying rituals; deterring evil spirits (Tuscany); in love potions and spells. Lavender is a symbol of love, affection and acknowledgement; cleanliness, purity and chastity; longevity and perseverance; protection; and peace. My mum embroidered this beautiful bag below for a birthday gift.

BlogLavender2517-12-09 16.24.55Lavender Places to visit in Australia:

Bridestowe, Tasmania: https://bridestowelavender.com.au ;

Lavandula, Hepburn Springs, Vic: https://www.lavandula.com.au/  (three photos below);

Yuulong Lavender Estate, Vic: http://www.yuulonglavender.com.au/ . Currently closed, but reopening soon in a new location;

Warratina Lavender Farm, Vic: http://warratinalavender.com.au/ ;BlogLavender25%grampians 1 095BlogLavender25%grampians 1 116BlogLavender50%jens visit jan 2010 162Lyndoch Lavender, Barossa Valley, South Australia: http://www.lyndochlavenderfarm.com.au/ ;

Bella Lavender Estate, Glossop, SA: https://bellalavender.com.au/ . Photo below;BlogLavender2014-10-26 12.07.11Merribee, Numbaa, NSW: http://www.merribee.com.au/;

Lavender Farm, ‘Pottique’, Kingaroy, Qld: https://lavenderfarm.net.au/;

Nannup Lavender Farm, WA: https://nannuplavenderfarm.com/;

Lavender Valley Farm, Yetna, WA: http://lavendervalleyfarm.com.au,

and in the three photos below: Balingup Lavender Farm, WA: http://www.lavenderbalingup.com.au/;

BlogLavender25%IMG_3700BlogLavender25%IMG_3705BlogLavender25%IMG_3697And obviously, our garden here in Candelo, once I have decided on which varieties to grow and we have established our new plantings on the bank!BlogLavender2517-12-09 08.59.12 There are three terraces, so I will probably grow Bearded Iris at the top and bottom, with  taller lavenders in the middle terrace; shorter pinks, whites and purple lavenders on the top terrace; and medium lavenders in the bottom terrace. Ross has started to clear two paths between the terraces.BlogLavender2517-12-10 10.22.59 Placement is dictated by the frosty areas on the right looking up at the house from the garden, so English lavenders and Lavandins will be in these areas, while the Stoechas group will be further to the left, where there is more shelter and protection from the frost. Here is a view from the top lawn, showing the area damaged by frost.BlogLavender2517-12-10 10.23.17 I will finish with a sea of lavender from our visit to Lavandula, Hepburn Springs.BlogLavender50%jens visit jan 2010 151Next week, I will be introducing you to Bithry Inlet, one of our favourite spots to visit in Summer!