Archive for the ‘Plant of the Month’ Category

January Plant

January 29th, 2011

Blue Echeveria

This is my Blue Echeveria, isn’t  she cute?  Can you see her little flower spike?  She is one of a family of plants all of whom have fleshy leaves and form tightly packed plantlets in clumps around their bases – you can see the little baby plants clustered around the edge of the large mother plant.  With their origins in Mexico they are tough little critters!  They fill little gaps in and around rocks or at the edge of gardens and make wonderful pot plants. 

The succulents are indeed a good starting point for children to start an interest in gardening as these plants are easy to care for, can withstand a great deal of neglect and mismanagment, which indeed is why they do so well in my garden! 

Happy gardening!

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October Plant

October 19th, 2010

Cymbidium Orchid

Orchids are truly beautiful plants to grow and the Cymbidiums are the most widely cultivated of all the orchid types.  They are ideal for pots and grow easily in semi shade.  As with many other plants they are easy to grow if they are in the right spot. 

They like to be kept moist but not wet.  I pour on a very weak solution of worm tea or sea weed every now and then during the growing season.  They seem to like that.  But mostly I leave them alone and every year, around now they give me a wonderful surprise with their absolutely gorgeous flower stems.  Flowers like these are what gardening is all about.

Happy gardening!

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September Plant

September 25th, 2010

Christmas Cactus (Zygocactus truncatus)

Christmas Cactus -Schlumbergera Species

Of course, this should really be the plant of the month for December, but here in Melbourne it flowers towards the end of winter and into early spring.  In fact, it tells of the beginning of the spring and is a welcome patch of colour for the end of our winter months.  The Zygocactus is a Forest Cacti and in its home in Brazil are found attached to trees in woodlands and jungles.  So it is not surprising that they are so different in form and requirements form the spine-covered desert cacti.

Forest Cacti

Perfect for hanging baskets it has leaf-like stems and a trailing growth habit.  Flower colours include pink, mauve, purple, orange and red.  The plant needs short days and long nights to start flowering, a bit like me really.

Cuttings root easily.  After it has flowered you can take stem cuttings in the summer.  They really don’t mind if you forget to water them, in fact they prefer to be a little on the dry side and it is only once they begin to flower that they need a little more frequent water and a little liquid fertiliser, say worm poo, but at about half the strength of what you use for other plants. 

Forest cacti – perfect for adding to that enchanted corner in your garden.

Happy gardening!

 

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August Plant

August 15th, 2010

Daphne [Thymelaeaceae]

Sweet Daphne

My gorgeously perfurmed and most treasured of shrubs for the winter the Daphne is covered in fragrant flowers at the moment.  The perfume drifts across the yard while I hang out the washing and meets me late in the evening when I go outside to tuck the ducks up in their cosy pen. 

Daphne Odora

Growing daphne can be a heartbreaking job as they will sometimes give up the ghost for no apparent reason and suddenly die, despite all the care you lavish upon them.   What they need is the right spot, no where else will do aparently, and if you find them the place where they are happy, they are very easy plants to care for. 

The Daphne loves morning sunshine, but likes a shady retreat in the afternoon.  These ladies also like a well drained position and don’t like to get too wet, or in the summer too dry – but too wet and they get collar rot, to combat this you need to plant your daphne in a raised garden bed and make sure the root junction is above soil level.  In the summer don’t hover about watering and loving it every day, but let the soil dry out in between the waterings. 

bring a little inside to enjoy

Little Daphne loves, loves, loves old manure or compost gently worked into the surface back around the drip line, but be careful not to dig around to close to the roots, Daphne does not care to be disturbed!  And, whatever you do, do not give her any lime, she does not care for that at all.

Reading over the above, I am amazed at how well my daphne is doing, all things considered.   But, if you can find a spot where they are happy, it is truely a wonderful investment to have a Daphne somewhere near your back door.

Happy Gardening.

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July Plant

July 27th, 2010

 

The Meyer Lemon

Every garden large or small should have room for a lemon tree.  What would we do without a lemon?  Lemons are the hardist of all the citrus family and there are types to suit all areas and they are very good to grow in tubs!  Large tubs of course!  I love my little lemon tree.  I have a Meyer lemon tree.  The Meyer is an adaptable hybrid more tolerant of climate extremes and my little Meyer is full of lemons for me right now.

I usually leave the fruit on the tree until ripe and pick as I need to.  Lemons can be used to make pomanders – stuck with cloves, rolled in orris root powder (available from health food stores and placed in drawers or wordrobes to scent your clothes.  A lovely thing our grandmothers used to do.  Lemon juice is wonderful for making salad dressing too.  In fact there is heaps of things to do with lemons  – it is hard to understand why they call a dud car a lemon, for lemons are very useful!

The humble lemon tree does not demand much in the way of care, but it does enjoy the sun and is very grateful for a good dob of compost from time to time and a little light feed in the spring or autumn with some quality citrus food.  But the wonderful thing about the lemon is that even if you do nothing too it, it quite often not only survives but thrives.  It certainly deserves to be plant of the month.

Happy gardening!

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June Plant

June 18th, 2010

Clivia miniata

The Clivia

 

Clivia lilies are excellent plants for shady spots.  I love them because they are hardy and evergreen with lovely strappy leaves.  They will flower well in quite deep shade.  My Clivia is flowering now and it is a welcome patch of colour on a dark gloomy winter day!  In Spring the Clivia will flower again, it is a busy little bee!  After the flowers are finished there often follows dark red berries.  They will grow in almost any soil, as long as it is moderately well drained.  They seem to be quite happy during the long hot summer too.  Honestly, what more could you ask of a little plant.

Happy gardening!

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April Plant

April 18th, 2010

Camellia Sasanqua

Camellia sasanquas are in flower at the moment; they are one of the early flowering Camellia  family.  They can be recognised by their smaller, sharper foliage and more open habit of growth.  They have a very long flowering period, which, here in Victoria can start as early as late February and extend right through until June.  My beautiful red Sasanqua has just begun to bloom and it heralds the onset of the Camellia season with my other japonica varieties of camellia to follow over the winter.

The sasanqua varieties have single to semi-double flowers with rich yellow stamens, and come in colours ranging from white to paile pink right through to the one I enjoy in my garden, a dark deep red.  Many have a delicious pungent spicy scent, reminiscent of the Spice Isles.

Camellias are not hard to grow provided the soil is acid, well-drained and rich in organic material.  You can grow them in tubs and they are quite tolerant of frost.  The other joy of camellias in general is that you can cut them and bring them inside to enjoy, the bush thrives on this sort of light pruning and it improves branching and growth.

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March Plant

March 16th, 2010

 

Gold Dust Tree (Aucuba japonica 'variegata')

Gold Dust Tree (Aucuba japonica 'variegata')

The Gold Dust Tree

 

 

One of my most favourite shrubs, the beautiful Gold Dust Tree, or Japanese Laurel is indispensible for a shady garden like mine.  I love the brilliantly marked leaves they shine and sparkle throughout the year.  Sadly I have only one bush, but I am told by those who know that if you plant two, of both sexes of course, you could get small scarlet fruit, which are produced all through the winter.  But never to mind, the one I do have is very beautiful and quite large for they grow very slowly. 

So if you have a shady grove like me you could enjoy welcoming such a one into your back yard.

Happy gardening!

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January Plant

January 15th, 2010

Begonia X 'Cleopatra'

Begonia X 'Cleopatra'

Begonia

A particularly large family of plants with at least 300 species and a myriad of varieties, the Begonias are succulents which in some cases have developed a tuberous root system.  Their striking leaf shapes and colours have made them a favourite with many gardeners everywhere.  They are probably the most widely grown of all houseplants.  B. rex is usually grown for its foliage.  I love my B. rex, I call him T.Rex for short, and he loves a little visit indoors now and again.  I love my Begonia X ‘Cleopatra’ shown above for her beautiful translucent maple shaped leaves, patterned in a deep green and chocolate colour.  I sometimes invite her inside also where she takes pride of place in the hall by the phone and in front of a mirror as any Cleopatra should!

Begonias make beautiful pot plants

Begonias make beautiful pot plants

The dainty but tough little bedding begonia is a wonderful addition sprinkled about in garden beds or used as a mass planting in shades of white, pink and red.  These useful little wonders are super for taking cuttings and sticking into the ground where they happily make lovely new little plants.  You can plant stem cuttings or tubers in spring in moist compost rich in peat .  Some people think of them as being a little old fashioned, but I love them.  I am an old fashioned girl!

The Begonia is happy in the garden too

The Begonia is happy in the garden too

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Plant of the Month

December 16th, 2009

The Fuchsia

Long ago the Fuchsia was the first garden plant I fell in love with.  I remember dancing the little flowers on my hand pretending they were beautiful dancing fairies.  A Fuchsia was the first plant that I struck and I watched it growing roots right before my eyes within the glass of water I had put on the window ledge.  It seemed like magic to watch those roots form.   There are over 500 named varieties and they are all just as pretty as the ones above.

beautiful schrub covered in flowers

Fuchsia triphylla

More than 500 different ones and they flower continuously from late spring well into winter.  Perfect for cool, semi-shaded positions.  They absolutely adore compost, can’t seem to get enough of the stuff, and they repay you for your care and attention (of which they do not require much) with heaps of beautiful flowers.  The sort of flowers that add magic to any garden.

Fuchsia X 'Lena'

Fuchsia X 'Lena'

Perfect for bush houses and hanging baskets.  In a hanging basket the flowers cascade down to dance in the breeze and lighten your heart.

In the winter they need to be pruned and the prunings can be struck to supply you with more plants.  If you do this you will have lovely Christmas Presents you can give to friends and relations.   I hope you can find some spot in your garden to enjoy a dancing queen, the Fuchsia.

The Dancing Queen

The Dancing Queen

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