Shasta Daisy, Leucanthemum x superbum ‘Real Neat’

Shasta daisies (Leucanthemum x superbum, formerly Chrysanthemum x superbum….thankyou, www.theplantlist.org) are one of those happy, everyday plants in the massive Asteraceæ family.

These put on a lovely summer show, and fill the gap left by many of the Osteospermums that I’ve dotted around the garden during the warmest days of summer:

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Delicate fluted petals

Here it is growing next to the young Japanese Maple (Acer palmatum atropurpureum ‘bloodgood’)

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Leucanthenum x superbum ‘Real Neat’

It will only ever get to around 60cm x 60cm (24″ x 24″), so will eventually be moved towards the front of the garden bed once some of the larger shrubs, such as the Mollis Azalea, establish themselves, but for the moment, it keeps the daisy theme going while the surrounding Osteospermums take their short, 3 week rest prior to their next daisy-explosion.

And, unlike the Osteospermums, which bloom themselves to death after a few seasons and must be continually renewed from cuttings, this one is longer lived and benefits from dead-heading to encourage flowers past the middle of summer.

Happy Gardening 🙂

Early ‘late’ flowering Rhododendron

While the rest of the world tips into winter, here we have just endured a record breaking heatwave.

Last Sunday we reached 34°C/93°F, smashing the old record of 33°C/91°F to become our new hottest day ever…(the day-time average here at this time of year is 19°C/66°F)

So, after a warm October, a warm November and then a heat wave, the garden thinks it’s in summer!

I know that many readers in the western parts of the UK will be horrified to see a post about Rhododendron ponticum given how weedy it is in that part of the country, but here it is only moderately inclined to self-seed.

Normally, this would be in flower around Christmas, but this year it is a month early. I love its pale purple blooms: but you can see how warm it has been by the substantial amounts of new growth…

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Rhododendron ponticum

Certainly, whatever your experience with this plant, it is hard to deny the joy that the last of the Rhododendrons bring as the garden signals the change to hot weather…

Happy Gardening 🙂

Rose & Marguerite

I rather like the combination of the Blue Marguerite and the pearly white Miniature Rose together in bloom.

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Felicia amelloides and unknown Rosa

This is the same rose that I hacked to pieces (roots, stems and all) and then transplanted back in early winter. Of course, that was technically the wrong time to do this, but I took a bit of a risk….it’s paid off, as the bush has started to give a riot of blooms and buds.

Does anyone know the variety? I’m thinking it could be Avon or Ivory Palace.

The bush was one of the few things planted in the garden before the house fell into disrepair, so the rose variety would have been popular around the 1980s…..

Happy Gardening 🙂

Campanulas

As October melts into November, the Campanulas that I put in last May are starting to bloom:

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Campanula poscharskyana

This will eventually cover the front of this garden, but for now is just a cute little mound.

Similarly, the Campanula medium placed as a plug in May has just burst into bloom. This has been planted in a sheltered north facing spot, free from winter ice and as such it’s quite possible that this could be a perennial (rather than a biennial) in my climate. We’ll see….but for now it’s nice to enjoy the little upside down bell shaped flowers from my window directly above.

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Campanula medium

Happy gardening 🙂

This week in the garden

As September draws to an end, the weather is certainly warming. Days are no longer single digits but in the mid teens (≈ 60°F) and the midday sun has a real warmth to it: while all of the bulbs are still going strong, the garden is now starting to wear the more vibrant colours associated with the middle of the season.

Of course there are still subtleties:

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Woodland Anemone – Anemone nemorosa

These are all along the shady side garden….but I have to be quick to catch a photo – they close their petals the minute the sun disappears. They are not a particularly common flower here in Australia, but these appear to have naturalised in this part of the garden. I think they are especially charming. I overplanted this area with Tiarellas and the combination of foliage will be especially pleasing when they start establish.

Ones that I did plant nearby are a half-a-dozen English Primroses. This little cultivar is called ‘High Tea Drumcliff’. The seed packet promised white flowers on chocolate-green leaves. I guess, like the ‘Blue Admiral’ Rhododendron, that this might be overly-creative marketing?

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Primula vulgaris

Still, I like the pink and yellow. The colour palette is remarkably similar to the clump of freesias which are still powering along:

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If only this were “smell-o-blog” – the scent is amazing!

As the days and nights are warmer, the scent fills this corner of the garden.

But now, to the bolder colours of spring. Here are two of the perennial wallflowers, which do quite well in my Zone 8 garden, despite having acidic soils:

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Erysimum ‘Fragrant Sunshine’

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Erysimum ‘Bowles Mauve’

The Iceland poppies have finally decided to open, after displaying their furry buds since July:

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1st Iceland Poppy

The Diascia, which I have in sheltered rockery facing due north has started the first of what should be a display until April. Here in my garden this is a perennial that can survive the winter as long as it has some sort of protection/radiant warmth:

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Diascia ‘Coral Belle’

Next up a Camellia japonica that was already here when I bought the property. I’m pretty sure this on is called ‘Hino-Maru’ but please correct me if I’m wrong 🙂 At any rate the single red petals and yellow stamens are particularly eye-catching:

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C. japonica ‘Hino-Maru’?

And lastly, the Karume Azalea that was liberated from under the tangle of Ivy and Jasmine is such a saturated, intense punch of colour on a sunny day that my camera lens, and my eyes, find it difficult to adjust!

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I really need shades…..

Happy Gardening 🙂

African Daisies

As many of you who follow this blog know, I have had quite a few African Daisy (Osteospermum sp.) plants pretty much in bloom since I put them in around March last year.

I bought a number of them as tube-stock, and at the time was informed that some of the varieties were less hardy than others (tolerating only light frost rather than the occasional freeze that we endure), so I dutifully potted the tender ones on and had them on the front porch through winter.

And they’ve grown!

With the danger of hard frosts now mostly past, and the fact that after my first winter here I now know where frost pockets are in the yard, I have decided to plant them out.

In my climate (USDA zone 8) Osteospermums flower almost incessantly. As long as the soil is reasonably fertile, free drained and moist, they will reward you with non stop flowers for a few years and then the shrub should be replaced.

The modern hybrids grow from cuttings in summer; but most varieties are available from seed. The gardening books state that they are drought tolerant; but in my experience, regular water will ensure proper flowering.

First up is the spooned/spider wheel flower:

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Spider-wheel Osteospermum

Next some of the purple ‘Passion Mix’ varieties:

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Osteospermum – purple passion mix

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Osteospermum – purple passion mix

I can tell you that these amazingly rich purples of the less hardy varieties really brighten the garden at this time of year: especially given that my garden is very new and only ¼ of the way complete (if a garden can ever be considered ‘complete’!!!!). These should be tough enough by next winter, but I will take cuttings none-the-less.

But still the hardy varieties still keep on giving:

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Osteospermum – lemon power

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Osteospermum – Cinnamon twist

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Osteospermum – Blue & White

If you like chrysanthemums, and you live in a mild climate (South East England/Southern USA and West coast USA) then I would definitely recommend giving these trouble-free, short-lived perennials a go in your garden.

Happy Gardening!

Tiny Spring Jewels

The Muscari americanum are glistening like beads after two days of heavy rain:

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Grape Hyacinth

They really have started to sprout and green up – this was the same spot just under two weeks ago:

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Also, the Tree Rhododendron (Rhododendron arboretum) has burst into bloom. Mine is not a particularly good specimen as a previous owner planted it between the shed and fence (it has just 300mm/10″ of space to grow in), but none-the-less it is still putting on quite a show – here it is poking its head above the shed roof:

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Tree Rhododendron

It’s about 16’/5m tall, and probably has another 10-20’/3-6m to go before it reaches maturity….talk about the wrong tree in the wrong spot (!)….luckily the tree rhododendrons have a shallow root system, so it does not pose any danger to the fence or the shed.

Fuchsia

Given shade, moisture and protection from frosts, fuchsias are dead easy to grow.

In spring, cut an actively growing branch about 10cm/4″ long making sure that you have at least 3 or 4 leaf pairs (including the new growth).

Remove all of the bottom leaves and then place the cuttings in a pot.

I don’t have a greenhouse, so I leave the cuttings on the back veranda which has a clear polycarbonate roof: bright and airy, but protected from the elements.

As spring and early summer can still be quite cool and frost-prone where I am, I place four little bamboo twigs in the pot and then cover the whole thing with kitchen plastic wrap (being sure to puncture enough air holes in the film).

Keep moist.

In about 4 weeks, roots have formed so I pot on the healthy cuttings and discard the failed ones (as I don’t usually bother with rooting hormone, there’s always failed cuttings!!!)

I took a few small cuttings from a friend last spring and this little shrub has just flowered, despite winter.

I have planted this under the Japanese maple. Here, it gets dappled sun until midday year round and, being next to the house, benefits from added radiated warmth.

It has so far survived a -3°C/26°F frost without even a blip.

I have not sure what the cultivar is as my friend had quite a few in hanging baskets….this is the first to flower.

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Dianthus

I rescued two of these from Bunnings warehouse (a big box store similar to Lowes in the US)  in summer. They were marked down to $0.70c and were almost dead. I have no idea what the cultivar is as there was no tag.

But a good haircut, teasing the roots, water, a slow release feed and a fortnightly dose of seaweed emulsion and here it is:

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I can’t believe it is flowering at the moment, but, that’s the warm weather for you!