Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Euryops pectinatus or the Yellow daisy bush. A classic plant for adding colour to your garden in winter.

In winter the most showy plant I have in my garden in terms of masses of colourful plants is my Euryops pectinatus. Euryops are a classic perennial plant that can be found in many Australian gardens. It has some degree of frost tolerance and tolerates a certain amount of dryness. This perennial is native to South and Central Africa and the name Euryops comes from the Greek Eurys (large) and ops (eye). There are several different varieties of Euryops but I would say that most can grow to about 1.7 high and 1.7 metres wide. I cut mine back after flowering but I let it go for a couple of years and it has gone a bit leggy. I have read that they strike quite easily from cuttings so I will try and propagate some that way and start them off again. It has a silvery sheen to its foliage which some say combines well with Wormwood which has a similar leaf. Here in Australia this plant is probably considered boring by some because it is extremely common but I love it as its is fairly low maintenance and provides some vivid colour to my garden in the cooler months. Among the common names for Euryops pectinatus are Yellow daisy bush or Golden daisy bush.

The classic daisy (asteraceae) shaped flower of my Euryops growing in Macedon Victoria.

Look at all those flowers. You would be forgiven for thinking that it is Spring.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Classic common house plant Aspidistra aka cast iron plant

A very common and useful house plant is the Aspidistra or cast iron plant. I remember as a youngster people telling me that this plant will grow in a dark hallway of a house and indeed it does. I have owned a couple of Aspidistras over the years and even managed to keep some alive as a young man in my early twenties. That was possible because Aspidistras are very tough and could endure my lack of care. They seem to thrive on neglect and infrequent watering. The only thing they don't like is lots of sun so if you buy one don't put it in front of a window at home or it will bleach out and die. They are native to Japan and I'm fairly sure that the species that I have pictured here is Aspidistra elatior. It was previously thought that Aspidistras were pollinated by snails and slugs. We now know this isn't true and they are in fact pollinated by tiny crustaceans and amphipods. Some are also now saying that fungus gnats may be a pollinator but research is not conclusive at the present time. Another interesting fact is that the foliage of some Aspidistra plants was originally used in Japanese sushi boxes to separate the food but now imitation Aspiditra leaves are used. I would recommend this plant to anybody who wants an extremely low maintenance, tough and low light indoor house plant.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Grass plant Miscanthus transmorrisonensis aka evergreen feather grass

A quick post today on one of my favorite grass plants Miscanthus transmorrisonensis or Evergreen feather grass. This type of Miscanthus is one of the most popular as it holds flower heads from summer through to late winter. Miscanthus transmorrisonensus was introduced from Taiwan by Paul Meyer of the Morris Arboretum and C. Ferris Miller of Chollipo Arboretum. The seed was collected from wild plants found at nearly ten thousand feet in elevation on the slops of Mt. Daxue of Sichuan province in Southwest China.
Miscanthus plants are native to China and Japan. They go by the common names Chinese silvergrass, Suzuki grass, Porcupine grass and Maiden grass. They are a great plant to use for providing the often forgotten element of movement in your garden as the flower heads sway around in the breeze when the wind picks up. They are sometimes recommended as a plant for prarie style gardens. They also look stunning with the sun shining behind the flower heads. They can be propagated by division. They respond well after transplanting and you don't have to be overly careful after pulling them up. Digging the plant out of the ground is the hardest part. They have a dense fibrous root system that needs to be dug around and under to lift the plant.  I would describe their water usage as low / medium once established.

When I first started working in the Parkville garden where I currently am employed, we dug up a mature Miscanthus transmorrisonensis plant and divided it into about 8 clumps. What you see in the pictures below is 6 of those clumps approximately 1 year after planting them. They are about 1.2 metres tall.

Here it is in all its glory. Honestly it looks significantly better in real life when it is swaying around in the wind with the sun shining on it.

Closeup of the beautiful plumes of this plant. Only a really bright day the sun almost makes the plumes look like they are illuminating light.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Cleaning the slate for my Macedon garden

The heat of Summer is definitely over and Autumn is bringing the cold weather back to my garden in Macedon. Luckily I'm on top of the gardening at home for a change so hopefully this year I will have a nice Winter garden. I've cleared the annual flowers and I bought some mushroom compost and dug it through the garden beds. One major job I'm glad to have completed is the planting of last years garlic crop. In total I've got over 150 cloves planted in 2 beds so that should equate to roughly 120 - 130 bulbs when harvested taking into account a few failures (rotten bulbs). I've got the new annuals growing in pots and some are ready to plant out. The new annuals are cornflowers, larkspurs, poppys, stocks, asters, pansies and snapdragons. The annuals are all growing under perspex coldframes which are ex display cases that I rescued from the rubbish tip. Also I've got 20 Haworthia succulents and several Aeoniums growing in small pots protected from the frost. I know it's not much to look at now but I've essentially wiped the slate clean and in a couple of months the beds will be full with colour.

The empty beds waiting to be planted out

Several Nasturtium plants that my daughters and I started from seed.

This one snapdragon from last year is still going strong the others were finished so I removed them.

An out of focus Rudbeckia. This plant was given to me by Mick from the local Macedon nursery near the general store. I had to do an assignment for TAFE which involved questioning him and photographing plant tags in his nursery. The fact that he gave me a plant after taking up all his time and messing around with his plants says lots about his character. I recommend you visit his nursery if you are in town he is a great guy.

The colframes steaming away on a cold Macedon day.

Several of the Haworthias in their pots. Such great little plants, they remind me of octopuses.

One crimson broad bean plant that self seeded from last years crop. I love it when plants self seed, its such a nice surprise (unless they are weeds self seeding).