Sunday, 4 June 2017
This is an absolutely enormous shrub growing to 10ft very quickly and demanding a big space. The leaves are also very big – up to 20-30cm pale grey above, pure white felted beneath and along the stems.
The flowers resemble davidii but the small purple orange eyed flowers are in hefty clusters up to about 30cms long and set in white fluff. All in all a dramatic and remarkable thing.
The down side is that the new shoots and buds have been severely damaged by late frosts so needs a sheltered situation or a mild garden. Easy and undemanding otherwise
Monday, 29 May 2017
A gorgeous big African species, related to tinctoria but with rich pink flowers and red stems (the colour is deeper than in these pictures).
Seems hardy here in the border in full sun with a thick strawy mulch in winter. It actually seems better kept on the dry side - not parched - just well-drained and open
Saturday, 27 May 2017
I was very excited when I first came across this on Ed Bowen’s Opus nursery website. I thought at first it might be some very classy Abelia relative with long white flowers, marked rich red inside over dark green leaves, but it is in fact a member of the gesneriaceae.
Now, one does not expect gesneriads to be hardy easy-going perennials in the UK but this does appear to be the case here. The easiest up until now have probably been Haberlea and Mitraria but this adds to the list and seems if anything, even more adaptable.
Unlike many choice woodlanders it doesn't appear to need cool moist conditions to do well and, as I've discovered, puts up with rather hit-and-miss watering rather well. It spreads and bulks up well and quickly here. I don't know yet how much cold it puts up with but it seems hardy at least in Southern England. It dies back to rosettes in winter.
Still rare outside specialist collections but destined to be very popular I think.
A remarkable evergreen shrub given to me by Geoffrey Kibby who has had it in his North London garden for some time and reports that it has never been frost damaged and is very vigorous.
The suspicion is that it isn't parqui (sadly it has no evening fragrance for one thing) but the floral display is interesting enough on its own for me.
The flowers are essentially mustard yellow but heavily tinted with inky maroon, especially in bud and when they close up during the day, which creates a striking two-tone effect. The leaves are stained black in winter. Probably worth sheltering in colder areas.
A very beautiful species a bit like officinalis but larger in all parts and with flowers of palest yellow on compact greyish bushes.
Hard to explain but this plant has a real refinement compared to many of its coarser relatives and is not even slightly weedy. Easy and adaptable in the border. A real charmer.
1L pots ~ £7