Wednesday, 29 June 2016
A colourful medium-sized evergreen shrub from New Zealand - the foliage olive green/khaki, speckled and tinged with purple and black. It sounds weird but is actually rather lovely. The flowers are small and mustard yellow and not especially ornamental but pleasant.
This has proved to be a good hardy shrub for sun or part shade, but best kept out of freezing winds.
New Zealand plants are often cryptically coloured in shades of brown, yellow and even orange and black, almost as if they want to look sick or dead. I assume this is some sort of camouflage against herbivores. The results are not attractive to everyone but are always intriguing. The only large native herbivores in NZ are birds, and in particular, until relatively recently, the giant flightless moa so I guess that's what they were hiding from.
1L pots ~ £9
A large and dramatic grass with strikingly ribbed leaves and forming a tussock to about 2ft high and twice that across. The flowers are relatively modest millet-like sprays but the overall effect is very lush and exotic.
Usually considered a tender species for subtropical bedding but I've had it for years in open borders both on heavy clay soil and the better drained soil at the nursery, mulched with straw in winter. It usually gets heavily bitten back in winter but there's always been enough root for it to come back strongly in spring.
1L pots ~ £7
A relatively tall sub-shrubby species almost unknown in cultivation it seems - the name is very much in doubt too. Nonetheless an interesting species looking somewhat like a Weigela out of flower but with rich purple flowers in late summer.
Hardiness is uncertain but there has been a good-sized specimen in the walled garden at Wakehurst for some time now. (The foliage in the photos is of a Philadelphus)
3L pots ~ £12
An unusual little sedge to about 12ins high, with prominent white bracts beneath the heads of flowers - a bit like an umbrella grass (Cyperus) but with conspicuous 'flowers'. This is a wetland plant from warmer parts of the USA, often seen growing with Sarracenia (pitcher plants) in the wild.
In cultivation it is easy to grow in shallow water but likely to need some protection from intense cold, and shallow water that warms up quickly in summer.
Clump-forming - not invasive.
10cm pots ~ £7
Forget about the garish yellow blobs you see about the country through February and March - Forsythia has several much choicer and less overwhelming species to offer. Suspensa is in effect a giant winter jasmine (to which it is related) that can be trained in as a climber, or allowed to drape itself among other vigorous shrubs, or pruned in summer to make an arching shrub.
The flowers are large and nodding and pale yellow and scattered along the branches, which, in this variety, are dark purple. Really quite choice!
3L pots ~ £12