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Archive for April, 2010

Angelonia Biflora

Angelonias are really pretty.

If you’re looking for plants to create an English summer garden, the angelonia is a shoo-in.

Up close their small delicate blooms look like miniature snapdragons.

The soft spikes of purple, pink and white flowers are gorgeous planted on their own – I’ve seen beds full of them up in the highlands and they were awesome.

In our garden, angelonia grows in a mixed bed alongside plumbagos, impatiens balsamina, otacanthus caeruleus, solidago and more. They are a perfect foil for each other.

Lately there have been new angelonia varieties in the market.

These are shorter and the blooms more compact so they give a better floral display.

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I bought the pink first and have had it for almost six months now. I much prefer its growing habit and structure; the plant isn’t as lanky as its more common cousin.

When I chanced upon purple and white ones recently, I grabbed a pot of each.

I would have bought more if not for the fact that they cost more than double the normal angelonia.

Then there is the deep purple angelonia biflora which costs thrice as much.

The leaves are a richer green and have a nice lustre.

The flowers which are a velvety deep purple are twice as large and are more impressive.

Planting angelonia is easy but the stems are brittle and snap easily. It’s a good idea to support the lanky stems and prune every now and then.

Cuttings can be used for propagation and these root easily without the aid of any rooting hormone.

The angelonia sets seeds but I’ve never collected any.

 I have found stray seedlings in the flower bed though, so all’s not lost. Any extra angelonia plants are welcome; they are just gorgeous – though I can’t say the same for the mealy bugs and scales that plague them.

Care and propagation: full sun; well drained soil; water moderately. Propagate using cuttings or seeds

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We left Melbourne while it was still dark and reached Mornington Peninsula before 8:00.

It was early but it looked like half the residents of Mornington were at the Red Hill Craft Market as well. 

Maybe it was because it was the Easter weekend. Or maybe it’s just because the market’s a really good one.  😀

The first stall I saw sold platyceriums, bromeliads and wooden garden ornaments! The typical gardener in me smiled. I was going to like this market.

They had stalls selling just about everything; clothes and accessories, stuff for people and stuff for pets, flowers and fruit, edibles and non-edibles – sometimes it was difficult to tell the two apart.

Looking at these pictures, can you? Seriously, we were fooled and had to touch a few of the cakes to be sure. Even so, we had to peer closely at the hot cross buns to check. It was Easter after all!

To tell the truth, I couldn’t bear to use such deliciously beautiful soaps.

I checked out all the stalls, but gravitated back to the plants at every opportunity and lingered there.

When my friends queued to get some coffee, I doubled back to the plant stalls. When they went to the washroom, I did the same. They must thought I was a nutcase.  😀  Close enough, I guess.

There were some really lovely herbs; Corsican mint, summer and winter savory, lemon verbena, all sorts of thymes and bacopa, just to name a few.

The tag on the bacopa caught my eye – ‘a memory herb that rejuvenates brain cells, etc etc’ – or something to that effect. Just what I needed – if only I could get it. Yeah, wishful thinking …

They have espaliered fruit trees too; lemons, mandarins and even olives.  Now, that would have looked good in the garden!

If plants topped my wish list, then garden ornaments came a close second.

But of course my memory worked perfectly just then and reminded me of the heavy wrought iron ornament I had already bought. I knew I’d better not push my luck.

The ornaments were tempting though. I would have loved to cart off a clay pelican, kangaroo, chook or  frog, but I had to leave them behind as we left the market.

We had to move on as there were still lots we wanted to see at Mornington; lavender gardens, apple orchard, berry farms … to name a few.

We wanted to look for gnomes too!

Thank goodness we still had more than half a day ahead of us.

There was a 3-km stretch of cars weaving their way to the market as we left.

We may have woken up before 5am to reach the market at a reasonably early hour, but believe me, it’s something worth sacrificing your sleep for.

Bet everyone in those cars wished they had sacrificed their sleep too.

Would I go there again? Let’s just say I’d pitch a tent and stay there if I could.

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Gobble Guts – that’s how some people refer to carnivorous plants Down Under.  I thought it was cute.

Perhaps the comic touch makes them seem a little less macabre. Gobble Guts, Jungle Jaws, whatever … I love them all.

What fun it must be to have a CP garden in Australia.

With so many CPs being native to the country and the numerous CP suppliers Down Under, your only problem must be to stop your CP plants from colonizing the garden.

I found a couple of stalls offering CPs at the Melbourne Flower and Garden show. As expected, the prices varied.

So, as with everything else, it pays to do a price comparison, but I don’t suppose these words of wisdom can be heard when all those Gobble Guts start calling out for attention.

I tried to persuade my Melbourne-based friend to get a pot of CPs. “They’re adorable,” I said. “You’ll love them.” But she wasn’t convinced; maybe the term ‘Gobble Guts’ just isn’t cute enough.   😀

Towards the tail end of my holidays, I came across another CP stall at weekend market. The prices seemed more competitive, but I could be wrong. After visiting innumerable shops and stalls from Melbourne to Mornington, I couldn’t be sure anymore.

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I know exactly what Becky Bloomwood feels.

But Sophie Kinsella’s fictional shopaholic would never have understood my ordeal. You see, I was at the Melbourne International Flower and Garden Show.

It was a heady experience and it wasn’t just the intoxicating perfume of the hyacinths and the inspiring garden displays.

I was overwhelmed by the number of stalls which beckoned me with their wares. “Buy, buy, buy,” they called.

Unfortunately I was reminded of the unfavorable exchange rate, baggage restrictions and quarantine issues. So this was one shopaholic who was forced to exercise some form of self-restraint.

There were flowers and plants at every corner. I couldn’t decide what I loved best. The tulips and hyacinths were delightfully pretty, the pansies and violas piquantly so.

I was equally charmed by the clematis. The flowers were amazing and each pot seemed lovelier than the last. How I yearned for a plant or two!

Then I chanced upon a fruit salad tree.

If I thought 2-in-1 and 3-in-1 drink sachets were an inspiration, I was totally gob smacked at the idea of an 8-in-1 fruit tree. Totally ingenious … but what does the tree feel about it, I wonder.

I checked out the Collectors Corner and Triffid Park stalls which, for some reason, were sadistically (so I thought) placed poles apart.  😀

Every sarracenia was beautiful – the squat, the tall, the reds, the yellows. If only I could buy them all. Those ‘Gobble Guts’ were gorgeously lethal!

They had almost everything at the show; they even had truffle trees.

But would anyone pay AUD125 for a small oak tree that’s been injected with black truffle spores? One would have to be really, really patient to wait for a whiff of the truffles.

Nearer at hand were herbs. There were all sorts.

There were herbs that repelled insects as well as herbs that attracted felines.

One thing’s for sure. I’ve no need for any feline-attracting herbs. There are enough strays in the neighborhood as it is!

But the herbs seemed to have attracted other forms of wildlife as well.

There were at least a couple of sassy six-foot tall seagulls, a huge terrestrial fish and a mangy-looking dog which pee-ed as it pleased.

They appeared out of nowhere, poking their heads into bags and nudging visitors. Some visitors made a beeline for the creatures while others gave them a wide berth.

If nothing else, they provided plenty of laughs and entertainment. 

I must have walked my legs off zigzagging through the park, diving into every stall there was.

By four, my growling stomach was protesting loudly, having long digested my picnic lunch and the free samples of lemon myrtle macadamia nuts and boiled lavender sweets.

I spent more than six hours at the show and still managed to miss a few of the displays.

My uncle told me later that the Melbourne Flower and Garden show is said to rival the one at Chelsea.

“Some even say this garden show’s better,” he added. That’s not hard to believe, but just to be sure, maybe I should make a date with the show at Chelsea as well!

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