I had just planted a few Gloriosa tubers from my Aunt C three weeks before, and I was mesmerised by its rate of growth.
It was like watching a video on a fast-forward mode; within a week, the nub on one of the tubers grew an amazing 30cm.
With each day, the spindly shoot grew taller, and within three short weeks of planting, I saw the first Gloriosa blossom.
The flower went through a spectrum of colours as it opened gradually; from a light apple green and pastel yellow, to a pale blush which gradually flamed into a hot, intense cerise.
The corollas of the Gloriosa Superba are reminiscent of orchids and, lilies; and their wavy, flaming reflexed petals resemble tongues of fire.
Now as the flaming flowers of the first tuber lie spent, a second dormant tuber is stirring and showing signs of life. I’m hoping that this lethargic tuber will put up a similarly brilliant show.
If you are keen to have a go at the flaming Gloriosa, do exercise a bit of caution. It wouldn’t pay to get your fingers burnt by what is listed as one of the most breathtaking but dangerous flowers in the world.
Care and propagation:
Semi-shade to full sun; garden soil, water moderately. Needs support. Propagate using tubers or seeds
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The Hat Pin plant.
Its common name brings to mind the yesteryears and legendary characters like Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple or Granny Clampett of the Beverly Hillbillies with their signature bonnets.
This plant which is often dismissed as being plain and uninteresting had to be rescued more than once from the garden refuse bag where it had been unceremoniously discarded as a weed.
So why does it appeal to me?
This bog dweller with its monocotyledonous green leaves has a neat habit and makes a nice potted plant.
But its charm and uniqueness belong almost solely to the pinheads, which are actually tightly clustered minute blooms that form the little pinhead. A couple of these blooms may look like hat pins, but a few dozens look more like a pincushion instead.
What started as a waif rescued from within a refuse bag is now colonizing the trough. I shall have to start finding homes for them, failing which I might just try a spot of guerilla gardening. The next time you see what resembles a pin cushion by the wayside, look again. It may just turn out to be a hat pin plant.
Care and propagation: Semi-shade to full sun; peat or garden soil; water generously; propagate using seeds
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Posted in Flowering plants on October 31, 2015|
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“Are you sure you want to plant those?” my friend S looked at me in disbelief when I showed her the Jacaranda seed pods I had picked from a tree down the road. “The leaves are so small they get into everything!”
Yes, I’d seen the confetti of jacaranda leaves on S’s lawn, how they had peppered the pathways and found their way into the smallest gaps.
But sound reasoning was clouded by the enticing descriptions of the Australian outback in novels, with the ubiquitous purple Jacaranda and singing cicadas.
I was tempted to have a small slice of that heavenly purple but was not prepared to house a 40-foot giant in my own yard.
I assured S that if the seeds ever germinated, I’d prune them so that the leaves wouldn’t have the chance to be a nuisance.
The Jacaranda seedlings are now more than 2 feet tall, each with hundreds upon hundreds of the finest leaves.
With their reputation for being vigorous growers, I’d better start shaping and training them … fast!
I’ve always wondered if Jacarandas made good bonsais … and I suppose now is as good a time to find out as any.
Care and propagation: Full sun, preferably well-drained soil, water moderately. Propagate using seeds or cuttings (not tried this myself)
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“They’re a nuisance. I’ve pulled out a heap of it.”
Did I hear right? My friends were getting rid of their Agapanthus; and here I am trying my darndest just to get one bulb to grow. I had planted my first Agapanthus in semi-shade so that it would be partially shielded from the afternoon heat. I thought it would grow better that way; obviously I thought wrong as it just dwindled away. Some time after that, I picked up a discarded bulb when I was up in the hills on the erroneous assumption that was an Agapanthus. The bulb grew vigorously but alas, it turned out to be the common, albeit beautiful, Hymenocallis instead.
Then about a month ago I saw (and bought) the Agapanthus again. With more than one plant in the pot and a bud to boot, it seemed like a great bargain. Even if it met the same fate as my first Agapanthus, at the very least, I convinced myself, I should be able to see that bud bloom.
This time, I left the potted plant in one of the sunniest spots of the garden. That way, I could still move it around if it couldn’t tolerate the scorching heat of the afternoon sun.
The bud swelled over the next two weeks and bloomed! How does a big cluster of fluted blue flowers sound like to you? I thought it looked heavenly, but then maybe it’s only because I have a predilection for blue flowers.
It really looks like the Agapanthus, which favours cooler temps, can take quite a beating. The straps of leaves are still green and fresh despite being baked under the hot sun. Now I’m waiting to see if it’ll bloom again. Now, THAT would be really be fantastic.
Care and propagation: Full sun, well-drained soil, water moderately. Propagate using seeds or by dividing clumps
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While we are baking in the sun, elsewhere the earth is warming up slowly. Crocuses and snowdrops are popping up, heralding the coming of spring. Soon, gardens, parks and the countryside will be dominated by daffodils, tulips and other spring flowering bulbs.
I have a few types of bulbs, but none of the temperate ones above. This same time last year, the bud of a tropical bulb pushed its way out of the soil in my little corner of the world.
I’d never seen an orange hippeastrum with curved double petals so when I came across this unusual form, I bought two – one extra for insurance.
The orange petals had a paler base and its form was quite unlike the other hippeastrums I have. While the rest are reminiscent of trumpets, this looked more like a delicately petalled skirt.
But this hippeastrum is tougher than it looks. It is planted right under the scorching sun, and as far as I can tell, it can take a real bashing. While other lilies suffer and get burnt, the hippeastrum takes it all in its stride.
But I’m keeping an eye on the Hippeastrum puniceum all the same. If I remember correctly, it bloomed on the last day of March last year – a day that has come to be a significant one for me. Would it do likewise this year and appear like clockwork just as all spring flowers do?
Care and propagation: Dappled shade to full sun, garden soil, water moderately. Propagate by dividing bulblets, chipping the bulb or by using seeds.
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Posted in Flowering plants on February 25, 2015|
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My head snapped back at unfamiliar lemon yellow blooms as I drove past.
“What was that?!”
Had I been alone, I’d have doubled back for a closer look.
A few months later I saw more of the same. The lemony puff balls on the as-yet-unidentified-tree were a traffic-stopper. There were masses of them.
Now I know it’s the Xanthostemon Chrysanthus or Golden Penda, an Australian native of the Myrtaceae family.
The flowers resemble clusters of Syzygium Aqueum blooms with their fine filaments of stamens and styles.
But much as I’d love to have a Golden Penda, this handsome specimen with its attractive dark green foliage is too big for my little plot.
But I didn’t have to lament for too long – I found potted dwarf varieties; not yellow, but orange and pink ones. I bought the latter; an affordable pocket-sized beauty at only 8 inches tall.
If I had admired the plant for its flowers before, I am now equally enamored by its berry-like buds and cup-shaped calyxes.
Is it a plant worth getting? For sure. And if I had the space for it, I’d go for gold as well.
Care and propagation: Full sun, well-drained soil, water moderately. Propagate using seeds or cuttings (I have not tried either)
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Posted in Flowering plants on January 27, 2015|
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A dozen rainbow lorikeets caused a commotion as they chattered noisily and competed for nectar. My host told me it was a Grevillea. Lovely tree, I thought, but much too big for the garden.
Those days, I didn’t rely on Google for answers. If I had, I’d have known that there were smaller variants.
Then a little more recently, I saw some potted Grevillea Superb plants which were barely knee high. What amazed me was that they were already in bloom with bright orange spidery flowers.
Then I saw the price tag! I should have guessed it would be daunting since these Australian native plants from the Proteaceae family had been imported. Then they told me they had smaller 8-inch ones at a more affordable price.
Question was, would these bloom, and if so, when? But I figured that if the plant never bloomed, I could still take consolation in its handsome foliage.
That was mid 2013.
Less than three weeks ago, I found buds forming on my (now more than knee-high) plant. What lovelier surprise could I have asked for on New Year’s Day?
The raceme of lightly furred buds split to reveal a pastel shade beneath. The soft colour deepened as the flower morphed into its distinctive spidery form with slender curved pistils. Some call this the ‘spider flower’.
Can spiders be lovely? I’m not an arachnid fan, so I’d have to say nay. But you can give me the Grevillea … anytime.
Care and propagation: full sun; well-drained soil; water moderately. Propagate using cuttings (which I have yet to try)
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