Grevillea galore…

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Grevillea hookeriana, Australian National Botanic Gardens, Canberra, October 2018

Ten years ago, when we cleared out what was accurately called ‘The Snake Pit’- to make the New Garden, completing the wrapping of the garden round the house, I planted a small Grevillea ‘Canberra Gem’.  As we did the annual bramble attack 10 days ago on a lone sunny day, I realised once again that it really is a gem of a plant.  Evergreen, with fine needle-like leaves, it makes a solid, but not too solid, presence now measuring nearly 3m by 3m.  It starts to flower round now, with tiny red spidery flowers that open out from claw-shaped buds, and it flowers in a big flush now until about May or June, then sporadically after that.  It requires nothing from us.  And we are so used to it, that it can easily be forgotten- but that’s our fault, not it’s.

In Australia, the Grevillea is a seriously important group of plants, both wild and cultivated.  Ranging from the ‘toothbrush’ group which includes Grevillea hookeriana pictured above, to tiny spidery flowers and fat waxy leaves, to slim, fern-like foliage and firework-shaped flowers- the Grevillea is a workhorse plant, coping with hot, dry conditions as well as occasional flooding- and there may be much more interest in the Grevillea from Europe as climate change continues to bite. While there, I became more than a bit obsessed by finding them as we travelled.

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Grevillea monticola, Australian National Botanic Gardens, Canberra, October 2018
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Bust of Sir Joseph Banks, entrance to the Australian National Botanic Garden, Canberra, October 2018

Joseph Banks, travelling with Captain Cook, on his first voyage of discovery in 1768-71, was the first to collect seed and specimens of Australian native plants, which were all collated back at Kew Gardens in London.  The plant pictured at the top of the post, Grevillea hookeriana, pays tribute in name to Richard Greville, co-founder of the Royal Horticultural Society, and William Hooker, director of the Royal Botanical Gardens at Kew at the beginning of the 19th century.  Australian plants, including Grevillea, had a period of intense fashionable interest, which lasted until the growth of the temperate glasshouse and the switch of fashion to tropical plants from other parts of the world.  In some ways, European interest in Grevilleas has remained at the specialist rather than popular interest ever since.

Grevillea monticola is a smaller plant, about 1.5m all round- and with interesting holly- like prickly leaves and a delicate, creamy yellow inflorescence.  Grevillea steiglitziana similarly has holly-like prickly leaves, and this fabulous firework-style flower, so intricate and such a piece of natural engineering.  This is a rare shrub, native to the Brisbane ranges.  It grows in rocky gullies and dry forest and was only formally identified in 1956.

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Grevillea steiglitziana, Royal Botanic Gardens, Melbourne, October 2018

Grevillea Poorinda Royal Mantle could be a real doer for us in Europe.  A sprawling, low-lying groundcover plant, with finely shaped leaves and the ‘toothbrush’ flower, it is frost-tolerant, drought-tolerant, and will spread quickly to 6m.  According to Shoot, it has a cautious H4 frost rating, which would do for most gardens in Europe except at altitude.

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Grevillea Poorinda Royal Mantle, Australian National Botanical Gardens, Canberra, October 2018
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Grevillea capitellata, Australian National Botanic Gardens, Canberra, October 2018

Grevillea capitellata is another low-lying shrub, but grows in poorly drained soil and swamp margins south of Sydney.  It is considered a good plant for revegetation, and, again, in Australian terms is hardy- but probably untested as yet in a European context.

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Anonymous Grevillea, possibly Grevillea longistyla, Australian National Botanic Gardens, Canberra, October 2018

Grevillea longistyla is a native plant that is a hot contender for horticultural use, largely because of it’s neat, open habit, the almost fern-meets-seaweed foliage, and the flowers.  Growing to about 2m high and wide, it’s a garden-sized plant.

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Probably Grevillea speciosa,  Australian National Botanic Gardens, Canberra, October 2018

Grevillea speciosa was first cultivated in the UK in 1809- many thanks to the Australian Native Plants Society for their very useful paper on Grevilleas.  Trouble-free for the gardener, but like mine, able to fill a difficult hole with ease.  Most Grevilleas are also excellent food sources for birds and insects, which make them really worth considering from the ecological perspective.

Look out for them.  The juniperina and rosmarinifolia varieties are thought to be the toughest in terms of frost hardiness in the UK, but maybe more varieties will be made available from Australia as we learn to appreciate a different aesthetic with global warming.

What’s doing…

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The pigshed, Tostat, February 2019

I had to take this photograph.  This was, 2 days ago, the first official day in my book that felt like just the merest stirrings of Spring.  It was all down to the light- not pale and translucent as in winter, but with a bit of a glow about it.  We spent some time last year restoring the pig shed, fixing the roof, varnishing the wood trellis area where the chickens would have been, and painting the pig doors.  We actually really only store wood and whatnot, quite a bit of whatnot, in it- but it is part of the heritage of the house and there aren’t many of these left in the village.

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Chaenomeles speciosa ‘Nivalis’ in bud, Tostat, February 2019

I love this shrub.  It only has a short period of interest between February and April when the leaves come out, but it nicely sandwiches the brown period of winter and the blooming of Magnolia stellata, which is see-through at this time of year, just in front of this Chaenomeles speciosa ‘Nivalis’.  The cheery, single flowers are a bright white.  The rest of the year it blends into the woodwork- but the wasabi green of the football-shaped buds makes me smile.

A bit further along in the wild, woodland bit of the garden that has the canal at the back, are the literally ‘wild’ daffodils that I rescued from a nearby field.  I am not prone to stealing plants from the wild at all.  Honestly.  But having seen these bloom early every year, I noticed that the farmer was strimming and clearing the edge of the field, and approaching these clumps. I wasn’t going to let them be demolished, so Andy and I raided them and brought into the calm of our only woodland area.  They have taken about 3 years to calm down from the shock of it all, but are now slowly spreading underneath the bigger shrubs.  They are short-arses, only 15-20 cms tall, and from these fat buds, there appear double/treble/frilled flowers which are a slightly dotty delight- though not long-lasting. I love them.

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Tostat wild daffodils, February 2019
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Helleborus foetidus caught in early sunshine, Tostat, Febuary 2019

The sun hit these Helleborus foetidus and all was golden- fabulous.  They have had a rough few weeks with the rain and the frost, but they will only get taller and better, lasting for two months usually.  The charming red tinging of the bells will get stronger.  Beth Chatto loved these plants and introduced me to them- not literally, you understand.

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Close-up of Mahonia x media ‘Winter Sun’, Tostat, February 2019

Mahonia x media ‘Winter Sun’ is another statuesque shrub that has many moments of glory between December and late March with sprays of bright yellow scented flowers- and after that, it is just, well, statuesque.  Not bad though at all.  And I forgot to mention the blue berries after the flowers…

I grew Penstemon pinifolius from seed the year before last.  These seeds took ‘tiny’ to a new dimension and I was sure that most of them had blown away.  These make small, thready plants and haven’t flowered yet- this year will be the year.  They are so small that I put them in a shallow pot with a gritty compost, and sat them on top of the lovely pot that Andy bought me last year.  They should sparkle with tiny, bright red flowers in the summer.

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Penstemon pinifolius, Tostat, Feburary 2019

Now this shrub could qualify as dull.  But.  Those dark, twining stems, coupled with the pearly-green Japanese look of the tiny leaves- they got to me.  It is making a nice, upright, delicate presence in the front garden- a statement plant that doesn’t get in your face.  It is Pittosporum tenuifolium ‘Green Elf’

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Pittosporum tenuifolium ‘Green Elf’, Tostat, February 2019

The villains for later this year are getting ready.  We have a big problem with processionary caterpillars.  Very nasty things- bad all round.  if you have pets or small children, they are dangerously fascinating.  We have got rid of them, touch wood, in our garden, but only by chopping half our pine tree away.  These are too close for comfort, just behind the pigshed in our neighbour’s garden.

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Processionary caterpillar nests next door, Tostat, February 2019

And the banana looks as if it has had it.  But it hasn’t.  In a month or so, we can chop away all the brown stuff, and there is a lot of it, and it will spring back looking fabulous by May.  This is Andy’s favourite plant, I think.

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Dead banana growth waiting to be revived, Tostat, February 2019

I love the moss.  Only on show for the winter months, it fries away in the summer and then comes back, looking velvety and lustrous in the winter.  One of the good things about the winter.

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Sumptuous moss on our old stone walls, Tostat, February 2019

Westering home…

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Lonicera fragrantissima, Tostat, end January 2019

I have struggled to have a ‘song in my heart’ this week, and I will continue to struggle for another whole week.  The westerlies have arrived, big, brassy, dark-skied storms fresh from the Bay of Biscay, which bring swirling dollops of rain, hail, snow if you are higher up than us, and filthy, grey skies from dawn till dusk.  The garden is sodden.  This is good for the general water table for sure.  We have had hardly any rain from the end of April last year till now, and the river Adour has been struggling to get past its own rocks.   But it is hard on the psyche.  We lived in Scotland before moving here, and we have obviously gone soft as a week of rain, or more, just brings the grumbles on.

However, plants that venture out this early are toughies, and carry on regardless.  Though as the hellebores start to flower, I do notice a real difference between my home-grown Helleborus orientalis– based plants, and those more fancy creatures that I have paid money for.  The former have broader, more jungly-looking hands of leaves and the flowers are generally tall and held securely above the foliage with fat stems.  The leaves are fantastic and last all year with us even in the hottest spot.  They really work hard for their living.  They produce masses of baby plants within a few weeks, it seems, of flowering being over, and many have to be yanked out or they would be the only plant left in the  garden.  The flowers can become a muddy pink with cross-polinating, but actually I don’t mind- though some do.  These plants are only in bud now, whereas the more exotic ones are in flower already.

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Un-named variety, double dark crimson red Hellebore, Tostat, January 2019

The more exotic-flowered hellebores that I have bought are rather different.  Their growth rate is much slower.  They are much shorter,  with smaller, brighter green hands of leaves, and the flowers remain tightly attached to the leaves almost, so they have to be lifted by hand to see the flowers.  I love doing this, but with the added rain factor, their natural droopiness has become very pronounced.  I am guessing that selection for flower power doesn’t necessarily mean that the strong, good leaves of the old ‘orientalis’ make the cut.  No matter.

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This un-named single variety hangs the flowers like plums, Tostat, January 2019
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The last of my deep crimson Hellebores, a double with frilled petals, Tostat, January 2019

I love the contrast with the creamy white varieties, especially those that are freckled.  This is only a small patch of plants under the protection of the big pine tree, and although they are not fast growers- they are slowly colonising a 2m patch.  And they really are to be looked forward to- very cheering.

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Double plus flower, with extra heavy petals on the outside and pink freckles, Tostat, January 2019
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Different again, a single flower but with a frilly, double centre tinged with yellow, and pink freckles, Tostat, January 2019

Otherwise, in the garden, flowering is in short supply.   Lonicera fragrantissima is worth its leggy, twiggy, tumbling growth for the strength of perfume from the tiny flowers that absolutely cover the branches. Winter brings out the best in this plant- and today, the damp and wind obscured the fragrance, but on a still day, you can smell it from 5 m away.

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Tiny flowers of Lonicera fragrantissima, Tostat, end January 2019

A more sightly, but also tangled and twisted, scented shrub which is only just opening up right now is Daphne odora Aureomarginata.  This year must be its 12th, I think, and buds are sprouting everywhere on it- no scent yet, but it will be gorgeous for the next 2-3 months.  This may be a slow grower but it is really worth it.  We have it close to the back door, and on a sunny March morning, it is sublime.

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Cerise-pink buds on Daphne odora Aureomarginata, Tostat, January 2019

It’s smaller cousin is also worth growing, though again, not a fast grower.  Daphne x transatlantica ‘Eternal Fragrance’ flowers all year round for me- with a few pauses in the winter, but it pretty much keeps going.  Small bunches of flowers, white or pink,  smell fabulous and it likes sun, and once it has roots down, it is pretty drought-tolerant.  I think it will make a neat 1m mound, whereas the bigger cousin is more of a jumbled bush at 1.5m and not at all neat.  The buds are pink in this photograph but the flowers do come out white in the end.

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Daphne x transatlantica ‘Eternal Fragrance’, Tostat, January 2019

Nipped out for 20 minutes to take these photographs and now back inside, and guess what, it’s belting down with rain.






The smallest jewels…

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The Golden Pavillion, Kinkakuji Temple Gardens, Kyoto, Japan, October 2018

I remember when I visited Venice for the first time 5 years ago, I cried at the beauty of it, but also because it was, in fact, so small in scale.  Canaletto lied to us with his enormous perspectives, and in some way, the smallness of scale amplified the melancholy beauty of it- and I cried.

Visiting Kinkakuji, The Golden Pavillion, in Kyoto was a startlingly similar experience.  To begin with, it is mobbed by tourists.  You have to breathe deep and walk slow, counting on the fact that 90% of the people will move quickly to the next thing, and tuck yourself away on the periphery of all the busyness.  If you can do this, you will have a wonderful visit to an extraordinary place.

Back in Venice, my absolute favourite church is Santa Maria dei Miracoli in Cannaregio.  This wide-open landscape from the 18th century is doing a Canaletto really- the church is tiny, viewed from the other end with the dome behind, it really does look like a small, sturdy jewel box.  Inside, it is beyond gorgeous, and as you can see from the detail of the barrel roof, portraits of saints are emeshed in intricate gilded patterning.

View of Santa Maria dei Miracoli, Venice by Bernardo Bellotto, 1740 photo credit:
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Barrel ceiling of Santa Maria dei Miracoli, Venice, November 2014

So, in Japan, Kinkakuji presents the same elements, tiny in scale and stature, almost like an adult dollshouse, the repeating scalloped roofs on each section, balconies and of course, the gilding- brought me back to Santa Maria dei Miracoli- and I felt the same love.

The original pavillion was constructed in 1398- the one we see now was rebuilt in 1955, after a wayward monk burnt it to the ground in 1950.  The lower level is in a modest style, one immense room with a veranda and shutters- the second level, in the Samurai style, used as a Buddha hall is gilded.  The third level has rounded windows and is built in the Zen style, and is also lavishly gilded.  The Phoenix sits on the roof, appropriately symbolising birth from fire.  All that gilt.  In some ways, bling doesn’t cover it, but the gold shimmers in any light, and the reflections in the water are mesmerising.  Thanks to for the technical details here.

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The top two floors are gilded in gold leaf, Kinkakuji Temple Gardens, Kyoto, Japan, October 2018
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The Phoenix, Kinkakuji, Kyoto, Japan, October 2018

Water and reflections are a major element in the landscaped gardens around the Pavillion.  Greatly influenced probably by the moss garden, a very important theme in 14th century Japanese gardens, the landscape is arranged to highlight the beauty of the Pavillion- the Lower Pond, in which the Pavillion sits, has several differently shaped small islands, planted with groupings of conifers, moss and stones.  Emphasising natural beauties, the landscape creates a dramatic setting for the meditative study of the natural world, and the man-made artistry of the Pavillion itself.

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The Lower Pond, Kinkakuji, Kyoto, Japan, October 2018

Below, in the Upper Pond, near the teahouse, the choreography extends to clumps of iris and reeds, planted to frame the island edged with stones and twisted larch trunks.  Groupings of partially submerged rocks connect the island visually with the banks of the pond.

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Island on the Upper Pond , the teahouse through the trees, Kinkakuji, Kyoto, October 2018

An island shrine is matched with a low, spreading, lichen-covered tree and seen through the framing branches of the silver trunk of the maple on the bank of the pond.

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Island shrine, Kinkakuji, Kyoto, Japan, October 2018

With gently rolling landscaped hills creating a bowl for the Pavillion- from a distance, it sinks into the landscape with only the third level fully visible.  It really is to be seen- just steel yourself for the shock of the crowds and walk slow.

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Distant view of the Golden Pavillion, Kinkakuji, Kyoto, October 2018

Green tea icecream and Kodaiji…

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Autumn colours, Kodaiji Gardens, Kyoto, Japan, October 2018

In Kyoto in October, whilst walking towards the gardens of Kodaiji Temple, I discovered an addiction for green tea icecream, or to be precise, a mixed double cone of vanilla and green-tea icecream.  Absolutely delicious- and I am not a fan of green tea on the whole.  But more importantly, we were bound for Kodai-ji quite by accident.  Whilst wrestling with our Kyoto map an hour or so earlier, we had met a Canadian-Japanese couple, who offered their recommendations for visiting gardens- and their starter for ten was Kodaiji.  So, inspired by this help, we cut to the chase and headed there, past the icecream shop.  If you visit Kyoto you will discover why you need a starter for ten- there are so many fabulous temples and gardens, that the choice is dazzling.

Our helpers pitched it just right.  Unlike others, Kodaiji is relatively quiet and peaceful, and with it being a grey day, we were there with just a handful of people.  The Lady Nene had the Temple and the associated buildings built and gardens made in 1606 in memory of her husband, the famous warlord, Toyotomi Hideyoshi, who had died in 1598.  Fire has ravaged the buildings on several occasions, and the once gilded palace is no longer gilded.  The gardens were made by gardenmasters of the period and are now a gentle introduction to some of the main elements in classical Japanese gardens.

Above, you can see the beginning of the famous autumn colouring of specially selected trees and shrubs placed around the pond.  And below, the very touching scene of a gardener squatting as she meticulously extracts small weeds with a tiny knife from a gravel area in the garden- the care and stillness of her work seemed to resonate with the entire feel of the garden.  I stood watching for quite a while.

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Gardener hand weeding, Kodaiji Gardens, Kyoto, Japan, October 2018

This is one of the original teahouses from the earliest days, Iho-an or the Cottage of Lingering Fragrances may have been built by one of the most important teamasters of the period.  I really noticed the placing of plants and shrubs- each plant is positioned to create moments of harmony that punctuate, rather than mass plantings in the Western way.

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Iho-an Teahouse with the beautiful circular window, Kodaiji Gardens, Kyoto, Japan, October 2018

The Kaisan-do is a hall of remembrance linked to the garden across the pond by a wooden bridge, Kangestu-dai, designed for viewing the reflection of the moon in the water of the pond.  Making a journey, following a path, promoting reflection and the observation of nature, all of these elements are served in the landscape design from the standing stones that disrupt and accentuate to the curves and the changes of level.

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Kaisan-do and Kangetsu-dai Bridge, Kyoto, Japan, October 2018

The rock garden is vast, said to evoke an ocean.  Whatever it means, the strong, defined shape, beautifully raked, and untouched- was very impressive.

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Kodaiji rock garden, Kyoto, Japan, October 2018

The bamboo grove and steps, towering high above the gardens, face towards the North-East- the direction from which evil spirits would appear.  The thicket of bamboo was considered to impede their progress and put them off.

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Bamboo steps, Kodaiji, Kyoto, Japan, October 2018

Weeping sprays of Polygala myrtifolia were draped throughout the garden, and flowering hostas, a very pretty small-leafed variety, punctuated the moss by shrine stones at the entrance to the garden.  It was an afternoon of delicate detail and attention- which seemed to be a good way of allowing the gardening to enter your soul.

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Polygala myrtifolia, Kodaiji, Kyoto, Japan, October 2018
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Flowering hostas, Kodaiji, Kyoto, Japan, October 2018
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Door post details, Kodaiji, Kyoto, Japan, October 2018

Seeds and cuttings part 2…

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Kalimeris incisa Madiva, Tostat, July 2018

Oh, I am getting impatient- I think that my patience muscle, which has improved since stopping working, what a surprise, is always a bit tested around this time of year.  The enthusiasm of the New Year,  I love that, dissipates a bit in a cold, wet January- and I always start seeds in the house on a window ledge in the sitting room too early, after having told myself I would wait till February.  Which is exactly what I did two weeks ago.  I soaked the seedtray (must get new ones, all a bit collapsible) and since then, have been misting the seeds with slightly tepid water (if I remember).  I have got a good handful of seedlings coming up, albeit reluctantly.  But one whole tray is still in waiting.  I don’t think it’s a disaster, every week there is more daylight and they will wait for the right moment.  It’s just not good for the impatience.

So, this plant Kalimeris incisa ‘Madiva’ which I bought as 3 small godets two years ago is a fantastically tolerant and well-behaved plant.  Forming good solid clumps, growing to about 1m, never flopping, continuously flowering, not needing extra water- it is the perfect houseguest.  So, I am trying seed of Kalimeris incisa ‘Blue Star’- this is the seed that has yet to budge.

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Kalimeris incisa Blue Star photo credit:

Three or four years ago, I got very interested in Eriogonum.  The common name is Buckwheat- and the genus has real potential for the summer-dry garden, because not only are they a food source for many butterflies and moths, but also they tolerate dryness, clay soil and handle tough conditions.  I found small .plants of Eriogonum fasiculatum- I lost two and now have only the one, and while I like it for the creamy flowers- it’s true, it’s not a great looker.  So, finding seed for Eriogonum allenii ‘Little Rascal’, I am giving it a go in the seed tray, and quite a few are already up.  Check it out on the link and you can see why I am bothering- and it’s yellow!  One of my favourite summer colours!

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Eriogonum fasciculatum, Tostat, July 2017
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Eriogonum allennii ‘Little Rascal’ photo credit:

Vernonia crinita ‘Mammuth’ is a plant that I love- giving you towering, broad flowerheads of a warm mauve, but at 2m high it won’t please everyone.  So, what about a Vernonia that is only 1m high?  Ah, ha.  Vernonia lettermannii is just that thing.  The link takes you to a comprehensive blog post about Vernonia from the Laidback Gardener.  As I read to the end, I notice that he mentions cold-stratifying the seed.  Oops. I haven’t done this, so I may be waiting a very long time.  Patience, patience.

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Vernonia crinita ‘Mammuth’, Tostat, August 2017
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Vernonia lettermannii photo credit:

And the last plant being trialled in the windowsill seedtrays is: Dendranthemum weyrichii.  Completely unknown to me until I found it in the listing of a very good ebay seed seller from Poland- it is a mat-forming, short growing, all-summer flowering sunlover which can apparently easily make a Im wide groundcover, but is not badly behaved.  I love a daisy, and though this insists on being a chrysanthemum, I will forgive it.  If you are interested, I recommend the ebay seed-seller ‘pogoponus’ from the link.

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Dendranthema weyrichii photo credit:

And another seed recommendation from Huntingbrook Gardens on their Facebook feed is this lovely man from Greece.  He is called Liberto Dario, and his seedlist is impossible- stuffed full of fabulous plants and varieties.  You can ask for his lists by PMing him on his Facebook page.  I am, with huge reluctance, only ordering 6 packets.  Must be realistic. Groan.

Flowering gums and roses…

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Corymbia ficifolia, Victoria, Australia, October 2018

The other massive plant group that is quintessentially Australian is the gum tree, or Eucalyptus.  We were travelling in early Spring really, the big wattle season, and so flowering gums were not to be seen in any numbers.  But nevertheless, in some warmer parts, they were just beginning to do their thing.  I mentioned lampshade trimming in the last post, and then thought ‘How many people under 60 would even know what that was?’- and I had a bit of a laugh to myself.  My mother was a fervent lampshade maker, and as a child, I adored the brilliantly coloured strings of…well, take a look at the photograph above, and there you have it-  lampshade trimming.  Even down to the brilliant colours.

These gums can be enormous- causing a lot of squinting upwards and neck straining- not to mention the fact that at least 40 photos bit the dust because of the breeze.  The slightest hint of a breeze and the flowers bob about furiously.  Much frustration from a 5 foot nothing photographer, including more than a few swear words.

These trees can also be large shrubs and many are much more frost tolerant than you might imagine being as how they come from Australia.  Hardy to -8C is not uncommon, so they are seriously worth a look if you want a stunning tree not often grown in the UK.  Watch out for suckering though, some do so rather aggressively.

I am doing my best with the identification of each one, but this carries a risk of being significantly wrong.  All the same, the links are there for my best fit identification of each photograph.  The reds are stunning- but I also adored the calmer qualities of the cream variety, and the yellow flowers on what I think is Eucalyptus woodwardii were big and fluffy, in fact from a distance I thought it was a wattle.  The tiny photograph was taken this week by my flowering-gum friend in Melbourne, Dinah, who sent me photographs yesterday.  Hot off the press.

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Eucalyptus socialis, Australian National Botanical garden, Canberra, October 2018
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Eucalyptus woodwardii, I think, Australia, October 2018
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Dinah’s gum, Corymbia ficifolia, Melbourne, January 2019

In the Royal Botanical Gardens in Melbourne, on a hot and very sunny day in October, I had the chance to see some important, though ancient, roses flowering which I had really not expected.  Now this rose below is a bit of a puzzle.  The Botanical Gardens have her as ‘Rosa Frau Dagmar Hartop‘, but internet research shows that this rose is also called ‘Rosa Dagmar Hastrup’.  It is the same rose.  The original rose was apparently found as a chance seedling in 1914 in the Danish nursery of Knud Julianus Hastrup, whose wife was called Dagmar.  I think that this should settle it, but I have kept the name as used in Melbourne.  Suffice to say, it is a small, tough rugosa, with thick, almost engraved leaves which colour up coral in the autumn, and the flowers are charmingly single and continuously appear through the season.  It was looking pretty cool about life in very hot sunshine and baked dry soil.

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Rosa Frau Dagmar Hartop, Royal Botanical Garden, Melbourne, October 2018
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Rosa hugonis, Royal Botanical Garden, Melbourne, October 2018

Rosa hugonis is named for Father Hugo, Hugh Scanlan, a priest who sent seeds back to Kew from China in 1899.  Tough, reliable and very thorny, this rose is one of the first to flower in the season and will flower for a couple of months.  The autumn bonus is the colouring of the foliage which turns red.

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Rosa xanthina Canary Bird, Royal Botanical Gardens, Melbourne, October 2018

Rosa xanthina Canary Bird is a bigger beast- arching branches spread to 2-3 m wide and high.  It flowers early and is not fond of cold starts.  But the golden flowers with their exotically sized stamens are very pretty.  The history of it is unknown, it just arrived on the scene in 1945.

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Rosa xanthina, Royal Botanical Gardens, Melbourne, October 2018

Naming is a tricky thing- this rose may be rosa xanthina f. spontanea, as most other xanthina roses are semi-double, but no matter.  It is another sweet yellow rose, fading to cream at the outer edges of the petals, and with the same exotically sized stamens as Canary Bird.  It should be another bigger, arching shrub rose, probably of Chinese origin, and may have originally been called Rosa Manchu.  It handles poor soil and dryness, blooms densely early in the season, and gives a bit more with beautiful red hips at the back end of summer.

All these roses are singles- so aside from their coping qualities in sun and dryness, poor soil and early starts, they offer more to pollinators than any other type of rose you can buy.  Seems a good idea to favour the hard-pressed pollinator to me.  Good ideas from Australia.