This is a stunning plant. A mystery pelargonium until today, when, what with the continuing freezing fog, I brought it in, took cuttings and then had a bash at identifying it and got it on the button- Pelargonium quercifolium. A friend gave me a piece way back in our hot, relentless summer, which I potted up with no real hope of it rooting. But it did. It grows straight and tall, no flopping, and it should have small pinky-mauve splashed flowers at the end of autumn roughly. I adore the rough, crinkle-cut leaves with the maroon splash in the centre as well as the strangely medicinal scent of the leaves when crushed.
In its native South Africa, it would make a handsome shrub of about 1.5m by 1,5m- it won’t be so big here, I don’t think. According to the sites I have read it is frost-tender. I think it will be tougher than that, as it was showing no signs of panic after 4-5 days of freezing fog- but I won’t chance it now that I have nailed the identification. There is a bred variety, ‘Royal Oak’, which has favoured flower production with bigger flowers and lower growth, but I fancy sticking with my donated plant. I am hoping to have it sprinkled all over the hotter, dryer parts of the garden in a couple of years, adding real style with its sophisticated leaves and proud bearing. And it will have to be trialled in the ground over winter, with a spot of insurance fleece.
In Melbourne Royal Botanical Gardens, there were many delights, of which more another time especially if the fog continues- but here was something which really caught my eye as a sort of Alice-in-Wonderland plant, and it was to be found, oddly enough, on the edges of the Childrens Garden. It is an ornamental asparagus, Asparagus densiflorus Myersii. I have bought seed for the variety, ‘Mazeppa’, which seems exactly the same but a little smaller at 60-90 cms. It should be ok in the ground here but with some protection if we get below -7C, so I will chance it in the hotter, drier bits of the garden. I am on a hotter, drier mission, you can tell. Seed to be sown end of the month indoors.
Another welcome surprise last year was the come-back of a plant that I was sure I had lost. Nestled amongst tall companions, and in the damper bit of the garden, I had planted three small Eupatorium coelestinum a couple of years ago. They vanished without trace, or so I thought. They re-appeared in August roughly, immediately recognisable for their powder-blue powder-puff flowerheads, which was the reason for me buying them in the first place. Since then they have undergone a name-change and are now identified as Conoclinium coelestinum, but I bet you will you will still find them under the old Eupatorium label, as per the link. Here is a link to a University of Arkansas article that explains the change of name- Eupatorium had become too much of a dumping ground apparently.
I really love it- such a great colour and presence, though it is true that nothing much happens until the flowers appear. I am going to try for volume from seed.
You can tell I am itching to get started. Got to wait though…bit more daylight needed and then I can crack on with seed sowing indoors for a sustainable temperature.
Happy New Year!