Seeds and cuttings…

Pelargonium quercifolium
Pelargonium quercifolium Photo credit:

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.

Asparagus densiflorus Myersii Melb Bot 1018
Asparagus densiflorus Myersii, Melbourne Royal Botanical Gardens, October 2018

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.

Eupatorium coelestinum Tagetes miniata 918
Conoclinium (Eupatorium) coelestinum, Tostat, August 2018

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!