The Royal Botanical Gardens, Sydney

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Walking through the Royal Botanical Gardens, Sydney, October 2018

These gardens are so perfectly located- right in the heart of Sydney, a few minutes walk from all the big views of the Opera House and the Harbour.  We were walking through, rather than visiting, but there were so many fabulous plants and trees to be seen, that I was frequently dawdling and photographing- and we did have time for a quick much-needed cup of tea in the tearoom, near the shop, which also got a fly-through.  So, what follows is not a studied look at the botanical offerings, but rather what we saw as we walked through, but none the worse for that.

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Actinotis helianthi, The Royal Botanical Gardens, Sydney, October 2018

This Actinotis helianthi positively sparkled with shimmering grey foliage, and these spikey, upright white daisy flowers.  It is a Sydney area native.

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Alloxylon flammeum, Red Silky Oak, The Royal Botanical Gardens, Sydney, October 2018
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Better photograph from Brisbane, Alloxylon flammeum, Red Silky Oak, October 2018

Alloxylon flammeum is a stunning medium-sized tree, with all of the Australian chutzpah that native shrubs seem to have- dazzling colour, spidery form and good tree-shape.  In the wild, this tree would be much taller and is becoming endangered.  The world would be a poorer place without it.

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Calliandra, The Royal Botanical Gardens, Sydney, October 2018

Another flowering tree with chutzpah, Calliandra, no labelling help other than the species name, is astoundingly from the pea family.  These powderpuff flowers are wonderful, fine and delicate, but make an astounding show to European eyes.

This magnificent clump of Candelabra Aloe was just beside the ladies loo and the Shop.  It was the best clump that we saw in the whole garden, and perfectly positioned for a close-up, even if it did look as if I was stalking someone into the loo.

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Candelabra Aloe, The Royal Botanical Gardens, Sydney, October 2018
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Detail of candelabra Aloe, The Royal Botanical Gardens, Sydney, October 2018

More often seen as a yellow cultivar apparently, this Aloe ‘Southern Cross’ was definitely labelled as such.

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Aloe Southern Cross, The Royal Botanical Gardens, Sydney, October 2018

Dietes robinsoniana comes from the Lord Howe Island in the Tasman Sea, and this particular Dietes is not only stately and tall, but has the most lavish flowers of the genus.  It was collected in 1869 on Lord Howe Island by Charles Moore, the Director of the Botanical Gardens in Sydney,

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Dietes robinsoniana, The Royal Botanical Gardens, Sydney, October 2018

Melbourne had the flame-red Erythrina x sykesii that we saw later , but Sydney had Erythrina latissima– perhaps a less flambuoyant tree, but nonetheless very striking.  The flowerheads are smaller and a paler red heading coppery-brown colour, and the leaves appear after flowering.

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Erythrina latissima, The Royal Botanical Gardens, Sydney, October 2018

I am almost certain that this rather gorgeous, golden-yellow centred creamy white flower comes from a Michelia, a shrub closely related to the Magnolia.  But no label!

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Unknown Michelia, I think, The Royal Botanical Gardens, Sydney, October 2018

This was a very cheery plant- Isopogon anemonifolius.  This was a junior plant, it is closely related to the Grevillea family and will make a wide shrub of 2m or so.  You can see the family connection in the pinnate leaves and the flower shape.

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Isopogon anemonifolius, The Royal Botanical Gardens, Sydney, October 2018

And at the end of my Sydney photo pile, I think that this is a cousin of the very first plant in this post, but I will stand corrected by any more knowledgable folk.  I’d lay money on it being an Alloxylon, possibly pinnatum.

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Another Alloxylon, maybe pinnatum, The Royal Botanical Gardens, Sydney, October 2018


Here and there…

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Colquhounia coccinea, Tostat, December 2018

Since we came back about 4 weeks ago, we have had only tiny frosts and some really warm, up to 20C, days.  It seems quite weird to be looking at flowering shrubs and plants that have been flowering non-stop since mid October and still are.  Colquhounia coccinea was a new addition in early Spring this year.  The link takes you to Louis the Plant Geek, who is also in love with this shrub. A bit of a risk as it is not reliably hardy, probably not to -10C which is my normal benchmark for hardiness- but I thought I would try it, keep an eye on it, plant against a southerly wall though facing North, and be prepared to dash out with the fleece as soon as it flags.  It is quite a big beast, already nearly 2m tall and about 1.5m wide, so no chance of a pot-solution.  So we will see, but right now it is flowering beautifully and we have warmish forecasts for the next week.

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Colquhounia coccinea detail, Tostat, December 2018

From the detailed photograph, you can see that it has felted stems, and certainly the growth pattern is very similar to a buddleia.  The colours are sensational, stacked on each stem so the bush is covered with flowers- really unexpected so close to winter.

I have some salvias that I am very fond of, that grow really big at the very end of the flowering season, and this year I am risking them staying in the ground and having the fleece to hand.  Once they get touched by the frost, I will cut them back to half the size to protect them from wind and then get fleecing.  Salvia ‘Phyllis Fancy’ won’t make it through without all this help, and it may not be enough, so I am planning on sprouting some cuttings in a jar of water tomorrow.  Same goes for Salvia ‘Anthony Parker’.  Both plants can easily reach 2m x 2m, so pots just get too heavy and unwieldy.

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Salvia ‘Anthony Parker’, Tostat, December 2018
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Salvia ‘Phyllis Fancy’, Tostat, December 2018

Other than that, I am waging early winter war on my blasted Michaelmas daisies.  I have no idea what variety they are, and you might think that they have been sent to torment me.  They were here in the garden when we arrived, and, mistakenly thinking that they were rather bonny, I spread them about a bit.  In Scotland, they were quite mild-mannered, but here in France, they are no respecters of decency at all.  They will burrow under, swamp from the sides and generally bully, any other plant that you care to name.  Getting them out, or trying to, is usually a Spring ritual- but this year I thought I would hit them while they are still standing and, even though I won’t 100% succeed, I will throw my best at them.

Back in Australia, picking up on the sensational colour-theme, there were so many incredible plants to be found, although I haven’t been able to identify all of them.  Here are some of my favourites to warm up early winter for us all.

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Erythrina x sykesii, Melbourne Royal Botanical Gardens, October 2018

This coral tree, Erythrina x sykesii, was a knock-out flowering against a brilliant blue sky in Melbourne Royal Botanical Gardens. The oldest specimen in cultivation is actually in the Australian National Botanical Gardens in Canberra, where it has been growing for over a hundred years, but somehow, I missed it there.

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Erythrina x sykesii detail, Melbourne Royal Botanical Gardens, October 2018
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Acacia havilandiorum, Australian National Botanical Gardens, Canberra, October 2018

Raining golden bobbles, this was one of the showiest wattles that we saw in the whole trip.  The slender, curving leaves encase the flowers- and the flower colour is exactly that brilliant yellow as in the photograph.

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Golden Grevillea, variety unknown, Grafton, NSW, October 2018

This very fine Grevillea was draping itself gracefully over a garden wall in Grafton, New South Wales.  It could be Grevillea robusta…perhaps.  if it is, it has an AGM from the RHS and is surprisingly hardy, down to about -8C, and is recommended for xeric gardens.  But topping out at 22m or so, makes it a big choice for most of us gardening in more ordinary circumstances.  But doesn’t that colour make you glad that it exists?