Growing Friends Plants of the Month 2017

  • Each month the Growing Friends will choose a plant from their nursery to showcase
  • Previous Year's Plants of the Month - Have a look at them all
  • Satureja - Savoury - December 2017 Plant of the Month

    We grow three savourys in the Friends nursery; Satureja Montana, Satureja Montana ‘Procumbens’ and Satureja rupestris. They are semi-decidious perennials of the Lamiaceae family, native to the warm temperate regions of Europe. They have been used as a flavouring and as medicine by both the Greeks and Romans who introduced them to Britain 2000 years ago.
    Savourys are easy to grow, requiring sunshine and any well drained soil. They become semi-dormant in Winter. We wait until the new growth appears in late Spring to cut back any old wood, and to take soft wood cuttings, which strike easily. Satureja rupestris is a taller and more sparce growing plant with soft blue-green foliage and pinky-mauve flowers in Spring, compared with the montanas which have dark green leaves and white flowers in Summer. Both Montana and Montana ‘Procumbens’ make good tough edging or container plants.
    Claims of its usefulness as traditional medicine for the usual impossibly wide range of conditions may be overstated , but it is rich in essential carvacrol and thymol oils, which have antiseptic properties. The leaves of them all have a strong spicy flavour, along with a strong herbaceous smell, However, the flavour tends to diminish in longer cooked dishes. Harvest for use and drying in Summer when the oil content is highest.
    * A popular strewing herb in Elizabethan times.
    *Used to flavour salami and good for salt-free diets.  
    *Used as a companion plant to deter bean weevils and aphids and mildew in roses.
    *Good flavouring for all legumes, as it is said to counteract flatulence
    *The three we grow were thought to inhibit sexual desire. We tried to grow the Summer savoury, Satureja hortensis, which is said to be an aphrodisiac, with no success! 

    Dendrobium Kingianum - November 2017 Plant of the Month

    Dendrobium kingianum (renamed Thelychiton kingianus) is an Australian epiphytic orchid which adapts well to pot culture though decorative effect is enhanced by attaching clumps to sections of tree fern or similar. Leaves and flower stems are borne on fairly short pseudo-bulbs. This species hybridises readily resulting in wide variation of flower detail and colour from white through pink to dark red, even purple. Flowering is in late winter to early spring, peaking in Melbourne during October. Hardy, they thrive outdoors with shelter from frost and harshest sun. Australian websites provide excellent advice on potting media feeding, propagation etc.

    We do have beautiful hanging baskets of this in the Nursery for sale.

    Eupatorium atrorubens - October 2017 Plant of the Month

    This evergreen shrub casts masses of large heads of fluffy lilac flowers in spring. Medium in size, it has soft, attractive green leaves veined with purple. Plant this one in a protected position and don't be shy - it responds well to pruning.

    Pelargonium echinatum - August/September 2017 Plant of the Month

    Beautiful and unusual, this succulent pelargonium from South Africa is commonly called the Cactus Geranium because of the spines on the stem. The swollen stems photosynthesize in Summer when the plant is deciduous. Delicate flowers are white changing to pale pink with dark spots on the two upper petals. The leaves are heart shaped with frilly margins.

    Its drought tolerance makes it an ideal plant for the perennial border. Height 0.4m tall x 0.4m wide. It likes full sun but survives in shade and is frost tender. The plant has longevity, and can live for up to 20 years. Pelargonium echinatum is certainly a garden worthy plant.

    Camellia x williamsii ‘Mary Phoebe Taylor’ - April 2017 Plant of the Month

    Camellia x williamsii ‘Mary Phoebe Taylor’ is a New Zealand cultivar with rich green foliage and masses of large showy rose-pink, peony-form flowers.  Leaves are semi-glossy, leather-surfaced, rather than lacquered.  

    Flowers appear in early to mid-winter and spent blooms drop neatly rather than hanging on.  Growth is vigorous and form upright to spreading.  It makes a handsome shrub to small tree, suitable in a semi-shade position.  Young plants do require regular moisture and thrive in slightly acidic, well-drained soil.

    This will be one of the camellia draw cards at the April 29/30 Sale.

    Gastrolobium praemorsum 'Bronze Butterfly' - Plant of the Month March 2017

    Gastrolobium praemorsum 'Bronze Butterfly', a delightful low spreading undershrub, 15cm h x 150cm w, is endemic to the south-west of Western Australia and its unusual and attractive cut-leaf brown foliage with green margins gives this cultivar its name. The colour intensifies in full sun.

    Large dark to coral-red pea flowers appear in winter and continue into spring and summer.

    It is a very useful groundcover for spilling over low walls, as a feature in a container, as a border plant and is even playground-friendly. Fast growing, it is drought tolerant, prefering full to partial sun in well drained soil. Being a legume from the Fabaceae, it is nitrogen fixing and so not only needs less fertilizer, but improves the soil at the same time.

    ‘Bronze Butterfly’ is low maintenance, tough, fast growing, unusual and very attractive. What’s not to love?

    Kangaroo Paws - Plant of the Month February 2017

    Kangaroo Paws (Anigozanthos) are native to the south west of Western Australia but can be successfully grown in most areas of well drained soil which do not experience heavy frosts. The flowers, on stems up to 1.5metres, appear during spring and provide a great long lasting display. The plants need sun and some water during summer.

    While the species plants generally have flowers in the red/green/yellow range the recently released, by Angus Stewart, “Landscape Range” of cultivars includes other colours such as violet, pink, etc. These plants are much hardier and so will tolerate wet spells and some shade.

    To ensure strong growth and repeat flowering the plants should to be cut back hard after flowering. A light application of a good native fertiliser after flowering is advisable.

    Begonia mazae nigricans - January 2017 Plant of the Month

    The genus Begonia was named after Michel Bégon, a French naturalist and passionate plant collector of the seventeenth century.

    Begonia mazae nigricans, originating in Mexico, is one of the compact rhizomatous begonias growing less than a metre in height and about the same in width. The stems carry medium sized roundish dark green leaves, overlayed with a blackish pattern. It is also classified as a scandent type having slender stems and heavy foliage that cause it to trail downwards. In the right conditions the leaves glow with a velvety sheen that gives an unusual richness and depth.

    During spring and summer large sprays of small pink flowers stand on slender stems above the foliage. Being monoecious, the male and female flowers occur in separate panicles on the same plant. It will send up multiple basal shoots if pruned back and responds well to pinching, easily producing a full, bushy specimen.

    Begonia mazea nigricans does best in a moist well-drained position in semi-shade, protected from frost and late afternoon sun. This plant grows well either in the garden, in a pot or a hanging basket, providing distinctive foliage variation all year round.