Saturday, June 26, 2021

Cordyline Australis

 A staple "exotic" plant, and one that we use fairly sparingly in the garden. With a selection of common names such as Cabbage palm or Torbay palm making reference to the word palm, it is often confused as such. 

Hailing from New Zealand, and pretty hardy in most of the UK, in all but the harshest of winters they are a fairly common sight.

One of ours is in flower at the moment and the sweet heady scent fills the air by the koi pond. People often say they smell like cat pee, so I'm rather pleased we don't seem to get that scent. Regardless of how they smell, the bees appear to love it at the moment.

Cordyline australis in bloom

Cordyline australis in bloom

Cordyline australis in bloom

Cordyline australis in bloom

How do you find the scent, heavenly or cat pee?


Friday, June 25, 2021

A Short trip to North Wales

We recently visited North Wales - see earlier post about visit to Crug Farm Plants, staying in Llandudno. I had visited many times as a child, but I don't think I have been back since my teens. 

Often when you revisit a place from your childhood, it fails to live up to memories, and I must admit to being slightly apprehensive as to whether visiting with Mark would live up to expectations. Fortunately we really shouldn't have worried with Llandudno, the resort town was so clean and tidy, with signs of work and fresh paint everywhere as it gears up for the summer season. A typical Victorian holiday resort, with rows of hotels and guest houses facing the sea, that by and large haven't fallen victim to conversion to budget living accommodation or poor flat conversions. We opted for a traditional guest house a couple of roads from the promenade.


Sunset with the Victorian Pier and Grand Hotel (although the Hotels Tripadvisor reviews would suggest its glory days are well behind it).

Thursday, June 24, 2021

The Never Ending Task

At this time of the year one of the regular garden jobs is to hunt the wayward bamboo rhizomes, we grow a number of Phyllostachys species, and most have been seen to wander in our garden (ignore any nursery or garden centre that claims they clump - they dont!).

But by and large we are able to keep them where we want them, usually with a little gentle persuasion from a trusty pickaxe or in todays case a mattock. 

In todays example a Phyllostachys aurea that was one of the early plantings in our garden needed a little attention. this is growing in a planting hole chipped out from crazy paving a former owner had long since buried under a layer of gravel that we see today. Fortunately this has helped contain this one. and when it does wander, the initial exploration is though a gravel layer - not that that deters the bamboo of course. But it does make it easier to get our once it starts to loosen.

How we went so long in our gardening life without a mattock is anyone's guess, but really it is an essential tool, easily chops through a matted mass of bamboo roots, and helps lift those wayward rhizomes for subsequent disposal.

All of which brings me on to Danger Gardens recent post about palms and bamboo, where Loree had been involved in a discussion where a participant commented about bamboo, "As a screening plant, it screams “I am entirely unable to think outside the box”.

Whilst I wouldn't agree with this exactly, perhaps I do have some sympathy for this view point, we have been removing bamboo over the last couple of years, funnily enough several Phyllostachys aurea have had the chop. When we started the garden, limited budgets and a desire for some instant height meant this was a regular repeated plant. It was readily available and relatively inexpensive, screening the neighbours or in the case of the plant above, hiding the shed. 

Perhaps, one could argue we lacked some knowledge to think outside the box, but really it was that desire for a garden that wasn't all under 30cm tall that meant we headed in that direction.

We have never fallen out of love for bamboo, but we have limited space, and ejecting repeat bamboo gives us a little more space. They are of course quite messy plants at some times of the year, so a little less summer leaf litter isn't a bad thing either. From memory I think eight Phyllostachys aurea clumps have been removed over the last few years, with a further one on the radar for a new planting space later this year. 

But as to the future for this particular plant, thats a little more safe for now, its location works, and I have no great desire to have to get rid of the crazy paving around it to stand any chance of removal. So for now its future is secure... 


Wednesday, June 23, 2021

A Trip to Crug Farm

Crug Farm Plants are well known for their large selection of unusual plants, and despite having been buying plants from Crug for many years we had not managed to visit until recently. Our lack of visiting had long passed being embarrassing, as Sue and Bleddyn usually reminded us each time we saw them at a show or exhibition. However finally, we made the trip to North Wales. 

We had opted to stay for a few days in the area, having a break at the coast, and of course enjoying visits to some of the world famous castles that Wales is renowned for.

But more about castles and coastline later, our first (and also last) stop on our trip was to Crug, we had selected a number of plants, and as we were staying in a hotel, left the plants until our final afternoon, when we went back to collect - and saw more of the growing areas, picking out a handful more plants of course. 

We started our visit with a tour round the gardens, packed full of fabulous plants, many collected by Sue and Bleddyn, and showing that if thy can thrive in North Wales, then they should be hardy and thrive elsewhere. 

Tuesday, June 22, 2021

What's in the Box and Bag?

Through the years we've had blog posts before answering the question  'What's in the box?'. This time we've added a paper bag for good measure...

First one was something I spotted at a garden centre near where I work. It's not that unusual anymore but I was instantly drawn to it's standard habit and very fine cut leaf form.

Fatsia polycarpa 'Green Fingers'

I suspect it's standard habit is a result of being grown in a small pot for quite some time, and that the fine cut leaves won't stay as is as it gets bigger but we shall just have to wait and see.

The next one is something we have grown before but lost after a few years. Looking at photo archives last year I was reminded that I must have this plant again. It took awhile to find a nursery that had them in stock but search was eventually rewarded. Loree over at Danger Garden featured this a few years ago as her plant of the week with the reminder to cut it back regularly to keep it under control and be rewarded with the fabulous red stems. 

Rosa sericea subsp. omeiensis f. pteracantha (Chinese Winged Thorn Rose)

So what's in the box and bag? Two not so new additions to the garden.

Mark :-)

Monday, June 21, 2021

Two Unusual Gunneras

Large leaf Gunneras seem to be extra popular in the UK this year, and there are a lot of questions and discussions floating around forums and Facebook groups about them. Mainly the discussions are centered around how to tell the difference between Gunnera manicata and Gunnera tinctoria.

I won't go in that direction as personally I've found such topics tedious, however I will highlight instead two lesser known and relatively obscure large leafed Gunneras that are starting to get into the exotic plant circulation here:

Gunnera insignis - from Costa Rica and the photo below was taken earlier this year at Tregrehan Gardens in Cornwall

Gunnera insignis

Gunnera killipiana - from Costa Rica and was collected at high altitude elevations by Bleddyn and Sue Wynn-Jones. Photo was taken at their nursery Crug Farm Plants and was also featured in previous editions of Chelsea Flower Show

Gunnera killipiana

Both stunning big leafed plants and much more ornamental than their well established but hardier Brazilian (Gunnera manicata) and Chilean (Gunnera tinctoria) cousins.

Mark :-)

Friday, June 11, 2021

Favourite Plant of the Week - Monstera deliciosa variegata

Monstera deliciosa variegata

An easy choice this week, and a houseplant rather than one out in the garden, Monstera deliciosa variegata.

We have had this plant for a good few years, it doesnt get the really large leaves that some do, and came back with us from a holiday in Madeira, where they seem to be everywhere. We had asked for one at one of the many plant stalls in the Market in central Funchal, using a photo of one we had seen in a garden to explain what we wanted. They were all out on the stall, so the owner had pop home to get one for us to collect later. 

Monstera deliciosa variegata

This is kept in a North facing room, so although fairly bright, it doesnt seem to burn with the lack of direct sun.


Wednesday, June 02, 2021

Favourite Plant of The Week - Brassaiopsis hispida

It has been a while since we last featured a plant of the week on the blog but we really couldn't let this week go by without featuring Brassaiopsis hispida.

Brassaiopsis hispida

The new leaves are fabulous, and despite the cool spring are now racing away.  Still relatively new to cultivation, Brassaiopsis hispida is borderline hardy in our location, so at the moment these go away into the greenhouse for us.

Brassaiopsis hispida

Brassaiopsis hispida

Finally we have a variegated plant, which we are hoping will be stable as it matures.

What is standing out for you in the garden this week?


Tuesday, June 01, 2021


 We posted this teaser image on facebook yesterday.