"New plantings"

April is a great time to plant!
Sunday, 23 April 2017     

Hydrangea Peace - You & Me series

In recent weeks, I've had the opportunity to acquire some new plants - from the Collectors' Plant Fair and via a couple of visits to nurseries with friends. I don't buy plants as often as I used to, as my garden is basically 'full', but it is always a thrill to find a plant one has never heard of and which might prove to be a good doer in the Sydney climate! With the ongoing beautiful autumnal weather, I've been endeavouring to get all my new purchases into the ground, so that they can establish a bit before winter sets in. I think April is one of the best times of year for new plantings!

A tall shrub I was delighted to find was a dark-leaved crepe myrtle: the Diamonds in the Dark series, which have become available in recent times. These specimens are more compact than the traditional tree-like crepe myrtles and they grow to around 3 m in height and 2.5 m in width. The leaves really are almost black and there are various different coloured flowers available - I got 'Pure White', but pinks, reds and purples can be obtained. I love the idea of the dramatic contrast of the dark leaves with the stark white blooms. These plants are suitable for hedges or as a background for a mixed border. Their amazing foliage colour will be maintained best in full sun.

On a smaller scale, I found an unusual pink-flowering renga-renga lily (Arthropodium cirratum) called 'Joy Pink'. These are excellent clumping plants for shaded spots and have delicate sprays of flowers in late spring: normally white. Another plant for shade that I found, which I had never seen before, was one called golden saxifrage (Chrysosplenium alternifolium), a groundcover with attractive rounded, scalloped-edged leaves and (apparently) a mass of dainty but striking lime-green flowers in spring. I have planted this with some other low, fleshy groundcovers, including several Sedum with lime-coloured leaves (Sedum mexicanum and Sedum makinoi 'Ogon'), which tolerate shade.

Another find was Alpinia luteocarpa 'Red Rubin', an ornamental ginger with very attractive leaves that are silvery-green on the top and burgundy beneath. I love foliage with reddish undersides and I have planted it near a large bromeliad called 'Silver Plum' and the stalwart Ctenanthe setosa 'Grey Star', which both have this same combination of hues.

A compact, double-flowered version of the ever-blooming Euphorbia 'Diamond Frost', which is named 'Diamond Dazzler', also caught my eye. Though a wonderful plant, 'Diamond Frost' can get rather tall and rangy over time, whereas this one is said to grow only to 25 cm. It provides a splash of sparkling white in a dry, sunny spot.

I've found myself more interested in Australian native plants lately, and a very unusual grass really appealed to me. Called Lomandra glauca 'Blue Ridge' (ht 35 cm), it has stunning powder-blue new growth, which apparently ages to green. It is said to be tough, and drought and frost tolerant! I loved the contrast of its bold, upright form with the lacy leaves of Artemisia 'Powis Castle' when I planted it in my garden.

Two final finds were unusual Hydrangea cultivars. I love Hydrangea! One is Hydrangea macrophylla 'Nigra' (ht 1.8 m), which has dramatic black stems and pink or blue mophead flowers (depending on the pH of the soil). The other was a compact, white double-flowered cultivar of the You & Me series, called 'Peace' (pictured at the start of the blog). I already had another of these with pink blooms and it is quite beautiful in a pot, holding its inflorescences over a long period.

There is always a certain sense of trepidation in putting in new plants, especially those that are quite unfamiliar. There is of course excitement as one looks forward to watching them grow and seeing their flowers, and thinking how to combine them with other plants. There is also an undercurrent of apprehension that perhaps it won't be suited to our climate and will conk out or - alternatively - will prove to be a monster that wants to smother the whole garden! All part of gardening and what makes it such fun!

 Reader Comments

1/12  Mary - 2089 (Zone:10 - Warm Temperate) Monday, 24 April 2017

Love your choice of new plants - who can resist the offerings at nurseries and plant fairs. Everything you said must resonate with every keen gardener. Thanks, Mary. It is always fun to try something new! Deirdre

2/12  Amanda - 2250 (Zone:10 - Warm Temperate) Monday, 24 April 2017

Just wanted to let you know how I look forward to each and every one of your wonderful, informative, descriptive and easy reading blogs You are such a great writer and I"ve learnt so much since I joined your site about a year ago. Please keep them coming thick and fast! I relish every word. Now I have two more plants to add to my list Diamonds in the Dark Crepe Myrtle and Diamond Frost Euphorbia, gorgeous! Thanks for your kind comment, Amanda! Glad you enjoy the blogs. Hope you find those plants - I really like them so far! Deirdre

3/12  Sue t. - 2566 (Zone:10 - Warm Temperate) Monday, 24 April 2017

Wish I could buy fewer plants now my garden is full. That double flowered Euphorbia does look nice though. Yes it seems more compact and less rangy. It remains to be seen how it will pan out as it matures! Deirdre

4/12  Bren - 2540 (Zone:10 - Warm Temperate) Monday, 24 April 2017

Yes there is always a bit of trial and error with new plants (with me at least). I planted a Vireya rhododendron last spring just to see how it would go, and now it is flowering so spectacularly it makes everything around it look dull. So I went out and four more. I would love to be able to grow them! Have never had any luck at all with them. Deirdre

5/12  Adam - 2539 (Zone:10 - Warm Temperate) Monday, 24 April 2017

Hi, You flower is beautiful. I am looking forward to plant some of them in my garden too. Your blog is very nice and informative. Thank you for sharing. Thanks very much, Adam. Deirdre

6/12  Kerrie - 2104 (Zone:10 - Warm Temperate) Monday, 24 April 2017

I just LOVE the Collectors Plant Fair! For me it"s like what the easter show is to kids! I planted all my goodies up last weekend. Something i bought there is called Swan Plant that had huge balloon like pods on it. I haven"t planted this as so many in my Facebook garden group said it"s an awful invasive weed & that those lovely balloons are full of seed that scatter in the wind & germinate everywhere especially in the country. I think i might have to bin that one! Some plants can be weedy in some areas and not in others, so it can be useful to find out from local gardeners what they think about the potential weediness of a plant. Deirdre

7/12  Betty - 3104 (Zone:10 - Mediteranean) Monday, 24 April 2017

Dear Deidre,I too don"t have room for any more plants but I look forward to your weekly Newsletter.I love reading about what you have been doing in the garden and then the readers" correspondence. Gardeners unite, take up your tools! Thanks so much, Betty! Deirdre

8/12  Jenny - 2154 (Zone:10 - Warm Temperate) Monday, 24 April 2017

Hi Deidre Your booklet on Acanthaceae arrived today and I have been poring through it this afternoon to gather ideas for the redevelopment of my front garden in Castle Hill. I"ve also taken the opportunity to delve into your past blogs - such a rich source of ideas and the promise of serendipitous discoveries. Cheers Jenny I hope you will find the booklet useful for your garden. Those plants are so good for our climate. Deirdre

9/12  Maureen - 2118 (Zone:10 - Warm Temperate) Monday, 24 April 2017

Hi Deidre-another great read and when I got to the end about "a monster" I thought of the Brilliantasia I bought 4 years ago at PCF. Boy has it taken up some space. Love the large leaves and long stemmed monk"s hood like blue flowers though. Just cut a lot back and low and behold wherever stems had touched within a breath of soil, there were roots reaching out. Has flowered long and brilliantly though I have to say. Passed some on to a friend with a farm where it will have plenty of room!! Yes I agree that plant is a big one! I had no idea of its ultimate size when I first got it and put it right beside a path. Now it is in the back row of a border and I cut it almost to the ground every August to keep it under control. It flowers for so long, however, and I do like it. Deirdre

10/12  Margaret - 2122 (Zone:10 - Warm Temperate) Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Your plant choices sound fabulous, Deirdre. Love finding "new" plants and buying them, with the hope that they will like my conditions. I don"t have much spare room, but can always find room for another plant, by various means. I recently purchased two special Coleus plants, a Tetranema roseum (with violet-like flowers) and a pure white Streptocarpus Your ideas and information are always inspiring and thought-provoking - thank you. Your purchases sound lovely, Margaret and I hope they will do well. Now I need to find out what Tetranema is!! Deirdre

11/12  Sue t. - 2566 (Zone:10 - Warm Temperate) Tuesday, 25 April 2017

I was interested in Maureen"s comments, and yours, on Brillantasia. Mine has stayed narrow and under two metres high. it is lucky to be alive at all though. In its first year I thought that I had lost it to a very heavy frost only to find new shoots the following Spring which were then sat on and broken off by one of my cats. Perhaps this has controlled its monster like capabilities. Your cooler winters might be making it more compact, which is definitely a plus! I found my original plant got so big, gnarled and woody, that I thought it beststo start again with a cutting, and I plan to replace each specimen before it gets too unwieldy. It seems mainly the size of the base, which gradually expands sideways, that makes it such a behometh in the garden. Deirdre

12/12  Bren - 2540 (Zone:10 - Warm Temperate) Wednesday, 26 April 2017

Just a comment on Kerrie"s input above, the swan plant you are talking about sounds like the same one that was a staple in every NZ garden when I was a child; we planted them purely because monarch butterflies would lay eggs on them and we could watch the colorful caterpillars and beautiful chrysalids develop. (I think it"s an asclepiad.) I tried that once but it didn"t seem to like the summer humidity here. How lovely to see those butterflies develop. Deirdre

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