"Bold colour in winter"

Bright winter colour!
Sunday, 21 June 2020        

Peristrophe bivalvis

I really enjoy seeing strong colours in the winter garden. I've previously written about hot winter colours of reds, oranges and yellows; this week I have been noticing how there are a number of bright pink and magenta flowers in my garden at the moment and I find them very cheering. I love pale pink too, especially intermingled with the darker pinks and magenta, but at the moment, I am drawn to these latter hues. We are so fortunate in Sydney that we are able to grow so many winter-blooming plants!

Many warm-climate shrubby salvias bloom at this time. I recently mentioned Salvia 'Timboon' in one of my blogs: it is in full bloom now and such a delight. It appears to be one of the many winter-flowering Salvia involucrata x karwinskii crosses, which do well in Sydney gardens; another example is the one called 'Winter Lipstick' (I found this got too big for my garden as it can get to 4 m tall!). Salvia wagneriana (ht 3 m) has a deep pink form, but it is another big one. More compact plants are a couple of cultivars of Salvia involucrata: the old-fashioned 'Bethellii' and 'Joan' (ht 1-2 m), both with hot pink flowers still appearing. Speaking of salvias, a friend recently told me that the latest one in the 'Wishes' collection is now available here: it's called 'Kisses and Wishes' (ht 80 cm), which has sumptuous fuchsia-pink flowers throughout summer and autumn.

The Acanthaceae family has some members with brightly coloured blooms now. Ruellia macrantha (ht 1.5-2 m) has gorgeous large, bright purplish-pink flared funnel-shaped blooms from winter into early spring. It seems to prefer to have a few hours of autumn and winter sun each day for optimum flower production. Its petals are exactly the same colour as the winter-blooming bromeliad Aechmea gamosepala (ht 50cm), with its thick bristles of purplish-pink bracts tipped with iridescent blue bead-like flowers, and they look very eye-catching growing together.

Ruellia makayona (ht 30 cm) is a spreading groundcover for dry, shady areas, with smaller trumpet-shaped flowers of a similar hue to those of Ruellia macrantha. It has attractive leaves which are purple tinged, with pretty silver markings on the upper surface, and very deep purple underneath. An unusual member of the Acanthaceae family that also grows well in dry shade is Peristrophe bivalvis (syn. Peristrophe roxburghiana, ht 1 m, pictured at the start of the blog). It is a rambling shrubby perennial that grows up to 1 m high. The dainty, two-lobed flowers are a most vibrant magenta hue, which really pops. The shrub is covered in bloom for several months from winter to spring.

An interesting Fuchsia triphylla cultivar called 'Gerharda's Panache' (ht 1.5 m) seems to bloom basically all year round - I just trim it every so often and more flowers appear. It has elegant long, slim, brilliant pink flowers, quite different in shape from those of usual hybrid Fuchsia. Though Fuchsia triphylla grow quite well in part-shade, this specimen is in full sun and flourishing.

Zygocactus (Schlumbergera hybrids, ht 30 cm) are out now and some of them have brilliant pink flowers. This genus of succulent cacti seems to look best when grown in pots under trees or in a dry rockery situation, in a part-shade position. They can also provide a bright splash of colour on an outdoor table or in a hanging basket - and being epiphytic, they can also be attached to trees.

Some sasanqua camellias are still in bloom, now joined by the japonica types. There are many hot pink cultivars of these stalwart shrubs for Sydney gardens and they provide an effective backdrop for the other brilliant pink blooms of winter. Some favourite sasanqua cultivars in this hue are 'Shishi Gashira', 'Chansonette' and 'Paradise Glow', and some japonica ones include 'Drama Girl' and 'Waltz Time'. Camellia x williamsii hybrids also have some gorgeous deep pink cultivars, such as 'EG Waterhouse' and 'Debbie'.


 Reader Comments

1/5  Margaret - 2122 (Zone:10 - Warm Temperate) Monday, 22 June 2020

So many pink, dark and light and toned flowers available in winter! Usually we think that winter is devoid of brightening flowers, but you have proved this inaccurate. It is amazing the colour you find, when you look around the garden. Thank you for identifying Fuchsia triphylla 'Gerharda's Panache' - it is a pretty fuchsia, which I have had for years, without knowing its name. Yes we are lucky to have so many colourful options. That fuchsia is a very good one, for its length of flowering period. Deirdre


2/5  Bren - 2540 (Zone:10 - Warm Temperate) Monday, 22 June 2020

I wish my Megaskepasma (which I purchased from the Sydney Bot. Gardens) would flower! I have had it for a few years, and have already moved it once. Although mostly not pink, some colour is being added to my winter garden from a number of aloes, kalanchoes and echeverias, which are flowering in my succulent bed. That is a shame it hasn't flowered yet. I do think they need a BIT of sun even though I have seen them at the Sydney Botanic Garden in quite deep shade. Your succulents must be giving a lot of colour. Deirdre


3/5  Shaun - 2075 (Zone:10 - Warm Temperate) Monday, 22 June 2020

Delightful, timely, thank you Deirdre! 2/3 of my back garden has become my Native garden over past 10 years, the other 1/3 is my humble salute to Monet wiht many perennials! I will add more colour for winter immediatement (yr winter colour blog). Merci beaucoup. Thanks so much, Shaun! There are lots of native flowers that start to bloom in winter; my goal is to learn more about them! Deirdre


4/5  Glennis - 2122 (Zone:10 - Warm Temperate) Monday, 22 June 2020

My Megaskepasma was given to me by a friend who had struck it from a cutting taken from her plant. It flowers for at least 3 months and the pink/red blooms have a touch of white on my plant - I don't know if this is normal or not. I prune by reducing the size about two thirds after flowering. A lovely winter shrub. Your plant sounds wonderful, Glynnis. My flowers also have that bit of white on them. Deirdre


5/5  Shaun - 2075 (Zone:10 - Warm Temperate) Thursday, 25 June 2020

Indeed Deirdre, i have 7 stunning grevilliaes bringing colour to my winter native garden, shaun


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