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'.
The allure of the orchid cactus
24 Oct 21
This intriguing epiphytic plant is in bloom now.
Ageing and gardening
17 Oct 21
As one gets older, there is the need to rethink aspects of one's garden.
Painting with coleus
10 Oct 21
Coleus can make wonderful pictures in the garden.
03 Oct 21
Tough and undemanding plants from my parents' garden are favourites in my own.
The value of green spaces
26 Sep 21
Earlier this year, I visited Callan Park in Sydney's inner west.