Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Pelargonium 'Mallee Magic'

Pelargonium 'Mallee Magic' (Geraniaceae)
Sometimes you have to grow a plant for a couple of years to find out how it behaves and responds to different seasonal conditions. This native Geranium is possibly an inland form of G. australe and puts most of its energy into growing during winter and early spring before fading and "going off" during summer. In August it is smothered in flowers which stand proud of a low mound of tightly held leaves. Then in the first days of summer it starts to shrink back underground and though still producing a few flowers, the tight compact foliage is gone and growth is sparse. It hardly looks like the same plant. Like other species of Pelargoium, many of which originate from South Africa, it has a spreading root system consisting of swollen nodes or food storage segments to help it through harsh summer conditions . New shoots resurface a bit like suckers do on a shrub or tree around the original parent plant when conditions become favourable such as after rain and when temperatures are cooler. So the upshot of all this is that to propagate it you have to do so in winter usually by division when growth is rapid.

Mid winter foliage
Small new plants with sparse growth but still with flowers are waiting in the wings for potting on in winter 2014

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Brachyscome iberidifolia, Swan River Daisy

Brachyscome iberidifolia , (Asteraceae) Swan River daisy
This little daisy is from Western Australia and is spring flowering, responding in the wild to winter rainfall and then flowering for about six weeks until the hot weather sets in. Normally the flowers are blue but pink ,white or mauve flowering forms also occur. It is fairly easy to grow from seed sown during winter but the resulting seedlings need pinching back to produce bushy plants with more flowers. It eventually reaches a height of about 40cm and is quite wiry in appearance having only tiny leaves. The only drawback to growing it is that it only has a small shallow root system which means it is subject to wind damage and may topple over and continue growing in a lop-sided way. Easy to forgive this habit as it is such a pure and simple lovely plant.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Indigofera australis Austral Indigo

 Indigofera australis var. australis (Leguminosae)
This under-shrub (1.5 metre tall) of forests and open woodland has a wide range of distribution from Tasmania to Queensland, and, at this time of year, right through until December, it is a mass of rosy purple pea flowers which stand above the foliage in axillary sprays. The compound leaves are comprised of many smokey blue leaflets which expand or contract depending on how much soil moisture is available. I have one specimen in a pot which is waiting to be planted out and the leaves have become quite small from a lack of water, whereas these local species are lush by comparison.
The inland sister plant to this species ,var. signata has almost done away with leaves entirely and they appear as tiny wedges along the stems.
Austral Indigo is very adaptable to home garden use in either native or exotic gardens. Early in the new year, masses of seed pods appear and these are equally decorative.

Found locally in scrub on the higher slopes around Lake Illawarra