Friday, February 27, 2015

Michelia Seeds

It is seed collecting time again. I have done previous posts about our beautiful native seeds, but today it is all about the Michelia yunnanensis (non-native). One of my favourite small trees, particularly for use amongst NZ native trees due to the leaf size and leaf colour harmonies. I have just taken these bright red seeds from trees at my office. The blackbirds have been landing in there, trying to gobble them up, so I thought I should get in first. I will investigate propagating them from seed, as I have always got places to plant more of these in one of my revegetation areas.
These semi-hard fruit pods split open to reveal two red berries, which in turn carry the seed. 
The pods split open to reveal the orange seeds. The tree is covered with the colourful fruit pods.
The leaf
Beautiful red berries. And inside these soft coatings are the actual black seeds. Quite a convoluted package!

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Adding Red to the Late Summer Garden

I have two 'red' gardens - one at home, and one at my office. Both feature dark red foliage plants (Acer Bloodgood (below), Physocarpus Shady Lady, Euphorbia Chameleon, and Heuchera Purple Palace), and lots of clear red flowers throughout the seasons. However this year I have felt there was something missing over the late summer. Yes there are dahlias, but I don't want them everywhere. And the combination of hot dry summer, and lack of care (survival of the fittest theory runs at my house) has meant that there is not much COLOUR.

Alstromeria, and red and green Euphorbias
SO - I went plant shopping and came across these two plants I had never noticed before - Lobelia 'Queen Victoria' (below), and Salvia 'Ember's Wish'. The Lobelia is a perfect foil amongst the greens with very dark red stalk and leaves, plus it is very upright, so stands out above the fairly dense underplanting. The flowers are very scarlet, which is fine at this time, as there are no other flowers for it to clash with.

The Lobelia stands tall amongst low perennials, and the stalks and leaves
link with the other dark red foliage beautifully. 
These will look much better as they bulk up into more substantial plants. 
Then the Salvia Ember's Wish (below). You would have noticed me raving about Salvia Blue Black before no doubt?? Well this is the same type of Salvia, but with gorgeous almost coral red flowers and most importantly - flower BRACTS. The bracts are what you see before the flower comes out, then last for months once the flower has finished, so you effectively get the colour for months. Really happy with my purchases, and will watch to see what happens with them. Has certainly added a real lift to the office garden at this early stage. I'll keep you posted!!
Salvia 'Ember's Wish' - photo shows it brighter than it is!
The bright green leaves are another plus with this Salvia, and note the flower
bracts holding the flowers? They stay this colour for months. 
I chose the plants together because I think they balance each other really nicely. The two reds are different, but they are both very clear and fresh tones, so I think they look good together, once you take the foliage and the other green tones around them into account. Any other suggestions out there for late summer reds??

Hippeastrum In Pots

This year I have grown these huge bulbs in a pot. Quite expensive to buy the bulbs, but you get literally MONTHS of quality display from them. And they should come up again next year, although I suspect not as strongly. These three bulbs I put in one large pot, and two of the three have had two flowers each. These photos I took back in December - and today there are still two fabulous full flower stalks left, with one of them just starting to open. That is going to be about 10 weeks worth of potted colour! Great value for money.

Would love to have them planted in the garden, but I think they must need a very very dry dormancy spot over winter. Probably under the eaves on a north facing wall. Has anyone in NZ had any success growing these in the garden?? Would love to hear from you!!