2019 Plants of the Month

  • Each month the Growing Friends will choose a plant from their nursery to showcase
  • Previous Year's Plants of the Month - Have a look at them all

  • Tibouchina urvilleana ‘Edwardsii’ - Jan/Feb 2019 Plant of the Month

    This stunning shrub originates in southern Brazil. It is a slender-branched, compact species developing a short trunk topped by a bushy rounded crown and reaches 2 metres in height. The young stems are reddish and slightly hairy, turning brown later. The oval leaves are 5–10 cm long, dark green above and slightly hairy below. It produces rich purple to violet, silky flowers, 8 cm wide with purple stamens which are borne singly or in small groups. The flower buds are large, reddish and hairy.  Flowering time is late summer/autumn.  They prefer full sun or semi shade and do best in a moist/well drained soil with added organic matter and a slightly acidic to neutral ph.

    The Growing Friends have plenty of stock of this spectacular, distinctive Tibouchina

    Echinopsis atacamensis - March/April 2019 Plant of the Month 

    The name Echinopsis - hedgehog appearance, and atacamesis - meaning from the Atacama desert region, this plant typifies the image of a cactus for many of us. A single or branched grey green columnar plant with many red spines along its' ribbed trunk, it may reach 8 metres tall over time. Creamy white and pink tipped flowers emerge along its trunk spines. Native to Bolivia and Argentina, it is used extensively there for its wood, and edible flowers and fruits. Originating from arid regions, E. atacamensis makes a statement planting in dry gardens of full sun and well drained soils. 

    The Friends Nursery has just been supplied with small plants of E. atacamensis from the Botanic Gardens Melbourne, which features them in the Guilfoyle's Volcano bed. 

    Camellia ‘Sophie Ducker’ - May 2019 Plant of the Month

    An interesting garden addition to the japonicas and sasanquas from the camellia family is the lovely hybrid ‘Sophie Ducker’.  Originated by well-known camellian, Dr R Withers in 1998, it is named for an Australian renowned botanist and botanical historian, Dr Sophie Ducker of Melbourne University. It is a seedling of another beauty, c. pitardii ‘Our Melissa’.  The miniature elegans-form flower is 4-5 cm across, has 5-6 petals shading from pink to white and a large boss of pale pink petaloids in the centre. Leaves are dark green and matt with new growth sometimes tinged red.  It flowers in early to mid-winter. This miniature cultivar is a bushy, somewhat slow growing plant, height approx. 1.5m, suitable for pot cultivation or a semi-shaded spot in the garden.  A protected position on a balcony could also be considered.  

    A number of these plants will be available at the Growing Friends Autumn Sale on 4-5 May 2019 near E Gate, Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne.

    Stenocarpus sinuatus - June 2019 Plant of the Month

    Stenocarpus sinuatus, commonly known as the Firewheel tree is a spectacular Australian rainforest tree in the Proteaceae Family. It has evergreen leaves and unusual and flamboyant circular orange and red flowers. These flowers are prized by florists and definitely have the wow factor!

    It originates in tropical rainforests of Queensland and north-eastern New South Wales, but can grow in temperate zones of Melbourne. Under ideal conditions in the north it reaches 30 metres. Stenocarpus likes sunny conditions and light shade. Bees, nectar eating birds and butterflies are all drawn to it.

    Some small specimens are available in the Nursery. Plant it now for future generations.

    Winter Flowering Salvias - July 2019 Plants of the Month

    Bringing a lovely splash of colour and much appreciated nectar for birds and lingering bees, winter flowering Salvias are just the thing to brighten up the wintery days in our gardens.

    The Growing Friends sell several varieties of these Salvias, most with beautiful bright colours!  They are taller growing, around 1.5 to 2+ metres and all are from South America which means they will need protection from heavy frosts and prefer to be out of the hottest summer sun.

    Salvia gesneriiflora ’Tequila’ is certainly a cheery sight, with bright orange/red flowers enclosed by black calyces.  It’s one of the taller growing varieties, as are the S. involucrata cultivars we grow.  There is S. i. ‘Pink Icicles’ with its pretty pale pink flowers and bracts, S. i. ’Timboon’ with deep magenta/wine flowers with darker calyces, S. i. ‘Mulberry Jam’ which had deep red/magenta flowers and smaller dark green leaves. 

    Salvia involucrata x karwinskii ‘Romantic Rose’ has bright cerise/rose coloured flowers and is one of the taller ones, along with S. karwinskii which has salmony pink flowers and grey/green foliage.  One of the tallest is S. iodantha with light, limey green foliage and deep magenta flowers, which looks stunning planted among Camellias.

    All these taller varieties make great plants for towards the back of garden beds and borders, or as part of a group of shrubs.  All appreciate good drainage and are best pruned after flowering, but not too hard!

    Another interesting South American variety is Salvia dorisiana which has large, deepish pink flowers with leaves that have a delicious fruity fragrance!  This one needs protection from summer heat and hot winds.

    For a complete colour change, try S. corrugata with royal blue flowers (yet another South American).  It needs, like the others, frost protection and can be used as a screening shrub or a hedge, having smaller, well veined leaves.  This Salvia can be more severely pruned, after flowering.

    Salvias are interesting suggestions to brighten your garden this winter and for following years.  The nectar feeding birds and bees have been seen foraging among these flowers in our Nursery.






    Osmanthus - 
    August 2019 Plants of the Month

     

    Wonderful fragrance, foliage and flowers are qualities of the Osmanthus genus of which there are about 30 species of flowering plants.  Their flowers form in generally white to cream panicles and produce wonderful, sweet fragrances which perfume the garden followed by a hard skinned dark blue/purple fruit.  Visually they offer glossy, deep green leaves some tinged with red, some holly shaped and some with a toothed edge.  Excellent as a backdrop to bulbs and perennial borders, as a tub plant on a balcony or patio, as hedging/screening and indispensable in a perfumed garden.  Their handsome evergreen foliage remains attractive in all seasons.  

    Osmanthus are slow growing members of the Oleaceae or olive family and valued for being adaptable to either sun or shade, reliable and drought resistant. Most species are native to eastern Asia (China, Japan, Korea, Indochina, the Himalayas).  They require a rich well-drained soil in a sheltered position.  Osmanthus flower on old wood and produce more flowers if unpruned, however, clipping after flowering will maintain a compact shape.

    The Growing Friends have three species:
    Osmanthus delavayi grows to 2.5 m high by 3 m wide.  Finely toothed, leathery, dark green ovate leaves to 3 cms.  Masses of small, sweetly scented white flowers in Spring.  Good for hedging and topiary.
    Osmanthus fragrans is known by the common names Fragrant Olive or Sweet Tea.  It grows to 6 m high by 4 m wide with an upright habit.  Oblong/lanceolate leaves to 10 cms either entire or finely toothed.  Exquisitely scented tubular white flowers - the most fragrant of the Osmanthus family.  Ideal hedge, screen or tub plant.  Flowers in Summer. It has been cultivated in China for 2,500 years where the flowers are used to to flavour tea, wine and sweets as well as an ingredient in herbal medicine.
    Osmanthus heterophyllus ‘Purpureus’ is known by the common names Holly Olive or Chinese Holly.  It grows to  3 m high by 2 m wide in a dense upright rounded shrub.  Leaves are holly like and grow to 6 cm.  ‘Purpureus’ is the most hardy cultivar with new growth purple/red.  It produces white fragrant flowers in Autumn.

    Plants may be purchased at the Friday morning sales from the Growing Friends nursery.