Neomaricis gracilis

Neomaricis gracilis – Walking Iris
Photo: D. McCallum

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A somewhat unusual bulb, although now becoming better known after Flourish Garden Club had quite a few of them for sale at our last Plant Sale in 2014.
Neomaricis gracilis is a versatile bulb, with handsome strap shaped leaves, typical of the Iris family, and very decorative blue and white flowers, from late spring to early summer. It needs little attention, although it flowers much better if it gets enough water together with some some compost and fertiliser. I have found it does well in morning sun or dappled shade and also grows well in pots.
This bulb has an interesting way of propagating itself. After the flowers have faded, their stems will slowly start lowering themselves towards the ground and will eventually root and form another plant from the faded flower. I help mine by gently pulling the spent flower stem down, once a shoot appears, and anchor it into the soil, either adjacent to the mother plant, or in a pot. Once the offset shows signs of starting to grow, the flower stem can be cut and you have another plant!
Limited stocks of this plant will be available at our sale. This bulb is not often (if ever) found at Garden Centres, so if you want one – come early to the sale – Saturday and Sunday 12 and 13 November.

Thalia dealbata Powdery Alligator flag

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If you are looking for something different to add height and drama to a water feature, garden pond or even a container filled with water why not come to our plant sale at Open Gardens Constantia in November where we will have some of these plants on sale. They give a wonderful tropical look to the garden.

These aquatic, rhizomatous perennials are so easy to grow just needing to be planted in a wet, boggy position. They hold their large canna-like leaves at right angles to the stems during the day – but move then to an upright position in the evening. Bunches of violet blue flowers bow down the tall, 2m high flower stalks in summer. Need full sun. Their giant leaves turn gold in autumn and then die back for a short period over winter.  Height 1. 5 -2 + m.

 

SCADOXUS PUNICEUS -Paintbrush Lily

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Scadoxus puniceus, explains grower and author Lyn  MacCullum,  is a large indigenous bulb that occurs naturally in shady coastal bush, forests and ravines, in the Free State, KwaZulu Natal, the Eastern Cape, as well as further north. The name Scadoxus is derived from “doxus” meaning glory or splendour, and puniceus means crimson, scarlet or purple.

Scadoxus puniceus, a popular garden plant, does well in pots or the open ground. Both locations need to be well drained with plenty of compost. The bulbs, which are dormant in winter, need to be kept sheltered from too much winter rain and those in pots are best moved to a dry patio spot, giving the bulbs a little water every so often to prevent total dehydration.

In late July to early September, depending on the weather, the bulbs send up large purple spikes which open up into spectacular flowerheads. Once the buds have opened, large, bright green leaves also appear. If the bees have done their job and pollinated the flowers, bright red berries form, making this bulb doubly interesting as a garden plant!

Watch out for the Amaryllis Lily Borer which can destroy the bulbs if not spotted in time. Not wanting to use poisons, when one of my bulbs was attacked, I dug it up, removed the caterpillar, gently scraped and pared away the bits that were damaged, rinsed the bulb in a very weak solution of Jeyes Fluid and replanted it. It then went on to flower as usual. Snails can also be a problem on the leaves – hand pick them in the evenings.

There will be a few of these bulbs (in pots) for sale at our plant sale, so come early as I am sure they will be snapped up very quickly.

Plant sale

open gardens constantia plant saleJust some of the interesting and beautiful exotic and indigenous plants – all in excellent condition – at our Open Gardens Constantia plant sale, on Friday and Saturday.

Friday hours: 2pm – 5.30pm
Saturday hours: 10am- 5pm

Visit this link for ticket information.

Striking sage

Salvia canariensis is a strong-growing, tall plant with the grey, soft, felt-covered, arrow-shaped leaves. Come summer it excels itself, producing spikes of deep magenta-pink flowers. Apart from appealing to sunbirds and pollinators, they make excellent cut flowers, too.  They are ideal for a sunny spot at the back of a border.

We will have a few of these stunners at our Open Gardens Constantia plant sale tomorrow and Saturday.

Photo and text: Marianne Alexander

Feverfew at the plant sale

There will be quite a few of these plants available at the Open Gardens Constantia plant sale (tomorrow and Saturday) in the herb section.

Tanacetum parthenium is a quick-growing perennial, native to the Caucusus region. The pretty herb sows itself freely in the garden and can also be propagated by taking cuttings. Feverfew needs a sunny position in the garden, as it is liable to get mildew when grown in the shade.

Apart from being a most attractive addition to the garden and indoors as a cut flower, feverfew can be used as a deterrent for moths and is planted in the garden to keep away aphids, especially in the vegetable and rose garden. The leaves and flowers are dried and used in pot pourri.

(Follow this link for open gardens ticket information.)

Photo: Marianne Alexander. Text: Lyn McCallum

Comfrey – the wonderplant

Looking for comfrey plants? We will have some of this hard-to-find, all-purpose herb at our plant sale on Friday and Saturday.

Garden accent, healer, compost activator, green mulch and liquid fertilizer, all in one plant.

Apart from its reputation as a healing herb (one of its common names is knitbone), comfrey – Symphytum officinale and cultivars –  is also a good compost activator (add a layer of leaves to your dry, brown matter). Its leaves’ high nitrogen and potassium levels make it an excellent green mulch, too. Steeped for six weeks, a comfrey tea is a good liquid fertilizer (and about as smelly, in its own way, as seaweed).

5 comfreyComfrey’s attractive, bold leaves make it a useful accent or contrast plant in the garden. The more common specimens have purple flowers, but some produce remarkable blue blooms.5 C5 omfrey herb JENNY F 5 DSC_0051 (58)

Got tickets to Open Gardens Constantia? Follow the link for more info.

Photos: Marianne Alexander. Text: Marianne Alexander, Marie Viljoen.