Thursday, January 31, 2013

Xanthorrhoea grass trees in the Botanic gardens Melbourne

I photographed these two Xanthorrhoea grass trees in the Botanic gardens yesterday. They are both quite bizarre looking specimens. Another Xanthorrhoea tree known unfortunately by the common name 'black boy' is a favourite in Australian gardens and a very expensive plant. I bought one as a present for somebody once and the price was charged per cm of height! I think I paid about $80 for a plant only 20 cm tall. The ones below are not the 'black boy' types but are striking nonetheless.

This first one is called Xanthorrhoea malacophylla and is endemic to New South Wales. It is roughly 4 metres tall.

This last one is Xanthorrhoea quadragulata and is indigenous to South Australia. The top of the spikes are roughly 3 metres in height.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Tiger flowers (not Tigerlilies) Tigridias and Sunflowers at their peak

I was shown this beautiful Tigridia at the Parkville garden this week. It goes by the common names of Tiger flower or Shell flower. It does share some attributes with the Tigerlily they are from different families (Tigerlilies are from the Liliaceae family and Tiger flowers are from the Iridaceae family).  Like the Tigerlily its flowers are relatively short lived and are replaced by new ones which enables it to remain flower for a longer period of time. It is native to central American countries and its roots are reputed to have been cultivated for food by the Aztecs. I'm not sure of the species of this particular specimen but using google I've found that Tigridias come in a variety of colours. I certainly would love to plant some at home but I'll have to research whether the climate will permit it. The one shown below was buried amongst the Hydrageas in the central courtyard bed in Parkville. So it is growing in part shade.

Lastly the Sunflowers I planted in Parkville are now in full bloom. All Ten varieties were successful and the ones at home in Macedon are also starting to flower. My mission for next seasons Sunflowers will be to plant out twice as many and plant them in various locations in the Parkville garden. Also I will mix them up rather than segregating them into their different groups. The Giant Russian Sunflowers are huge (approximately 2.3 metres high).

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Tiger Lilies in Parkville

Several Tiger Lily plants in Parvkville are now flowering. There are several of them and all are still in pots waiting to get planted out somewhere. The flowers don't last long but are replaced quickly by new ones similar to Daylilies. One interesting thing about them is that they have aerial bulbs (bulbs that form above the soil level in the leaf axils) which are called bulbils. You can use these to propagate new plants, which is what we plan to do. The botanical name for Tiger Lilies is Lilium lancifolium. It is native to several Asian countries.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Shasta daisies flowering at long last

My Shasta daisy plant has finally flowered in Macedon. The botanical name for my Shasta daisy is Leucanthemum x superbum. They are a member of the Asteraceae family which also includes such plants as sunflowers, dahlias, zinnias and chrysanthemums (one of my favorite plant families when it comes to their flowers). Unfortunately the Asteraceae also contains the dreaded dandelion which is the bane of many a gardener due to its tap rooted grip in the soil. Shasta daisies also come in pink and a sort of cream / yellow colour. This plant doesn't require much maintenance. I virtually never water it and the only real maintenance I give it is dead heading it after the flowers die. It also serves as a ground cover when not in flower.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Lillies, Echinacea and Sunflowers

I took some pictures of flowers in bloom in the Parkville garden. We have had some very hot weather there lately (almost 40 degrees Celsius). Things alive and well due to lots of watering. My precious sunflowers have all survived the heat and are doing well.

Echinacea (coneflowers) are in bloom and are a magnificent sight. I'm definitely planting some of these at home in the future. I especially like the coloured ones but even these white ones are amazing when flowering.

Below are pictures of the first sunflowers to burst open. Many more to come.

Lastly is a double Oriental Lily.  Eighty percent of the time I'm not a fan of double flowers. I tend to always think of their single cousins as an example of what they are supposed to look like. I'd never seen these before and actually prefer them over the singles.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Hollyhocks in Macedon at long last

Finally my Hollyhocks have started to flower in the Macedon garden. I have been on a mission to grow them since planting some Hollyhock seeds during a short course I did at Melbourne University Burnley campus almost two years ago. That course was the beginning of my education in horticulture. The seeds sprouted but the seedlings died even though I cared for them the best I could. I also had one other failed attempt. Finally through sheer perseverance I've managed to get some to flower. I've always loved these flowers and now I've conquered the challenge of growing them. The flowers below are from the tall variety of Hollyhock (the old fashioned type) which is my favourite. I also have some of the more modern dwarf varieties planted but they are yet to flower. The tallest plant is now taller than me so it is over 6 foot 2 inches tall.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Cape Otway trees and plants

Quick post today on some plants I found on my recent journey to Cape Otway Victoria. I'm not sure of the names of some of these plants but I'll endeavour to identify them.

I know this is a plants blog but I had to add this picture of a Koala. They are everywhere in Cape Otway and are easy to spot. They eat the leaves of the Manna Gums.

This is a common coastal plant and I'm pretty sure it is called Ozothamnus turbinatus common name 'coast everlasting plant'.

I had a did some quick googling to try and identify this one but failed. It is very common near the beaches in the Otways.

Below is a close up of the same plant. Looks a bit like miniature cauliflowers.

I love visiting the Redwood picnic grounds. These huge Sequoias are obviously not native but impressive none the less. They tower above the Eucalypts in the area surrounding them.

Picture of the inside of the Sequoia plantation. There is something very Tolkien about these trees.

Whoa I wasn't expecting to see this snake below the Redwoods. He blends in so well with the dropped foliage from the trees.

This is the creek in the bushland near the Redwoods.

Below is what looks to be some sort of fern growing on the branches of a tree.

Close up of the fern.

I can identify this one easily. Dicksonia antarctica is everywhere in this part of the Otways. 

More common ferns near the creek.

Below is a very attractive tree called Prostanthera lasianthos or commonly named the 'Victorian Christmas Bush'. It flowers around Christmas time and the colour of the flowers ranges from white to pink to mauve. All the ones in Cape Otway are white and look amazing set amongst the green of the other trees. It is native to Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria. The pithy stems of this plant were used by aboriginal people as fire drills. It is a member of the Lamiaceae family which also contains such plants as mints and salvias.

Close up of the above tree's flowers. I'm going to try planting one of these at home in Macedon. The area which I found these in Cape Otway is a dense forest that is several degrees cooler than the surrounding areas. I'm hoping that is an indication that this plant will grow in the cool Macedon climate.