Happy New Year

Sunday, 08 January 2012

Cuphea ignea Starfire Pink

Happy New Year to all! Emerging from my post-Christmas torpor last week, my mind began to ponder on New Year's resolutions. Some readers may recall that I wrote about my gardening-related resolutions this time last year, one of which was to not acquire any new plants in 2011! Needless to say, I did not keep that vow very well, but looking back over the past 12 months, I definitely did cut down on the number of plants coming into my garden. I already had a huge number of potted plants that had been waiting to be put out into the garden - sometimes for years. I did achieve my goal of planting out all of these specimens into the garden before our overseas trip in May and that was a huge breakthrough. In doing so, I realised how little room I have left in my garden for extra plants. I spent many hours wandering around with a pot in my hand trying to find a spare space to slip the plant into. It is quite a shock for a gardener to get to this point, when one's whole life has seemingly been devoted to the dizzy pursuit of new plants! Realistically, there has to be a limit, especially when you want to give each plant enough space to develop properly and not to be squashed by their neighbours. I have lost plants over the years by their being overgrown and suffocated by more assertive nearby plants. Also, I have come to realise that gardening is not just about getting new plants but looking after the ones I already have better and appreciating them more!

Mandevilla sanderi

I still did go to a few nurseries and plant sales last year; but I tried to be more pragmatic about my purchases, attempting to have in mind exactly where I would place a particular plant in the garden rather than allowing myself to fall in love with a plant with no idea of where it would ever find a permanent home. But sometimes I just couldn't help myself and did succumb to temptation. In these cases, an existing plant had to be removed to make way for the new acquisition. I did manage to obtain some plants that I had always longed for and thus could not resist: the gorgeous climbers Petrea volubilis, Stephanotis floribunda and Bauhinia corymbosa to scramble over my pergola, and on a smaller scale, two bright pink Mandevilla sanderi (syn. Dipladenia sanderi) to grow on small obelisks in pots, as I had admired in several gardens during the year. I added a couple of largish-growing shrubs to fill in spaces where more bulk seemed to be needed: a hybrid Camellia called 'Dream Girl' with bold, bright pink blooms, and a blood orange tree as a memento of our trip to Italy, where we enjoyed these unusual fruits.

Ruellia elegans

Other plants were given to me over the past year, and these are much treasured, either for sentimental reasons or because they are very unusual specimens that cannot be obtained from nurseries, and I appreciate the generosity of the givers of these gifts. A rooted cutting of the rose 'Sweet Chariot' - a pretty patio rose with fragrant, double, deep purple blooms that fade to lavender is a reminder of a dear friend who loved roses above all other plants, and this is a descendant of her original specimen. Some scented-leaf Pelargonium cuttings redolent of lime, lemon and peppermint are all thriving in a hot, dry area adjoining my driveway, evoking memories of the garden of my childhood, where big bushes of these plants grew. I was also given a plant from my current favourite plant family, the Acanthaceae, that was new to me: bright red-flowered Ruellia elegans, after I admired a mass planting of it in a friend's garden last year, and it has been added to a border of hot coloured blooms.

My final purchases of 2011 were made at a plant stall held monthly in my local area, that I have only just discovered. The stall, run for the past 28 years by an enthusiastic horticulturist called Shirley, is a fundraiser for the Grace Ministries Overseas Aid and is stocked with a wide range of well-grown plants, many of which are hard to find in nurseries these days. I found a scarlet Gerbera with finely cut petals; an unusual species Fuchsia Triphylla Group hybrid with neon orange-red flowers; and a plump specimen of Cuphea ignea 'Starfire Pink', a long-flowering, compact shrub to around 1 m which I admired in several gardens through the year, with bright pink tubular flowers tipped with lavender. In conjunction with plant stall there is a sale of pre-loved gardening tools. The first stall for this year will be held on Saturday 14 January from 8 am to 4 pm, on Midson Road, Epping (in front of the old brick pits; Skenes Avenue is the nearest cross-street). Thereafter, stalls will be held on the first Saturday of every month. I will be lending a hand next Saturday morning and donating a few plants to the sale. Hope to see some of you there!

Reader Comments

  • By Elyson 4069 Monday, 09 January 2012

    I read your first paragraph thinking I could almost have written the same words! Many readers/gardeners will also know exactly what you mean. I was doing quite well until my mother in law left her home to go to a "home" and desparately wanted her most precious plants to be part of my garden. Thanks, Elyson. I am sure she is very happy to know that her plants are in good hands! Deirdre

  • By Anne 2518 Monday, 09 January 2012

    Happy New Year - I can add ditto - I must stop buying the new and unusual and get existing plants into the ground. Thanks for the info re the plant stall. Thanks, Anne. Good luck with your planting! Deirdre

  • By Maureen 2118 Monday, 09 January 2012

    Happy New Year and Gardening Deidre and thank you so much for the inspiration you send out into cyber space for us all. Look forward to meeting you iin Midson Road!! Thanks, Maureen. Hope to meet you on Saturday. Deirdre

  • By Peter 2008 Monday, 09 January 2012

    Hi Deirdre - isn"t that little ruellia eleans pictured, a useful one for summer & so generous in flowering period. I grow a small plant of it here in my little inner city court & it always reminds me of treasured friend and horticultural (royalty) colleague Elma Webb who first grew me some .. Thanks, Peter. Yes I really like that red Ruellia and look forward to it growing into a big patch as I saw in my friend"s garden. Deirdre

  • By valerie 4160 Monday, 09 January 2012

    Happy New Year Deidre, at this time of year I try not to put in any new plants it"s either to wet or too dry. I have been watching my salvia madrensis growing and flowering quite tall and majestic. That salvia does get tall but it is one of my favourites. It may layer a bit but I just pull up the excess stems. Deirdre

  • By Lyn 4570 Monday, 09 January 2012

    Happy New Gardening Year Deirdre. Your mention of Dream Girl cost me a pang. After we sold our former home and garden the new young owners bull-dozed the front garden, sadly including this lovely tree. I"ve given up on that resolution, saves breaking it! But the problem remains, even on acreage. Such a shame re your Dream Girl. My old garden was similarly razed. Deirdre

  • By Sue 2074 Monday, 09 January 2012

    Looking after what I have was my mantra for last year also and in doing so I moved & divided a scadoxus and now have the best display ever of red firework balls. Oh for the red gerbra have been searching for the fine old fashioned one for ages the stall sounds great. Happy gardening for 2012. Thanks, Sue. The Scadoxus sounds like it is doing very well. Hope you find your gerbera soon. Deirdre

  • By Rae 2119 Tuesday, 10 January 2012

    Thanks so much for posting about the garden stall! Thanks, Rae. Hope I might see you there. Deirdre

  • By Christine 2144 Thursday, 12 January 2012

    Happy New Year to you Deidre and all the other keen gardeners out there. I"m sure I drove past that "Stall" on my way to the Cottage Garden Club meeting some time back. I hope to get there on sat. if I can. Thank you again for your great blog, it"s always so interesting. Christine, 2144.Thanks, Christine. Would be great to meet you. Deirdre

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