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.