Miniature versions

Sunday, 07 December 2014

Fish sculpture in the garden of Linda Macaulay in Sydney

It was a great pleasure to meet a number of iGarden readers at Linda Macaulay's open garden in late November, including those who braved it on the very hot Sunday of the weekend! All of those of us who were involved from the Beecroft and District Garden Club enjoyed the experience. Our club members propagated a number of specimens from Linda's garden for the plant stall, and I was intrigued to discover a number of 'miniature versions' of familiar flowers, which I hadn't ever encountered before.

I have always had a fascination with miniature versions of things, dating from an interest in doll houses at an early age. On the whole, these plants are on a smaller scale overall than their larger-flowered counterparts, and thus ideal for smaller-sized gardens where space is at a premium. However, they have a place in larger gardens too, by providing a daintier contrast to bolder blooms and filling smaller niches where bigger plants would not have sufficient room to show their full size properly.

Miniature version of Dietes bicolor

Most of these plants were rhizomatous types. The miniature form of Dietes bicolour is exactly like its larger counterpart but just reduced in size in every way. Called 'Mini Ballerina', it has cute pale yellow flowers in spring and summer, and fans of slim, upright foliage growing 40 cm high. Like its larger form, it is a tough plant for sunny spot. Because of its compact size, it makes a good edge along a path, as seen in Linda's garden.

Miniature Tradescantia hybrid

Another unusual miniature in Linda's garden that I had never seen before was a dwarf form of hybrid Tradescantia, called 'Satin Doll' (ht 30 cm), with narrow, grass-like foliage and a compact habit, sporting bright pink-purple flowers in summer and early autumn, though it may begin in late spring. This plant is also useful for growing along paths, and flowers best in sun.

Miniature daylily Siloam Bo Peep

Other baby versions of rhizomatous plants which we propagated included the compact form of Agapanthus called 'Peter Pan' with narrow grassy foliage and milky blue flowers, which grows to only 45cm; and some small-flowered daylilies. Whilst many daylilies are succumbing to rust these days in Sydney's climate, some seem to be remaining immune, including two of Linda's favourites: 'Crimson Icon' with prolific flowers of clear red (ht 40 cm) and 'Siloam Bo Peep', a herbaceous form with orchid-pink flowers with a purple eye-zone (ht 45 cm), both blooming in late spring and early summer. All daylilies do best in a sunny spot with good drainage.

Dwarf Scabiosa

Another unusual flower in the garden was a small Scabiosa (ht 30 cm). I have never had much luck before with Scabiosa, which tended to rot off in my garden. This one, however, seems to be quite robust. It has pretty lilac flowers in late spring and summer, which are attractive to butterflies. It needs sun and a little lime in the soil. Its botanical name is eluding me at the moment, but it could be Scabiosa columbaria 'Butterfly Blue', a long-blooming cultivar that is excellent used for edging a border. It is said to be drought tolerant once established. I am hoping it will survive through February in my garden, which is usually the month when these sorts of perennials turn up their toes.

All of these plants proved easy to propagate by division, and many of us now have them growing in our own gardens!