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!

Reader Comments

  • By Peta 2758 (Zone:9 - Cool Temperate) Monday, 08 December 2014

    I can vouch for the small Scabiosa. It grows for me on the edge of a rockery in full sun and almost always has powder blue flowers. The leaves are shiny and small. All in all a little treasure. Thanks, Peta! I hope mine will prove to do as well! Deirdre

  • By margaret 2122 (Zone:10 - Warm Temperate) Monday, 08 December 2014

    I, too, enjoy miniature plants - a favourite of mine is the dwarf beloperone, the rust-coloured one, which has flowers all year.I love your dwarf beloperone, Margaret. The others can get pretty tall and wild, needing cutting back every so often but the mini one is very compact. Deirdre

  • By Anne 2518 (Zone:10 - Warm Temperate) Monday, 08 December 2014

    I have had the scabiosa several times. Also have lots of the smaller agapanthus - love them. I loved that garden. the plants for sale were great too. I bought the day lily bo peep and am awaiting its flowering. I have a small yellow one which is a consistent flower-er. Margaret"s dwarf beloperone sounds great. Thanks, Anne. Hope the daylily goes OK. Linda tells me that it is herbaceous in winter, dying right back, but regrows in spring. Deirdre

  • By John 2156 (Zone:10 - Warm Temperate) Monday, 08 December 2014

    I found that at the end of Autumn my Butterfly Blue Scabious looked very tatty with little chance of surviving, I pulled it apart into four pieces leaving some root system and replanted. Happy to say three of the divisions took well. That is a good tip, John. I did the same thing this year with a red penstemon - I have never had much luck with them either. It seems to be doing quite well and I ended up with more clumps! Deirdre

  • By Alison 2125 (Zone:10 - Warm Temperate) Monday, 08 December 2014

    I visited Linda McCauley"s garden and really enjoyed wandering through it. Always interesting to see how other gardeners put together a garden. I was taken with Linda"s use of pots. Having vowed to reduce the number of potted plants I have because of the work they require, I am now rethinking that idea after seeing how successfully Linda uses pots to fill in gaps in her garden. Glad you enjoyed the garden. Pots are good to fill gaps; as long as there is time to water them! Deirdre

  • By Anne 2518 (Zone:10 - Warm Temperate) Monday, 08 December 2014

    thanks for the heads up on the bo peep being herbaceous. I have a lovely dark blue smaller agapanthus which I bought from the road side "shop" of your old friend a couple of years ago and it is herbaceous so have to watch out for it. I actually cut the foliage of all my daylilie to the ground in early June. It regrows nice and fresh. In fact any time it looks ratty I do this. Some of mine do get the rust problem so I cut off all the leaves and throw the in the green bin; generally they regrow looking a bit more healthy - at least for a while. Deirdre

  • By Lyn 4570 (Zone:11B - Tropical) Monday, 08 December 2014

    I was just admiring a mini pelargonium, so tiny, in my son"s pot garden. Like you I am captivated by the tiny cousins. I grow mini daylilies in a tall birdbath.We had rain! A whole 12mm. Hope you get some more rain. Your daylilies must look good in their birdbath! Deirdre

  • By Helen 7256 (Zone:10 - Mediteranean) Monday, 08 December 2014

    Some mini plants are great - but I have a large country garden & often find it frustrating as the new wave of dwarf plants for smaller gardens makes it harder to source some plants I would like. Yes, that is a very good point, Helen. Some dwarfed plants also lose the elegance of the originals. Deirdre

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