New treasures

Sunday, 27 September 2015

The Plant Lovers Fair at Kariong 2015

'I'll only be LOOKING when I go to the Plant Lovers Fair, not buying,' I announced confidently to my gardening friends last week. 'Yeah, right,' they replied, knowing me better than I know myself. And so it was that I came home with a carful of new treasures from the fair this past weekend!

With so many of the small independent nurseries in Sydney closing down in recent years, those of us with a plant addiction are relying more than ever on plant fairs to have the opportunity to see (and buy!) the unusual plants that are rarely seen in the big chain nurseries. So thank goodness for the Collectors Plant Fair (held in autumn at Clarendon, NSW) and the Plant Lovers Fair (held in spring at Kariong on the Central Coast of NSW), our local fairs.

Foliage of Fuchsia procumbens

There was something for every gardener - new or seasoned - at the fair this weekend, with edibles, natives, orchids, succulents, roses, bulbs, begonias, shrubs, perennials, climbers and bonsai - and lots more, as well as books and tools. With a current interest in shaded gardens, I found myself gravitating to some of the stalls selling suitable plants for such spots, and purchased trailing Fuchsia procumbens (ht 10 cm, spread to 1 m) from Ross Bolwell's Begonia and Shade Plants stall. This New Zealand plant looks nothing like any other Fuchsia I've seen, and has yellow and green flowers followed by large and persistent red berries. And it can grow in part or full shade, apparently! I admired many Begonia and Acanthaceae plants at this stall.

My new ferns

At Verdigris Fern Nursery's stall, I obtained advice on ferns to grow in dry shade, and purchased two specimens: Asplenium obtusatum (ht 30 cm) and Rumohra adiantiformis (ht 60 cm). I am very ignorant about ferns and am keen to learn more. They provide such an effective contrast to bold-leaved plants in shade, with their dainty filigree foliage. One delightful aspect of plant fairs is the chance to meet the people who have propagated these plants, who cheerfully and willingly give advice to the customers.

Aster divaricatus

I enjoyed seeing the wide range of perennials at the Clover Hill Rare Plants stall, with the shade-lovers cleverly placed under an awning away from the sun-loving ones, to make decisions easier (and also to prevent them from wilting in the sun). Here I bought Aster divaricatus, which unlike most of its relatives, grows in dry shade; along with a compact form of the Shasta daisy (a sun-lover) called 'Little Angel' (ht 60 cm). Yellow House Heritage Perennials had their usual lovely selection of plants, all beautifully displayed, and I was given some useful advice about how to combat those wretched flea beetles that are attacking my Salvia collection! The Growing Friends of Sydney Royal Botanic Garden had a great range too, of many of the plants that grow in the Botanic Garden and which are so suitable for Sydney gardeners - and hard to find elsewhere.

Blooms of Stachyurus praecox

Other plants that called my name included a lovely shrub with metallic sea-green leaves with a silvery underside, called Eleagnus x ebbingei (ht 2 m), which can grow in full sun OR full shade; and Stachyurus praecox (ht 1.6 m), a deciduous shrub from Japan, which has long graceful strings of pale yellow bells in late winter and early spring, and can grow in sun or light shade: I had admired it in bloom recently in a friend's garden and in the Spring Walk at the Botanic Garden (both purchased from Yamina Rare Plants); and a native climber from Fraser Island: Tecomanthe dendrophylla 'Roaring Meg' (from Weslor Flowers Plant Nursery) with long, dark pink, pendulous flowers in clusters, which I once saw growing to perfection in the Mackay Botanic Garden. It will be interesting to see how this goes in my Sydney garden.

All the dedicated nurserymen and women who grow these plants for our delectation need our ongoing support, so that we as gardeners can continue to try to make the gardens of our dreams ...

Reader Comments

  • By Maureen 2118 Monday, 28 September 2015

    LOOKING ONLY!!! Ha ha - The chant of many of us but tis hard to follow through when tempted by a smorgasbord of plants!! The Stachyurus praecox looks interesting. Enjoy your break. Thanks, Maureen. It is always exciting to get some new plants. Deirdre

  • By Janna 0 Monday, 28 September 2015

    It"s so lovely to find (and buy!) new plants! I bought the Rumohra adiantiformis at Clarendon, earlier this year, and it has done fantastically well in a dark, dry spot under a huge brush box. I also love Fuchsia procumbens, which I saw flowering in NZ last year; such unique flowers and lovely foliage. I hope you enjoy your new treasures! Thanks, Janna. Very pleased to hear how well that fern is doing. Deirdre

  • By Jan 2582 Monday, 28 September 2015

    Enjoy your new plants and your break - hard to be inside writing over spring, when you want to be outside every minute. If you are heading to the farm and have some time let me know - would be great to show you my garden. I will be in touch soon, Jan! Deirdre

  • By Bren 2540 Monday, 28 September 2015

    Yes, I remember my father in New Zealand had a large Hebe garden with Fchsia procumbens at ground level. I managed to buy one from the Sydney botanic gardens shop. Another NZ native that has a superficially similar look , and is handy for covering any ugly items in the garden is Muelenbeckia. I remember in NZ there was also a tree Fuchsia with small typically Fuchsia looking flowers, but I havent been able to find it here. Great to hear more about that fuchsia. There is what I call tree fuchsia - Fuchsia arborescens - a wonderful tall shrubby version with clusters of small cerise flowers. Deirdre

  • By Christine 6285 Monday, 28 September 2015

    Fuchsia procumbens is used for weaving and can be grown in hanging baskets where it grows to very long lengths. The flowers are fascinating aren"t they? Thanks for the tip on weaving the stems of the fuchsia. I have not seen the flowers yet but looking forward to them. Deirdre

  • By Sue 3106 Monday, 28 September 2015

    Is there such a thing as "looking only"? The Kevin Heinze Grow Centre Spring Fair is on again in the upcoming weeks and I go every year to "look only"...always come home with a boot full.I have been growing Fuchsia procumbens in a hanging basket for a number of years now and always get comments on the flowers. Enjoy:) Hope you enjoy that fair! Great idea to grow the fuchsia in a hanging basket. Deirdre

  • By margaret 2122 Monday, 28 September 2015

    We all are just going "to look", but with the vast array of reasonably-priced plants at Kariong, who could resist a purchase or two or...? Your selections sound wonderful, and we will look forward to further reports about them. I was quite restrained, but did buy some treasures, as well as some seeds. Thanks, Margaret. Hope all your new acquisitions do well. Deirdre

  • By Carole 2230 Monday, 28 September 2015

    We are on the way home, slowly,with the caravan. So far I have on this trip I have acquired a hardenbergia, a lavender, a brown boronia(reminds me of my childdhood), pot of mixed violas and radermachera. Hahahahaha! Re ferns - I have a Hare"s Foot fern (davallia pyxidata) growing happily around a rock base, has some sun but not much and receives only water from rain.I have a Fraser Is. creeper (tecomanthe hllii) which has yet to flower, I know someone at Earlwood Sydney who has rampant grower. Thanks for the feedback about the climber, Carole. Deirdre

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