Friday, 26 July 2013

Crotons for winter colour

Crotons have been growing in my garden for around 10 years now, they were first planted along the pathway from the house to the Pavilion.
I love the long narrow leaves on this Croton and the way they twist. A few years ago, a Bangalow Palm leaf fell down and broke off one side of this Croton; I was not happy about losing such a large section of this Croton.   This Croton is now around 1.5m (5') high.
Codiaeum Punctatum
This croton is around 1.8m (6') high; it is a strong and hardy grower. I am working out how to prune this one as it does hang over the path blocking the way.

This is an interrupted leaf variety, if you look carefully at the long leaf hanging down to the ground, on the left side of the photo. You will see that close to the top of the leaf there is a section with only the midvein, then the leaf starts again.  This is a smaller and slower growing Croton.

I gradually added more Crotons in other areas of the Pavilion Garden

Codiaem Captain Kid

Last September and October more Crotons were added to this area and the ones below were bought back from Darwin.  There is an amazing range of Crotons growing in Darwin and it is so tempting to buy more when we are there.

Codiaeum Turtle Shell
The photo above and below, show the different colours this Croton has during the year.

Codiaeum Turtle Shell

This one is a new release from Darwin.


Lower Garden 

Even though these are growing on the edge of the wall in the Pavilion Garden, they can only be seen from the Lower Garden.

Now having said that they can only be seen from the Lower Garden, this one is the exception as it is growing next to the steps leading up into the Pavilion Garden.

Is this 2 or 3 Crotons?
Just one showing the variation in leaf colour that can occur with Crotons.


The Crotons grow along the length of the wall, I have found this to be an ideal spot for them as it is well drained and it also has filtered sun for most of the day throughout the year.

It can be fascinating watching the Crotons grow. This one has a lot of yellow in the leaf at certain times of the year, while at other times it is mainly red in colour.

Pool Garden

I think these are all the same Codiaeum cultivar but they are growing in different parts of this garden. 


Front Garden

The Front Garden was a very open and cold area; this was not the best area to plant  Crotons but I couldn't resist, I planted two close to the house (first 2 photos below).  In late 2009, we renovated the Front Garden; retaining walls and pathways were built and a new central garden replaced the lawn.  More Crotons were then planted around the pathways. 



This is not a recent photo of this Croton as it is a spot in the garden where it gets full sun during winter which bleaches the colours out of the leaves, leaving them looking wishy washy.

This is the latest addition to the Front Garden and it is almost through its first winter and still looking great.

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Flowering in July

Last week was a warm week here in Sydney, it was very cloudy from late afternoon through to mid morning and there was a little bit of rain during the night.  The sun would come out and warm the days up; it was warm enough to think about getting out into the garden again.  But the weather forecast was telling me that the cold weather would be back again this week and it is definitely here, it is very windy and the wind has an icy feel to it which usually means that it is snowing in the Snowy Mountains.  Luckily I didn't start pruning plants as it would have changed the microclimate here and I would have put some of my plants in danger of cold damage or death depending on how cold it would get.  Instead I started to clean the pavers in the Pavilion garden, the pavers have a rippled finish to instead of a smooth surface and pockets of dirt in the hollows of the pavers. The dirty pavers and twigs and leaves on the pathway always makes the garden look messy; now when I look out the back door it all looks clean and tidy which, somehow, always manages to make the plants in the surrounding garden look better and it just seems to make me feel better.

Abutilon pictum  Thompsonii
These are a new addition to my garden, they were only planted in spring and it has already grown  fairly tall so I think I am going to have to move one of mine as it looks like it is going to grow too tall for the spot it is in.

Justicia carnea Alba
This plant seems to light up the shady areas of my garden when it is in flower. My plant that is in a shadier spot than this one has darker green leaves which makes the white flowers stand out even more.   The leaves have been attacked on this one while the one in the back garden still has perfect leaves.

Gloxinia sylvatica and Porphyrocoma pohliana coming into flower
This is the first time the Gloxinia has flowered for me.  I have planted this in a few different places in the garden but this spot has been the most successful.  This is the one spot in the garden that the Porphyrocoma does self seed, so I move the seedlings into other parts of the garden.

Hypoestes aristata is a new addition to my garden and I have it planted in a few different spots.  One I moved in autumn and it is still flowering.

Justicia aurea
 This plant is looking really good this year.  I gave it a hard prune last spring as the stems weren't vey strong and had a tendency to fall over.  There is a Heliconia subulata behind it and that is going to go this spring so I think the Justicia aurea will be a lost stronger and better flowering.

Oncidium Sherry Baby

Pavonia x gledhillii
 This is a very narrow upright shrub growing to around 1.8m high.  I have found the narrow habit of this plant perfect for adding height to the garden where there is very little room at ground level.  I love its long narrow leaves and deeply indented veins and the deep pink to red flowers. The petals stand almost upright giving the appearance of a partially opened flower and standing high above the flower are the blue stamens.  The flowers last for many months and they appear throughout the year.  My plant is in a position in the garden with filtered sun.

Ruellia chartacea

The flower spike has an unusual colour combination; the long lasting bracts are brilliant red and orange flowers emerge from these red bracts. This is an open shrub with a straggly appearance, yet I find it very eye catching when planted within a garden as the flower spikes just appear throughout the surrounding foliage.  A lightly shaded position is ideal in areas such as Sydney and Brisbane.
We saw this plant growing as a hedge at Government House in Darwin last October, the hedge looked fantastic as the plants are pruned regularly to control the straggly appearance.  The entire length of the hedge was in flower and I took masses of photos to try and get perfect photos.  This photo was taken in my own garden last week.

Schaueria flavicoma
This is another plant with very unusual flower spikes. The flowers have yellow brush like bracts with lemon flower emerging from the bracts in late autumn to winter. Even though this plant only flowers for a short time, it is worth the wait to see these unusual flowers.  A shady position is essential as the leaves may burn in direct sun.
Vireya Chaya

My Vireyas pretty much do their own thing when it comes to flowering time.  They can be difficult to grow, these plants are happy where they are and they have been in the ground for many years.  But I have lost other Vireyas as they didn't like where they were planted.


Ruellia makoyana
 I have two larger plants of this in the garden , the one above gets a lot more light and it has been in flower for many months now.  The other one is in a shadier area, its leaves are a lot darker in colour but it does not flower for as long a period.

 Angelonia angustifolia variegated flower form
My Angelonias were planted last October and they have been continually in flower since then.  The do need to be planted close to the front of the garden so that you can see all the darker speckles inside the throat of the flower.

 Angelonia angustifolia pink flowered form

 Justicia brandegeeana
This plant is always in colour here, as the red bracts stay on the plant for many months after the flowers have finished.

 Justicia brandegeeana 'Yellow Queen'
This is another one that retains its yellowish green bracts long after the flowers have finished.

 Justicia brandegeeana 'Fruit Cocktail'
This plant is continually in flower.  My plant does get a lot of sun in winter; in summer it is protected from the hot sun by the overhanging branches of a Brugmansia.  This plant has sprouted some seedlings around it, when they are bigger I will pot them up and it will be interesting to see if there are any different coloured flowers.

 Justicia brandegeeana Big Red
This plant flowers off and on throughout the year.  I am thinking of planting one in more sun to see if it flowers more consistently.

 Mussaenda luteola (Pseudomussaenda luteola)
This plant has been flowering for over 8 months now and it is its first year in the garden.

Pentas lanceolata white form flowered form
Pentas are a great plant to add a tropical or cottage garden; my plants would flower all year round if I didn't prune them each spring. 
Pentas lanceolata red flowered form