Caryopteris x clandonensis
Dichorisandra thrysiflora B
Fiddlewood Tree B
Gingers Gmelina hystrix
Ivory Curl Tree b
Lagerstroemia indica BC
Peltophorum africanum B
Stachytarpheta b Stenocarpus sinnuatus
Yucca recurvifolia Zingiber spectabile
B = European Bees N = Native Bees
Euphorbia 'Diamond Frost'
Habranthus (Rain lily)
WHAT IS FEATURING IN THE GARDEN IN FEBRUARY:
Well what a relief to get lovely rain at last in January. It was a long time coming and lovely to have rainwater in the tanks. It is important to make sure you have good drainage, so that this rain water can get away into your tanks or dams with as little erosion as possible. We are constantly trying to improve our drainage systems so that the water gets away via channels built with bricks or plastic grates that can be bought in metre lengths. Paths need to be built up to run the water against a bank rather than over an edge where it will cause erosion.
Orchids have given me so much joy over the last 50+ years that I am keen to dispel the myth that they are difficult to grow. It is just that they grow differently to garden plants, as most of the orchids we grow here are epiphytic. Epiphytic plants do not grow in soil but attach themselves to a branch or trunk of a tree using their thick fleshy roots. If these roots were kept in damp soil consistently, they would rot and the plant would die. Epiphytes attach themselves to a branch or trunk and send out aerial roots in search of food and water. Leaf litter, bird and animal droppings get lodged in these roots and so feed the plant. So they grow in a forest environment and love our subtropical humid summers and dry winters as they like warmth and do not like being cold and wet.
Once we have got this idea; it is easy to grow orchids. The other thing to understand is like many different plants, there are orchids that like a variety of situations and also have different growth habits. We can grow a wide range of orchid genera here in Brisbane both in the garden, in patios and bush houses. The important growing conditions for orchids is light, air movement, temperature and of course potting media.
In their natural environment, orchids grow for many years on a tree. They are attached firmly to the tree but do not get any nourishment from it. I have found that they do not like being disturbed and once you have found the perfect spot they will happily flower there for many years.
I will be doing a workshop on orchid growing and potting on the 7th March, the details are on <http://www.coucalsgarden.com/whats_happening.html>
The extreme dry has taken its toll on the plants. Summer flowering Salvias can be cut back by half. The Autumn Salvias have really suffered but don’t cut them back or else you will not get the flowers. Shrubs are best left until the soil is moist and then tidy them by cutting off any die-back. Mulching can only benefit by keeping the soil cooler and as the mulch breaks down and conditions the soil it makes it more water retentive. Mulching also protects the soil from the heavy downpours of rain. Palm fronds, can be mulched by putting them through the shredder, and then put back onto the garden beds.
BROMELIADS are certainly the ‘stars’ of the dry garden and many of the flowers of bromeliads resemble stars, some with fantastic colours. A favourite of mine is Aechmea fasciata which has lovely grey leaves and during the middle of summer it shoots up its magnificent flower stalk which has pink bracts with purple flowers. Guzmanias do not like the cold and prefer shade. They reward you with magnificent star like flowers usually in red, yellow or both. Vriesias also like a sheltered site with shade and some have beautiful tessellated or banded foliage, some having more contrast than others. I find that the ones that have the more dramatic foliage have duller flowers and the plainer foliage ones have flowers that are either vivid red or yellow. Their flowers are shaped like feathers or swords which are very attractive. Vriesia splendens has both heavily banded dark and light green leaves with an orange-red flower spike.
Frangipanis survive in well drained situations and appreciate mulch to keep the soil moist during the warm growing season. Most lose their leaves in winter except for the hammer head Frangipani, Plumeria pudica. Its flowers are in clusters like Plumeria rubra but usually only on the top of the main branches and are pure white. It grows into a shrub rather than a tree. The nickname hammerhead comes from the shape of the leaves.
Frangipanis strike easily from cuttings as a branch can be broken from the tree and after being left to dry out for a week or so can be planted, preferably in a pot until the roots form. They do have a milky white sap which is irritating, so be careful not to rub your eyes if you get it on your hands.
It is better to water in the morning rather than the afternoon. Pruning is best done after flowering and cutting back to a pencil thick stem encourages sturdier growth.
Bananas also like a well-drained position and appreciate mulch around their base to retain moisture. It is better to cut the hand down when the bananas are fully formed but not yellow and at the same time cut the whole stem at the base. Allowing them to form a clump is ideal and you can dig up a small sucker to start a new clump.
IN THE GARDEN