Posts Tagged ‘hardy plants’

Bergenia ciliata

February 28, 2014

I was writing in my newsletter about Bergenia ciliata. Unlike the other bergenias, it has hairy leaves rather like those of an African violet (Saintpaulia) but much bigger. I acquired mine towards the end of last summer, so obviously it has not done much growing – and when it does start, progress is likely to be slow. It probably won’t flower this year, but this is a plant whose flowers are incidental – the leaves, up to 12in (30cm) long and 8in (20cm) across, are the main attraction. With undulating margins, they are puckered and covered in soft hairs. Despite their substantial texture, they are likely to be ravaged by severe winter weather. At present, mine is establishing in a small bed near the house. When I come to plant it out properly, it will need some shelter – I hope it will do well in a shady spot near my ancient apple tree.

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Solanum jasminoides ‘Album’

November 15, 2009

It’s quite normal to see shrubs pushing out a few flowers at this time of year – and I’ve noticed on my travels that two reliable winter flowerers are well into their stride. The ones in question being Viburnum bodnantense ‘Dawn’ and Mahonia media ‘Charity’.

Nothing so unusual there, but I was immensely gratified to come across a specimen of Solanum jasminoides ‘Album’ that was still generously covered with its beautiful white potato flowers. Gratified, because I often recommend this as a suitable subject for training – loosely – against a warm wall, one of its chief merits being (apart from its beauty) the length of its flowering season.

Solanum jasminoides Album

The white flowers of Solanum jasminoides 'Album' are produced over a long period

It starts around July – possibly earlier – and then continues without apparently drawing breath until, well, now. And apparently with every intention of continuing.

The plant I saw was actually hanging over a fence, so I suspect it may not be so tender as the books say it is. A hard frost might cut it back, but it would probably recover. A must-have plant.

Phillyrea angustifolia

November 3, 2009

It’s time I put in a plug for one of my all-time favourite plants, Phillyrea angustifolia – there’s no common name, this is one of those instances where you just have to get your head round the Latin. Like box (Buxus), this evergreen shrub tolerates hard pruning, and was often used in combination with box in 17th-century knot gardens. But it makes a much more open, elegant plant.

Phillyrea

Phillyrea angustifolia has firm, flame like leaves that are apparently disease proof

Angustifolia means ‘with narrow leaves’, and if you thought they looked like those of an olive (but green), you’d be on to something – the two plants are indeed related. But unlike the olive, the phillyrea is bone hardy. I have two, planted as a pair that herald the start of a path that leads down my garden.

I am particularly attached to them – I bought them at Rosemary Verey’s garden near Cirencester some twenty years ago. Maybe some of the magic of that place lives on in my garden. Mrs Verey speculated that the plant’s lack of a common name had much to do with its fall from favour – that and the difficulties of propagating it. Apparently, cuttings have to be of two-year-old wood and taken in November – that’s now, isn’t it?