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1. Every Friday post a photo that includes one or more flowers.
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Thursday, 20 September 2018

FFF356 - SPRING BOUQUET

It's the Spring Equinox here in the Southern Hemisphere and I'm posting today a bouquet gathered from our garden. You can find in it the following flowers:

Freesias, anemones, bluebells, daisies, marigolds, stocks, ixias, rosemary, bergenias, lilies, sparaxis, canola, red valerian.

The fragrance is delicious and it certainly brings Spring indoors very effectively.

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Thursday, 13 September 2018

FFF355 - LITHODORA

Lithodora diffusa ‘Grace Ward’ (also called blue lithospermum, USDA Zone: 5-9) in the Boraginaceae family is a choice ground-cover or rock garden plant, making an unforgettable display when grown well. Plants form a low, creeping mat of hairy dark-green leaves, studded with sapphire-blue star flowers from late spring through summer. The Greek lithodora literally means "stone gift", referring to their preferred rocky habitats.

Plants must have a well-drained, acidic soil in order to thrive. Heavy clay soils are sure death. In colder regions this plant will benefit from a light covering of evergreen boughs as soon as the soil is frozen in late Autumn. Combines well with heaths and heathers, since plants have similar requirements. Evergreen where hardy. Not especially vigorous.

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Thursday, 6 September 2018

FFF354 - WHITE BOTTLEBRUSH

Callistemon is a genus of shrubs in the family Myrtaceae, first described as a genus in 1814. The entire genus is endemic to Australia but widely cultivated in many other regions and naturalised in scattered locations. Their status as a separate taxon is in doubt, some authorities accepting that the difference between callistemons and melaleucas is not sufficient for them to be grouped in a separate genus.

Callistemon species have commonly been referred to as bottlebrushes because of their cylindrical, brush like flowers resembling a traditional bottle brush. They are mostly found in the more temperate regions of Australia, especially along the east coast and typically favour moist conditions so when planted in gardens thrive on regular watering. However, two species are found in Tasmania and several others in the south-west of Western Australia. At least some species are drought-resistant and some are used in ornamental landscaping elsewhere in the world.

Melaleuca pallida, commonly known as lemon bottlebrush, is a plant in the myrtle family, Myrtaceae and is endemic to eastern Australia. (Some Australian state herbaria use the name Callistemon pallidus.) It is an upright shrub with thin, spreading branches, silvery new growth and pale yellow, sometimes pinkish bottlebrush flowers. Callistemon pallidus is a hardy plant, adaptable to many soils but needs full sun.

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Thursday, 30 August 2018

FFF353 - LACHENALIA

Lachenalia aloides (opal flower) is a species of flowering plant in the family Asparagaceae, native to the Western Cape of South Africa. It is a bulbous perennial growing to 15–28 cm  tall by 5 cm broad, with strap-shaped spotted leaves and fleshy stems bearing pendant tubular yellow flowers, red at the tips, in winter and spring.

The Latin aloides literally means "aloe-like"; though L. aloides, despite its similarity, does not belong to the same family of plants as aloes. Numerous cultivars have been bred for garden use. They require a sheltered, frost-free position or under glass. The following have gained the Royal Horticultural Society's Award of Garden Merit: L. aloides var. aurea and L. aloides var. quadricolor.

Lachenalia look good planted at the front of beds and borders, in rockeries, along pathways or in pots. Plant into well drained soil in a sunny position. They will tolerate some shade but flower better in sun. Plant 5-10cm deep and 10cm apart. Water in then keep just moist in growth. Add a little fertiliser when they begin to bloom and that is about all you will need to do. They are easy care bulbs that can be left in the ground to naturalise. Try combining Lachenalia with Muscari or Grape Hyacinths; they also grow well with early Daffodils or spring star flowers.

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Thursday, 23 August 2018

FFF352 - LEUCADENDRON

Leucadendron is a genus of about 80 species of flowering plants in the family Proteaceae, endemic to South Africa, where they are a prominent part of the fynbos ecoregion and vegetation type.

Species in the genus Leucadendron are small trees or shrubs that are erect or creeping. Most species are shrubs that grow up to 1 m tall, some to 2 or 3 m. A few grow into moderate-sized trees up to 16 m tall. All are evergreen. The leaves are largely elliptical, sometimes needle-like, spirally arranged, simple, entire, and usually green, often covered with a waxy bloom, and in the case of the Silvertree, with a distinct silvery tone produced by dense, straight, silky hairs. This inspired the generic name Leucadendron, which literally means "white tree".

The flowers are produced in dense inflorescences at the branch tips; plants are dioecious, with separate male and female plants. The seed heads, or infructescences, of Leucadendron are woody cone-like structures. This gave rise to their generic common name cone-bush. The cones contain numerous seeds. The seed morphology is varied and reflects subgeneric groupings within the genus.

Shown here is Leucadendron salignum 'Fireglow'. It has red-tipped, green foliage, with masses of red flower bracts from early autumn to early spring. It prefers a well drained, acidic soil and will tolerate light frosts, as well as coastal conditions. Prune after flowering and fertilise with an acidic fertiliser sparingly. This plant has a moderate water requirement once established. These flowers bracts make excellent cut flowers. The plants compact nature makes it ideal for small hedges, general landscaping, and looks fantastic in decorative pots.

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Thursday, 16 August 2018

FFF351 - TULIP TREE

Liriodendron tulipifera (known as the tulip tree, American tulip tree, tuliptree, tulip poplar, whitewood, fiddle-tree, and yellow poplar) is the Western Hemisphere representative of the two-species genus Liriodendron, and the tallest eastern hardwood. It is native to eastern North America from Southern Ontario and Illinois eastward across southern New England and south to central Florida and Louisiana.

It can grow to more than 50 m in virgin cove forests of the Appalachian Mountains, often with no limbs until it reaches 25–30 m in height, making it a very valuable timber tree. It is fast-growing, without the common problems of weak wood strength and short lifespan often seen in fast-growing species. April marks the start of the flowering period in the southern USA; trees at the northern limit of cultivation begin to flower in June. Surprisingly, the flower-bearing branches make good cut flower displays.

The flowers are pale green or yellow (rarely white), with an orange band on the tepals; they yield large quantities of nectar. The tulip tree is the state tree of Indiana, Kentucky, and Tennessee. Tulip trees make magnificently shaped specimen trees, but are very large, growing to about 35 m in good soil. Liriodendron tulipifera has been introduced to many temperate parts of the world, at least as far north as Sykkylven, Norway.

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Thursday, 9 August 2018

FFF350 - LOROPETALUM

Loropetalum is a genus of three species of shrubs or small trees in the witch-hazel family, Hamamelidaceae, native to China, Japan, and south-eastern Asia. The name Loropetalum refers to the shape of the flowers and comes from the Greek loros meaning strap and petalon meaning petal.

Flowers are produced in clusters during spring and are similar to those of the closely related witch-hazel. Each flower consists of four to six (depending on species) slender strap shaped petals 1-2 cm long. Illustrated here is Loropetalum chinense var. rubrum, often called "Chinese Fringe Flower". Plan your colours to begin with. This particular loropetalum looks great in a black pot for an oriental feel or try a bright contrasting colour for a real statement.

As it’s low growing, plant it at the front of garden beds for maximum impact. Loropetalums in general prefer moist but well drained soils but are quite adaptable to less than ideal conditions. Pruning is generally not required, however, you can give a light trim after flowering to help keep them in your preferred shape. A feed with a slow release fertiliser in early spring is beneficial. They are ideal for low maintenance areas, rockeries and garden edges.

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Thursday, 2 August 2018

FFF349 - DEANE'S WATTLE

Acacia deanei (Deane's wattle, green wattle) is a tree native to Australia, which is used for controlling erosion. There are two subspecies: Acacia deanei subsp. deanei and Acacia deanei subsp. paucijuga. Both subspecies are mainly 2-4 m tall and grow on plains, slopes and tablelands, often near watercourses, in gullies or on stony hillsides, and on a wide range of soil types in Eastern Australia.

This species often flowers throughout the year, especially during March to August; pods mature mainly during October to March or sometimes later. There are about 45 viable seeds per gram. Nicking or boiling the seeds in water for a minute at 100°C is required to induce germination. The seeds start to germinate in about 5 days if grown at 25°C.

Acacia deanei is a fast growing, nitrogen-fixing shrub that has the potential to play a valuable role in catchment protection. It is relatively drought and cold tolerant; its pollen has value in apiculture. This tree is known to be moderately drought tolerant but is killed by damaging fire and does not regenerate foliage afterwards. It tolerates frosts in the 0° to -5°C range or tolerates heavy frosts colder than -5°C. This tree has good ornamental attributes and is often used in the urban environment as a street or park tree. 

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Thursday, 26 July 2018

FFF348 - PRUNUS

Prunus mume is an Asian tree species classified in the Armeniaca section of the genus Prunus subgenus Prunus. Its common names include Chinese plum and Japanese apricot. The flower is usually called plum blossom. This distinct tree species is related to both the plum and apricot trees. Although generally referred to as a plum in English, it is more closely related to the apricot.

In Chinese, Japanese and Korean cooking, the fruit of the tree is used in juices, as a flavouring for alcohol, as a pickle and in sauces. It is also used in traditional medicine. The tree's flowering in late winter and early spring is highly regarded as a seasonal symbol. It is flowering now in Melbourne, which is a little early! Our July is equivalent to the Northern Hemisphere January. Nevertheless, it does look splendid...

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Thursday, 19 July 2018

FFF347 - CHRYSANTHEMUM

Although once referred to as Dendranthema, the florists chrysanthemum is now correctly known under its old name. There are about 40 species in the genus Chrysanthemum, mainly from East Asia. In China, where they have been cultivated for over 2,500 years, the chrysanthemum was used medicinally and for flavouring, as well as for ornament. All chrysanthemum flowers are edible, but the flavour varies widely from plant to plant, from sweet to tangy to bitter or peppery. It may take some experimentation to find flavours you like.

The flower is also significant in Japan where it is a symbol of happiness and longevity, and the royal family has ruled for 2,600 years from the Chrysanthemum Throne. The annual species are referred to as Xanthophthalmum and are mainly used for summer bedding or as fillers in borders of perennial flowers. Most chrysanthemums are upright plants with lobed leaves that can be aromatic. The many showy flowerheads, carried at the tips of strong stems, begin to bloom as the days shorten.

Florists chrysanthemums (Chrysanthemum grandiflorum) are grouped according to form: Irregular incurved, reflexed, regular incurved, intermediate incurved, pompon, single and semi-double, anemone, spoon, quill, spider, brush or thistle, and unclassified, which is a catch-all group for blooms not yet classified or not falling into one of the existing groups. Florists chrysanthemums prefer a heavier richer soil in a sunny position, though they like a spot that offers some afternoon shade. The plants require training and trimming to produce their best flowers. Pinch back when young and disbud to ensure the best flower show.Propagate by division when dormant or from half-hardened summer cuttings.

Shown  here is the 'Garden Pixie' miniature chrysanthemum, which flowers prolifically and adds welcome splashes of intense colour in the garden or in pots. Intense greenhouse cultivation for the florist trade means that these chrysanthemums are available almost all year round.

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Thursday, 12 July 2018

FFF346 - JONQUILS

Narcissus jonquilla (Jonquil, Rush daffodil) is a bulbous flowering plant, a species of Narcissus (daffodil) that is native to southwestern Europe and northern Africa, but has naturalised throughout Europe and the United States. It bears long, narrow, rush-like leaves (hence the name "jonquil", Spanish junquillo, from the Latin juncus = "rush"). It is in the Amaryllidaceae family of plants.

In Spring it bears heads of up to 5 scented yellow or white flowers. It is a parent of numerous varieties within Division 7 of the horticultural classification. Division 7 in the Royal Horticultural Society classification of Narcissus includes N. jonquilla and N. apodanthus hybrids and cultivars that show clear characteristics of those two species. N. jonquilla has been cultivated since the 18th century in France as the strongest of the Narcissus species used in Narcissus Oil, a component of many modern perfumes.

Like other members of their family, narcissi produce a number of different alkaloids, which provide some protection for the plant, but may be poisonous if accidentally ingested. This property has been exploited for medicinal use in traditional healing and has resulted in the production of galantamine for the treatment of Alzheimer's dementia.

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Thursday, 5 July 2018

FFF345 - CHOISYA

Choisya is a small genus of aromatic evergreen shrubs in the rue family, Rutaceae. Members of the genus are commonly known as Mexican orange or mock orange due to the similarity of their flowers with those of the closely related orange, both in shape and scent. They are native to southern North America, from Arizona, New Mexico, Texas and south through most of Mexico. In its generic name Humboldt and Bonpland honoured Swiss botanist Jacques Denis Choisy (1799-1859).

The species grow to 1 to 3 m tall. The leaves are opposite, leathery, glossy, palmately compound with 3-13 leaflets, each leaflet 3–8 cm long and 0.5–3.5 cm broad. C. ternata (shown here) has three broad leaflets, while C. dumosa has up to 13 very narrow leaflets. The flowers are star-shaped, 3–5 cm diameter, with 4-7 white petals, 8-15 stamens and a green stigma; they are produced throughout the late spring and summer. The fruit is a leathery two to six sectioned capsule.

Choisya species are popular ornamental plants in areas with mild winters, grown primarily for their abundant and fragrant flowers. The foliage is also aromatic, smelling of rue when bruised or cut. The most commonly found cultivars in the horticultural trade are the species, C. ternata, the golden-leaved C. ternata 'Sundance', and the inter-specific hybrid C. 'Aztec Pearl' (C. arizonica x C. ternata). All three varieties have gained the Royal Horticultural Society's Award of Garden Merit. The flowers are also valued for honeybee forage, producing abundant nectar.

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Thursday, 28 June 2018

FFF344 - FIREWHEEL TREE

Stenocarpus sinuatus, known as the Firewheel Tree is an Australian rainforest tree in the Proteaceae family. The range of natural distribution is in various rainforest types from the Nambucca River (30° S) in New South Wales to the Atherton Tableland (17° S) in tropical Queensland. However, Stenocarpus sinuatus is widely planted as an ornamental tree in other parts of Australia and in different parts of the world. Other common names include White Beefwood, Queensland Firewheel Tree, Tulip Flower and White Silky Oak.

A medium to large tree, up to 40 metres tall and 75 cm in trunk diameter. The bark is greyish brown, not smooth and irregular. The base of the cylindrical trunk is flanged. Leaves alternate and variable in shape, simple or pinnatifid, the leaf margins wavy, 12 to 20 cm long. Leaf venation is clearly seen above and below the leaf. Leaves are characteristic and easily identified as part of the Proteaceae family.

The ornamental flowers are bright red in umbels, in a circular formation, hence the name Firewheel Tree. Flowers form mostly between February to March. The fruit is a follicle, in a boat shape, 5 to 10 cm long. Inside are many thin seeds 12 mm long. Fruit matures from January to July. Regeneration from fresh seed occurs speedily. Cuttings also strike well.

The flower (as "Wheel Flower") is the subject of some of Australian artist, Margaret Preston's most popular flower prints (see image here, ca 1929).

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Thursday, 21 June 2018

FFF343 - POLYGALA

Polygala myrtifolia, the myrtle-leaf milkwort, is an evergreen 2-4m tall South African shrub or small tree found along the southern and south-eastern coasts, from near Clanwilliam in the Western Cape to KwaZulu-Natal. It is a fast-growing pioneer plant, a typical fynbos component, and may be found on dunes, rocky places, along forest margins, beside streams, and in open grassland. It belongs to the milkwort family of Polygalaceae.

The thin, oval, mucronate leaves, 25–50 mm long and up to 13 mm wide, are arranged alternately and have entire margins - some forms of P. myrtifolia have thin, needle-like leaves. The attractive mauve sweetpea-like flowers, which close at night, may also be pink, magenta, crimson or white, and have a characteristic brush-like tuft protruding from the keel. For pollination an intricate piston mechanism is used. The fruit is an oval, brown, dehiscent capsule which is narrowly winged.

The species is often cultivated in South African and Australasian gardens. The genus of Polygala comprises some 360 species with a wide distribution in the tropics and temperate zones. 'Polygala' is interpreted as 'much milk' since the plant was thought to stimulate milk production in European cows - 'myrtifolia' translates as 'myrtle-shaped leaves'. This species has become naturalised in some of the coastal areas of Australia, Norfolk Island, New Zealand and California. This species is noted for its antibacterial and antifungal properties. Research conducted by the University of KwaZulu Natal found that aqueous extracts of P. myrtifolia proved effective against Candida albicans.

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Thursday, 14 June 2018

FFF342 - AFRICAN BUSH DAISY

Euryops chrysanthemoides (with the common names African bush daisy or bull's-eye) is a small shrub in the Asteraceae family, native to Southern Africa that is also grown as a horticultural specimen in tropical to subtropical regions around the world. It occurs in the Eastern Cape, along the coast and inland, to KwaZulu-Natal, Mpumalanga and Swaziland.

It is usually found on forest edges, in riverine bush and in ravines, as well as in coastal scrub, grassland and disturbed areas. It is a compact, densely branched, leafy, evergreen shrub, 0.5 to 2m in height. The species was moved to Euryops from the genus Gamolepis on the basis of chromosome counts. It is a ruderal weed in New South Wales, although it is not weedy in all places where it is cultivated or has naturalised.

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Thursday, 7 June 2018

FFF341 - CASUARINA

Casuarina is a genus of 17 tree species in the family Casuarinaceae, native to Australia, the Indian Subcontinent, southeast Asia, and islands of the western Pacific Ocean. It was once treated as the sole genus in the family, but has been split into three genera. They are evergreen shrubs and trees growing to 35 m tall. The foliage consists of slender, much-branched green to grey-green twigs bearing minute scale-leaves in whorls of 5–20. The apetalous flowers are produced in small catkin-like inflorescences.

Most species are dioecious, but a few are monoecious. The fruit is a woody, oval structure superficially resembling a conifer cone, made up of numerous carpels, each containing a single seed with a small wing. The generic name is derived from the Malay word for the cassowary, kasuari, alluding to the similarities between the bird's feathers and the plant's foliage, though the tree is called rhu in current standard Malay.

Casuarina species are a food source of the larvae of hepialid moths. Casuarina obesa (shown here), commonly known as Swamp She-oak or Swamp Oak, is a species of Casuarina that is closely related to C. glauca and C. cristata. The Noongar peoples know the plant as Goolee, Kweela, Kwerl and Quilinock. It is native to a broad area of south-western Australia, with a much more restricted occurrence in New South Wales and Victoria. It is a small dioecious (male and female flowers on separate trees) tree, growing to 1.5 to 10 metres in height and capable of flowering at any time of year. It has male and female flowers on separate plants, the female plants produce woody cones in an indehiscent state, with crops from two seasons sometimes present. It is found in sand or clay soils, often in brackish or saline environments, along rivers, creeks and salt lakes. It is widely planted for agroforestry, particularly in salt-affected areas, and as a street tree.

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Thursday, 31 May 2018

FFF340 - DAISIES

Bellis perennis is a common European species of daisy, of the Asteraceae family, often considered the archetypal species of that name. Many related plants also share the name "daisy", so to distinguish this species from other daisies it is sometimes qualified as common daisy, lawn daisy or English daisy. Historically, it has also been commonly known as bruisewort and occasionally woundwort (although the common name woundwort is now more closely associated with Stachys).

Bellis perennis is native to western, central and northern Europe, but widely naturalised in most temperate regions including the Americas and Australasia. B. perennis generally blooms from early to midsummer, although when grown under ideal conditions, they have a very long flowering season and will even produce a few flowers in the middle of mild winters. Numerous single- and double-flowered varieties are in cultivation, producing flat or spherical blooms in a range of sizes (1 cm to 6 cm) and colours (red, pink & white).

They are generally grown from seed as biennial bedding plants. They can also be purchased as plugs in Spring. The cultivar 'Tasso series' has gained the Royal Horticultural Society's Award of Garden Merit. This daisy may be used as a potherb. Young leaves can be eaten raw in salads or cooked, noting that the leaves become increasingly astringent with age. Flower buds and petals can be eaten raw in sandwiches, soups and salads. It is also used as a tea and as a vitamin supplement.

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Thursday, 24 May 2018

FFF339 - BOUGAINVILLEA

Bougainvillea in the Nyctaginaceae family is a genus of thorny ornamental vines, bushes, and trees with flower-like spring leaves near its flowers. Different authors accept between four and 18 species in the genus. They are native plants of South America from Brazil west to Perú and south to southern Argentina (Chubut Province). Bougainvillea are also known as Bugambilia (Mexico).

The vine species grow anywhere from 1 to 12 m tall, scrambling over other plants with their spiky thorns. The thorns are tipped with a black, waxy substance. They are evergreen where rainfall occurs all year, or deciduous if there is a dry season. The leaves are alternate, simple ovate-acuminate, 4–13 cm long and 2–6 cm broad. The actual flower of the plant is small and generally white, but each cluster of three flowers is surrounded by three or six bracts with the bright colours associated with the plant, including pink, magenta, purple, red, orange, white, or yellow.

Bougainvillea glabra is sometimes referred to as "paper flower" because the bracts are thin and papery. The species here illustrated is Bougainvillea spectabilis. The first European to describe these plants was Philibert Commerçon, a botanist accompanying French Navy admiral and explorer Louis Antoine de Bougainville (hence the generic name), during his voyage of circumnavigation, and first published for him by Antoine Laurent de Jussieu in 1789.

It is possible that the first European to observe these plants was Jeanne Baré, Commerçon's lover and assistant whom he sneaked on board (despite regulations) disguised as a man (and who thus became the first woman to circumnavigate the globe). 

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Thursday, 17 May 2018

FFF338 - BORONIA

Boronia is a genus of about 160 species of flowering plants in the citrus family Rutaceae, most are endemic in Australia with a few species in New Caledonia, which were previously placed in the genus Boronella. They occur in all Australian states but the genus is under review and a number of species are yet to be described or the description published. Boronias are similar to familiar plants in the genera Zieria, Eriostemon and Correa but can be distinguished from them by the number of petals or stamens. Some species have a distinctive fragrance and are popular garden plants.

Plants in the genus Boronia are nearly always shrubs although a very small number occur as herbs or as small trees. The leaves are usually arranged in opposite pairs and may be simple leaves or compound leaves with up to nineteen or more leaflets, in either a pinnate or bipinnate arrangement. The flowers are arranged in groups in the leaf axils or on the ends of the branches and have both male and female parts. There are usually four separate sepals, usually four separate petals and generally eight stamens. (In Zieria there are only four stamens, Eriostemon species have five petals and in Correa the petals are joined to form a bell-shaped tube.) There are four carpels with their styles fused and there are two ovules in each carpel.

Boronias are found in all states and mainland territories of Australia and generally grow in open forests or woodlands, only rarely in rainforests or arid areas. Boronias, especially B. megastigma, are known for their perfumed flowers. Unfortunately, they are generally somewhat difficult to grow in cultivation. All species require excellent drainage and part shade.

Shown here is red boronia (Boronia heterophylla), which features bell-shaped blossoms that are a striking magenta pink and have a delicate perfume that adds to its appeal as a cut flower. It grows to about 1.5 m in height by half a metre wide. It originates in Western Australia but has adapted well to east coast gardens as well. ‘€˜Ice Charlotte’ is a white flowered form of this species that has similar requirements.

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Thursday, 10 May 2018

FFF337 - EREMOPHILA

Eremophila maculata, also known as spotted emu bush, or spotted fuchsia-bush is a plant in the figwort family, Scrophulariaceae and is endemic to Australia. It is the most widespread of its genus in nature and probably the most frequently cultivated Eremophila. It is a spreading, often densely branched shrub with variable leaf shape and flower colour, but the other features of the flowers such as the size and shape of the parts are consistent. The inside of the flower is often, but not always spotted.

Eremophila maculata is a low spreading shrub, which usually grows to less than 2.5 metres tall. Its leaves range in size from 3.8 millimetres to 45 millimetres long and 0.5–18 millimetres wide and range from almost thread-like to almost circular but are nearly always glabrous and always lack teeth or serrations on the edges. The flower colour often varies even within a single population and may be pink, mauve, red, orange or yellow, often spotted on the inside.

Its flowers occur singly in the leaf axils and have a glabrous, S-shaped stalk, 10–25 millimetres long. There are 5 sepals which are egg-shaped but end in a sudden point and are green or purplish-green. The 5 petals are joined for most of their length in a tube 25–35 millimetres long, but the lobes on the sides and bottom of the flower are often turned or rolled back. The outside of the petals is glabrous but the inside surface of the tube is hairy and the lobes have a few spider-web like hairs. There are 4 stamens which extend beyond the petals. Flowers may appear in almost any month but are most prolific in winter and spring. The fruits which follow the flowers are dry, almost spherical and have an obvious beak.

This plant is well known in horticulture and hybrid forms and cultivars such as "Carmine Star" and "Aurea" have been developed. The most common form in gardens is the cherry-coloured form of E. maculata subsp. brevifolia but other colours are becoming popular. It is easily propagated from cuttings, with firm tip cuttings taken during warmer months striking the most easily. In nature, spotted emu bush often grows in heavy clay soil and in the garden can be grown in similar soil or even in deep sand. A sunny position sheltered from strong wind is ideal but the shrub is very drought and frost hardy and can be grown in coastal areas which are sometimes subject to high humidity. It is recommended for gardens in the hotter, drier areas of the United States such as Arizona and New Mexico.

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Thursday, 3 May 2018

FFF336 - OUR GARDEN

Autumn is advancing in Melbourne, but we have had relatively mild weather and not much rain. The garden is doing well and the chrysanthemums are glorious right now, just in time for Mother's Day on 13 May this year (annually observed in Australia on the second Sunday of May).

Most chrysanthemums are upright plants with lobed leaves that can be aromatic. The many showy flowerheads, carried at the tips of strong stems, begin to bloom as the days shorten. Florists chrysanthemums (Chrysanthemum grandiflorum) are grouped according to form: Irregular incurved, reflexed, regular incurved, intermediate incurved, pompon, single and semi-double, anemone, spoon, quill, spider, brush or thistle, and unclassified, which is a catch-all group for blooms not yet classified or not falling into one of the existing groups. 

Florists chrysanthemums prefer a heavier richer soil in a sunny position, though they like a spot that offers some afternoon shade. The plants require training and trimming to produce their best flowers. Pinch back when young and disbud to ensure the best flower show. Propagate by division when dormant or from half-hardened summer cuttings.

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Thursday, 26 April 2018

FFF335 -YELLOW GUM

Eucalyptus leucoxylon, in the family Myrtaceae, commonly known as the Yellow Gum, (South Australian) Blue Gum or White Ironbark, is a small to medium-sized tree with rough bark on the lower 1-2 metres of the trunk, above this, the bark becomes smooth with a white, yellow or bluish-grey surface. Adult leaves are stalked, lanceolate to broad-lanceolate, to 13 x 2.5 cm, concolorous, dull, green.

Flowers in white, pink or red appear during winter. The nectar-filled flowers attract native birds. E. leucoxylon is widely distributed on plains and nearby mountain ranges or coastal South Australia, where it is known as the Blue Gum and extends into the western half of Victoria where it is known as the Yellow gum.The species has been divided into numerous varieties and subspecies. A spectacular red-flowered form of uncertain provenance,  Eucalyptus leucoxylon ‘Rosea’ is widely planted as an ornamental plant, it flowers profusely in winter.

A threatened subspecies known as the Bellarine Yellow Gum (Eucalyptus leucoxylon subsp. bellarinensis) is endemic to the Bellarine Peninsula at the south-eastern end of the species' range. The leaves are distilled for the production of cineole based eucalyptus oil.

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Thursday, 19 April 2018

FFF334 - CHRYSANTHEMUM SEASON

Although once referred to as Dendranthema, the florists chrysanthemum is now correctly known under its old name. There are about 40 species in the genus Chrysanthemum, mainly from East Asia. In China, where they have been cultivated for over 2,500 years, the chrysanthemum was used medicinally and for flavouring, as well as for ornament. All chrysanthemum flowers are edible, but the flavour varies widely from plant to plant, from sweet to tangy to bitter or peppery. It may take some experimentation to find flavours you like. The flower is also significant in Japan where it is a symbol of happiness and longevity, and the royal family has ruled for 2,600 years from the Chrysanthemum Throne.

The annual species are referred to as Xanthophthalmum and are mainly used for summer bedding or as fillers in borders of perennial flowers. Most chrysanthemums are upright plants with lobed leaves that can be aromatic. The many showy flowerheads, carried at the tips of strong stems, begin to bloom as the days shorten. Florists chrysanthemums (Chrysanthemum grandiflorum) are grouped according to form: Irregular incurved, reflexed, regular incurved, intermediate incurved, pompon, single and semi-double, anemone, spoon, quill, spider, brush or thistle, and unclassified, which is a catch-all group for blooms not yet classified or not falling into one of the existing groups.

Florists chrysanthemums prefer a heavier richer soil in a sunny position, though they like a spot that offers some afternoon shade. The plants require training and trimming to produce their best flowers. Pinch back when young and disbud to ensure the best flower show. Propagate by division when dormant or from half-hardened summer cuttings.

Shown here is the 'Garden Pixie' miniature chrysanthemum, which flowers prolifically and adds welcome splashes of intense colour in the Autumn garden.

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Wednesday, 11 April 2018

FFF333 - ROSA 'JUST JOEY'

Rosa 'Just Joey' was bred by Cants of Colchester, United Kingdom, in 1972. It was named for the wife of the Managing Director of Cants of Colchester, Joey Pawsey. This Hybrid Tea rose performs well throughout Australia and there are many fine specimens in Melbourne gardens, beginning with ours, where we have no less than four bushes of this variety!

The plant is vigorous and grows well, achieving a height of 1.5 m and width of 1.2 m. Flowers are borne one per stem and can be of an impressive size (up to 20cm in Spring and Autumn, slightly smaller during Summer). The bush is disease and heat resistant and tends to survive well with a little care.

The flower is an eye-catching ripe apricot colour with a loose, informal display of pretty frilled petals. Probably its most seductive feature is its intense, spicy fragrance which will quickly fill a room, when a bunch is placed in a vase. This perfume is inherited from its parents (Fragrant Cloud x Dr. A.J. Verhage) also renowned for their strong scent. It has been awarded the Royal Horticultural Society Award of Merit 1993 and World’s Favourite Rose 1994.When introduced, its colour and size of flowers were considered breakthroughs. This lovely rose is readily available and will reward and delight any rose lover!

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Thursday, 5 April 2018

FFF332 - ROBINIA

Robinia pseudoacacia, commonly known as the black locust, is a tree of the genus Robinia in the subfamily Faboideae of the pea family Fabaceae. It is native to the southeastern United States, but has been widely planted and naturalised elsewhere in temperate North America, Europe, Southern Africa, Australia and Asia and is considered an invasive species in some areas.

A less frequently used common name is false Acacia, which is a literal translation of the specific epithet. It was introduced into Britain in 1636. With a trunk up to 0.8 m diameter (exceptionally up to 52 m tall and 1.6 m diameter in very old trees), with thick, deeply furrowed blackish bark. The leaves are 10–25 cm long, pinnate with 9–19 oval leaflets, 2–5 cm long and 1.5–3 cm broad. Each leaf usually has a pair of short spines at the base, 1–2 mm long or absent on adult crown shoots, up to 2 cm long on vigorous young plants.

The intensely fragrant (reminiscent of orange blossoms) flowers are white to lavender or purple, borne in pendulous racemes 8–20 cm long, and are edible. In France and in Italy Robinia pseudoacacia flowers are eaten as beignets after being coated in batter and fried in oil.

The fruit is a legume 5–10 cm long, containing 4–10 seeds. Although the bark and leaves are toxic, various reports suggest that the seeds and the young pods of the black locust are edible. Shelled seeds are safe to harvest from summer through fall, and are edible both raw and/or boiled. Due to the small nature of Black Locust seeds, shelling them efficiently can prove tedious and difficult.

The name locust is said to have been given to Robinia by Jesuit missionaries, who fancied that this was the tree that supported St. John in the wilderness, but it is native only to North America. The locust tree of Spain (Ceratonia siliqua or Carob Tree), which is also native to Syria and the entire Mediterranean basin, is supposed to be the true locust of the New Testament.

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Thursday, 29 March 2018

FFF331 - HAKEA

Hakea bucculenta is a large shrub up to 4 metres high with linear leaves up to 150 mm long x 3 mm wide. The species is similar to H. francisiana and H. multilineata and all have fairly similar cultivation requirements. They all belong to the Proteaceae family.

The flowers of H. bucculenta occur in large racemes about 150 mm long which are seen in the leaf axils in winter and spring. The flower colour is orange-red. Although the flowers occur within the foliage, the open habit of the plant means that they are well displayed, never failing to attract attention. Flowers are followed by woody seed pods about 20mm long containing two winged seeds, the usual number for all Hakea species. The pods do not shed the seed until stimulated to do so by environmental conditions (eg after a bushfire).

This species has been in cultivation for many years but is mainly suited to areas of low summer humidity. In humid areas it can grow successfully for some years but may collapse overnight. Grafting (see below) is recommended for these areas. The species is tolerant of at least moderate frosts and the flowers are attractive to honeyeating birds. The species grows and flowers best in an open, very well drained, sunny position but it will tolerate some shade.

Hakea bucculenta is easily grown from seed. Cuttings may succeed but these may not be particularly easy to strike and often do not produce a strong root system. Grafting of the species onto the eastern species H. salicifolia has proved to be very successful and has enabled the plant to be grown in previously unsuitable areas. Grafted plants are now appearing in specialist Australian plant nurseries in eastern Australia. This tree is becoming a very popular and attractive street tree in Melbourne.

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