Some like it hot
Sabrina Hahn shares five of the best new-release plants that will reward you throughout the warmer months.
We all love summer at the beginning of the season and we all get a bit tired of the hot weather by the end of it. Spare a thought for your garden; the heat is relentless for plant life and it’s up to us to provide the best possible conditions for them to survive.
The number one job on the list is to get a wetting agent into the garden and apply mulch to everything, including pots. It needs to go on before things get really hot and at a depth of 5cm. If this is the only job you get around to doing, that’s OK as it’s the most important.
Summer also provides us with the opportunity to see how adapted our gardens are to the heat; it does not mean that we give up altogether, but focus on the plants that continue to give us joy by gallantly flowering in spite of temperature.
There are a few new arrivals that fit the bill perfectly and are worthy of a spot in the garden.
1. SPECTACULAR SHOW
Isopogon Candy Cones is a terrific new cross between Isopogon formosus and I. latifolius and features spectacular, large mauve-pink cone flowers that are offset by deep dark green foliage.
It grows to a height of 1.2m and a width of 1m, is frost and drought-hardy and loves full sun. It’s great in an Australian native or dry-tolerant garden and the flowers last for ages in a vase.
Prune at the end of summer to keep it compact and free flowering.
2. HARDY STANDARD
Grevillea Billy Bonkers is a hybrid grevillea produced in Queensland and was named after the breeder’s dog. It has been around for a few years but now it is available as a grafted standard — and it’s stunning.
It is a low-growing plant to only 1m, with bright-green foliage and electric pink flowers for most of the year. Billy Bonkers is grafted on Grevillea robusta rootstock, and has all the hardiness that you could want in a standard.
It will need good staking at planting time and makes a real statement as a feature plant.
3. TOUGH GROUND COVER
Eremophila Mingenew Gold will survive the hot Perth summers and brighten up your garden.
It’s a fabulous ground cover with bright yellow flowers that cover the bush all summer long. It’s a tough one for the verge, native gardens and can be a living mulch.
4. FIRE RETARDANT
I have to admit I went off agapanthus when I saw how they became a weed problem in the South West. But, after visiting a garden that had a bushfire sweep through, I saw first hand their ability to resist fire and in fact stop it from marching up to the house. The combination of lawn, deciduous trees and rows of agapanthus helped save the house.
The potential weed factor in agapanthus has now been bred out of the two latest varieties to hit the nurseries. Agapanthus are hardy once established and not too fussy about soil type but will definitely need compost, and clay should be added particularly in sandy soils.
Agapanthus Cloudy Days has glossy green strappy foliage with beautiful clusters of blue/white flowers. It’s a mid-sized agapanthus, growing to 1m in height and clumping to 80cm wide.
It has disease resistance, will grow in part shade and is pretty tough once established.
Apply a good potassium-based fertiliser to agapanthus in spring to encourage good flowering in summer.
Agapanthus Back in Black looks pretty striking.
This is a lower grower, to only 60cm in height, with very dark blue-purple flower heads on black stems. The combination of the black and purple against deep green leaves will make quite a statement when planted en masse.
5. PROFUSION OF COLOUR
Many gardeners will be looking at the brilliant flowering of the alstroemeria that is creeping through the garden at the moment. The only problem with them is that they flower so prolifically they end up falling on the ground.
Alstroemeria Little Miss has at least seven new varieties available in bi-colours, pinks, and creamy whites and orange. They all have the prominent flecking in the throat of the flower.
Little Miss are very compact in habit, reaching only 15-25cm in height. They will flower well if they get morning sun but prefer afternoon shade; they work well on the southern side of the house and can take full sun in the winter months.
Alstroemeria Little Miss Davina has soft, coral-pink flowers with splashes of yellow in the throat and grows to only 20cm in height.
Little Miss Miranda has bi-coloured flowers that are white and pink with deep pink splashes, while Little Miss Tara has clear red flowers with a yellow throat.
TIP: Enjoy your garden in the early hours of the morning and late afternoon, remember to look after all the feathered friends that come to visit and keep the birdbaths topped up with fresh water daily.
© The West Australian
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