Flowering now

Some photos from a wander round my garden this week – having planted some seedling annuals at the weekend I can say that last night’s rain was timely but now we’ve had a day of good soaking rain, that’s probably enough!

Several Tillandsias (air plants – cousins to bromeliads) are offering some bright and unusual flowers.

Tillandsia heliconoides. Photo: Sandra Simpson

This pretty little Tillandsia above has green foliage (the vast majority have silvery-grey foliage) and may be one of the most neglected plants in my garden. It sits in an ornamental pottery bowl (no planting medium) and I leave it alone, apart from occasionally spraying it with the hose in summer!

But I reckon the most neglected plant in my garden may be this bromeliad below. The plants were in another (better) place until I got sick of the way they’d spread so were divided up and put under the oak tree – low light in summer, pretty dry all year round and no protection from the cold. And yet … they still flower.

Aechmea gamosepala, a bromeliad. I’m pretty sure the original plant was from Andrew Steens when he was selling through garden centres. Photo: Sandra Simpson

The alien-looking flower of Tillandsia punctulata, which will last for many months. Photo: Sandra Simpson

If a Tillandsia breaks or falls apart, don’t worry. You’ve now got two (or more) plants. They really are fool proof!

My friend Audrey has done something nifty with her beautifully grown collection (inside a small plant house) – recycled a greetings card sales stand to a Tillandsia plant stand.

A recycled card stand makes a nifty stand for Tillandsias. Photo: Sandra Simpson

Went up the back of Pahoia on Tuesday afternoon and passed a property that’s growing a commercial quantity of Phylica plumosa (among other things all in neat rows) – the tall plants looked lovely with the sunlight catching the fluffy flowers.

Phylica plumosa Golden Plume in my garden. Photo: Sandra Simpson

Phylica is native to South Africa where there are two types that look pretty much the same – Phylica plumosa and Phylica pubescens . Read more at this informative website.

The uplanned garden

Went to the garden centre for lunch; came home from the garden centre with a plant. Didn’t mean to, it sort of just happened … and although I had pictured where it might go, when I got there it was all wrong.

So the pot of Phylica plumosa Golden Plume will do the magic dance round the garden until it looks right … although the Vege Grower has started talking about rearranging, moving and removing, and extending!


Phylica plumosa Golden Plume, with the tag still on. Photo: Sandra Simpson

But if there’s one thing I’ve learned over the years it’s that garden changes go better with a plan! And not just one sketched on a serviette while having lunch. So when we got home we paced things out, waved our arms around, sparked ideas off one another … uh, oh.

Anyway, back to Golden Plume – it is native to the Cape Town area in South Africa, flowers in late winter, grows in full sun and will take a light trim after flowering. The Liddle Wonder website says it can be short-lived (not on the tag)!

I liked the softness of the flowers and foliage, just asking to be touched, so the texture will be something to consider when finally digging a hole for it. This specialist website notes that the sun shining through the “hairs” makes the bush glow, so that’s quite a particular thought to keep in mind as regards siting. Phylica plumosa is smaller than the related P. pubescens.

One of the things that may be moved is Spiraea cantoniensis Flora Plena, a variety of mayflower, that has really come into its own this year – lots of arching stems and lots of delicate white flowers, which kind of indicates it’s in the right place. Read more about the may family on this South African website or on this Sydney-based site.


Spiraea cantoniensis Flora Plena is flowering well in my garden this year. Photo: Sandra Simpson

When I was in Japan in 2012 I was rather taken with the shrub pictured below – just smothered in flowers. It’s known as snow willow in Japan (yuki yanagi or Spiraea thunbergii) and can be grown as a hedge. Whereas the flowers on my S. cantoniensis Flora Plena are in small clusters, each of the flowers on S. thunbergii is an individual bloom a bit like a flat plum blossom.]


Businessmen walk past a snow willow bush in the Chidorigafuchi area of Tokyo. Photo: Sandra Simpson

In other news from my garden, the much mistreated azalea that I moved from the back yard to the new front garden is flowering! The poor thing had been so overgrown where it was that it flowered poorly but this year it has a number of pretty, pink blooms.