Sunday, January 31, 2010

Strelitzia — the Bird of Paradise or Crane Flower

Although my personal tastes in gardening lean towards cottage gardens, here on the Highveld (South Africa’s central plateau that is mainly a grassland biome), indigenous South African plants are my preference — because they tolerate the rugged environment, are more drought and frost tolerant, appeal to local birds and butterflies and lend themselves to appropriate landscaping for this environment.

The fascinating blooms of Strelitzia reginae are sold as cut flowers by the million. In Los Angeles strelitzias are so extensively planted that it is regarded as the emblem of the city. Strelitzia reginae is, however, indigenous to South Africa where it grows wild in the Eastern Cape. Here the strelitzias grow in rocky grassland and between other shrubs along the riverbanks and in clearings in the coastal bush.

Strelitzia reginae is a bold structural plant, which forms large evergreen clumps of stiff leaves growing up from the base. The grey-green banana-like leaves grow about 1,5 m in height and the flowers stand above the foliage at the tips of long stalks. Mature plants are very floriferous with flowers in autumn, winter and spring. These produce abundant nectar that lures insects, and birds which (in South Africa) include White-bellied, Black, Grey, Collared, Malachite and Marico Sunbirds and the Cape White‑eye.

Popular with landscapers, this architecturally pleasing plant is ideal for modern landscapes, creating an impact not only in home gardens, but also in office complex gardens, schools and large parks. This Strelitzia can form an impressive groundcover when mass‑planted in very light partial shade.

For detailed information about growing Strelizia reginae and the other Strelizia species visit I am sure you will find the content very useful.

And now for Anemones . . .

My father had a great love for Anemones, and their cousin Ranunculus, and while I always recall his spring garden awash with colour, it was the Anemones that fascinated me.

Anemones have rich bright colours that are great for mass colour in garden beds in sunny positions. Anemones are also great cut flowers and produce successions of flowers over a long period.

The Anemone family is a large one (over 120 species), but it is Anemone coronaria, which is the gem of the Autumn planting selection. Best known and generally sold as a 'bulb' the 'bulbs' are more correctly described as tubers.

Anemone coronaria is an excellent subject for container gardening and is a reliable performer. For Autumn planting fun and great container charm, Anemone Coronaria remains a winner.

If you would like to know more about growing Anemones, visit You will find some very useful information

You can never have too many delphiniums

I am currently working on a feature for my website on Cottage gardens, and today I posted a piece on growing Delphiniums. In my view, you can never have too many delphiniums in a cottage garden.

Delphiniums are glorious plants with flower spikes that can grow up to 180cm tall. Normally, they are a range of blues, but are also available in white, pinks, and purple. They are standouts as background plants.

The delphinium is a genus of fully to half-hardy perennials, biennials and annuals so much admired particularly in the cottage garden setting. When grown in warm zones they are generally treated as annuals while in cool zones they can be successful as perennials. Delphiniums are tall, majestic plants with showy open flowers on branching spikes.

Another name for Delphinium is ‘Larkspur’. These beautiful blooms add a touch of grace to any garden and make a wonderful bouquet of cut flowers that will last about seven days in a vase. The modern delphinium is one of the most spectacular and popular of garden flowers. There are wide ranges of colours, several flower forms, and varieties of different heights.

The modern delphinium is the result of hybridisation of delphinium species from wide and varied parts of the world. Crosses made by growers keen to improve specimens they were able to acquire have resulted in the modern plants, which are truly spectacular. Many are varieties that are disease resistant, offering protection against both powdery mildew and black spot.

If you are interested in knowing more about growing Delphiniums go to I am sure you will find the post interesting!

An apology

Hi everyone.

No, I did not fall off the end of the earth during my travels. I have been battling with eye problem for months, that limited my use of the computer and I simply couldn't keep the blog going. I did manage to keep posting to my website and some of you have probably read those posts.

Everything is much better now, so from today I will attempt to play catchup with some new posts that I hope you will find interesting. I am looking forward to sharing with you again!