As gardeners we are never happy. Last year, here in the UK, we moaned about constant watering and this year we don’t have that problem; quite the contrary, a little more sunshine would be lovely. Still it is warm and the conditions are perfect for the jungly effect in my exotic garden. So at number one, I have big leaves. Each year, I coppice both my Golden Bean tree, Catalpa bignonioides ‘Aurea’ and my Foxglove tree, Paulownia tomentosa so I don’t get any flowers, just enormous leaves.
Framing my Foxglove tree I have the weeping mimosa Acacia pravissima, which I have just discovered is known as Oven’s Wattle, goodness knows why. The foliage plant to the right is the very unusual Rubus lineatus which has lovely pinnate foliage. This lovely shrub comes come from Burma and its beautiful foliage is a wonderful addition to my exotic garden. You’d never guess it belonged to the bramble family.
Here is a photo of Rubus lineatus. It does sucker a bit, but not too much and I love the pinnate leaves which have a fishbone structure if you look at them close up, they are silvery underneath.
Another tree which looks quite exotic is the Melia azedarach which I grew from a seed I picked up in Greece eight years ago. I have never seen this tree growing outside in the UK. It comes from Northern India and China so I presumed it would be tender. But three years ago it had become too big for the greenhouse and had to go outside and take its chance. It has done very well and this year it is flowering for the first time. It has lilac, star-shaped flowers which are fragrant if you put your nose into them. When I saw it in Greece it was bearing decorative clusters of yellow fruits, or to be accurate, I should say drupes. Apparently these are poisonous but I don’t go round my garden grazing on my plants.
My son is the tree fern king; he just adores them and has a huge collection which he lovingly nurses through the winter with blankets and probably hot water bottles. He generously gave me three a few years ago and to my shame, I lost two of them. But I am delighted with my remaining one which has plenty of new fronds this year.
But I have used the stump of the largest dead one to grow a Fascicularia bicolor. This is a bromeliad related to the pineapple. I got the idea for this after seeing that Christopher Lloyd grew one on his roof at Great Dixter. I thought that if it could live on a roof it should cope with my stump. I have a large Fascicularia in my garden, but I decided to buy this one and if you have ever tried to divide a fascicularia you’ll know why. It has really tough leathery leaves with vicious thorns.
And now for some exotic flowers and they don’t come much more exotic than passion flowers. I have two passion flowers, neither of them is hardy so in winter they have to jostle for position in the greenhouse with all the other tender climbers which I can’t stop acquiring. My greenhouse is not all that big so I lack space as well as common sense. One is a lovely pink one, Passiflora x violacea ‘Victoria’.
The other one, I have shown before, it is a large flowered Passiflora caerula called ‘Silly Cow’, a name I should bear in mind when I fall for yet another tender plant. This one is supposed to be hardy but I have lost one in the past so I am not taking any chances.
And coming in at number six, or have I already exceeded six? I never was any good at maths. Anyway, Rhodochiton atrosanguineus deserves an appearance. I used to know this as Rhodochiton volubile so I have to try and keep up. It is a lovely climber for a pot as long as you remember to feed it well. It has pink, bell- shaped bracts with a long deep purple flowers. Next year I am going to try planting one out in my exotic garden. It is possible to keep it going inside in winter but I have found it susceptible to red spider mite. But it is easy from seed. Once the flowers fall off if they are fertilized you get seed pods which look just like little bottoms. You let them dry on the plant before harvesting the seeds.
So there we have my Six on Saturday, give or take a plant or two. But then I never was any good at sticking to rules. Please check out the Propagator to see what delights other SoS addicts are enjoying.