Six on Saturday. A Rainy July Day.

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.

Catalpa bignonoides ‘Aurea’

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.

Paulownia tomentosa

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.

Rubus lineatus

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.

Melia azedarach
Melia azedarach

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.

Dicksonia antartica

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.

Fasciciularia bicolor growing on a tree fern stump.

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’.

Passsiflora 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.

Passiflora caerula ‘Silly Cow’

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.

Rhodochiton volubile

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.

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30 Responses to Six on Saturday. A Rainy July Day.

  1. fredgardener says:

    I love huge leaves like you I guess and it’s true that paulownia is quite appropriate. I have one in a pot and one in the ground but no flowers yet because they are young plants, not big enough for the moment. This year I’m also growing the solanum betaceum which has huge attractive leaves.
    The fishbone-shaped ( bird feather shaped?) leaves of Rubus lineatus are very pretty.
    This week I also show my Rhodochiton (atrosanguineus for me): how tall is yours? Mine is in the greenhouse, potted and climbs bamboo canes: I love these flowers.
    Nice Six with exotics this week…

    • Chloris says:

      Thank you Fred. My rhodochiton is in a pot growing up bamboo canes so it can only grow as tall as the canes. Next year I will plant it out in the ground.

  2. krispeterson100 says:

    I love big-leaved plants but they’re hard to come by here. Thin-leaved plants cope with our hot, dry conditions more easily. The only largest-leaved plant I have at present is Acanthus mollis but even it’s been struggling for years and, as summer’s heat intensifies, it goes underground. Melia azedarach is beautiful but sadly considered an invasive weed tree in this part of the country.

    • Chloris says:

      Acanthus mollis is too invasive in my garden and impossible to eradicate. Whereas you don’t see melia as it is not reliably frost hardy. One man’s weeds….

  3. Cathy says:

    The foliage of your catalpa looks especially stunning, Chloris

  4. Wow, where I am from Pawlonia, Catalpa and Melia are considered trash trees and invasive. The Pawlonia has lovely purple flowers and people grow the Catalpa for flowers to use as fish bait. Melia is called Chinaberry in the deep South. We have been eating Passionfruit from our vines – do you get any fruit? I don’t know those varieties though I love the flowers and am amazed by how many different colors of Passionflowers exist.

  5. I love the flowers on the Melia – I hope it continues to thrive in your garden! By coincidence, there’s a Pawlonia growing in someone’s front yard in our little village. It’s just marginal in our zone and this one generally dies back every winter. This may be a good things since, as Amelia says, they are considered highly invasive (and in places banned) tree in other parts of North America.

    • Chloris says:

      Thank you Kris. Pawlonia’s are never invasive here, even if they bloom, which they only do now and again. The foxglove flowers are pretty but I grow it for the lovely big leaves so it never gets a chance to bloom.

  6. tonytomeo says:

    Catalpa bignonioides seems to be popular in some odd places. Of all the trees that are available there, that seems like an unusual option. I do not believe that I have ever seen any of the cultivars. Catalpa speciosa is even less common I believe. I have not seen one for many years, and those that I saw years ago are gone now.

    • Chloris says:

      The golden catalpa is a fabulous choice for massive leaves if cut down every year.

      • tonytomeo says:

        Yes, like the empress tree. The empress tree develops even large leaves if pollarded or copicced, but because the purple bloom is so appealing, no one wants to pollard or coppice them. (Pollarding and coppicing is really discouraged here anyway.)

  7. Cathy says:

    Love the big leaves… perfect conditions for such plants it seems. The damp weather here this year is making my garden look a bit jungle-like too. 😃

  8. You are so right about never being happy with the weather. There has been very little watering to do this year for which I should be grateful. Love the big leaves of your exotic border and the stunning passion flowers. If that Melia got through this rather cold winter then hopefully it should survive a good few more.

  9. pbmgarden says:

    You always share such interesting selections. I like the flowers of your Melia azedarach. My grandfather had one when I was tiny. Funny I don’t recall seeing the flowers or the leaves in autumn, only the berries on the ground when running around barefoot with my cousins. YOu found a creative use for the tree fern stump. Have a good week.

    • Chloris says:

      Thank you Susie. You never see melia here so I am thrilled with it. Fascicularia is a bromeliad so it is quite happy sitting on top of the tree fern.

  10. Your garden certainly has a tropical side to it! That Rubus is amazing, hard to imagine it in the same genus with raspberries. True that the weather is almost never just right for gardeners, though as extremes become more common this can become more seriously distressing.

    • Chloris says:

      Yes, we moan about a damp summer but the extremes of weather in other parts of the world are truly terrifying. We are lucky; the intense heat must be difficult to bear.

  11. snowbird says:

    Loving your giant leaves and the remaining tree fern, I lost mine too despite wrapping them up over winter. I love how you used the tree fern trunk, what a great idea! Your passion flowers are just beautiful as is that last climber, how beautiful she

    • Chloris says:

      It is heart breaking to lose a tree fern despite all the care lavished on it. I thought of planting a fern in the fern but I think it would havee been too dry. The fascicularia is a bromeliad so it is quite happy.

  12. It is so true how we are always complaining about the weather, isn’t it? We’re having a decent summer in Ireland (but we could certainly use a bit more heat, honestly). I love the passion flowers. They are so unusual looking and so beautiful!

    • Chloris says:

      I believe Ireland and the west country have been drier than the East coast this summer which is unusual. But things are growing so well with all the damp. I love the intricacies of the passion flower.

  13. Pádraig says:

    That’s quite an international collection, Cloris. It certainly does add to the exotic nature of the garden. Equally interesting are the not-exotic common names.
    Id be tempted to have a tree fern, but unsure if I’d manage all the winter mollycoddling. That would likely mean that I’d be better off just admiring yours.

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