Friday, July 1, 2011

The return of three old friends

Nothing is more enjoyable in the garden than the return of borderline hardy plants that you suspected that the last, -8C, harsh winter had finished off.  Yes, I could easily replace them, but their triumph over adversity gives me a sense of achievement - and, possibly more importantly, saves me a pound or so.

First up is Freesia laxa:

Freesia laxa
Formerly known as Anomatheca laxa, this is a pretty little cormous plant from southern Africa.  With me it flowers in summer and spreads around mildly by seed.  Which means I have to watch out when weeding because any little fans of sword like leaves which spring up in the garden could be this, Chasmanthe, or the far weedier Crocosmia x crocosmiiflora.  It seems as happy growing in a well drained, slightly raised bed as it does in cracks in paving - as long as it can enjoy the sun.

Second is Tritelia laxa:

Tritelia laxa
A small, bulbous Californian native, this one seems happy enough in a shadier spot though it doesn't increase much and would probably relish a spot in better light.  I'm amazed that it's actually survived - the spot it's in has become progressively more shaded as the garden has matured - but it hangs in there and flowers reliably every year.  Bulbs are cheap and I keep saying I'll add some more elsewhere in the garden - but somehow I never get round to it.

Finally there is Convolvulus sabatius (often sold as Convolvulus mauritanicus):

Convolvulus sabatius
This dies down every year to a compact rootstock and then emerges to produce spreading stems in the summer that can cover a square metre or more and even climb into surrounding plants.  I planted this in full sun alongside a Yucca gloriosa 'Variegata' a few years back.  The yucca was small at that stage and the two co-existed quite happily.  The Yucca is now considerably larger and the convolvulus has to come out of the shade of the massive rosette before it can summon the energy to flower.  But once it does it will happily bloom all summer.

All three of these are not supposed to be hardy in the UK.  We had -8C last winter and the one before that.  They're tougher than you might think.

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