Of­fers his tips for grow­ing his favourite flow­ers

Tassie’s own gardening guru PETER CUN­DALL re­veals the secrets to grow­ing his favourite flow­ers and how cer­tain blooms have the power to bring back happy or poignant memories

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - CONTENTS - with Peter Cun­dall

When­ever peo­ple ask me to de­scribe my favourite flow­er­ing plant I usu­ally tell them I like most plants as they come into bloom at var­i­ous times of the year.

This is not strictly true be­cause most of us can be moved by cer­tain flow­ers that bring back happy or poignant memories. As a tiny child I was al­ways en­chanted by the enor­mous numbers of snow-white, flat­tish flower-heads that cov­ered a nearby el­der­berry bush ev­ery spring. Even to­day – and they are in bloom in many parts of Tas­ma­nia at the mo­ment – the sight and pleas­antly-pun­gent smell they pro­duce makes me feel once again like an ex­cited lit­tle boy.

Last week I re­ceived a letter from an el­derly lady liv­ing in Queens­land. Her writ­ing was so un­even and scrawled I had dif­fi­culty de­ci­pher­ing the words. She con­cluded with an apol­ogy for her poor writ­ing due to the fact that she was al­most blind and very, very old.

She had once lived in Launce­s­ton as a child and a par­tic­u­lar, win­ter-flow­er­ing

This eas­ily-grown rose ... will keep on blooming right through the en­tire grow­ing sea­son

plant had al­ways made her feel very happy. She said it was a small, scrubby bush with pale yel­low flow­ers with a pow­er­ful, ut­terly sweet fra­grance that had filled the air for me­tres around it.

She wanted to know its name so she could or­gan­ise for a plant to be sent to her son – in his 60s – who lived in Tas­ma­nia but was un­well and de­pressed. So I rang her to ask for more de­tails and af­ter a brief, friendly chat I was able to identify the plants as a Chi­nese Win­ter Sweet (Chi­mo­nan­thus prae­cox).

I also love this as­ton­ish­ing, hardy plant that blooms on bare branches dur­ing July, de­spite nightly frosts and bleak, freez­ing days.

That’s when I started to think about my own favourite flow­er­ing and fo­liage plants. They are al­ways the ones which take me so much by sur­prise when they un­ex­pect­edly bloom I find my­self shout­ing with joy.

Last year I bought my wife a tree pe­ony called Age of Gold and over the past few weeks we’ve been im­pa­tiently

watch­ing a sin­gle, enor­mous bud de­vel­op­ing rapidly. Last week it sud­denly burst open to form a huge, bril­liantly yel­low and or­ange bloom of such beauty it left me gasp­ing.

I ask Tina my wife if she had a favourite and she silently took me to a part of the gar­den that has re­mained wa­ter­logged and to­tally sat­u­rated for at least two months. And there, sit­ting in a pool of half stag­nant wa­ter was an amaz­ing Siberian iris, absolutely thriv­ing in the wet and blooming fu­ri­ously.

No won­der it was her favourite – the vel­vety petals were a deep, al­most midnight blue with the lower ones adorned with a clear, bright golden pat­tern. I’ve never seen any­thing like this, called Over in Glory Land.

If you have a boggy area in full sun, this is worth searching for.

My favourite Aus­tralian plant is another bog lover. Cal­lis­te­mon Pink Cham­pagne grows about 2m and in summer is cov­ered with dozens of bright pink brushes. Never needs feed­ing or wa­ter­ing – it just grows and looks mag­nif­i­cent.

I love most flow­er­ing climbers but when clema­tis are in full bloom I can­not take my eyes off them. Some pro­duce so many blooms they over­lap each other and it’s im­pos­si­ble to see any branches and even the leaves are shunted out of the way.

One in bloom at the mo­ment is a vig­or­ous clema­tis called Su­perba with huge midnight-pur­ple blooms which can com­pletely cover a fence or even per­gola, some­times for weeks. Re­quires lit­tle main­te­nance apart from a lit­tle prun­ing.

Roses are understandably pop­u­lar, not only be­cause of the lovely, fra­grant, brightly-coloured blooms, but be­cause so many just keep on blooming, vir­tu­ally non-stop from mid-spring to early win­ter.

My favourite is Dame El­iz­a­beth Mur­doch, a vig­or­ous large-flowered bush that car­ries huge numbers of perfect, long-stemmed blooms, each with a rich golden cen­tre with outer petals chang­ing to peach-pink and red.

This eas­ily-grown rose bush ap­pears to be strongly re­sis­tant to black spot dis­ease and if kept dead-headed will keep on blooming right through the en­tire grow­ing sea­son.

These are just a few of my own favourites and most are rel­a­tively easy to ob­tain and even eas­ier to grow.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.