Pri­mary colours in vogue

BALL STRAATHOF OPEN DAY: 1 000 NEW VA­RI­ETIES OF GAR­DEN PLANTS ON SHOW

The Citizen (Gauteng) - - CITY - Alice Spenser-Higgs

‘Next year’s colours may be much brighter com­pared to this year’s trend of pur­ple and mauve ...’

Flow­ers in vivid shades of pink, red and yel­low caught the pub­lic votes at this year’s flower tri­als at Ball Straathof. With more than 1 000 new va­ri­eties on show, the main com­plaint from vis­i­tors to the Open Day last month was that they only had one vote, re­calls mar­ket­ing man­ager Kathy Var­ney.

“If we fol­low the lead from gar­den­ers it looks as if next year’s colours will be much brighter, more pri­mary and with a lot of hot pink, com­pared to this year’s colour trend of pur­ple and mauve,” she said.

In ad­di­tion to the pub­lic, Ball Straathof in­vited grow­ers, land­scap­ers, me­dia and buy­ers from large gar­den cen­tres and re­tail chains to view and vote on their idea of what gar­den­ers would like.

Of the 10 most pop­u­lar plants, the unan­i­mous win­ner was a small flow­er­ing suc­cu­lent that no­body had seen be­fore. Lewisia cotyle­don “Elise” sent rip­ples of ex­cite­ment through gar­den­ers, me­dia and hor­ti­cul­tur­ists alike. Where did it come from? As Kathy ex­plained: “Lewisia has been around for some time but was very dif­fi­cult to grow from seed be­cause it was hard to ger­mi­nate and needed the cold to flower.

“Then, an in­ter­na­tional Nether­lands-based breeder, Be­nary, de­vel­oped a hy­brid that didn’t need the cold to flower. “We de­cided to trial it and were as sur­prised as any­one else when it be­came such a suc­cess.” She at­tributes its pop­u­lar­ity to its strik­ingly beau­ti­ful flow­ers, in shades of pink, peach, and white that al­most ob­scure the rosette of dark-green suc­cu­lent leaves. Be­ing a drought-hardy, heat-tol­er­ant peren­nial, it is per­fectly suited to low-wa­ter gar­dens and con­tain­ers. Plants are com­pact (15cm to 30cm high and wide) and need or­di­nary to sandy soil that drains very well. In hot gar­dens the best po­si­tion is semi-shade. It also does well as an in­door plant, need­ing bright light or sun­shine and a warm room. Lewisia “Elise” was not the only old-fash­ioned flower gar­den­ers liked.

Can­nas are on the come­back trail, with Canna “Can­nova Bronze Scar­let” in third, just be­hind Cal­i­bra­choa “MiniFa­mous” dou­ble pink.

Al­lay­ing con­cern that can­nas are in­va­sive, Kathy said the Can­nova se­ries was an early-flow­er­ing F1 hy­brid (the only F1 canna around).

Be­ing a dwarf va­ri­ety, plants only reach a gar­den height of 60cm to 70cm, with lush leaves and flam­boy­antly coloured flow- ers. Bred for smaller gar­dens, they are low-upkeep plants that like plenty of sun and wa­ter.

An­other old-fash­ioned favourite was Achil­lea “Vin­tage Red” in 10th, along with Be­go­nia “Non­stop Deep Rose”.

More com­monly known as yarrow, the Achil­lea Vin­tage se­ries is among the best peren­ni­als for plant­ing in hot, dry and sunny po­si­tions, pro­vid­ing good colour through­out sum­mer.

They are good gar­den cut-flow- ers and plants re­main com­pact (30cm high) if trimmed hard af­ter flow­er­ing.

They grow in or­di­nary gar­den soil and need very lit­tle at­ten­tion.

BREAK­ING GROUND. Straw­berry ‘Sum­mer Breeze’ was the first ed­i­ble to be in the top 10.

HAPPY. Sun­flower ‘Bert’ is a com­pact pot sun­flower.

FAVOURITE: Lewisia ‘Elise’ shone at this year’s tri­als.

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