Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Old-fashioned plants - Sleeping Hibiscus

Everyone has a type of plant they particularly like. It may be palms, succulents, bromelaids, - even bamboo. For me, I have a thing for old-fashioned tropical plants - and I was lucky enough to come across the sleeping hibiscus Malvaviscus arboreus for sale.

It is very common in the older parts of Sydney - presumably owing to its popularity in times long gone.In these gardens,t is often grown as an informal hedge and is said to be very easily grown from cuttings. It is no longer popular and is rarely (if ever) stocked by nurseries.

My tubestock sleeping hibiscus

The curious flowers never quite 'open' - they look like hibiscus flowers in bud. They are produced copiously so the plant looks colorful anyway.  It is a sprawling (and slightly untidy) shrub, so it benefits from regular trimming. I've seen it flower both in full sun and deep shade but I prefer it in full sun as it remains compact. 

This is an example of an old fashioned plant that should be seen more. It is hardy, drought tolerant and flowers for 12 months of the year. It is suitable for warm-temperate to tropical areas.

I recall one TV presenter receiving a call from a concerned woman that her hibiscus never open it's flowers like the one next door did - only to be told that her plant was in fact sleeping hibiscus!

Sunday, 1 July 2012

Garden helpers

I have been annoyed by some recent chewing from some mystery insect tearing everything apart in the garden. Being winter, the plants don't grow and a plant can be easily decimated in no time. To make matters worse, they only seem to chew on the new foliage - ensuring the unsightly holes stay around for some time. Worst affected has been my acalyphas:

Unfortunately, the critters responsible have been very cagey and eluded discovery for some time. That was before I enlisted the help of Milton, a furry feline whose specialty is catching lizards, chasing fluttering leaves and general insect hunting.

Milton poised high in the acalypha observing for any nasty insect action

After some waiting, we identified the leaf muncher:

I'll spare you the details of the grasshopper's demise. It was, however, a small victory for me over the nasty creatures which can seriously upset gardeners. No matter what time of year, there are snails, caterpillars, strange little bugs I can't identify and now grasshoppers all competing to make a tasty treat of my plants. Despite being surrounded by birds, the local avian population prefer to scavenge in the streets to eating bugs. With Milton by my side, however, I do feel I have another weapon in the fight against these garden terrorists.

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