“I love a sunburnt country, a land of sweeping plains, of rugged mountain ranges, of droughts and flooding rains.“
Dorothea Mackellar wrote ‘My Country’ in 1906 and over a century later it has never been more real. The drought of Christmas 2019, we all begged and prayed for rain, and winter 2022 we just want the rain to stop. The turnaround, the contrast is monumental. It couldn’t be more stark and for some cataclysmic. Through it all, we do love a sunburnt country and wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.
My chosen vocation has been tested and still is through almost marsh like working conditions. I have often thought that growing plants in Europe or New Zealand would be an easier assignment. However, something stirs within that loves the challenge of facing climatic extremes and coming through with a product that can enhance gardens across our great land. We have been fortunate to not be too adversely affected by floods, and although the drought did significantly challenge us, it seems like a distant memory with the amount of water we are facing now. Somewhere in all this calamity we have also faced a pandemic of Herculean proportions which has affected us all in many and differing ways.
When it comes to how plants have survived, some have succumbed to the wet whereas others perished in the dry. The learning curve has been steep, but without failure there is no success. It keeps us on our toes! For example the silver foliage plants that loved the drought have struggled in the wet. Nevertheless the majority of the plants we grow (particularly grasses) have grown and performed remarkably well. Below are a few photos of winter at its best, in all its sublime shades of decline- beige, brown, wheaten, tan, amber, fawn, oatmeal and chocolate.
Calamagrostis 'Overdahm' with Panicum 'Blue Steel'
Zelkova serrata 'Musashino'
Eryngium yuccifolium with Miscanthus 'Kleine Fontaine'
Sedum 'Autumn Blush'
Andropogon scoparius 'Blaze'
Spent Helenium flowers with Panicum amarum
Perhaps where you live has had just enough rain, and you would like to start planting in the gaps or for a new garden area. Here are some good quality plants recently added to our website to consider:
After trying and failling to grow Echium candicans numerous times in different positions, we nearly gave up on Echium altogether. That is until we changed to a different species. The frost blackened and killed E. candicans where as E. virescens will handle harsh overnight frost. There is a compromise on colour if you are wanting strong blue flowers as E. virescens is more a lilac to pink colour. Echium virescens is still a stunning plant in full flower in early Spring and reaches a height and width of 2m. Drought tolerant, but it won't handle excess water.
Anemone x hybrida 'Pure Elite White'
This new variety of Anemone has clean crisp bright white single Anemone flowers with a ring of golden stamens at the centre. Deep green basal foliage gives rise to the superb flowers in late Summer and Autumn. 'Elite Pure White' is a more compact and floriferous variety than the standard and will reach a maximum height of 1.2m when in full bloom. Prefers semi shade and compost enriched free draining soil.
Deschampsia cespitosa 'Pixie Fountain'
'Pixie Fountain' is a dwarf variety of Deschampsia cespitosa. Forming an evergreen tight clump of narrow, dark green leaves with feathery panicles of silvery-purple flowers on arching stems in Summer. Excellent in shadier area in the garden. Fully frost hardy Deschampsia is able to withstand temperature down to -15ºC. The plants are tolerant of a range of moisture as long as it is not waterlogged. Perform best and flowers most in cooler climates. In warmer climates, it needs semi-shade and moist conditions otherwise flower production may be reduced.
Eryngium planum 'Silver Salentino'
Attractive mid green basal rosettes which are the main structure of the plant for most of the year. The flowers arise to 80cm above the basal rosette in late Spring and Summer. Globular heads of snowy white, tinged with a hint of metallic blue make for a floral statement amongst any plant combination. We like to leave the dead heads on the plants after flowering. This way we ensure a little self-seeding in and around original plant increasing our clump size. Somewhat drought tolerant once established. 20cm x 80cm in flower. Prefers well drained soils and full sun.
Nepeta racemosa 'Little Titch'
As the name implies this Catmint is shorter and more compact than most of its type. The blue mauve flowers on mint like blue green aromatic foliage make an attractive low growing perennial. 'Little Titch' is tolerant of heat and drought and works very well as a foreground planting, along pathways, between stepping stones or in a gravel garden. 20-25cm in height and 30-40cm wide.
This shrub is native to Eastern and Southern African, from Kenya to Angola and south to the Cape. The leaves are a dark green and conspicuously wrinkled on the surface. The flowers are borne in large panicles from August to October. They are sweetly scented and lavender/lilac in colour. The mature shrub makes for an eye catching spectacle in early Spring. A tough, tough plant that will grow in any soil, however a well composted soil will give better results. Buddleia salvifolia will tolerate drought and frost. If pruned often it makes an excellent hedge. 2.5m high x 2m wide.
Geranium 'Silver Cloak'
A hybrid between G. robustum and G. incanum. Both are South African species. This hybrid is an exceptional plant. Makes a wonderful ground covering carpet of highly divided silver grey foliage with dainty lavender mauve flowers with purple veins. The softness of the filigree foliage disguises the tough nature of the plant. Thrives in our recent very hot and dry weather. Handles frost to -5℃ here as well. Needs a well drained soil with plenty of sunshine. 45cm x 60cm.