What’s new this spring
All for pink
Words: Linda Ross
‘Gabriel Oak’ is a new rose from David Austin, nurtured over the past nine years on its road to release by David himself. Named for the Thomas Hardy hero of Far from the Madding Crowd, the rose, like the character, is dignified, hard-working and honest, with plenty of large, many-petalled rosette blooms.
Pinks get their common name for the pinking-sheared edges of the petals, rather than the colour, though many are pink, like Dianthus ‘Sugar Plum’ from
Whetman, a multi award-winning garden pink breeder in the UK.‘Sugar Plum’ is a high impact plant for garden or container in a sunny spot. Once established
it’s quite tolerant of dry conditions. Feed with slow-release fertiliser in spring and encourage more flowers by trimming spent blooms and picking
a bunch for a bedside posy.
New Sea Thrift
‘Sweet Dreams’ is part of the new Armeria Dreameria collection of tough low-maintenance ground covers. A decade-long breeding program by PMA has delivered
masses of large, pale-pink, globe-shaped blooms, which make long-lasting cut flowers, neatly held on sturdy upright stems. The mounding plant is tolerant
of dry and salty conditions, so perfect for rockeries and coastal gardens, or anywhere a reliable full-sun groundcover is required. Available from
your local nursery.
The concept of restraint completely bypassed the tiger lily and we love it. The satiny pink blooms of ‘Pink Flavour’ have a watercolour wash of lemony
gold, and are liberally spotted with chocolate to match the anthers. Profuse blooming gets bigger and better every year, so leave them in the ground
to establish, only lifting and dividing when they become overcrowded.
Available from Tesselaar and Van Diemans Quality Bulbs.
Tradition denotes February for sweet pea sowing, but in temperate Australia, sweet peas will also germinate in late autumn and early spring, offering two
sweet pea seasons - perfect! Some cultivars actually grow better if germinated in early spring. We are trialling eight gorgeous cultivars from The
Sweet Pea Flower Farm in Victoria this spring – we’ll keep you posted!Available mail order online.
Martagon lilies have a delicate, old world charm combined with a practical, easy-grow nature - and up to 50 flowers on a single stem! The pendant blooms
start opening from mid to late December, just in time for Christmas. The strong, green stems have a deep purple flush. You will get more flowers as
the bulbs establish in the garden.
On the shelf
Animal-eating plants are eerily fascinating, and Dan Torre makes the subject even more interesting - and weird - by delving into a range of knowledge areas.
Torre is a Senior Lecturer in the School of Design at RMIT in Melbourne, and his book doesn’t simply explain how to grow carnivorous plants but also
explores their role in our culture more widely. From the Triffids of the 1950s to the man-eater in Little Shop of Horrors and the Chomper
in Plants vs Zombies, carnivorous plants are a staple in popcorn horror; yet the real things are even more bizarre than their fictional counterparts.
Which writer could have imagined the weird relationship between Borneo’s Nepenthes hemsleyana and the little woolly bat that sleeps in its
pitchers and feeds it with the digested remains of its dinner? Truly stranger than fiction. Robin Powell
Carnivorous plants by Dan Torre, published by Reaktion Books