Cunonia is a small genus of flowering trees and shrubs with evergreen and ornamental foliage. Most of the species are distributed across South Africa whereas some grow towards east coast in to Natal. The most popular of all species is Cunonia Capensis which is grown as ornamental foliage plant in gardens. It bears beautiful glossy green leaves with shades of red and pink. Flowers are very showy and appear in dense spikes of cream color. These fragrant flowers attract butterflies, garden birds and honey bees that pollinate flowers and spread seeds of the plant.
Cunonia Capensis, Image by Tony Rodd
How to Grow Cunonia Capensis
Cunonia Capensis is an excellent choice when you are looking for a decent foliage plant for all seasons. It requires moderate water (do not over water but do not allow the plant to dry for a longer period). Almost all species of Cunonia grow under partial sunlight and bloom in mid-summer.
Cunonia Capensis is commonly known as Red Alder or Butterspoon Tree.
Dodonaea is a genus of shrubs and small trees usually grown as hedges or borders. These are excellent landscape plants that provide evergreen foliage and shrubby formation which makes them a good choice for hedges, screens, dividers or as wind-breakers in landscapes. Dodonaea is native to Australia and New Zealand though a number of species can now be found growing freely in tropical and subtropical climates of Africa, the Americas and Asia.
Flowers of Dodonaea grow in short racemes but are not usually prominent. The most cultivated species is Dodonaea Viscosa which is commercially sold as Hop Bush or Sand Olive. It grows as shrub or small tree up to 5 meters. Flowers are greenish yellow; leaves are long and elliptical. The wood is quite tough and durable and has been used to prepare tools.
Dodonaea Viscosa 'Purpurea', Image by Suzette Hosken
Dodonaea Viscosa ‘Purpurea’ is a popular variety and is grown as small ornamental tree or shrub. Leaves of this variety are purple or burgundy and add dramatic effect in landscapes. Dodonaea Viscosa ‘Purpurea’ makes an excellent ornamental plant for gardens and landscapes where it grows as hardy shrub. Being native to tropical and subtropical climates, Dononaea requires regular watering in a well-drained soil, and bright filtered sunlight to thrive.
This is a perfect example of how nature manages the ecosystem. The recent wave of massive floods in Sindh, Pakistan flocked spiders to escape rising water and climb up trees. These trees have been enveloped by spider webs that captured huge population of mosquitoes thus preventing the spread of malaria and other diseases.
Whether you are a beginner or a master gardener, you just cannot resist Torenia in your garden for its beautiful flowers and versatile usage. It is an excellent choice for hanging baskets and window gardens, as ground cover or as trailing plant in landscape borders, raised beds or indoor containers.
Torenia forms tender branches of usually 6 inches that can trail up to 30 inches which makes it a good plant for hanging baskets. Native to tropical and subtropical regions of Asia and Africa, most species of Torenia require humid and moist conditions to thrive. These herbaceous plants are grown for their unusual flowers that are commonly known wishbone flowers. Each flower has a unique wishbone shape. These beautiful flowers come in purple, violet, pink, white and yellow colors.
Torenia, Wishbone Flowers, Image by Kelly Teague
How to Grow Torenia Fournieri
Torenia has a lot of hybrid varieties and cultivars that grow as annuals (though some of them are perennials). These plants are best grown under partial shade in a fertile soil. Provide your Torenia plants with regular watering and do not allow the soil to dry out completely for long periods.
Torenia are easy to grow both from seeds or cuttings. Regularly pinch back Torenia to keep these plants in shape.
When it comes to designing and decorating your garden, only creative and imagination is the limit. There are 101 ways you can spice up your landscape or garden with simple recycled objects. You do not have be an artist or master gardener to create decorative objects. It just requires some inspiration and a little effort to add dynamic effects to your garden. Here are a few example of amazing garden art and decor for your inspiration.
Melastoma Sanguineum belongs to the family of about 50 evergreen shrubs and small trees. Native to tropical and sub-tropical regions of south east Asia, these lovely plants bear evergreen foliage and delightful flowers of pink, purple of white flowers. Flowers attract butterflies, bees and garden birds. Flowering is followed by fruition in the form of small and fleshy blackish-purple berries. These berries are favorite food of birds.
Melastoma Affine, Image by Arthur Chapman
Melastoma Sanguineum grows under partial sunlight and can attain almost 6 meters in height. Leaves are fresh green and prominent, flowers (usually pink or purple) are 50 to 80mm across. This flowering shrub requires frequent watering and humid conditions to flourish. The best place for Melastoma Sanguineum in a garden is under shade where these plants are protected from direct sun and frost.
Melastoma Sanguineum is easy to grow in a well-drained soil. Mature plants should be pruned after flowering season. Since these plants are self-seeding, it is advised that you deadhead them to prevent them from becoming invasive.
Today I am featuring Agave ‘Blue Glow’ which is one of my favorite of all agave plants in my collection. Agave ‘Blue Glow’ is supposed to be a hybrid between Agave Attenuata and Agave Ocahui – ‘Blue Glow’ has long narrow leaves (from Agave Ocahui) with a terminal spines and almost no marginal spines (from Agave Attenuata). Dark blue-green leaves have red margins that glow when seen at eye-level with sunlight in the background. Agave ‘Blue Glow’ is relatively slow growing plant that tends to grow solitary. It forms a compact rosette of up to 18 inches in height and spreads as wide as 2 feet- suitable for growing in containers. The plant in picture is about 2 years old and was grown from a small offset.
Agave 'Blue Glow'
Agave ‘Blue Glow’ prefers bright sunlight but protection from direct harsh sun of summer. It is quite hardy, easy to grow, and drought tolerant. I am growing my plant in a terracotta pot in my roof garden.
Acanthus is a genus of perennial sub-shrubs that are grown for their ornamental foliage and flowers. They are quite showy plants and can be recognized easily in a landscape for their glossy-green leaves. Originally native to the Mediterranean region, Acanthus has inspired several architectural designs and patterns in the Greek and Roman culture. One can easily recognize and relate several architectural motifs in ancient Roman culture with beautiful foliage of Acanthus. In fact, Roman and Greeks revered this plant and used it as a decorative plant.
Flowers on Acanthus plants are borne along long stalks (up to 2 meters) that stand out in plantation. Flowers are usually white or cream with a hint of purple.
Acanthus Mollis, Image by meggle (flickr)
How to Grow Acanthus
Acanthus is easy to grow and maintain. These ornamental perennials are grown best under share or filtered sunlight. Young plants requite regular watering, however, once establish they do not require much attention. Most species of Acanthus have long tap roots making it difficult to root them out. Since these plants are quiet showy and noticeable in size, it is recommended that you do not grow them near low growing plants. Acanthus is best grown as border plants or as background foliage plants in a landscape. These shrubby plants can be propagated from cuttings. Among all species, the most cultivated is Acanthus mollis, which is also known as Bear’s Breeches. Other popular species are: Acanthus spinosus and Acanthus hungaricus.
Brugmansia are delightful plants to grow in a garden. Known for their fragrant and unusual flowers, most species of Brugmansia grow quite easily and quickly both as garden as well as container plants.
Brugmansia is closely related to Datura and comes from subtropical regions of the Americas. These plants (usually small trees or bushes) requite warm climate, bright sunlight and protection from winter frost. So if you are trying to grow Brugmansia in a colder climate, the best option is to grow them as indoor container plants. Most species of Brugmansia grow as evergreen perennials and bear large bell or trumpet-shaped flowers that are fragrant at night. Flowers are pendulous and quite large in size (14 to 50 cm long, and 10 to 25 cm across), that is why, the plant is also known as Angel’s Trumpet – bearing large, colorful, and fragrant ‘trumpets’ suitable just for heavenly angels. Flowers are usually white, pink, yellow or orange. The fragrance of Brugmansia flowers is reminiscent delicate lemony scent. A Brugmansia plant in full bloom is a real treat to watch and smell, however, all parts of the plant are poisonous. If you have pets, keep them away from your Brugmansia plants.
Brugmansia, Angel's Trumpet - Image by Arria Belli
If you have not grown Brugmansia before, try Brugmansia x Candida which is a common cultivar and is easily available at nurseries as Datura Cornigera. It grows as a small tree (3 to 6 meters in height) and long pendant flowers of white or cream color. The flowers are strongly scented especially at night.
How to Grow Brugmansia
Brugmansia requires regular watering, warmer climate and mulched soil. They can be grown in full sun as well as under partial shade. If you are growing them indoors, make sure they get a good exposure to sunlight. Plants grown outdoors may tend to wilt or pale under harsh climate, move them to partial shade and they should be back to normal again. Brugmansia usually does not bloom unless it is mature; however, you do not need to wait for long for these plants to flowers because they are quite fast grower especially in warmer climates.