Plant Of The Moment

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Welcome to the second edition of Plant of the Moment from the ‘Garden at the Berkshires’. This is a garden that I have created around my parent’s house on their farm. Previously to being a garden, it was a paddock. In the last eight years or so, we have designed, prepared, planted and constructed the garden. In this time, I have been focusing on selecting plants that are tough, so now after eight years of gardening here, I have decided to start a weekly post or column on my Instagram and Facebook business pages about tough plants.

Published online each Wednesday, I write about a plant from our garden here at “The Berkshires”. We are located about 15km northwest of Young. The Plant of the Moment column features plants that are looking outstanding at that moment in the season. The plant, which could be a tree, shrub, grass, perennial or groundcover is tried and trusted to survive the drought conditions here through Summer and the frosts of Winter. It will tick every box - pretty flowers and/or interesting foliage and a hardiness to all conditions. It will be a plant that I have planted out in other gardens, so I know how well it survives.

These won’t be plants that only look good for a day or two a year or species that need lots of extra tender loving care. All plants will need water to get established and need good soil preparation prior to planting. The soil preparation is the key to all plants surviving well in any garden. These plants will be high value plants that make a contribution to the garden. I look forward to showcasing some beautiful plants for you. Hopefully, you find some species that you can use in your garden. Featured below, I have the six species I have chosen over the past six weeks.

To see each week’s Plant of the Moment, go to my Instagram or Facebook pages and follow me – Glenice Buck Designs. Also, to keep up to date with garden happenings, events, and news you can subscribe to my free Garden Newsletter by going to www.tinyletter.com/glenicebuckdesigns or email glenice@glenicebuckdesigns.com.au or phone or text me on 0417 077 386.

Beschoneria yuccoides - Mexican Lily IMAGE: Beschoneria yuccoides - Mexican Lily

Beschoneria yuccoides - Mexican Lily

This strappy, silvery, green leaved perennial has its leaves arranged in a rosette form. It will add shape and form to the garden all year round. Beschonerias have sword shaped leaves that are wider at their base and get narrower and pointy at the tops.

Each plant will form a rosette and over time, new rosettes/pups (new plants) will grow next to the mother plant, causing the plants to bulk up or form clusters. Growing to approximately 1.2 metres in height by at least the same width, they have a lovely architectural shape. They have bell shaped green flowers with red bracts which sit on stems that grow above the foliage by up to 1.5 metres above. Here at #thegardenattheberkshires, it is a plant that I grow more for its foliage than its flowers.

Best grown in well-drained soil with full sun. It is drought tolerant and frost tolerant.

Rosemary officinalis  - Common Rosemary IMAGE: Rosemary officinalis - Common Rosemary

Rosemary officinalis - Common Rosemary

It is an evergreen, perennial herb. This plant has actually been renamed Salvia Rosmarinus, however I’m yet to see it sold as that name in a garden centre or by any growers. It has fragrant dark green needle like leaves, growing to approximately 1.5 m x 1.5 m. The common species gets pretty blue flowers through the winter months here at the Garden at the Berkshires. It will spot flower throughout the year but we seem to get the bulk of our flowers from June to August. Sources I read say its main flowering is Spring - Summer but that is not the case here.

It is drought and frost tolerant, once established it is very tough. Rosemary can be very slow to get going, but once it sets down its roots it will be a long lived plant. Normally these plants are lightly tip pruned in October.

It is the perfect herb to accompany so many dishes especially lamb. Rosemary has many medicinal properties, one being to improve memory, hence why it has become the herb of remembrance.

Limonium perezii - Seafoam Statice IMAGE: Limonium perezii - Seafoam Statice

Limonium perezii - Seafoam Statice

This evergreen, drought tolerant, clump forming perennial is a great Winter flowerer here at the Garden at the Berkshires. It flowers for at least 3 - 4 months with spot flowers throughout the rest of the year. We have it happily growing in a very sunny, well-draining location close to other shrubs, which I feel it does like and benefits from, especially on the frosty mornings. It will need some frost protection when young.

Its flowers are made up of small branches (panicles) topped with purple sepals and white petals - together they are dome like in shape. When not in flower, its leaves are quite ornamental with a leathery finish and oval in shape. Works well in any style of garden from Mediterranean gardens, cottage style gardens, rock gardens and coastal gardens.

It can tolerate front line salt as well as drought conditions in inland gardens. Its foliage can reach approximately 50 - 60cm in height with a 40cm spread in width. Its flowers will sit above the foliage by approximately another 30- 40cm. The only maintenance it requires is the removal of dead flower heads and old leaves now and then.

The Statice has a rhizomatous root system so it can be divided up every 3 years or so.

Lavandula dentata - French Lavender IMAGE: Lavandula dentata - French Lavender

Lavandula dentata - French Lavender

This species of Lavender is a favourite of mine and I find it grows the best here in #thehilltopsregion. It is an evergreen flowering shrub with gorgeous silver green foliage and pretty mauve coloured flowers. Like all Lavenders, its foliage and flowers contain oil glands that when touched or squeezed will release the Lavender scent.

Requiring a full sun, very well-drained location, it is a very hardy plant. It flowers here at the Garden at the Berkshires right through the winter months and up to the middle of Spring. It can reach about 1 – 1.2 metres in height by a similar width.

Lavender can be used as a hedge, in mass plantings, perennials borders or even in pots. They do require a good cut back each year so that they remain vigorous and dense. Here at the Garden at the Berkshires, we cut them back late spring or whenever the flowers have finished. They get cut back by about one third to one quarter of the plant’s size. It is a plant that has a life span of about eight - ten years, so if it is planted as a feature plant you will need to consider doing some planning for succession planting.

Hellebores - Winter Rose IMAGE: Hellebores - Winter Rose

Hellebores - Winter Rose

Hellebores are in full flower at the moment here at the Garden at the Berkshires. This is a species which I have adored for years and have tried to grow in many different locations. They aren’t always known as being the hardiest of plants, but I have found if you can give them the perfect location with reliable moisture whilst establishing and keep them well mulched, they will become reliable flowering perennials that are well worth the effort.

They need a sheltered location with protection from western sun and strong winds. I have had great success growing them on a south facing wall where they rarely get any direct sunlight. They like a filtered light position and work well under deciduous trees. They are a plant that can happily grow with the root competition from trees. Flowering through winter, their gorgeous nodding heads of flowers last for a long time in the garden.

They can self-seed in areas and will bulk out within themselves.

Olea europaea “Manzanillo” - Olive Trees IMAGE: Olea europaea “Manzanillo” - Olive Trees

Olea europaea “Manzanillo” - Olive Trees

A very hardy, small evergreen tree which can reach 5 metres in height x 5 metres in width. It has lovely olive green leaves with silver underside. Producing creamy green flowers in late summer, normally fruit develops on 4 to 5 year old trees from mid Autumn to mid Winter. This variety produces a good amount of fruit for eating as well as makes great olive oil.

Here in the Garden at the Berkshires, we use them as ornamental trees to the back of the garden bed. We lightly shape/prune after fruiting. They prefer a full sun location and well-drained soil.

Pyrus calleryana “Capital” - Capital Pear IMAGE: Pyrus calleryana “Capital” - Capital Pear

Pyrus calleryana “Capital” - Capital Pear

A beautiful upright, narrow growing, deciduous tree. It has the potential to reach 10 - 12 metres in height x 1 - 3 metres in width. It has heart shaped leaves that hang vertically off branches. In Autumn, they turn the full spectrum of Autumn colours in most climates. They also get beautiful white blossoms on them in spring. Some people say they don’t like the scent from these flowers, but I don’t mind it. They will grow in a range of soils, best in a sunny spot and once established, need little water.

Here at the Garden at the Berkshires, I have used them as an avenue planting to define the main axis of the garden. They could also be used as a feature tree in a narrow location, as a pleached hedge, in a driveway planting or even as a street tree.

Their Autumn colours seem to be starting a bit late this Autumn, however we would normally have a strong season of colour from early May here.

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