Exotic Garden
05 July 2014 - by Lizzy Browne

We’ve been planting out our Exotic Garden – Cannas, Gingers, Bananas, Dahlias, Bananas and Colocasias have gone in so far and we’ve made tripods for Ipomoeas, Thumbergia elata (Black Eyed Susan), Lablab purpureus and Cobea  scandens. We executed a frenzied planting session starting at 6am on Thursday morning and through Friday but Bank Holiday customers have put planting on hold for a couple of days.


On Saturday morning we had the sprinkler on for 5 hours, as panic set in about the lack of moisture in the ground. This inevitably brought on the rain on Saturday afternoon and it’s hardly stopped since – such is life. We are of course itching to get the carpet bedding planted to complete the picture but this will have to wait till midweek. Every day I drool over the bedding plants - they look so stunning in their growing quarters. Look at this picture of Coleus ‘Pineapple Beauty’. What an amazing leaf. Can’t wait to plant some in the Exotic Garden.


After a period of dormancy over the winter our Koi are very active, jumping around in the pond and demanding food every time they hear foot steps trip trapping over their bridge. There have been some whopping splashes in the pond and they’re possibly getting ready to spawn soon.


Unfortunately we lost a lovely large white Koi recently that we’d had for many years, the second fish this year. It’d been looking poorly for a few weeks and seemed to have trouble maintaining its balance – probably a swim bladder infection – something Koi rarely recover from. A vet friend once told us that vets are reluctant to treat fish and that in their opinion a sick fish is a dead fish. We’re cleaning out the filters (not a pleasant job) and changing a percentage of the water regularly so hopefully we won’t have any more problems.

Four years ago we planted a Phyllostachys irridescens, which has grown into a huge, wandering clump. A few weeks ago it shot out 3 enormous culms, an alarming 3 metres away from the main clump, thrusting skyward at an amazing pace. What a stonking bamboo!


Our Arisaemas are coming into flower. My favourite of all is Arisaema fargesii with its huge, glossy, trifoliate leave and sinister-looking, cobra-like  spathe. These used to be part of the Urban Jungle staples, but over the last couple of years our range has changed direction and we’ve stocked them less. Seeing these beautiful plants, looking so good at this time of year has made me think about re-visiting them.


Li’ll Pip, who spends every day at the nursery with us, is still happy and healthy at 14 years old, but she’s getting old and slowing down considerably. We love her to bits but she infuriates us when she stands in the driveway looking dippy, stopping cars from entering and leaving, and we constantly have to move her out of the way. She loves visitors though and here’s a picture of her absolutely worn out after having her tummy tickled all day. She’s made some amazing excavations at the nursery in what was our woodland garden.


It’s not too serious a problem, as this area needs a complete over-haul. The conditions are shady and extremely dry at the best of times but the ground has been dust this year for several months and some of the plants aren’t thriving – it’s an extremely challenging area to plant.  We’ll probably take everything out and add a huge depth of Council Compost before replanting. If Pip carries on digging after replanting – well then there will be trouble!

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