Most of us have a few potted plants around the place. We have come to the point where we have no room left in our little 680sqare metre block, so if we find a plant that we cant live without, we have to plant it in a pot.
For those of you that have been gardening for a long time, stretch your memories back to the plants that were popular in the 60s and to a big degree have faded from popularity... plants like pelargoniums, peperomias, marbled pothus, philadendrons, rex begonias, African violets and the like. Perhaps they have dropped out of focus because they havent been a viable proposition for the big players in flora propagation, and I think its a shame because each of these now old fashion plants have very special merits of their own. I have a small collection of some of these simply because I like them and I dont see the merit in chasing the latest fashion in plants unless they fit into a particular criteria.
The old fashioned plant I would like to focus on today is columnea. Named by Linnaeus for Italian botanist Fabius Columna (1567-1640) this mainly epiphytic genus of the African violet family (Gesnriacia) is made up of 160 species. They have slightly arching pendulous stems that form a crown of foliage. The leaves are small oval to lance shaped, in opposite pairs, and usually downy, as are the stems and calyces of the tubular flowers. Orange and red are the common flower colours, but white, yellow, pink and maroon can also occur. They make a wonderful hanging basket subject for a protected outdoor area or shadehouse, or a well lit area as a house plant. The most popular species that are still cultivated by collectors are columnea early bird, C. gloriosa, C. microphylla, C. scandens and C. arguta. Being a cousin to African violets they seem to have that special something that gets you in. Just a warning they will be hard to find. Private plant collectors are probably your bet bet to source them, however, the effort will be worthwhile.
The next meeting of the Lismore Garden Club is at the Lismore Workers Club on Thursday, March 8, at 1.30pm. Visitors are most welcome. For information phone me on 6624 7422 or 0421 021 451.
Finally: Life is a mixture of sunshine and rain, laughter and pleasure, teardrops and pain, so keep on smiling whatever betide you, secure in the knowledge God is always beside you. Helen Steiner Rice
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