Anita Morton - Growing Gardens

Onwards and upwards

I believe that we gardeners dont give enough attention to the actual form of flowers when we consider the overall effect. Some of the most effective punctuation mark plants are flowering now, and they all have beautiful spires of bloom.

The cats whisker (Orthosiphon stamineus) is a delightful shrub with spires of blue-tinged white flowers with long stamens which contrast well with the dark green foliage. This plant will grow to about a metre, less in poor soils. It requires little care just give it a haircut after flowering finishes and water occasionally if the weather is very dry.

Another very vertical flower is the golden candles (Pachystachys lutea). This is another of those handy sub-shrubs that will grow up to a metre in good conditions excellent as a background or filler plant. It will be happiest in a sheltered spot or protected by other shrubs and dislikes the cold. If you get a lot of frost in winter, the safest bet is to take cuttings each autumn in case your parent plant dies.

Last but certainly not least is the showy blue ginger (Dichorisandra thyrsifolia). The colour of its flower spikes is arresting a brilliant violet blue. Give this one shelter, too, as its soft cane-like stems will be killed by frost. It will thrive under the shade of trees provided the soil stays moist, and will get up to a bit over a metre in height. Interestingly, blue ginger is not related to true gingers, but rather to the common weed, wandering Jew.

All three of these sub-shrubs produce their striking spires of flowers in the warmer months, and go on flowering for ages. None of them are hard to grow, and all of them can be propagated from cuttings taken now, so why not add a few exclamation marks to your garden?


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