Last week in Spectrum I wrote about Deidre Mowat’s fabulous garden. Given the constraints of 450 words I had to narrow my focus to just a few of the justicias that Deidre grows. And that meant I didn’t get a chance to talk about Deidre’s great plant matches. Here are just three that took my eye on the day:
The magic of coleus #1
How good does this abutilon look with the red-splashed lime leaves of a coleus. Coleus are great for filling in gaps and for playing around with colour and texture as they offer so many options. They propagate easily from cuttings, so don’t pass one in a friend’s garden without begging a bit. My other go-to is the Growing Friends at Royal Botanic Gardens, Sydney, which has an ever-expanding collection of coleus. They don’t always make it through winter in my garden so I take insurance cuttings of my favourites and keep them in water to plant out as soon as the weather warms. (Make sure other people in your household know what you are doing – last year a helpful housemate tossed the manky-looking glass of rooted but admittedly ugly cuttings thinking he was cleaning up. I lost the lot.)
The magic of coleus #2
This time a burgundy and red match with the frogs-foot style coleus pairing with the old Fuchsia triphylla, which is a terrific plant in Sydney. It flowers almost all year and has felty dark foliage. Take cuttings in autumn and spring, and prune them in late winter if you need to.
The tradescantia that is commonly called wandering jew is a terrible pain, and this pretty silver and purple one, T. zebrina is also over-ambitious, but it looks great here peeking through a white polka dot plant, Hypoestes phyllostachya. They are a good match for each other as both are as pushy as stage mothers. They are shade lovers and dry conditions only slow them up a bit, so they are very useful in the dark, dry, difficult parts of the garden. It’s easy to pull out the excess so they don’t dominate gentler companions.
If you haven’t yet discovered Deidre’s blog, make sure you do. It’s a mine of practical information about growing plants that are perfectly suited to Sydney.