Abutilons

The Abutilons are making a great show of colour in the garden right now.

Abutilons
Eight Abutilon varieties

The selection of varieties and different colours available has greatly increased in recent years. I haven’t grown them before but along with the bees am really appreciating their glamour in the winter garden. They are quite vigorous growers so I can see some judicious pruning will have be done once they finish flowering in early summer.

Winter Colour at the Quarry Gardens

Winter Colour

With everywhere so wet underfoot the Whangarei Quarry Gardens is a good place to visit with its well-formed, weather proof paths. Other than the camellia collection, in full flower at the moment, there is not a lot of colour but this planting of Poinsettias is surprisingly happy in this quite shady position. Probably Christmas pot plants re homed.

Quarry Gardens

Some of the many Aloes and succulents on this higher level bench at the Quarry. The rain has spoiled many though. Their flowers are usually long lasting but can be seen a sodden mess clinging to stems.

Cymbidium Orchids

Cymbidium Orchid
Cymbidium Orchid

Last Spring I was given five large Cymbidium orchid plants by a commercial flower grower. Each year when flowering is finished commercial growers divide some plants, add new varieties and throw out surplus plants. These throw outs make great garden plants in our mild climate. Their strappy leaves look good all year round and if well fed they produce lots of colourful flowers in mid-winter. I don’t bother about dividing. Good healthy plants are very heavy to handle, have plenty of strong, bright green leaves and not many bare “back bulbs”. I dig a shallow round hole, deep enough to hold about a quarter of the root mass. I remove the plastic bag or pot they come in and dump the whole plant into the hole so that three quarters of the roots are exposed. This looks a bit ugly so if I have some small rocks handy I pile them up around the root ball. The one thing these plants can’t stand is too much moisture so this method of planting keeps them out of wet ground but stops them tipping over. Cymbidium species from which these commercial varieties are bred are mostly epiphytic so they are quite tolerant of dry spells. They are best planted in high light, either full sun or dappled shade. These outdoor flowers wont be cut flower standard of course, and it certainly pays to use slug stuff as the spikes appear. I give them a good dressing of slow release fertiliser a couple of time a year. 

Cymbidium Orchid

Justicia aurea

Justicia aurea
Justicia aurea

Also known as Yellow Jacobinia, this plant shines a golden glow in the late autumn early winter. Grows in sun or shade and unless cut back can reach up to 2-3 meters but becomes straggly and untidy unless growing through other plants. Given a hard cut back after flowering the foliage on the regrowth remains attractive all year. Easily propagated from cuttings or rooted off shoots.

These young plants are probably not doing as well as they should—too wet perhaps.

Yellow
Justicia aurea

Mandarins

Citrus
Mandarins

Ripe citrus provide such bright, cheerful colour in the winter. Our mandarins are produce well this year. We already have eaten about 100 very small Okitsu. It started ripening about 2 months ago and is a very good flavour. The small, heavily laden tree here is Miho. It is producing so much fruit each year it has made hardly any growth. Two years ago it had 11 fruit, last year 22 and this year 55. The tree on the left is Corsica 2 which has a good crop for the first time, much smaller fruit than Miho. It looks as though we will have a good spread of fruit. Encore has a heavy crop which is still completely green—it doesn’t ripen til November – January. I have just planted a Hayward Late orange – we’ve probably got enough sweet citrus now. Two lemons and a lime complete the citrus orchard.