Category Archive: Shrubs

Salvia mexicana ‘Limelight’

By Bonnie-Marie Hibbs.


Scientific name: Salvia mexicana ‘Limelight’

Common Name: Limelight.

Salvia mexicana limelightSalvia mexicana ‘Limelight’ is a current favourite in my garden. It is an evergreen perennial (a plant that will live more than two years) that will reach a maximum height of 1.5 meters and have a spread of 1.2 meters.

If you are a collector of Salvias or just starting out in the garden, this is a must have. The electric blue flowers with green calyxes will appear mid to late summer and will continue to bloom through the autumn months. Mine flowered continuously for at least 4 months this year! The flowers contrast beautifully against the dark green foliage. The leaves are large and elliptical shaped.Salvia mexicana limelightThey can be grown in full-day sun to part-shade in a moist position that has good draining soil, such as a loam – loam clay. Once the flowers finish blooming in late autumn it is best to prune off old flowers to encourage compact and healthy growth. Pruning will also result in more flowers the following year.

To maximise their growth and blooms fertilise twice a year in their growing seasons. Fertilise in early spring to encourage strong growth and then again in early autumn to encourage an abundance of flowers.

Salvia mexicana ‘Limelight’ is tough and easy to grow and is always an eye-catching display in the garden.

Garden Event worth waiting for – Geranium maderense

A Garden Event worth waiting for. By Kevin Mankey.

Over the last month I have been watching with anticipation the formation of a giant head of flowers on an old favourite plant in my garden, Geranium maderense. This is a very old species of geranium classified as a “true geranium” differentiating it from the many modern hybrid varieties in cultivation today.

As the name suggests, Geranium maderense hails from the island of Madiera on the north- west coast of Africa. It is a sub-tropical climate with relatively low rainfall and a rocky, craggy landscape. I first encountered this plant whilst touring in the UK back in the late 1980’s. It was growing on St. Michaels Mount, a tiny island land mass off the Cornish coast where an old monastery is now a tourist attraction only accessible at low tide. When I returned to Melbourne I was determined to find this rare beauty to try and grow it for myself but at that time it was barely known here in Australia. By good fortune I was able to get hold of a seedling from a friend who worked in a large private collectors garden in Toorak and my fascination for the plant has continued to grow ever since.

Geranium maderense is a giant among geraniums, growing to a height of 120-150cm tall by 120cm wide. It is a mound forming evergreen perennial (meaning it does not go into dormancy) with deeply divided hand sized lush green leaves. The foliage alone is textural and interesting but it is the huge flower head that is the real head turner. From early spring a giant beach ball sized head of purplish pink florets, each approximately 3cm across explodes like a firework and is a stunning sight. Each little floret has a dark purplish throat and is covered in tiny inflorescent hairs all along the stem which glisten in the sunlight. The anticipation of these huge flower heads is the sort of thing that tests a gardeners’ patience as it takes two years for a young seed grown plant to reach flowering maturity.

Another unique feature of this plant is the formation of props by the lower, older leaf stalks (petioles) which turn downwards toward the ground and serve to prop up the heavy stem whilst also returning water to the root zone around the plant. This is probably an evolutionary adaptation resulting from the poor quality soils where the plant comes from and the fact that it has a surprisingly small root system comparative to the plants’ size.

Geranium maderense makes a stunning addition to a garden and looks especially pleasing when planted in drifts under the canopy of overhanging trees. It does best when protected from afternoon sun and prefers a well drained loamy soil with moderate water requirements.

Unfortunately it is not an easy plant to find in nurseries as there are hardly any growers who produce it. This puts it in the “collectors plant” category so don’t be frustrated if you can’t find it easily. You may stumble upon it one day and I guarantee the wait will be worth it.

Euphorbia – a gardener’s favourite.

By Kevin Mankey.

Favourite Families: EUPHORBIACEAE.

The question frequently pops up when you work in the nursery industry…”Do you have a favourite plant?” My answer would be not one individual favourite but more like a favourite family. The Euphorbias are one of the largest plant families with over two thousand members from all over the world. Some of the most interesting varieties come from the desert regions of South Africa, and the inhospitable island of Madagascar. Fortunately, in their wisdom our growers concentrate on producing only some of the best forms, otherwise there would be no room for anything else in the nursery!

Euphorbia wulfenii

Euphorbia wulfenii

Also known as spurge (from the old French word “espurge” meaning to purge which refers to the use of the sap as a purgative in olden times) the Euphorbia family is made up of annual and perennial plants, woody shrubs and trees. Their form ranges from feathery leaved ground covers, to lush woody stemmed flowering shrubs, to stark, sculptured trees which look almost alien in all but a desert landscape. There are even some which have developed thick fleshy stems which were once mistaken as cactus species although Euphorbias are not in any way related to cacti.

Euphorbia craigieburn

You may have guessed by now that Euphorbias are some of the toughest garden shrubs available, being hardy to frost and long periods of dryness. They are also coastal tolerant and will thrive even in poor quality soils as long as there is reasonably good drainage. They adapt very well to our Melbourne climate with its extremes of long hot summers and cold winters.

Euphorbia lambii underplanted with wulfenii

One of the most recognizable species is the ever popular Christmas poinsettia E. pulcherrima with its traditional red bracts (white and pink forms now exist) which are used as table decorations at Christmas time. However, the majority of varieties currently being grown are popular with garden designers and enthusiasts due to their compact bushy form and their diverse foliage colours ranging from grey greens, to purple, to limey- gold, and even white splashed variegated foliage. As for flowers, the majority of Euphorbias carry clusters of sulphur yellow to russet coloured composite flower heads mainly during the latter part of winter and on into spring.

What I like best about them is that they are adaptable to so many garden styles from cottage to traditional to contemporary and even arid. Most of the varieties currently on the market grow to less than one meter high by one meter wide so they will fit almost any space in any garden. Like many structural plants they work really well in group plantings where they have high visual impact and bring a brilliant textural element to a garden design.

Euphorbia rigida

One word of caution with this family of plants is that they all exude a sticky milky sap when cut which is toxic if ingested and can be an irritant to the skin and eyes. The simple precaution of wearing gloves and avoiding rubbing the eyes when handling them is recommended. With this in mind the euphorbia family is well worth consideration for a range of garden situations. Pictured are some of the varieties currently on offer in the nursery along with a few collectable varieties which may be slightly harder to find. Note the diversity of forms shapes and foliage colours which is what makes Euphorbia a fascinating and versatile family of plants. Drop in soon and feel free to ask our recommendations for a Euphorbia to suit your garden.

Euphorbia wulfenii flower

Touch of Class plants for 2015

By James Wall

At this time of the year, some of our growers show some of the new plants that are in the system. One such company is Touch of Class plants, located about an hour out of Melbourne, in Tynong.

They propagate plants and sell them to growers all over Australia. Nurseries like ourselves get to see what’s coming up for future gardeners – and we all have different opinions, and here is mine:

Hebe Grace Kelly

Hebe Grace Kelly:

Ok, it’s just a hebe, but this aptly named plant has a classic antique look that is not at all modern. I shouldn’t actually like this plant, but its somewhat dated old school look would actually be stunning in the right pot. Hebe’s also make very good filler plants as they are hardy and need little water once established. This one might just end up a classic.

Heuchera by Terra Nova


These come from a US breeder called Terra Nova who are famous for this range of plants. I just love the lushy leaf growth more so than the flowers. They become vivid in winter and will take a dappled light situation. Pictured above is Lime Marmalade and Black Taffeta. Below is Coco and then Sugar Plum.

Heuchera Sugar Plum

Agapanthus Barley Blue

Agapanthus Barley Blue:

There were quite a few nice agapanthus, but this one pictured above was my favourite. It was a lovely shade of blue and quite compact. Next to it is Phormium Back in Black, a comapct dark coloured flax that makes a great coastal plant.

Eucomis by Terra Nova: 

These young plants look quite special. Alas, they will grow into a bigger hardy clumping plant. Apparently they have little pineapple like flowers on them. Pictured above is Dark Star and below is Freckles

Buddleia Blue and Pink Compact:

These two buddleia are compact forms and only grow 50-60cm tall. They are long flowering, and require no dead heading. They are a much more controllable plant and pictured above is Blue Chip Jr, and below is Micro Pink Chip. These are sure to be cottage garden favourites and would be right at home in a mixed salvia garden.

Some of these plants will be released, some may not. It is pleasing to see some exciting plants in the pipeline and I will looking forward to offering them in our nursery in 2015.

Touch Of Class Plants website.

Terra Nova Website.

Fairy Magnolia Cream – fragrant early spring flowers.

This stunner of a plant is looking at its absolute best right now ! Fairy Magnolia Cream (Also available is Fairy Magnolia Blush). What we love about it is that the half open flowers look like a tight tulip, but then open into a gorgeous lush flower.

This Tesselaar plant release has masses of creamy fragrant flowers. It is an evergreen variety, but being more a shrub than a tree, it won’t get as big as a Little Gem magnolia. It will still get 3 to 4 metre after around 7 years, but it is not a big thick trunked plant, and it could be pruned to be much shorter than that. It can be trained to one leader, or trimmed so to branch more as a bush. It is quite an elegant grower, and at this time of year has fragrant cream flowers up to 6cm wide. It will flkower through to November and may even spot flower throughout the year.

Fabulous for hedges but can also be espaliered, or used in topiary. It would make a great specimen plant either ina pot or in the ground. The plant will tolerate a wide range of conditions once established, and benefits from moderate moisture when establishing. Can tolerate temperatures of up to 45 deg C down to -10 deg C. Plant 1 metre apart to create a hedge and up to 1.5 metres apart for a looser screen. Flowers from September to November, with spot flowering throughout the year. It will take sun and partial shade which makes it a most adaptable plant.(doltsopa x Yunnanensis x figo cross)

Beautiful Bouvardia longiflora humboldtii

First published on The Gardener’s Notebook by Bonnie-Marie Hibbs

Today I thought I would share with you one of my all-time favourite plants, Bouvardia longiflora humboldtii. 

There are many reasons why not only I but many gardeners love this plant in particular. Bouvardia.L. humboldtii is a very attractive plant; it has beautiful lush green leaves that are a great contrast against most other plants. The pure white flowers form in clusters all over the shrub, forming summer – autumn. The main attraction for most people and the main reason why these plants are so popular is the fragrance that is produced when these shrubs are in flower.  Most of the Bouvardia genus originates from North America and South America and are a part of the Rubiaceae family. However, this species of Bouvardia in particular is native to Mexico. Bouvardia .L. humboldtii is a small growing shrub that grows to a maximum height of 1.5 meters and 1 meter wide.

Bouvardia humboldtii can be planted in full sun to semi-shade but requires a sheltered position from strong winds. It can also tolerate small frosts but may get tip burn on the foliage if it’s still young. Once these plants are established they are fairly hardy and resistant against frosts. Make sure to prune your Bouvardia humboldtii at the start of spring to encourage compact healthy growth otherwise prune once they have finished flowering. Feed with a complete ‘all-purpose fertilizer’ such as ‘Uplift’ from Yates in spring when new growth will start to emerge, and feed them once more when the flower buds appear in late spring. Well drained soil is best suited for Bouvardia humboldtii. If you have clay soil, mix some organic compost into the soil as this will help with water retention and loosen up the soil, making it easier for the plant’s roots to grow.

Dwarf Crepe Myrtle looking brilliant.

By Bonnie-Marie Hibbs

G’day Everyone,

Lagerstroemia indica ‘Nana’, otherwise known as Dwarf Crepe Myrtle, are looking brilliant at the moment. Lagerstroemia indica ‘Nana’ are great feature plants for small courtyards or gardens. If you have planter pots or a half wine barrel that is looking for a feature plant, consider these.

Crepe myrtles are also available as summer flowering deciduous trees. They also look great in autumn when their foliage display changes from red to orange tones before dropping in mid to late June (start of winter). They can grow in a vast range of conditions and soils, but best prefer a well-drained soil texture. If you are on a heavier soil base, such as clay, just add some humus/compost to the soil and mix it in. The humus/compost will help to improve soil drainage, texture, and will gradually help improve soils that may be anaerobic. Crepe myrtles grow best in a full sun position, but if you don’t have an area that receives all day sun, then a position that gets most of the afternoon sun is best.

These dwarf forms are a compact grower that will grow to a maximum height of 1- 1.5m (3 -6 ft) and a width of 1.5m (4-6 ft). The size of the Lagerstroemia indica ‘Nana’ allows you to grow them in various places around the garden. As I mentioned earlier, they are great plants for smaller patios and can be used in pots. They can also be a great hedge display and could be used in espaliering.

Espaliering is when you train a plant to grow along a flat surface or structure. When espaliering you can influence and control the growth patterns of a plant by making all braches perfectly horizontal and symmetrical. This is an old horticultural art form that is still used in a wide range of gardens today. Espaliering is widely used in smaller gardens because it helps to save space and is quite efficient.

Australian summers can provide odd temperatures that can drastically affect our plants. Crepe myrtles flourish in the Australian heat and are drought tolerant once established. Make sure to water the plant regularly during its first summer after it’s been planted, as this helps to reduce transplantation stock and stress. Continue to do this until the plant is settled and has shown signs of establishing. During the summer months beautiful clusters of flowers will appear. There are a great variety of different colours that are available to choose from in both the normal tree varieties and dwarf forms. Colours include pink, mauve, magenta, white and red. Another great aspect of these shrubs is the beautiful trunk. Depending on the age and species of the Lagerstroemia indica ‘Nana,’ the colouring and bark can vary; sometimes the bark will peel off and reveal a pink/coral coloured trunk.

We currently have a good selection of Lagerstroemia indica ‘Nana’ (Dwarf Crepe myrtle shrubs) available in the nursery in a 20cm pots. We also have a good selection of the larger growing Crepe myrtle trees available. So the next time you are on your way down to our nursery, come and take a look at these spectacular plants.

New Zealand Rock Lily – Arthropodium cirratum

By Riann Harrison

If you are looking for an ideal plant to grow in dry shade then I have the perfect suggestion for you, it’s the Arthropodium cirratum or commonly known as the NZ Rock Lily.


A native of NZ this plant is a clump forming perennial with lush green strap-like foliage.  It grows approximately 85cm high x 1 metre wide and it thrives in filtered sun to part shade and very tolerant of dry conditions.  The beautiful feature of this plant are the masses of delicate clusters of nodding white flowers with soft pink buds above the lovely foliage during spring.

Having my own garden that is very shaded with many well established deciduous and evergreen trees I was having challenges growing anything beneath them until I gave the Arthropodium a chance.  To me it was like discovering gold, it thrived so much that most of my garden now consists of mass plantings of the Arthropodium underneath all my large trees.  The impact of them when they are in flower is so impressive that passer-bys approach me to ask what the plant is called.

Once established they rarely need water in such a competitive environment.  I fertilise them each spring and they need their old bottom leaves removed a couple of times a year. The one and only disadvantage is that the snails love their fresh new foliage especially after rain but that is easily rectified by a sprinkling of Multicrop Snail Bait amongst the foliage.  This plant will reward you unconditionally in what can at times be a difficult spot.  Enjoy.


Hellebore – the Winter Royalty Collection

These plants are turning heads in our nursery right now. They include the new Winter Royalty Collection. It is certainly an apt name for this series because these stately flowers do have an air of grandness about them.

Hellebore Winter Sunshine

Hellebore Winter Sunshine

Winter Royalty Collection

6 in the series

Angel Glow

Ivory Prince

Penny’s Pink

Ruby Glow


Winter Sunshine

Not only are they flowering, so you can see the colours, but they are in bigger pots than the normal 140 mm ones which means you get big chunky plants. The Winter Sunshine pictured above seems to start off pink and then turn more predominately cream. Searching for something truly special for your garden this winter? For those seeking a classic, elegant look ‘Penny’s Pink’ is the answer. The beautiful new hellebore has certainly earned its place in the Winter Royalty Collection. These unique flowers are a unique dome shape, and adorn the plant throughout winter and early spring. It is quite simply a stunning variety.

Hellebore Penny's Pink

Hellebore Penny's Pink

Hellebore prefer a shadier position and grow quite well under trees. In mid winter I cut the old leaves off and it looks like there is nothing there. However under the ground there are a mass of buds and new leaves ready to almost immediately pop out. That is when you get these glorious antique flowers.

Apart from the Winter Royalty collection, have a look at some of the other beauties below.


Heuchera – our plant of the week.

By James Wall

Heuchera MarmaladeA new range of heuchera became available a couple of weeks ago. On asking our plant buyer to get some in, she told me that they had not been good sellers in the past. After some convincing, we got a batch in. They have not exactly walked out the door, but hey, for us plant lovers, it’s not always about that.

These new hybrids are tolerant to heat and humidity. They will take full sun, but might be better in a semi-shaded area. They will flower, but what I love about them is their striking foliage colour more so than their fairly ordinary flowers. They are great for under planting and add year round colour to the garden.

The plants are also chunky, dense shrubs that grow in a rounded sort of way. I think they add richness to a garden in both their shape and colour. They grow 20-30cm high and 30-40cm wide. Leaf colours include shades of reds, pinks, peaches, silvers, purples and chocolate.

The plant was originally native to North America and discovered and named after Johann Heinrich von Heucher (1677-1746), a German physician. He used tonic derived of the roots to aid digestive difficulties, and used extractions from the root to stop minor bleeding, reduce inflammation, and otherwise shrink moist tissues after swelling. Do not try this at home however, as these plants are not the original native form, but ones bred for superior garden performance.

The plants we received are excellent specimens and of a good size. Get in before the heuchera craze catches on – I am sure  you will like them.

Heuchera Georgia Peach

Georgia Peach

Heuchera Marmalade


Heuchera Berry Smoothie

Berry Smoothie

Heuchera Amethyst Myst

Amethyst Myst

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