CHINESE WHISPERS, that funny thing that happens when information is distorted when passed from one recipient  to another and another, was at play this week at the garden club

flower detail of the holmskioldia sanguinea


One of the bench competition shrub entries drew particular admiration from members, being a string of scarlet and tangerine blooms on long spines. ( Bench competition for those not familiar with the term, is a procedure where garden club members bring something from their garden they are especially proud of,  a fruit or vegetable, flower, shrub or native, and the others vote on it for a prize.)

Even many of the seasoned gardeners could not identify this stunning exhibit, until someone exclaimed what sounded like “holusscolia”.

“What is it?” several clamoured.

“Holus bolus”.

Holmskioldia in bloom

“No, holuscollus”.

‘I think he said “holksollia”.

And so it went on, rippling around the room, which admittedly, did have its fair share of hearing aids.

I came away with a variety of guesses, certain only that its name  started with H, but very keen to identify it because it was an absolute standout – and flowering in our semi-tropical mid winter.

Thank you google plant index. It is a Holmskioldia sanguinea, whose common names include Chinese hat plant, cup-and-saucer-plant or mandarin’s hat.

See? A pesky Chinaman was messing with our heads!

Sometimes it is called parasol flowers, because the holmskioldia blooms are button-shaped with a little stem. They grow in clusters  along long graceful arching branches that can get up to three metres long ,  flower best in full sun, from autumn through to spring,  in almost any soil and need only spare watering.

They can be grown as a shrub or a tree. If you leave it, holmskioldia can grow to 10 metres  high and about five metres wide.  For pruning,  cut the branches back to ground rather than chop midway.

They come in vibrant tangerine, bright yellow or mauve varieties. Some are deciduous, some evergreen. The dropped flowers of some of the species have colours  contrasting to the calyces  and look dramatic scattered over the garden floor.

And bees, birds and butterflies love them.

Holmskioldia  can be easily struck from cutting, so guess who was first at the bench to snaffle a piece?

The man responsible for its tricky name is 18th century Danish professor and physician Theodor Holmskiold, who discovered them in the Himalayan lowlands.

Another flowering beauty that has caught my eye this month is the nutmeg bush. On a  weekend away up country, I saw a swathe of these pretty tetradenia riparia shrubs  in fluffy splendour.

Nutmeg bush

They also have a distinctive smell and would make a great addition to an aromatic herb garden. That’s where I plan to put mine anyway, with the gingers, salvias and lemongrass for a heady mix of scent.

Nutmeg bush flower

But the nutmeg bush flowers are definitely for the kitchen window sill, where the aroma wafts across invitingly.

Another reason to love the nutmeg bush is that it flowers right through winter,  is tough as old boots and thrives on neglect. It is very easy to propagate. During spring and summer, stem or branch  cuttings will strike quickly in a slightly moist, sandy mix.

Meanwhile, the constant rain recently has been a bit depressing. Winter wet seems to be extra gloomy somehow and the mud and bog seems to hang around longer with shorter days and colder conditions. It’s just not much fun in the garden seeing rotting leaves and stems from too much water and too little evaporation.

But the peas, beans  and lettuces are growing well, the papaws trees are flourishing – one of mine is expecting octoplets – and a hand of bananas is ripening at the top of the tree.

Note to self:  do not be a wet blanket.


Friendly follower Brooke has had a lime tree revival after taking some advice about repotting her sad and sick specimen and adding the miracle epsom salts or potash to the mix.

Citrus are such big feeders. Almost everything that goes wrong with them seems connected to them being under-nourished – which is what can be said for everything on the planet, really.

Good work, Brooke. Your picture (right) is worth a thousand words. I feel a margarita coming on.
FRESH EYES ON FOODGreen blogger Susan  http://feeds.feedburner.com/GreenDreaming has shared a request to participate in a short survey for a QUT-organised  research program If you have 10 minutes to spare  and have an interest in growing your own food or knowing about what fresh food is in season,  take the trouble to do this survey at   http://tinyurl.com/SeasonalitySurvey.
Wishing you happy times in your plot.

2 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    Brooke said,

    Thanks Julie! My lime has appreciated the extra food and love – clearly! My Friday night G&T has appreciated the fresh lime slice 😉

  2. 2

    Grace said,

    Thank you for liking my post, About. “Loved” this article as I am a curious gardener and a, “thinker, tryer,” failer, leader, follower, …!” Lovely descriptors for lovely ladies!

Comment RSS · TrackBack URI

Leave a comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

Our Australian Gardens

Design Down Under - diverse landscapes to inspire

The Global Goddess

A single woman's journey

Victoria Walters

Author and Blogger

The Greater Brisbane Quest

Two knights taking the road less travelled...

The Neighborhood

The Story within the Story

Trade News in Brief

International Economic Affairs & Relations / Regional & International Organizations / Global Commerce & Business

Monetise This

A little light reading

Calculating Grace

and finding it doesn't add up

Writing Sisters

Your Story - Our Story - God's Story

Lisa Meekison

Riches: Redefining the Good Life


The Food Sage: A compilation of professional food writing

Retired Ruth

Memories From a Boomer


Blood-drawing Bromeliads & Other Sharp Pointy Plants!

Eat Drink Sleep Shop Australia

For people who move and shop, based in Australia

How to shuck an oyster

On living, writing, reading...and eating

cancer killing recipe

Just another WordPress.com site


4 out of 5 dentists recommend this WordPress.com site

The Clever Scribe

Freelance Writer, Living in the Midwest

%d bloggers like this: