Six on Saturday -14/12/2019

I’ve done a fair few of these six on Saturday posts and it occurred to me to wonder whether I’d missed anything, so I took a stroll round the garden and noted a few things I thought I might never have included, then came back in and checked. I could do at least three weeks with things I’ve never included, barely believable. It being a quiet time of year, I’m going to put them in and reflect on why I even grow them if they have never shoved their hands in the air and shouted “me sir, over here sir!”.

Picea sitchensis ‘Treblitsch’. Except it can’t be because ‘Treblitsch’ is a cultivar of Picea omorika. Maybe it’s Picea sitchensis ‘Papoose’? It doesn’t look like the picture of P. omorika ‘Treblitsch‘. Just goes to prove you can’t trust your memory when it comes to plant names. There’s no label of course. It’s just sat there, minding its own business, for the last twenty years and I’ve long since stopped noticing it. There’s actually another Picea beneath it, almost completely swamped, and I can’t put a name to that either. (Yes I can, P. abies ‘Formanek’) There’s a Cyclamen under there too, which manages to put out a few leaves and the odd flower each year, impressively tough plant. The thing hovering over it is Fuchsia colensoi, which would smother the Picea given half a chance.
(Searching old pictures I found one of P. abies ‘Formanek’ before it got swamped, and one of P. omorika ‘Treblitsch’ which is a good match. It’s not P. sitchensis, the needles are too blunt)

Ophiopogon planiscapus ‘Little Tabby’. I have three sorts of Ophiopogon and I have never included any of them in a six. Other people have put in black mondo grass, Ophiopogon planiscapus ‘Nigrescens’, and that is in the background here too but the featured plant is the strikingly variegated form ‘Little Tabby’. It is painfully slow growing but otherwise just as accommodating as its black sibling. Hakonechloa ‘All Gold’ at the back, black and gold, Cornish colours, not that I’m actually Cornish mind.
Pittosporum tenuifolium ‘Nutty’s Leprechaun’. I don’t remember where this was purchased but the RHS only lists three nurseries as having it, all in Cornwall. It’s slightly quicker growing than ‘Tom Thumb’ and not quite so dark, which I think is probably a good thing. I think the reason it’s not been included is that it is usually hidden behind Dahlias and other perennials, all of which are lying low. It’s a little over 2ft tall.

Aloe aristata. Along with Sempervivums, Jovibarbas and a couple of Agaves, this is for us a reliably hardy succulent and we leave a couple of pots of it outside all year round. It produces typical Aloe flowers, dusky orange narrow bells on foot tall stems.

Rubus rolfei. This evergreen blackberry comes from high altitude in the Philippines and Taiwan so can suffer a little in a hard frost. It is completely prostrate and wanders around underneath other plants, unseen all summer until Salvias and Asters get cut down. I don’t think mine has ever flowered, so I’ve never had the opportunity to try the edible orange fruit it is supposed to produce. It hasn’t grown densely enough to be really effective as ground cover and needs to be cleared of fallen leaves in the autumn before it suffers damage. It goes under other names, R. calycinoides, R. pentalobus and R. hayata-koidzumii to mention three.

Santolina rosmarinifolia ‘Lemon Fizz’. I’m slightly surprised this has survived as long as it has; I don’t think it has a great deal going for it. As yellow leaved plants go it’s hardly outstanding and it hardly flowers at all. And it stinks. Nor do I number myself among the people who think the smell of Santolina rosmarinifolia is pleasant.

There you have it, six waifs and strays. There’s at least one would have had a more assured future if I hadn’t noticed it but mostly they’re just things that don’t have a “look at me” moment, they just do their unchanging thing all year and get precious little thanks for it. They are the backdrop against which the prima donnas of the garden perform, just as necessary but buried in the credits at the end.

Talking of prima donnas of the garden, don’t forget to visit The Propagator and his links to many other headline acts around the world.

17 thoughts on “Six on Saturday -14/12/2019

  1. My Pittosporum is the pale green leaved variety which has lost several leaves. Would it help if I pruned it, if so, do you know when I should do it? Yours is beautiful and healthy looking.


    1. The best time to prune is late winter just before new growth gets started. If there’s dieback cut back to live buds. You’ve posted pictures of it but I can’t really remember what it’s like, they vary considerably in hardiness and I would suspect yours is dropping leaves because it’s a less hardy form, though if it’s only older leaves dropping, not the youngest at the shoot tips, then it’s shedding them naturally.


  2. Sometimes plants that disappear during the summer, being overshadowed by other plants, make their statement at this time of the year. Your Rubus rolfei reminds me of the plant you advised on last week…thank goodness I have resolution for that now. I too have Ophiopogon planiscapus ‘Little Tabby’ for sure a slow grower. The way you have grouped it with the black ophiopogon and grass is great.


  3. Your bed of grasses is beautiful, including the primrose in it. Really love that combo of colours. The aloe aristata is fascinating – it looks like it’s growing hair, giving a strong suggestion of movement to it. Love the colour of the Nutty’s Leprachaun.

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  4. The trio of grasses complement each other so well I immediately want to have something like that in my garden! I do have pittosporums though, and nearly all of them are giving up, suffering from some kind of dieback. They are in a hedge, so the effect is quite disastrous.
    The beautifully weathered pot of aloe makes a great garden statement too. Lovely to have something that just keeps on going with the minimum of fuss.


    1. I saw a variety of Ophiopogon for sale in Australia that I’d not seen here, quite long narrow variegated leaves, and wanted to try and sneak it back. Sense prevailed but it presumably grows OK out there. The Hakonechloa wouldn’t work for you but there must be something yellow that would. Shame about your Pittosporum, just too dry for it maybe?


  5. I can always rely on you to produce six interesting contributions. The pot of aloes is lovely. I have some Ophiopogon planiscapus ‘Nigrescens’ growing underneath some bamboo so it is hardly noticed. I did look at removing it once, but gave up. A shame because the flowers are quite pretty.

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  6. I got rather jazzed to read that it was a cultivar of Sitka spruce. It is interesting anyway, even though it isn’t. (I just wrote about some Sitka spruce that a colleague brought back from the wild. I really want to see how they do here. We want more spruce in our landscapes anyway.) The aloe is exemplary. I never see them so big and round. Small bits of it are popular in those mixed dishes of small succulents. It might be an easier alternative to Haworthia. I happen to like the aroma of Santolina, but I prefer the common green and gray lavender cotton.

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