Saturday, April 9, 2011

Hardware Store Plants

As I typically have an hour to fill while waiting for ballet lessons to finish, I've been exporing the commerical neighbourhood of Phillip in Canberra.  

I have a soft spot for Phillip but not so adjacent Woden with its shopping plaza concrete edifice, an alarmingly ugly apartment tower and a maze of hollow office blocks.  Just my opinion, of course, but it always seems to be a grey and windy urban space.  

Phillip, on the other hand, rolls its sleeves up and gets down to work in a no nonsense low-rise way, with a mix of amazing little shops, car yards and auto repair joints and sundry other venues ranging from music stores, sewing shops and fitness studios.  Plus Magnet Mart. 

Upstairs is the garden nursery.  Last week I found some potted plants which I thought might be suitable for our garden.  So I jotted scant details on the back of a docket in my handbag.  Here's what I found:

Anthropodium Cirrhatum "Matapouri Bay"

Arthropodium 'Matapouri Bay' is a new hybrid form of New Zealand Rock Lily prized for its good looks and easy care. Upright, broad, glaucous green foliage is a year round feature that in summer is crowned  with lovely panicles of starry white flowers.

Dietes Bicolour "Spanish Iris"

A clumping plant with long arching leaves and a prominent midrib to 0.9 m long. Lemon, iris like flowers with dark brown basal blotches, appear predominantly in summer.

Then, the cordyline (thanks to the splendid Faux Fuschia, and Magnet Mart, for reacquainting me with this species).

I wondered whether they would suit Canberra's cold climate.  But advice from the helpful International Cordyline Society indicates they would.  I shall leave the last word to those knowledgeable folk:
Whilst Cordylines grow in the tropics and are certainly beautiful, they are definitely not tender. They’re as tough as the proverbial “ old leather boot laces”, growing happily in the tropics and sub-tropics down to New South Wales, provided they are protected from direct frosts. The cold loving New Zealand species, (australis) will grow in the cooler parts of Australia. Cordylines are at home in the garden, some even prefer almost full sun to show their best colours. Most prefer good light with protection from the direct sun, under the canopy of palms or trees is perfect. While Cordylines like regular watering for optimum growth, once established they will tolerate dry spells better than most plants.


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