Monday, 20 August 2012

Abelia etc

Always a popular group of shrubs - especially the well-known evergreens, A.grandiflora and schumannii. There are quite a lot of other, less well-known species however, which definitely deserve to be more widely planted.
I should mention that Abelia has recently been split into several smaller genera. If I understand it correctly, genetic analysis has shown that a couple of other popular garden genera - Dipelta and Kolkwitzia, are mixed in with them, so they've either had to make them all one big genus, or several small ones. They seem to have gone for the latter option.

Abelia (Zabelia) triflora
Zabelia triflora
A lovely Chinese deciduous species with scented Jasmine-like tubular pink and white flowers in dense heads through the summer. A tall upright shrub, but arching out, like a fountain. Very nice indeed. Perfectly hardy and easy to please.
Sold out for now

Dipelta yunnanensis
Dipelta floribunda
An absolute classic. The plentiful palest rosy flowers are heavily veined orange within, and held between two greenish bracts. A large arching shrub for almost any soil, including chalk in sun or semi shade.
Sorry - sold out for now 

Dipelta ventricosa
Dipelta ventricosa
A gorgeous and very choice member of the Abelia group. A tall upright deciduous shrub, as easily grown on chalk as on acid soil, in sun or part shade. Beginning to flower in late winter, the main display is in mid to late spring. Attractive deciduous leaves and peeling papery bark. Fully hardy. rare, I think, only because it's slow to propagate.
2L pots ~ £8

Abelia (Vaselea) floribunda
Abelia floribunda
A very striking species with its 2 inch long tubular bright pink flowers and small rounded evergreen leaves.
Abelia floribunda
It does need shelter and warmth to flower well but is otherwise easy.
sold out for now

Mirabilis longiflora

Many gardeners will be familiar with the so-called Marvel of Peru (M.jalapa) usually grown as a summer bedding plant in the same way as Dahlias. It is frankly a rather garish plant (in my opinion) best known for the way its flowers change colour with age. Our species are much nicer and come from the deserts of western North America. They should be quite cold tolerant but like the Penstemon we offer, needing the absolute maximum of sun and perfect drainage. Definitely worth a try on thin chalk soils. Some protection from winter rain would not go amiss. Failing that try them as patio pot plants.
Update - both these species came through last winter completely unscathed on our chalk bed. Multiflora came up quite early, behaving like a normal herbaceous perennial and put up with some harsh weather. The longiflora are just emerging as I write, in May, but look strong.

Mirabilis longiflora
Mirabilis longifolia
A glorious night-scented species - the fragrance redolent of tropical evenings. (The very long-tubed white flowers are typical of plants pollinated by moths.) A low spreading bushy perennial with rather sticky green foliage. Very vigorous and easy on the dry chalky raised bed at the nursery, and could well be hardy enough to survive the winter outside (USDA zone 7) in a sheltered spot with rain protection. If not would also be fabulous in a big terracotta pot on the patio, brought in for the winter.
Update - ours are re-emerging in our dry raised bed, along with several seedlings! Definitely worth trying outside then, at least in dry sunny sites.
1L pots ~ £6