✦ Another garden chat with Chook - The noise on the nursery…
Yes, I realise I may sound like a broken record every year around this time but Spring is here and there is nothing better. Now, I’m not being seasonist, I like all the seasons for each of their special, individual offerings they give us. It’s just that working in a plant nursery, there is always so much excitement, anticipation and enjoyment relating to this seasonal transition.
Apart from the longer day lengths and the increasing temperatures, it is the availability of new, fresh and exciting stock from our suppliers that is the real teaser for us all here on the yard. We have been through months and months where we have been dictated by the cooler weather which slows down our supply of plants.
Now while our suppliers always produce great quality and we always fill the yard with everything we can get, facts are facts, most plants species thrive on the warm conditions. The recent north coast growers trade day was a raging success and showcased the new availability of fantastic stock. So, get out into your nurseries as soon as you can to take advantage of the abundance of new season stock that is now becoming available.
Ornamental Plant Recommendation
Lotus ‘Red Flash’ (Lotus hybrida)
The striking silver blue foliage of this plant allows it to contrast itself incredibly in many a garden situation. The low growing habit allows you to ‘paint’ silver patches all throughout the bare patches of your garden beds. From late spring through to mid Autumn the plant also rewards you with an eye catching display of crimson red flowers highlighted with gold. Often called ‘Parrots beak’ as the flowers look similar to just that.
The plants low growing habit makes it great for cascading over the edge of garden beds, falling down sloped areas or spilling over the rim of hanging baskets.
It will reach a maximum height of 20cm and spread across an area of about 70cm. Performs best in full sun to part shade environments and has minimal water requirements. Does best in well drained soils that are rich in organic material.
Look out for it in your local nursery and colour up a couple of ground areas in your garden.
Culinary Herb Recommendation
Curry Tree (Murraya Koenigii)
There often exists a bit of confusion when I am showing this plant to various customers on the nursery. The immediate notion is that this plant is responsible for the curry powder we all purchase in dried form. This however is not true.
Curry powder is a mixed blend of different spices such as turmeric, cumin and black pepper to only name a few. While the rich blend of spices may differ slightly region to region, they all have the same basic theme to their flavour. And that basic curry theme can be found in the leaves of the curry leaf tree, which demonstrates how amazing and complex the flavour is, just the fact we have mixed lots of different spices and flavours together to mimic the rich aromatic flavours found within the oils of the plant’s leaves.
The plant has origins to India and Sri Lanka. It is actually a type of Murraya. Many would be familiar with Murraya paniculata, which is used quite regularly as a nice dense hedge in many gardens. While the curry leaf tree is a native to the tropics it does perform well in temperate zones and a good rule of thumb is if you can grow Murraya paniculata in your area then the curry tree will perform well too.
The Curry leaf form of Murraya does have a different habit to its counterpart, it commonly grows with a slender trunk, leading to a gently weeping canopy of fragrant leaves. In most herb gardens the plant is kept under two metres via gentle pruning and harvesting. If allowed to grow naturally it will reach approximately 3-4 metres in height. The small tree requires a warm, sunny, sheltered site with regular watering and well-drained soil. When using a nice premium grade potting mix the plant will grow great in a medium to large sized pot.
The plant produces abundant sprays of small white flowers which eventually form into black berries with a fleshy green seed inside. It is a good tip to remove the flowers as they form to allow the plant to concentrate all of its energy into producing the wonderfully fragrant leaves that are used in cooking. When cooking with the leaves, most cooks prefer to add the leaves fresh. They are used in a wide variety of different Asian cuisines from soups to curries and even in savoury desserts.
A great herb plant addition to your garden which is available at most nurseries through the warm months of the year.
Fruit tree recommendation
Midyim Berry (Austromyrtus dulcis)