Plant of the Week

September 2020

Andrew’s Plant of the week…….015.09.20 Salix fragilis

The things gardeners have to do! Andrew says “This week, I thought I’d focus on one of Burnley’s iconic trees, Salix fragilis, the Crack Willow that grows on the edge of the Luffmann  Lily Ponds. A 25-metre tree if not pollarded like Burnley’s specimen, it gets its common name from the sound the branches make when broken. They tend to be a bit scruffy and prone to decay and insect attack as they mature, and they are also an environmental weed in many states in Australia, which we can attest to, as one year we chipped the branch prunings onto a concrete slab, only to see each little bit start to send out leaves, a frightening sight. Burnley’s tree is a strange, rather decrepit specimen; new- comers to the Gardens might perhaps wonder why it’s still there.

It’s certainly a survivor, you can’t get much more resilient than this. Its planting date is uncertain, but was probably sometime in the mid to late 1890s, when the Lily Ponds were believed to have been installed by Luffmann during his tenure as Burnley’ first Principal. Folklore has it that the students dug out the ponds by hand, and the site was chosen because it was a boggy depression in the lawn. The earliest archive photo of the tree we have shows it well established in 1915.

When Paula Cave and I cleaned out the ponds in 1990, in preparation for Burnley’s 1991 centenary, Phil Tulk, the Gardens Manager at the time, recognising the tree’s importance and the seemingly precarious state it was in, duly took a stout stem from the tree and plunged it straight into a spot on the other side of the pond.  His feeling was that the original tree wouldn’t last, and a clone was needed to replace it. The plunged stem grew and is now well established, but the decaying original tree 30 years later is alive and well, albeit somewhat worse for wear.

This was probably one of the earliest instances in the Gardens’ history of recognition of a tree that needed to be propagated to ensure its longevity due to its historic status.  In an earlier example (in the 1960s) a clone was taken from another one of Burnley’s iconic trees, a Californian Redwood (Sequoia  sempervirens).  This was planted in the South Island bed, but it is not known if this was done to preserve the tree, or just to add a feature tree to the end of the bed.

The significance of Phil Tulk’s unusual action in replicating the Salix fragilis is increased when you consider how few of Burnley’s trees have been cloned or propagated to replace the original tree. As a rough guide, Burnley has over 600 trees, of which around 260 are individual species; of these about a dozen have been cloned. Space is tight for trees in the historic section of the Gardens, as a tree, you need to be very special to be replicated, especially while you are still alive, like the Salix fragilis by the ponds.



Andrew’s Plant of the week…….07.09.20 Prunus glandulosa

Andrew says: For most of us, there is a flowering genus that we fondly associate with springtime, whether it be Wattle (Acacia species), Prunus, Daffodils (Narcissus species), or perhaps one of our Australian wildflowers such as Chocolate Lilies (Arthopodium strictum).

Prunus (Latin for Plum tree) is well known to all of us, with ornamental flowering shrubs and trees, and fruiting cultivars of plums, almonds, peaches, cherries and apricots grown in gardens and orchards all over the temperate world. They can be evergreen or deciduous, range from 30 metre tall trees to 1.5 metre shrubs, and flower in most, if not all seasons. In some regions of the world they are a symbol of endurance and hope, and in Japan cherry blossoms are celebrated for the coming of new life. Depending on how the genus is defined, the number  of species could be from 150 – 400 or more  ( Australia even has two species, e.g. P. turneriana, to 30 m, growing in North Queensland rainforests and extending into New Guinea; the cassowaries enjoy the plum-like fruit, although they are not edible by us.

This week I’m highlighting Prunus glandulosa, one of the first Prunus to flower after the official start of spring. It’s one of the smallest of the genus (growing to 1.5 m) and like most Prunus species, contains hydrogen cyanide in the leaves (especially the new shoots), stems and seeds. The cyanogenic glycosides amygdalin and prunasin break down in the digestive tract to form hydrocyanic acid, which in small quantities is good for improving digestion, and is known to give a sense of well-being, but too much cyanide is fatal..

In July I highlighted the Flowering Weeping Apricot, Prunus mume ‘Pendula’, and mentioned P. glandulosa for its short flowering season, and the pruning technique we use of cutting the stems to ground level every year after flowering (known as coppicing). The flowering season is so short because the flowers all open at the same time, and consequently flowering is over in a matter of weeks. Although the flowers are short lived, the plant itself is long lived, and is incredibly tolerant of its annual coppicing. The species is planted in several areas of the Gardens, including the bed in the photo, which shows the Flowering Quince (Chaenomeles speciosa ‘Falconnet Charlet’) in the background. This bed was designed by Burnley Gardens designer Emily Gibson, so likely to have been planted around 1950. Although the combined display is short, the chaenomeles flowers long before and after the prunus, and the simple planting scheme ensures that the maintenance needed to produce such a display is minimal. The deciduous leaves create mulch that takes care of any weeds, and the only other maintenance needed is an annual cut down of the prunus stems and a light prune of the chaenomeles.

Prunus glandulosa, Dwarf Almond, was popular in Victorian and Edwardian times, and was introduced to England from China in the early 1800s. Thomas Moore referred to the white winter-flowering almond in one of his poems, Lalla Rookh (1817), The Light of the Haram. The part of the rather long poem where the almond flower is mentioned seems rather apt this year, as it goes


The dream of a future, happier hour
that alights on misery’s brow,
spring forth like the silvery almond-flower,
that blooms on a leafless bough


Andrew’s Plant of the week…….01.09.20 Edgeworthia chrysantha

Andrew says “A plant that has been generating interest in the Gardens recently is this Edgeworthia chrysantha. It not only looks intriguing, but also has some intriguing stories associated with it.

Firstly, it’s location in the Gardens, tucked away in the southern corner to protect it from hot dry winds. This area was for some decades referred to as the Winter Garden. The first record of this name was in the 1980s, so it is not a name of long standing*.  However, upon a recent re-reading of Principles of Gardening for Australia (1903) by Charles Bogue Luffmann, Burnley’s most influential designer (1897 to 1907), in which he discussed how best to use plants, it became evident that this evergreen corner of the Gardens doesn’t fit Luffmann’s idea of what a Winter Garden, with an emphasis on deciduous plants, should be, so we now refer to it as the Wild Garden. Even the spelling of Luffmann’s name is intriguing: one ‘n’ or two?  I chose to use the version with two ‘n’s, as this is how he spelt it himself towards the end of his career.

Secondly it’s intriguing for its specific epithet. Is it Edgeworthia chrysantha, or E. papyrifera? Or neither?  If you followed The Plant List, which was the accepted authority of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew and Missouri Botanic Gardens for botanical names, then it’s neither of these two, with E. tomentosa their preference. However, people can’t always agree (many would say botanists are among the worst culprits) and also, as we know, timing is everything. In the case of this Edgeworthia species, the name E. chrysantha, (meaning “yellow flower”)  was published in 1846 a few weeks before E. papyrifera, so as convention has it, E. chrysantha has priority. E. tomentosa refers to the oldest recorded name for the plant, Magnolia tomentosa, but this has been rejected, probably because not only is it not a magnolia, it isn’t even in the Magnolia family, it’s in the Daphne family (Thymelaeaceae). Note that The Plant List (TPL) has been superseded by Plants of the World Online (POWO), and that is where you will find the name Edgeworthia chrysantha, and all its synonyms.  The matter of timing reminds me of when, in 2003, the Friends of Burnley Gardens turned up at Heritage Victoria to register the Burnley Gardens on the register of Significant Gardens, only to be told that the University of Melbourne had submitted their application the previous week!

The third intriguing thing is who the genus was named after (this is known as the honorific epithet, if you want to be proper). It turns out that it was named after (the name honours) two people, the botanist Michael Edgeworth (1812-1881), and also his half-sister Maria Edgeworth, who is credited with educating her younger Irish half-brother. Maria is famous for an 1800 novel Castle Rackrent and also for a charmingly named Dialogues on Botany for the Use of Young Persons (1819), so perhaps Maria inspired and influenced Michael’s botanical wandering and collecting in Yemen, India (where he worked) and Sri Lanka.

Lastly, Edgeworthia is intriguing because of its historic use in Japan, from 1600, as a source of fine paper used for wall paper and bank notes. The bank notes were considered the finest in the world, with exceptional quality, and importantly the most difficult to forge. It is interesting that even though the plant is endemic to forests and shrubby slopes of southern and eastern China, in a wide range of habitats from sandy coastal areas, stream sides and mountain valleys, it is now naturalised in Korea and Japan, because of its paper making qualities, hence it’s other name E. papyrifera, meaning “paper-bearing”. It’s the inner red part of the bark that is used to make the paper – you would need some patience in harvesting it, as it looks a very fiddly job to get a substantial amount from the stems**.”

*Jill thought this name was given to the area by former Head Gardener Sarah Wain, who said it was her favourite part of the Gardens, although at the time its current name ‘Wild Garden’ would have been more apt, as it had fallen somewhat into neglect. It was Sarah who began its resurrection in the days when Garden Week (Now MIFGS) was held at Burnley.  Former Gardens manager Phil Tulk remembers gardeners being told by Sarah not to rake the paths, to enhance the wild look, so perhaps that was her name for the area?

** More Edgeworthia trivia. It’s said that the stems are so flexible that you can tie them in knots!

August 2020

Andrew’s Plant of the week…….25.08.20 Erythrina x bidwillii

If you’re lucky enough to be able to walk through the Gardens at the moment, you will come across a curious sight. Is this a plant? Or a pile of rocks?  Erythrina x bidwillii ‘Blakei’ is one of those plants, at this time of year, that only its parents can appreciate. In this case, the two parents are Erythrina crista-galli and E. herbacea.

What a story this hybrid has to tell. It is an Australian world first; the first woody leguminous plant to be hybridized in the world, and likely bred in the early 1840s by a convict gardener, Edmund Blake. Blake worked for the well-known merino wool and grape entrepreneur, William Macarthur, at Camden Park in NSW. Descendants of Macarthur still live at Camden Park today, as does this Erythrina F1* hybrid. It’s also interesting that botanist John Carne Bidwill’s name is linked with this plant. It was named by English botanist, John Lindley, in recognition of Bidwill (1815-1853), who first took the Erythrina F1 hybrids to England in 1843. Over 30 plants have Bidwill’s name associated with them, Araucaria bidwillii and Brachychiton bidwillii to name just two.

Burnley’s Erythrina x bidwillii ‘Blakei’, given its size and slow growth rate, must be nearly as old as the specimens in the Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne. Ferdinand Mueller (also known as Baron Sir Ferdinand Jacob Heinrich von Mueller), Director of the RBGM, 1857-1873 and Macarthur were great friends, so it’s likely the erythrinas in the Botanic Gardens were a gift from Macarthur; they were also listed in an 1857 plant catalogue. The garden bed at the orchard steps where Burnley’s  specimen grows is one of the three original beds planted up in 1861-2, so given how slowly the woody bole (caudex, the trunk from which it re-shoots each spring) grows, it could be part of the earliest plantings at Burnley. It continues to produce two metre long growths each spring, and its brilliant, bright red flowers are produced for six months of the year. It looks particularly spectacular in autumn, when the mass of white Japanese Anemones (Anemone x hybrida) in front of it, are also in flower.

*An F1 hybrid is the first-generation offspring from two dissimilar parent plants.  ‘F1’ stands for Filial 1 or ‘first children’.


Andrew’s Plant of the week…….17.08.20 Aloe ‘Tangerine Tree’


While it’s a little unfair to just single out one of the flowering aloes from the Swan Street beds, this Aloe ‘Tangerine Tree’ needs a special mention for being so striking. Planted at the entrance from Swan Street to the Campus, the multiple flower heads are spectacular even before the flowers are fully open. This Swan Street planting design, including the rock tiers below, were designed by Burnley graduate and current President of the Friends of Burnley Gardens, Sandra McMahon. Whenever I’m up at the Swan Street beds, and happen to see a member of the public walking through the central pathway, it’s always the same, they always comment on how much they love it. Sandra’s inspiration was to use numerous and different aloes throughout the street-frontage bed to ensure there is always one in flower at any time of the year. The majority of the spectacular aloes brought into cultivation are bred in South Africa, by Leo Thamm from Sunbird Aloes and given their drought capabilities, they are well suited to most Australian climatic conditions.






Andrew’s Plant of the week…….11.08.20 Dodonaea sinuolata subsp. sinuolata.

Andrew says: “As last week I was extolling the virtues of the male Clematis flower, this week I thought I’d showcase the dioecious female qualities of Dodonaea sinuolata subsp. sinuolata.

This shrub is growing in the Kath Deery Native Garden and is one of the originals Kath selected for the beds. Most of the plants she personally selected for the area in 1987 she considered outstanding selections of either their genus or in the case of this Dodonaea, the best dioecious form. While both the male and female flowers are small, and unless you are close up, rather insignificant, once the female flowers set fruit and begin to colour up, the display is awesome. That’s the advantage of taking cuttings, you end up with the best traits the plant has to offer.

The pinnate foliage is reason enough to plant this Hop Bush, with its dark green colour, shiny texture and spicy fragrance providing great foliage appeal. With good frost, drought and light tolerances, plus appealing bark, this shrub has many fine qualities for inclusion in landscapes.”

Dodonaea sinuolata subsp sinuolata, fruit


Andrew’s Plant of the week…….04.08.20 Clematis microphylla

Andrew comments: “this week’s plant, Clematis microphylla, is a lucky dip, in terms of whether you end up with male or female flowers on the vine you planted. Probably used mostly in re-vegetation, this vine has lots of great features that could enhance any garden, but being dioecious (having male and female flowers on separate plants), you never know until it flowers what you’ll get.

Clematis microphylla, female flowers

When they do start to flower, my preference would be the male of the species, as it tends to stand out more in terms of flower density and therefore impact. It also doesn’t produce seed, which is good, as the female plants produce prolific wind-blown seed.

There seems to be a slight colour variation of the flowers between individual species, with some being cream coloured, while others are more white.* The male flowers are like little stars and when grown up a branch support can look like a Christmas decoration.

Although its natural tendency in the bush is to climb up and on top of shrubs, it can be easily trained onto fences or supports  and  also be used as a ground cover. The best flowering is achieved when grown  in full sun. This clematis has a high drought and frost tolerance and pairs very nicely with Hardenbergia violacea, as they flower at the same time.


Left: Clematis microphylla, white male flowers; right: C. microphylla, male flowers cream




* The Flora of Victoria on-line describes the flowers as having “Sepals white to pale yellow”.




July 2020

Andrew’s Plant of the week…….24.07.20 Salvia ‘Fran’s Folly’

Not only Plant of the Week, but a “desert island plant”! Andrew says:

Using the common scenario, if you were stranded on a desert island and could only pick one ornamental shrub genus to keep you company, what would you choose? I think Salvia might be one of the most common answers.

The Salvia genus has almost everything you need: there is always one in flower at any time of the year, they come in almost all colours, have a wide range of habits and  tolerances, and  are one of the easiest to prune. Oh, and insects and bees love them.

A winter flowering salvia I’m highlighting this week is ‘Fran’s Folly’. Grown as a chance seedling nurtured to flowering maturity in the backyard of FOBG propagator Fran Mason, (a salvia lover who had a huge number of them growing around her house) this salvia’s only limitation is in not having a high frost tolerance (perhaps only down to minus 2° – the July frost a few years ago damaged mine at home).

Salvia karwinskii
Salvia ‘Fran’s Folly’

With obvious Salvia parentage of S. karwinskii, and perhaps S. involucrata ‘Bethellii’ as the other, the chance seedling has fine attributes of both. Just as tall as S. karwinskii but with greater flower density, ‘Fran’s Folly’, as Fran called it herself, is a welcome inclusion to the back of a perennial border or even as a feature shrub in its own right.





Andrew’s Plant of the week…….19.07.20 Alyogyne huegelii x hakeifolia ‘Natalie Anne’

This hybrid cultivar, Alyogyne huegelii x hakeifolia ‘Natalie Anne’ caught my attention in a nursery catalogue, and once I saw a photo of it, I ordered one for the Kath Deery section of the Native Garden. The western end of Kath’s 1987 plantings had become dominated by the rather moisture-and-shade loving Prostanthera rotundifolia, and each hot summer one or more would succumb to the unfavourable conditions, despite being irrigated. So I was on the look out for a plant more suitable to the western aspect, and this Alyogyne hasn’t disappointed.

While A. huegelii is an outstanding species with great attributes, I find it prone to poor branch attachment, with included bark, with the consequence that it frequently falls apart. There are 5 forms of A huegelii, even a lower growing form, so a bit more research would probably prove rewarding for a better outcome.

However, this cross of A. huegelii with A. hakeifolia, for me, is far more reliable, and has wonderful attributes that make it a highly desirable shrub for a western aspect. It needs a bit of space to show off its delicate dark green foliage and this fine foliage and terminal flowers gives the blooms a slightly suspended, graceful appearance. It started flowering in autumn and is showing no sign of stopping. There is no need to dead head to produce more flowers, it does it on its own. Its one of those shrubs that you never really know when to prune, as you feel rather mean cutting it back when it is still flowering.



Andrew’s Plant of the week…….06.07.20 Prunus mume ‘Pendula’
Prunus mume ‘Pendula’


With so much choice of what to highlight each week in the Gardens, I felt I mustn’t ignore the well-known Burnley specimens of Prunus mume ‘Pendula’ (Weeping Apricot). The glorious, fragrant cascading stems, densely packed with flowers, have been a winter staple of the orchard gate steps for at least 35 years. (At this time of year, in mid-winter, the only other blossom tree in flower is the almond (Prunus dulcis var. dulcis), and its flowers are white, with prominent red stamens.)

When on the rare occasion I’ve seen this tree planted in suburban gardens, it’s  a tangled mess of branches, almost unrecognizable as the same cultivar as our trees, apart from the familiar pink flowers. What makes ours so             floriferous and special is the way it has been pruned each year. This Prunus species flowers on its one year old wood, so we maximise its flowering  potential by timing the pruning to create the longest new, one year old stems. As you can see from the photo taken from inside the cascading stems, the zig-zag branch framework is testament to the long  pruning practise we have done, leaving one or two leaf internodes from where it was pruned last year, and pruning to an upper node so that the new growth arches downwards.

Deciduous shrubs and trees have a known strong response to hard pruning in late winter, thus producing the longest stems.  As soon as the last petals drop and the first sign of leaf bud burst occur, we will prune the stems and start the process again.

Zig zag stems reveal past pruning of Prunus mume ‘Pendula’.


We also do something similar with  Prunus glandulosa in spring ( except that we cut these to ground level), but whereas Prunus glandulosa blossom only lasts a few weeks, P. mume starts in late June and goes through to mid August. The secret of this long flowering season is the succession of flower buds opening, so if, like last weekend, heavy rain destroys the flower display, there are always more flower buds to open, ensuring a constant blooming feast.


PS don’t forget to click on each image for a bigger picture!



Andrew’s Plant of the week…….06.07.20 – Auranticarpa rhombifolia
The leaves illustrate the common name Diamond Leaf Pittosporum, even though it is no longer a Pittosporum

Anyone who walks past, or views this small tree from the staff room can’t fail to notice this orange splash of colour. Previously part of the Pittosporum genus, the northern NSW and Queensland Pittosporum specimens were deemed sufficiently different to justify their own genus, Auranticarpa. (2004, 3 of the 6 species were new).
This rainforest tree is a bit out of its comfort zone down here in Melbourne, which is probably why I haven’t seen too many in cultivation (RBGM has it, of course), and I must admit, before the installation of irrigation, it was not performing anywhere near as well as it is now. It definitely needs summer irrigation, to replicate its northern Australian habitat, to produce abundant fruit capsules.

Auranticarpa rhombifolia at Burnley

As it is at the back of the bed, on the east wall of the Plant Science building, I haven’t really noticed the small fragrant flowers that are produced from spring to autumn, its extended flowering probably taking advantage of constant moisture provided by the irrigation. This extended flowering season results in a great assortment of fruit size, from large to just developing, which gives the tree a long display period for most of the year.
For a plant that produces so many fruit/seeds, you’d think that like its relative Pittosporum undulatum, it might be very weedy.  Perhaps the long germination period needed* and colder southern temperatures deters it, or perhaps the seeds are not as sticky as those of P. undulatum, which is spread so widely by birds.
For a plant we never have to maintain, requiring no pruning, it certainly provides great value, although I notice in my photo that there are some scale that need attention. These two specimens were planted several  decades ago, in the mid to late 80s, having been introduced to the Gardens by then lecturer James Hitchmough, who taught it to his Plant ID students in 1986 as an Australian plant that provides autumn colour. They seem long lived and a great survivor of a previously un-irrigated bed dominated by the Eucalyptus tricarpa, but are unlikely to reach the size they do in their northern habitat, where they can grow as tall as 25m.

*(84 days

Auranticarpa rhombifolium, a young tree at Monash University.

June 2020

Plant of the week…….30.06.20 – Montanoa bipinnatifida

A well known sight for visitors to the Rose Garden in winter is  Montanoa bipinnatifida. This tall and imposing daisy hails from Mexico, where it has a range of habitats, including roadsides,  riparian, and hillsides in the diverse Pine-Oak forests region.
This high altitude forest straddles the Tropic of Cancer and is climate temperate with summer rainfall.
Although planted in a protected spot, the specimens in the Rose Garden, even with their large leaves, don’t seem to scorch in high temperatures or suffer drought stress in Melbourne’s dry summer conditions. Another adaptable species that seems to defy the odds.
The foliage alone is reason enough to plant this towering daisy and  at a time of the year when the roses aren’t flowering, this plant provides a dramatic feature.


Plant of the week…….22.06.20 – Hypoestes aristata

A welcome bright surprise during the long winter months is this purple flowering Hypoestes growing in the understorey of the Ficus bed. The colour of the flower in this  photo is more pink than the purple it really is, so worth  taking a look for yourself to get a better idea of the flower colour. This lower growing cultivar of the species was developed in South Africa at the Witwatersrand National Botanic Garden after selecting from the usual lilac-purple, pink and white larger forms.
This species is well known and appreciated in South Africa for its long winter flowering and drought and shade tolerance.  It’s also reported to be eaten like spinach in some areas, , although as it is a member of the Acanthaceae, it doesn’t sound very appealing to me. It is an excellent cut flower, lasting well in a vase.  I first saw this plant in coastal NSW and brought it back to Burnley to propagate. It took a fair bit of identifying, but as usual, Jill Kellow worked it out.

Note from Jill:  It took a while though – I first saw this plant at RBGM on Wednesday, ‎15 ‎August ‎2012, and didn’t know its name for several years. It was the amazingly vivid colour that caught my eye.

P.S. Isn’t it handy that we can check the date of our digital photos?






Plant of the week…….17.06.20 – Hakea multilineata

A beautiful shrub demanding your attention at this time of year is Hakea multilineata. Unlike many of the spectacular Western Australian hakeas, (such as Hakea bucculenta or H. francisiana), this species doesn’t require grafting onto an east coast rootstock to survive. Despite the flowers being within the foliage, its open canopy allows the flowers to be well displayed, and prior to being fully open are, I believe, even more spectacular. We can thank Jeremy Wallace, Burnley’s nursery manager in the ’90s and 2000’s, for this addition to the Gardens.  Jeremy had (has) a special knack of tracking down unusual native plant seed, and great skill in germinating and growing-on these native gems. Once he had them established in pots he’d offer them to the Gardens, where we’d find a spot for them to grow. All of the plants he gave us needed no irrigation to survive and were always unusual and in one case endangered in the wild.

Plant of the week…….10.6.20 – Iris unguicularis, ‘Kilbrony Marble’

Andrew tells us how he obtained this Iris cultivar, which is special in more ways than one: “a beautiful variant of the often sneered at Iris unguicularis, ‘Kilbrony Marble’, is currently in full display in the gardens. What make this  variety so special are the exquisite streaks of purple that festoon the petals. While the species flowers for just as long, March through to September, ‘Kilbrony Marble’ has lower, shorter foliage, so the flowers are far better displayed, unlike those of the species, that are often hidden among the long, strappy leaves.
Drought and shade tolerant, (although will flower better in full sun) this is one of dozens, if not more, of introductions created by the legendary Northern Ireland nursery, Slieve Donard Nursery.  This nursery was renowned for its dwarf Dierama and cold tolerant Escallonia cultivars, but sadly, many of its cultivars are now extinct.
I obtained Burnley’s ‘Kilbrony Marble’ from Geoff Olive, from his property in Buxton before he passed away in 2016. I was like a child in a candy store up there, running around Geoff’s garden exclaiming “wow, what’s that!” I took quite a few cuttings of various “eye candy” specimens, and they now hold pride of place in various spots in the Gardens.”

Plant of the week…….2.6.20 – Luculia grandifolia

Andrew says: “While we tend to swoon over Luculia gratissima, especially at the start of winter when the fragrant pink blooms take our eye, the often underrated L. grandifolia is still covered in flowers and just as fragrant. Whereas the flowers of  L. gratissima  are  all over in a month, L. grandifolia starts flowering in summer, and goes all the way through till early winter. It’s only drawback is no real fault of its own, coming from the Himalayas, (Bhutan) it doesn’t tolerate high ambient temperatures, something the lowlands of Melbourne experiences each summer. With only a few over 38 degree days last summer, the foliage of L. grandifolia is looking better than usual and the flowers buds continue unabated.”


PS don’t forget to click on the image for a bigger picture!


May 2020

Plant of the week…….27.5.20 – Clinanthus incarnatus (yellow form)

Andrew says: “Continuing on from my recent lime green/yellow plant posting, another in a similar vein is this South American bulb, the yellow form of Clinanthus incarnatus. This bulb was donated to the gardens by Fran, after I inquired if she had anything suitable for inclusion in the green border. Fran’s involvement in the Friends prop group is legendary and her broad knowledge of plants, especially Salvias, and her ability to source them, was a great resource for me to tap into. No sooner had I requested a green flower to include in the re-instated green border, (after the orchard gates were re-aligned in 2013) Fran came up with this unusual bulb.

The large flowers are well displayed above the blueish-green foliage and it’s amazing to think how adaptable this species is, considering its native habitat is rocky soils at high altitudes in the Andes. (Ecuador to Peru)


Plant of the week…….23.5.20 – Schinus molle, lime green form

A recent addition to the tree collection at Burnley is this grafted lime-green coloured Peppercorn Tree.
Burnley has been very fortunate in recent years to have David Beardsell’s grafting and plant breeding expertise to  provide drought tolerant tree species for the Gardens. His keen eye while travelling into the city on the eastern freeway spied this lime green foliaged variant of the usually dark green Peppercorn Tree and while his wife wasn’t so inclined to stop for him collect the scion material, he succeeded in persuading her that this lime-green form was worth the risk!

Left: typical dark green foliage of Schinus molle; right: young grafted lime green form. Note: could this be a new cultivar – Schinus molle ‘David Beardsell’?


Plant of the week…….18.5.20  Kniphofia ensifolia subsp. autumnalis

Andrew says: “I’ve wanted to ID this poker for a while. The original clump was at the end of the Bergenia Walk bed, on the pond side of the path. I moved some into the perennial border a few years back; like previous Gardens Manager Phil Tulk, I rather like lime green flowers.
In previous years, it always tended to start flowering in March; in this wetter year it is later: the perennial border flowers are almost done, while the Bergenia Walk clump is just starting.

This lime green poker, that turns yellow as the flowers age, is more uncommon than the red flowering form we all know so well . While the smaller-growing  green flowering cultivar  ‘Lime Glow’ has been popular in recent years, this Kniphofia subspecies, although not flowering for as long, is a welcome sight in autumn. While the natural habitat is waterlogged soils along the edges of south African streams, this plant has good tolerance for drier conditions. Nectar feeding birds and insects are attracted to the flowers.  Don’t forget to click on the image to see the full size!


Plant of the week…….10.5.20  Camellia sasanqua ‘Momozono”


From Gardens Manager Andrew Smith: “Thanks to Jane for pointing out that the correct cultivar name for the Camellia sasanqua cultivar that I posted recently is ‘Momozono’ rather than ‘Plantation Pink.’ The FOBG Guides in 2006, in particular Julie-Anne, did some great detective work in tracking tracked down the correct name for this erroneously named cultivar (it was labelled ‘Noma Goma’ in the Gardens). It seems I should place more credence on our own Guide It seems I should place more credence on our own Guides expertise than the International Camellia Society’s images that I based my identification on.



Plant of the week…….1.5.20  Lagerstroemia fauriei ‘Fantasy’,


Some lovely autumn foliage is happening at Burnley. This more uncommon Crepe Myrtle, Lagerstroemia fauriei ‘Fantasy’, with its orange autumn colouring, is complemented well with the red Boston Ivy (Pathenocissus tricuspidata) behind it. Click on the image to see the full size!






Find out what was happening in the Gardens back when ….

Remembering 2015

The Lotus eaters (Word doc)
Look out above
(Word doc)

Autumn in the Gardens (Word doc)
May in the Gardens (Word doc)