Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Hardenbergia violacea ..... Purple Coral Pea

  Flowering now in the garden is the lovely Purple Coral Pea or Native Sarsaparilla, a member of the Fabaceae family,  named in honour of  Franziska Countess von Hardenberg in 1837 by  George Bentham, an English botanist.

 There are three species of this small genus in Australia, growing in areas from Queensland to Tasmania. 
Hardenbergia violacea is a vigorous evergreen, climbing or sometimes trailing vine that has lance shaped leaves and pendant racemes ofpurple flowers from late winter until early summer.

It likes a sunny or semi shaded position. It flowers better in full sun and  needs well drained soil and preferably a frost free site, although it will tolerate some frost. Like many evergreenclimbers, it has a tendency to run up a wall or fence and ball at the top and be leggy below.  For compact growth and an even fence coverage prune regularly after flowering.


Probably the most widely grown variety inAustralia is Hardenbergia violacea  'Happy Wanderer'. There is also a pale pink form called Hardenbergia ‘Rosea’ which is just exquisite with its soft pink colour.

                                                               Hardenbergia Rosea

A pure white form too is available named Hardenbergia ‘Alba’.
Recent breeding has actuallydeveloped an upright shrubby form named Hardenbergia 'PurpleClusters' which grows to about a metre by a metre and has a mass of purple flowers from Winter to Spring.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Streptosolen jamesonii ......... Marmalade Bush

Marmalade Bush or Fire Bush.....      is the common name of this fiery evergreenshrub of the Solanaceae family flowering now in the garden.
Stunningly lovely,  itproduces it's glorious loose clusters of flowers from the beginning of the year to late September, gradually changing from yellow to red as they develop,resulting in an overall appearance resembling orange marmalade.

Belonging to theSolanaceae family and the sole member of its genus, it is found in open woodlands in Columbia, Ecuador, and Peru.

 We also have a yellow flowered variety but this pales into insignificance in comparison.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Los Naranjos......Orange Trees

Here at Cortijo Azahar,  the oranges begin to ripen in November and by now, mid January,  they are full of sweet juice and delicious to eat. The longer they stay on the trees, the sweeter they get.

Visitors staying here have fresh orange juice for breakfast all winter long.

 The tangerines also are fully ripe and although full of pips are just as sweet and delicious to eat.

                                                            Seville Orange Trees

The streets of Seville are lined with bitter orange trees, the fruits of which are harvested at the end of December and mostly exported to the UK to make the famous Seville Orange Marmelade.


Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Asparagus falcatus ..... Sicklethorn

 ........ is a large, thorny, climbing plant from the family Asparagaceae and is indigenous to South Africa and Mozambique. It is often grown as a security hedge in southern Africa.

This Asparagus species sends up long shoots, sometimes up to 7 meters high from its base of roots and massive tubers. These shoots are initially soft and curl around branches or fences. However, they soon harden, and the downward-pointing thorns help to hook the tendril onto its support - as well as providing defence.
The woody stems are grey in colour.
Leaves are shiny, dark green, often sickle shaped (hence
the name!). Woody stems have hard, hooked thorns and
are light grey in colour.
It produces fragrant white blossoms that are followed by bright red berries, each containing a shiny black seed. The fruits attract a wide variety of birds.

It is planted here in the Jungle corner of the garden where it climbs up the 10 ft tall wall then continues up and over a metal archway on the terrace above.  

It has recently caused a stir amongst weed managers on the
east coast of Australia. 
The weed, commonly known as sicklethorn, is
known to occur on the mid north coastal region of NSW
and south east Queensland.
 A robust climber that prefers moist, semishaded
growing conditions1 and as it looks unlike other
Asparagus weeds that have naturalised in Australia it may
not obviously strike people as a member of the Asparagaceae
Introduced into Queensland as a garden plant and since
 escaped in waterways,  Sicklethorn is native to
western, eastern and southern Africa, Sri Lanka, the Canary
Islands and the Mediterranean.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

After the Rain.....

            There was such a sweet smell in the air this morning.  The smell of the morning sun on the earth after yesterday's rain.  Not often smelt here and nostalgically reminding me of my lovely, long lost English garden.

            But as the morning wore on and the Bananas and Papyrus began to look a lot better after their Spring pruning and that thorny, thug of an Asparagus vine was cut away from the Mahonia and the dappled sun warmed the Jungle Corner where I was working,  the thought came to me that this, now garden is just as lovely.


Thursday, January 12, 2012

Jungle Corner.......

                In a corner of the garden in front of the disused water tank is a micro climate perfectly suited for growing tropical foliage plants.  Shaded from the hot Andalucian sun by the Chirimoya trees it has evolved into the 'Jungle'.

                                                Looking down from the top of the Water Tank

Some plants growing here are:
 Unfortunately, the plant dies after fruiting so  having gained 7 large hands of bananas last year we lost 7 majestic plants but there are always young ones coming along.  

                     Cyperus papyrus

Long on beauty and history, papyrus hasbeen known and used by Man for millennia. Soft green clouds of papyrus linedthe River Nile during the time of the pharaohs. In the Bible the infant Moseswas found among the bulrushes, as Cyperus papyrus is also called.Ancient Egyptians kept records of their pyramid building activities on papyrussheets, from which we get the word "paper."

 Alpinia zerumbet

Obviously happy in it's home under the Chirimoya tree this flowered for us for the first time last Summer.



                  Canna warscewiczii

The red flowers light up when caught by the dappled sunlight.

                                                                                               Philodendron selloum

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Almond Blossom........

January brings the Almond Blossom and this year, early as it is,  the buds are already beginning to burst into flower.   It is a joy to see and walk along the blossom covered terraces.  One of the loveliest times of the year.  A promise of new beginnings.