Sunday, February 26, 2012

Pavonia multiflora ......Brazilian candles

Flowering now, this tender, rarely seen mallow goes by the common name of Brazilian Candles which suggests that it is a native of Brasil and belongs to the family Malvaceae.

It is also called many flowers and sure enough, it hasn't stopped blooming from the moment it was planted here in the Costa Tropical Garden last Spring.

It has actually received an AGM, award of garden merit, from the RHS, Royal Horticultural Society which makes it very special indeed.


Friday, February 24, 2012


The genus was named in honor of a German physician  Friedrich Heinrich Theodor Freese (1795–1876) and is included in the Iridaceae family.

 Freesias are herbaceous plants which grow from a corm 1–2.5 cm diameter, which sends up a tuft of narrow leaves 10–30 cm long, and a sparsely branched stem 10–40 cm tall bearing a few leaves and a loose one-sided spike of fragrant narrowly funnel-shaped flowers.

There are around sixteen species of these gorgeously, scented, desirable plants which are enormously popular here on the coast of Southern Spain.  Most of the species are native to Cape Province, South Africa but two are from Central Africa and one from Sudan.
Not only do their vivid colours set February alight but to sit next to a potful with the warm sun bringing out every bit of fragrance is one of earth's  undeniably simple pleasures.

 I know you can't smell the perfume but close your eyes, feel the warm sun on your face and share with me some photos and imagine....if you can.......


 Or,  for your very own freesia experience,  book a February holiday at  Cortijo Azahar
Snowdrops and daffodils are no competition for these exotic freesia beauties.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Callistemon 'Little John'....Dwarf Bottlebrush

Dwarf Bottlebrush   is a common name for this almost perfect, compact bottlebrush with dense grey green foliage and deep red coloured brushes in Spring.

 A hybrid from Callistemon viminalis from the family Myrtaceae ,discovered in Eastern Australia, this drought tolerant shrub with it's short deep red brushes is a sun lover once established.

Callistemon - The genus takes its name from Greek "kallistos", most beautiful, and "stemon", a stamen, referring to its large, showy stamens that make the flowers look like bottlebrushes (hence the common name). Evergreen shrubs and trees, native to Oceania, that  bloom from spring to summer.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Nematanthus Gregarius.....Goldfish Plant

 Flowering now in the garden......

The Goldfish Plant......

Originating from the tropical forests of Brazil, and belonging to the Gesneriad family, this lovely plant is just one of over 30 species of Nematanthus. 

Included in this large and diverse family are common favourites such as Episcia (Flame Violet), Sinningia speciosa (Florist Gloxinia), Streptocarpus (Cape Primrose), Achimenes (Cupid's Bower), Aeschynanthus (Lipstick Plant) and the best-known member of all: Saintpaulia (African Violet).

When goldfish plants are young, the stems grow upright. As they age, they tend to trail which makes them a wonderful choice for hanging baskets.
The tough, branching stems bear bright green, glossy leaves that are succulent and waxy.
The foliage, which is small and oval in shape, grows to about ¾ to 1 ½ inches long. The plant produces orange, pitcher-like flowers on and off year round, but mostly during the warmer seasons. If given proper care, older plants can flower permanently for years. Really young plants may need to mature to about a year old before they begin to bloom.

Goldfish plants have small root systems and are quite susceptible to rot so use a fast-draining, porous medium that will not stay soggy. Water regularly during the growing season and keep the medium evenly moist. Allow the plant to dry out slightly before watering again. If you forget to water this plant and the soil dries completely, you will discover that Nematanthus gregarius is quite tolerant of drought and can go for a surprisingly long period without water (the succulent leaves help). But don’t take the plant’s tolerant nature for granted.

             Flowers are pollinated by Hummingbirds......
                       but not here on the coast of Southern Spain of course.....

Friday, February 17, 2012

Solandra maxima......Golden chalice vine

Flowering now in the garden..........


Cup of gold vine is another common name for this lovely chalice flower flowering in a sheltered corner of the garden.

A member of the Solanaceae family from South America, it is evergreen, vigorous and fast growing and although it prefers a moist humous rich soil, it can recover from a short period of drought even after defoliation and often needs a hard prune to keep it in check.

The thick  woody ropelike stems grow very quickly and branch out and root at their nodes, this is a very invasive plant that will cling to anything in its path and has been know to climb and vine for over 200 feet in it's native habitat.    The evergreen leaves on these rare tropical flowers are beautiful and leathery and can grow between 4 to 6 inches long.
The flowers are truly spectacular and very large anywhere from 6 to 11 inches long, and as big as 7 inches from side to side.
When the flowers first bloom their colour is a soft calming yellow then as they get older the colour  deepens  to a deep rich gold .
Not only do they look beautiful but the smell wonderful with a slight hint of coconut. As the sun goes down the fragrance starts to appear.
Cup of gold blooms intermittently through the year, but is at it's best here now in February.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Jasminum polyanthum.. ..Winter Jasmine

 This delightful fragrant climber is the first of several Jasmines to flower in this Costa Tropical Garden.

Every year it pleases me by coming into blossom in time for my Birthday and this year is no exception.
As the dark pink buds open, the perfume pervades the garden in the evening and early morning and gives such promise of more flower delights to come as Spring arrives, the days grow longer and the garden warms up.

 This semi hardy climber, belonging to the Oleaceae family,  is often planted against a fence or near a door or window where is scent can be really appreciated.   It has an interesting cut leaf and can be clipped to shape, however it grows fast and can become somewhat unruly and scruffy if not properly looked after.

It holds an ‘Award of Garden Merit, AGM, given by the Royal Horticultural Society, for outstanding plants.  An absolute ‘must have’  in the garden.

 There is a lovely variegated variety which I have yet to find here on the sunny coast of Southern Spain but…..  it’s not for the want of looking.

                                               Jasminum  officinale Argenteovariegatum