The jovellana has been flowering away cheerfully over recent weeks. This soft lilac one is a small shrub from Chile and fits very well into a whole range of garden situations. It only has small leaves which are in scale with its abundance of lilac pouched flowers with burgundy freckles and a yellow flare inside. The flowers are small – think finger nail proportions. When it has finished blooming, I will give it a pass over with the hedgeclippers to keep it reasonably dense and about 75cm in height. It can get a bit sprawling over time if not trimmed.
We had thought this was Jovellana violacea until very recently when a friend turned up with a plant of the true violacea and told me, in the nicest possible way, that in fact what we have is Jovellana punctata. Apparently it is a common error in New Zealand to refer to J. punctata as J. violacea but he had seen them both growing in the wild. The true violacea has a larger leaf, though of similar form, a smaller flower – though also similar – and the sample he brought was a deeper colour.
The jovellanas belong to the foxglove family and some of you may recognise their close relatives, the calceolarias. We have a native jovellana with white flowers – J. sinclairii – which gently blooms throughout summer. It has much bigger leaves and I would have described it as an herbaceous perennial (leafy, not woody) but I see it is technically described as a sub-shrub. Punctata is a shrub and is rated internationally as only half hardy at best but we have never seen it tickled up in winter at all. It is not difficult to root from cutting if you know somebody with a plant. The native sinclairii can generally be found layering along the ground so is easy to take a piece from.