Tag Archives: green flowered plants

Generally unenthused by green flowers and other garden observations

Mark has never been a fan of green flowers. I asked him why and he replied with utter simplicity, “because I like colour”. As I have observed before, green is colour neutral in a garden situation. Maybe Hippeastrum papilio passes muster because it has quite a bit of red in it and has some hefty flower-wow-power but his preference lies with the glowing red of H. aulicum.

Hippeastrum papilio

I am pleased with H. papilio. We started with a single bulb and now have two good sized patches of it with a profusion of flower spikes this year – at least a dozen on the point of opening in one area alone. It is just patience, time and lifting and dividing that gets a single expensive bulb to a significant block – or an extravagant budget if you want a quicker response. We grow our hippeastrums in woodland conditions because the narcissi fly stay out in the sun so the bulbs don’t get burrowed out by narcissi fly larvae.

We have plenty of green hellebores – Helleborus ‘Sternii’, H. argutifolius and H. foetidus feature heavily in the woodland Avenue Garden – some green arisaemas and a single green orchid but generally I see Mark eyes glaze over with disinterest when green flowers are praised by others. He will go as far as white fading to green or white with streaks of green – but predominantly white, thank you.

Helleborus sternii
I think I was having difficulty getting a good photo in the garden of Helleborus foetidus and, to be honest, it looks more exciting staged
Just the one green orchid but it has a certain grace and style
Yellow clivias, we have a few. Quite a few really.

Some readers may remember when the first yellow clivias became available here, retailing for up to $50 a plant, as I recall. I think about this as I pull out the self-sown seedlings and discard them as surplus to requirements. If you want to raise plants from seed, if the seed is yellow, the plant will flower yellow. Red seed gives orange or red flowered plants. Now the fashion appears to be for the new green flowered varieties, but not here, for reasons already stated. I wouldn’t mind some richer yellow ones but I have only seen one in another garden. The pale yellows can be a bit insipid en masse but really sing when combined with orange and red clivias. Pretty peach clivias would also be a nice addition and are now available but haven’t come our way yet.

The trimming of the Podocarpus parlatorei in the summer gardens

Our focus is entirely on getting the garden ready for opening. Mark is trimming the Podocarpus parlatorei to pillar shapes and he is welcome to this job. It has to be done with secateurs and loppers more than clippers to get the main shape formed. Hopefully it can be done with electric clippers in the future once the shape is defined and the plants have bushed out so it is foliage that needs to be trimmed and not woody branches. The top knots are because he wants to stretch them over to form an archway in time. There are six of them and as the chief shaper is currently incapacitated by a bad shoulder and a cracked rib, it is taking him some time. Notice the old shade cloth spread beneath to capture the mess. Lloyd does the same when he is trimming hedges. It only takes a moment to spread a drop sheet (old sheets or curtains do the same job) yet it makes the clean-up so much faster.

My goal today is to finish down in the park. It is all about tidying in that area, but selective tidying because we like a looser, more natural look in that area. Then it is back up to the top gardens for the final round with fingers crossed that we get no major storms between now and October 30.

Down in the park tidying up so I get to enjoy the wisteria, bluebells and rhododendrons
Rhododendron ‘College Pink’ is both very large and very pink
Following the pink theme, ixias in the new borders
Finally, the bird bath – well used, particularly by tui. It is the outer mill wheel from a grain mill. I used to worry that it wasn’t level until Mark pointed out that is to that small birds can also use it without fear.

Plant collector : Helleborus x sternii

Helleborus sternii in a woodland setting

Helleborus sternii in a woodland setting

There are more hellebores than just the common H. orientalis and sternii is one we appreciate in the winter woodland. It has distinctive green flowers, sometimes flushed purple, and lovely glaucous foliage which is finer in appearance. Glaucous just means it has a blue or grey cast to the colour. It is more upright in growth and does not make as dense a clump as orientalis. In addition to that, it holds its flowers in a cluster above the foliage and many of them are outward facing rather than all nodding (or facing downwards). So it displays its flowers a little better than H. orientalis.

The x sternii means it is a hybrid – in this case a cross between H. argutifolius (from Corsica and Sardinia) and H. lividus (from Majorca). From those origins, you can guess that it is quite happy in hot, dry conditions and the information is often given that it is suited to sunny positions. In our garden, sunny positions are at a premium whereas we have woodland in abundance so we are always after plant candidates for shadier positions. Plants like this hellebore which are not at all fussy, are very handy to add winter interest.

Sternii can be raised from seed or by division. There are named selections of sternii around – the seed from these won’t come true so they need to be divided or increased by cutting if you want to keep their special features. It appears that many of the newer forms are extending the colour range into purer pinks, burgundy, slate and white – akin to the orientalis colour range. We only have the original green flowered forms and have not seen the other colours in this country yet.

First published in the Waikato Times and reprinted here with their permission.