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12 New Plants To The Market – From Ireland

I have interviewed my good friend Pat Fitzgerald before. Twice actually.

But when a Kilkenny man brings 12 new plants to the market, already employs 35 people and exports [some as far as Japan] over 85% of all of his plants grown…. I think it’s more than news worthy. An Irish man selling Japanese style plants in Japan….? Add to that the fact that he’d be considered quite young in an Irish nursery business to have achieved what he has.

To horticulture, some of the plants have just come online, most have never been seen before and others have already award winning. For those not in the plant breeding business and for want of a better definition, put simply, somebody has invented these plants. More details on that below.

From a plant enthusiasts perspective, a picture is one thing. A video is another. Take a look and see what you think.

Pictures and descriptions are below.

  1. Carex oshimensis Evergreen is similar to the species form of the Oshima sedge from Japan with wonderful simple brown tipped abundances of flower in Spring. Almost 1 million Carex plants will be produced by Pat in 2010. Evergreen provides a simple natural and relaxing under planting or feature plant in containers and this from was selected for its more compact growth and depth of colour.
  2. Libertia ixiodes Goldfinger bred at Naturally Native Nurseries in New Zealand and marketed in Europe by Plantipp Netherlands on behalf of New Zealand’s Lyndale Nurseries Kiwi Gold native New Zealand plant collection. Ideal for containers in the colder regions and mass planting in coastal and milder parts. Goldfinger will tolerate temperatures of -5 C to -7 C but below these temperatures will need protection with heavy fleece covering. This fantastic plant has white flowers in May and the foliage colour changes from butter yellow to old gold as temperatures decrease through Autumn and Winter.
  3. Carex trifida Rekohu Sunrise Another representative from New Zealand’s native flora. This is the first introduction from the trifida species of Carex and in New Zealand is commonly known as Muttonbird Sedge due to the flowers resembling the feet of the native Muttonbird. Rekohu Sunrise was bred by Mr Terry Hatch of Joy Nurseries in New Zealand. Rekohu Sunrise can be cut right back to tidy it up in March /early April and will produce vigorous but compact shoots of wonderful bright foliage.
  4. Ophiopogon nigrascens and its other mondo grass relatives are some of hardiest, functionally attractive and most versatile dwarf ground cover plants available. Slow growing ground hugging and with wonderful detail in flower and berry what more can one ask from a plant but there is more. Ophiopogon nigrascens is drought tolerant, will grow in shade semi shade and full sun and is hardy to at least -15 C. This Japanese native provides attractive ground cover in the garden and develops lilac coloured flower spikes which on mature plants set attractive black berries. There is also an improved variety of this wonderful plant and its called Blackbeard. Bred by Steve Yandell from Penzance it has faster growth, longer leaves and a greater clumping habit.
  5. Canna Tropicanna is a Tropical perennial plant introduced by Mr Keith Kirsten from South Africa named and marketed around the world by Anthony Tesselaar International. Tropicanna has led to two other varieties, Tropicanna Black and Tropicanna Gold. Canna Generally has a reputation for being difficult to grow by some people, but it can be a wonderful addition to the small garden and should not be ignored for those of us with foliage colour lust. Tropicanna also has amazing flowers.
  6. Royal Hawaiian Colocasia go on sale in Europe generally in Spring early Summer 2011 although some baby plants will be available a little earlier. The collection comes from an internationally acclaimed breeder Dr John J Cho who has achieved outstanding success with his new line of ornamental Colocasias.
  7. Cordyline australis Karo Kiri is a most unusual variety of the common Cordyline we see all over Ireland in our coastal towns and cites. Karo Kiri is an easily maintained dwarf form and is versatile in containers or small gardens. It comes from New Zealand breeder and selector Ross Baybliss
  8. Carex oshimensis Everest Pat has been growing Carex for 20 years now and having been bought stock of the well known Carex Evergold as a birthday present (another long story) the year he set up FitzGerald Nurseries. Now the biggest producer of Carex oshimensis possibly in the world. Carex oshimensis thrives in the Irish climate and is a versatile plant for the garden or containers. Sometimes misused it leads to unsightly clumps in exposed and sodden landscapes. It is ideally suited to sheltered urban gardens, will thrive in semi shade situations and in containers giving the most wonderful white margins seen on any plant. Everest was picked as an entrant in the recent American Idols plant competition in USA and won a Silver medal at Plantarium in Boskoop Netherlands.
  9. Carex oshimensis Everillo was first launched at the wonderful Hillsborough Show in Northern Ireland earlier in May and was only just discovered in 2008 and is set for a worldwide release in Spring 2012. This is how long it takes even a relatively fast to produce plant such as Everillo. A fantastic addition for shade and semi shade and is a Japanese native bred for its colour.
  10. Phormium cookianum Black Adder now sold to Japan, Australia, its native New Zealand USA and most European countries. Black Adder was selected over 6 years ago has been a wonderful success story adopted by many nurseries including leading New Zealand Nursery Lyndale Nurseries as the number one black / purple Phormium. Black Adder won best container plant award for FitzGerald Nurseries at the worlds largest professional Horticulture Show IPM Essen Germany in 2008.
  11. Yucca gloriosa Bright Star a winner at IPM Essen 2009 with first prize for best patio container plant. Bright Star was discovered at Walberton Nursery West Sussex England by Mr Tim Crowther, promoted by Plants For Europe and introduced into production in Europe by FitzGerald Nurseries. Bright Star is an outstanding colour selection of the hardy and drought tolerant Yucca gloriosa. It has pink colouring which comes during drought or cold weather conditions.
  12. Cordyline fruticosa Caruba Black is a tropical Cordyline from Anthony Tesselaar and produced exclusively in Europe by FitzGerald Nurseries. Unlike its more hardy cousin C. australis Caruba Black needs temperatures over 3 C to maintain its attractive appearance and colour so must only be used as a Summer dot plant to give a tropical exotic look to borders or containers. It can even be cut back in spring to encourage multiple stems.
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Irelands Native Irish Trees [listed & detailed]

With the lead into the winter spring/ tree planting season I went searching for a list of native Irish trees recently. Fair to say I was left extremely disappointed by what I could find.

There are many lists of trees available. On many [state involved] websites I found it extremely difficult to find any details at all. Some showed up but the pages were down or the site ‘suspended’. On others the details were so inaccurate [botanically], or the advice that came with was merely illogic horticulturally. One in fact noting that the Alnus was suitable for growing in a container, others simply a list.

I came up with what I can only describe as the most definitive list of native Irish trees that I have ever seen. That said, I don’t believe I am missing any ?

Before you go any further… I have excluded as best I can what may better be described as  a shrub. I have also chosen to list the trees alphabetically by their botanical names rather than their often variant common titles.

If you are thinking of going native Irish this season have a quick read first… you might just change our mind 😉 but I hope you dont.

1. Alnus glutinosa [alder]

[betulaceae] the commn alder. This deciduous tree can grow up to 25 metres tall and 10 metres wide. It has dark green leaves and produces clustered catkins in winter and ovoid fruit in summer. It grows quite well in poor soil and wet lands. Easily propagated by seed or hardwood cuttings. I always remember this one for its use in farmland shelter belts.

2. Arbutus unedo [Strawberry Tree]

[ericaceae] This evergreen beauty is a big shrub, if it is to be considered so, growing up to be considered so. It can grow up to 8m in height and width. For me it is the reddy peeling bark [kind of eucalyptus like…] that does it for me. Throw in a mass cluster of white flowers in autumn and some red fruits [not to be eaten!!]. Great in a mixed woodland or a specimen. Love it. That said, I’ve rarely seen it on a request list.

3. Betula [birch]

[betulaceae] there are 2 native birches in this list. Another catkin grower, produced seperately, these fellows are most famed for their white/ silver bark and their small leafed autumn foliage. The Betula pendula [silver birch] can grow up to 25 metres tall and 10 metres wide whilst the Betula pubescens [downy birch] can grow to 20 metres tall and 10 metres wide.

4. Corylus avellana [hazel]

[betulaceae] there are many cultivars of the avellana variety. Probably most famed is the C. avellana ‘Contorta’. But they are not to be confused. And one should pay particular attention to the last part of the name, not only here, but with all trees. You have been warned!! Generally speaking the C. avellana’s can grow up to 5 metres tall and wide. Obviously they are most famed for their edible nuts and their yellow and very beautiful winter catkins.

5. Crataegus monogyna [common hawthorn]

[rosaceae] that rose family….once again, pinky white flowers borne in late spring adorn this thorny tree,that are followed by dark glossy red fruits; the seeds of which will cause some stomach upset if ingested. Whilst it is more often grown as a hedge [scioch] and wuite suitable for that, as a tree it will grow to 10 metres tall and eight metres wide. One of these most resiliant trees I have ever met and an absolute must for any garden that is seeking to attract nature. For logic reasons, they’re not a gardeners favourite for a planting nor puning – but I love them.

6. Fraxinus excelsior [Ash]

[oleaceae] The common ash. A deciduous tree, easily spotted in winter by its black buds and grey stems, personally, I love this guy purely for its autum [foliage] colour. The feathered like leaves can grow to about 12” long and go almost bright yellow – the tree itself however can grow up to 30 metres tall and 20 metres wide. Famed for its use in making hurleys…

7. Ilex aquafolium [common holly]

[aquifoliaceae] this fellow make the list of trees but really is more of a shrub or bush, to you and me that is. A more obvious member of the evergreens, its dark green prickly leaves grow to about 10cm, its red berries produced in winter are followed by spring to summer flowers. It can grow up to 25 metres tall and 8 metres wide. Not the prettiest of the holly family… but great for wildlife.

8. Malus sylvestris [wild crab apple]

[rosaceae] another member of the rose family, you can gather therefore its most promnent features are its fragrant cup shaped flowers, in ths case pinky white produced in spring. The flowers are followed by, of course, its red fruits. Often thorned this quite susceptable beauty can grow to 9 metres tall and 7 metres wide.

9. Pinus sylvestris [scots pine]

[pinaceae] with its greyish crackily blue bark at the bottom and a more reddish bark at the top. This pine really [in my opinion isn’t, in my opinion, the prettiest fellow in the book at all. The male ‘cones’ appear like catkins [tiny slim soft pendulums] the females of the pine family are more cone-like, are green conical, 6cm long approximately and can take 2 – 3 years to ripen to a red brown finish. In height up to 30 metres tall and to a width of about 8 metres.

10. Populus tremula [poplar]

[salicaceae] One of the fastest growing upright looking trees I have ever met. The small diamond leaf, spring catkin producing tree [green for the female and red/ grey for the male] has one of the most vigorous root systems I know of. It also grows up to 20 metres tall and 10 metres wide. This is another that I remember famed for its use in shelter belts in farmlands.

11. Prunus [ornamental cherry]

[rosaceae] Once again there are 2 in this block. We’ve all seen a cherry tree at some stage or other…. The Prunus padus [or bird cherry] produces white fragrant flowers in spring followed by black fruits. The difference between this and any other variety of cherry…. this one can grow up to 15 metres in height and 10 metres in width. Like most natives, not exactly one for grandma’s 2 bed town house.

The second is the one I would be more familiar with, the Prunus avium or commonly called wild cherry. I prefer this for its glowing red bark, its white flowers followed by its more coloured red fruits. Once again however it can grow to 20 metres tall and 10 metres wide.

12. Quercus [oak]

[fagaceae] Two oaks enter the native Irish category and here we’ve really hit big boy territory. The Quercus patraea [sessile oak] can grow up to 30 metres tall and 25 metres wide. Whilst the Quercus robur [common oak] can grow up to 35 metres tall and 25 metres tall. In general and as most already know,the oaks are famed for its acorns, the fruit it produces. But I love knowing the fact that its minute male and female flowers are produced seperately but on the same plant usually around late spring.  The males then follow in catkins whilst the females follow in the form of a cluster of flowers on a central stem [raceme]. Then follows what we know as the acorn [fruit]. In my opinion – these guys will grow just about anywhere. I also love their foliage in autum.

13. Salix [willow]

[salicaceae] a genus of around 300 species, the willow in my book holds so many personal memories from baby baskets to simply getting the back of my legs whipped as a nipper by my friends! To horticulture…. a deciduous tree that grows in almost any condition but much famed for that near excesses of water. Its greatest asset, after its stem [for me] is it silhouette through the winter sun – or its form and its smooth, soft catkins that grow upright. Famed in its weeping format… once again be careful the variety that is chosen. Too many varieties to be extremely specific.

14. Sorbus [sorbus]

[rosaceae] thats right, another of the rose family and 2 of to the group…. who’s more than just a pretty face?!! The Sorbus is a great producer of late spring flowers, in clusters that are followed by amazingly spherical fruits – not to be eaten by the way!  The Sorbus aucuparia [rowan or mountain ash] foliage is almost identical in layout to that of the rose [yes valentines etc as you know it] but these grow to about 8″ long. It grows to 15 metres tall and 7  metres wide. Its fruits are reddy orange in colour. 

The Sorbus aria [whitebeam] – now heres a totally new equation – yet still related. Its leaves are round and silvery hairy on the base. It produces white flowers in spring and then produces dark red berries just after. This chappy also grows up to 25 metres tall and 10 metres wide.

15. Taxus baccata [yew]

[taxaceae] an evergreen shrub on the poisonous [all parts except the arils are toxic if ingested] and the conifer list, this chappie kind of also hits the I don’t know whether I’m a tree or a shrub/ bush list. That said the reddish flaky bark is stunning when it is grown for that. The alternate is of course that it is kept as a hedge. It has dark green matt leaves, produces yellow [male] cones in spring and its fruits are green surround by red [arils]. It can grow up to 20 metres tall and 10 metres wide.

16. Ulmus glabra [wych elm]

[ulmaceae] Now here’s one thats a toughie. This species suffered its own variation of the plague when Dutch Elm disease hit and almost wiped an entire species. As a result, you wont see too many of these guys around. No way hosé!! To the spring red flowering tree that is the U. glabra – that is followed by the production of winged green fruit; it is deciduous, its leaves grow up to 15cm long and turn a delightful yellow in autumn. It can by the way reach a height of 40 metres tall and 8 metres wide. Give one of them to your mother in law as a gift!!

kirstenbosch national botanical gardens

cape town, south africa

designer: Professor Harold Pearson
owner: South African National Biodiversity Institute
style: 20th century botanical garden in parkland
size: garden 89 acres; park 1,305 acres
climate: mediterranean
location: cape town, western cape
[source: 1001 gardens you must see before you die]

I was in Cape Town for very different reasons than to visit gardens of any sort, but, with a a little spare time available – this year I managed it.

To say I was blown away and left mesmerised is an understatement. This is the ultimate in relaxation, garden enthusiast or not. That said, I cheated-ish, well… An eight seater golf cart pulled into the front car park just as I was buying my ticket – and so I got the guided tour. I could have walked, but it was easier to sit and learn. As a by the way, it costs 32 Rand [approximately €2.50] to take the guided tour by cart 😉

The back drop is of course the amazing table mountains. The Camphor [Cinnamonum camphor] tree avenues are equally superb and stood out to me as they were the answer to a question in a recent pub quiz 😉 and outside of that the Strelitzia’s especially the much raved of ‘Mandelas Gold’ variety is there in abundance. The photographs will show some of these wrapped in chicken wire – this is to capture the seed by the way [I did listen… 🙂 ]

I did it in one hour – it’s all I had time for – I could have stayed there forever. I loved every second.

dicksonia antartica

cyatheaceae/ dicksoniaceae

cyatheaceae/ dicksoniaceae

also known as the man/ soft/ wooly tree fern; they remind me of big old cigars with grass groing out of the tops of them… but these guys are so amazing. A genus of semi/ evergreen ferns the trunks as they appear are really a rhizome [another days post] covered with roots of sorts.

They originate from the forests of Australia and ‘can’ grow as high as 20′ tall. They are usually sold by the metre height. I saw these in a nursery in Kildare recently and en mass, they look brilliant! It maybe that they become over popular [ie. the next decking/ bay laurel balls alternate] and more often used in the wrong context that could cause their unpopularity [?]. But to me and for ‘my favourite plants’ list, it was one that I couldn’t leave out. I love them dearly. Enjoy 🙂

especially for susan... :)

especially for susan... 🙂

plants and their names

what name was it...?

I had a conversation with a lady recently who was asking about a particular plant. The problem is… she may as well said can I have a Donegan…. Bear with me…. I’m trying not to make this confusing, because it confused me, at first, when it was first explained to me… hmmm 😉 Anyhow.

She asked for the ‘common name’, Chinese Lantern [another post maybe] but there are some varying names of which it could have been. It’s a bit like being in America and you saying I’m Irish and then you are asked do you know the O’Flaherty’s. What…?! Which ones? You know what I mean. In this case there were two immediate answers – the Physalis alkekengi or the Crinodendron Hookeriannum. Both commonly known as ‘lantern’ except – one is low growing [about 6″ tall] and spreads like wildfire – the latter is a bush that will grow to 20′ tall. Slight difference?

headspace...

headspace...

The problem is when one goes outside of Ireland; even in England a plant may have 4 or 5 common names. And so the botanical or Latin language is used. It is an international language for plants. This allows me to ring Italy, Holland or France for example and they know exactly what I am looking for.

But there is a format for how the names are positioned. For example Golden Privot: Ligustrum Ovalifolium ‘aureum’ – which loosely translates as Privot – oval foliage – golden. Or Horse Chestnut is Aesculus Hippocastanum. However it is the order of how the names are positioned that helps the most.

The first word is the genus [or surname eg Donegan/ Aesculus]

The second is the species [first name eg. Peter/Hippocastanum]

The cultivar or variety is the third name in this case we may have Aesculus Hippocastanum  ‘Baumanii’