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Posts Tagged ‘variegated foliage’

Another grey week and another plant hunt for something special. Usually I have a list of plants in mind but right now it is hard because some of the plants I wanted to do were damaged by an unusually hard freeze which came in early November last year. At that time many of the plants were not hardened off for the winter with the damage especially seen by broad-leaved evergreens which have much browned and dead foliage now. In my wandering last week I stumbled upon two plants of the same family which are stars at this time of the year. They are the Algerian Iris (Iris unguicularis) and the Stinking or Gladwyn Iris (Iris foetidissima). They are the stars for different reasons as you will see!

 Winter or Algerian Iris (Iris unguicularis) is sometimes incorrectly labeled by its old name of Iris stylosa.

Winter or Algerian Iris (Iris unguicularis) is sometimes incorrectly labeled by its old name of Iris stylosa.


The first stop we make is with the Algerian or Winter Iris with its lovely large violet blooms. It was first described by Botanist/clergyman  Jean Louis Marie Pioret (1755-1834) in his journal ‘Voyage et Barbarie’ in 1789.  He had been sent to Algeria by Louis XVI between 1785-6 to study the flora. The lovely Iris is more widespread and found in area from Algeria and Tunisia across north Africa into Turkey, Greece Crete and Malta. In the vast area it is known to live int there is some variation in color and form.
The type of Iris unguicularis I have found in Victoria seems to be the 'Algerian' form which has the largest flowers of the species.

The type of Iris unguicularis I have found in Victoria seems to be the 'Algerian' form which has the largest flowers of the species.


Algerian Iris produce new leaves in late spring and through the summer. Often you can clip the old leave edges back when they get looking tattered. Iris unguicularis likes the sunniest, driest spot in the garden with the grittiest soil. At Government House in Victoria the plants are perfectly place in the terrace garden which is on a southern exposed rock-face.  The warmer and drier the summer the more blossoms will be produced.  One thing about these plants is they hate to be moved or have their roots disturbed in any way.
 A just opened Algerian Iris in the late afternoon sun has delicate coloring and scent.

A just opened Algerian Iris in the late afternoon sun has delicate coloring and scent.


The Gladwyn Iris is from more northern areas from southern England, Ireland through Portugal, Spain Canary Island on to Italy and finally the island of Malta.
The Gladwyn Iris (Iris foetidissma) is more famous for its brightly colored seeds which are seen during the winter months here.

The Gladwyn Iris (Iris foetidissma) is more famous for its brightly colored seeds which are seen during the winter months here.


The ‘Stinking Iris has gained an unfair reputation from its name. One has to crush the leaves and the flower to obtain even a faintly unpleasant scent. Iris foetidissima is a plant which has long been with us. It blooms in the traditional Iris time of late May and June, but, the flowers are small and often hidden in the foliage. The colors range from a creamy ochre into plummy shades.
The flowers of Iris foetidissima are often hidden in the plants foliage.

The flowers of Iris foetidissima are often hidden in the plants foliage.


The Gladwyn Iris is a plant of the woodlands, hedgerows, scrubs and cliff edges and other rocky sites. It is a plant which likes chalky and limestone  heavy locations. Gladwyn Iris can grow in the sun or dappled shade and like average soil. They like sufficient water when they are growing in the spring and then dry conditions the rest of the year.After blooming it produces larger than average seed pods which ripen through the summer and into early winter when they burst. Inside the pods are usually bright orange seeds which remain colorful throughout the winter. The other day I noticed pods recently opened and others still green and waiting to split. Just like the flowers there are other known seed colors which are sought after and they range from golden yellows to creams and white. Probably the most want of the Gladwyn Iris is Iris foetidissima ‘Variegata’ with beautifully uniform cream stripes running up the leaves.
The variegated Gladwyn Iris(Iris foetidissma 'Variegata') is most sought after, as you see it is stunning in dappled location at Glendale Garden.

The Variegated Gladwyn Iris (Iris foetidissma 'Variegata') is most sought after, as you see they are stunning in dappled location at Glendale Garden.

Algerian and Gladwyn Iris are about the same height 45-60cm.(12-18 in.) and width They also share the same temperature tolerance to 15 c. (5 f.) or zones 7 through 9. Both plants are drought tolerant when they have been established. They are rabbit and deer resistant but can be damaged by slugs and snails. They make excellent specimens, accents s, mass evergreen plantings and work well in containers. Both of these species are not easy to find in plant centres or garden shops, the best bet would be to find them at garden sales or from specialty Iris growers.

Gladwyn Iris on the upper left and Algerian Iris on the lower right.

Gladwyn Iris on the upper left and Algerian Iris on the lower right.


This Odd Couple of the Irises:

Pacific Bulb Society has interesting note on both plants on this page, look down the page to find the species you are interested in: http://www.pacificbulbsociety.org/pbswiki/index.php/BeardlessIrises

Algerian Iris:

How to grow: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/gardening/4208463/How-to-Grow-Iris-unguicularis.html

Gladwyn Iris:

Wild in Malta: http://maltawildplants.com/IRID/Iris_foetidissima.php

……See you soon when we travel the path of plants again…..

 

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There was a big wind storm last week, it finally blew the remaining leaves off the trees. This time of year when it becomes cold and sunny I like to walk in the parks and along the streets and enjoy the bare trees and their forms. It reminds me of when I was in school learning about the trees and shrubs commonly grown here. I gained a new appreciation of the bark and buds and the variation that there is. One of my new favorite trees has long sharp buds and smooth grey bark which is seen as perfect to carve your initials in. The Common or Copper Beech (Fagus sylvatica) is the tree I am referring to and long may they live.

 This large purple form Copper Beech was probably planted when this house in James Bay was built in the early 20th century.

This large purple form Copper Beech was probably planted when this house in James Bay was built in the early 20th century.

Fagus sylvatica are a European tree and are found growing in most areas from southern Sweden south to central Italy, west into France and northern Portugal and Spain. In the east they are found in  north-west Turkey where they meet out with Fagus orientalis the Asian representative of the species which they hybridise with. It is interesting that in England where Beech Trees are most often associated with, it is one of the later places that they naturalized in reaching there after the last ice age. We are not sure how they got there but it is possible that came with early people who may have brought the seeds as a form of food which was highly nutritious and transportable.

 This green Fagus sylvatica tree will produce a fine crop of beechnuts which were at one time eaten as emergency food.

This green Fagus sylvatica tree will produce a fine crop of beechnuts which were at one time eaten as emergency food.

Common Beech trees have provided many sources of useful goods over the years. Very early on the bark was used to carve runes. The wood is brittle and has short grains and is not strong or durable. It is more used for handles, small articles, turnery, parquet flooring and Bentwood furniture. Charcoal made from the branches was used for coloring and gunpowder production. The wood is considered one of the best for burning as fuel as it gives one of the highest volumes of heat.

 The fine smooth bark of the Beech tree has always been carved on, you can find this example at St Ann's Academy.

The fine smooth bark of the Beech tree has always been carved on, you can find this example at St Ann's Academy.

The seeds of Copper Beech have been used for emergency food in the past and processed into flour. Eating large amounts can be slightly toxic due to the tannins found in the seeds. Mostly the nuts have been used for feeding woodland animals and pigs, chicken and turkey for commercial use. High quantities of oil can be extracted from well-ripened nuts(17-20%) and was used for food and heating in the 19th century. Mainly the use of trees now is ornamental now.

 This fine trio of Beech trees are found in Beacon Hill Park near Blanchard and Southgate streets.

This fine trio of Beech trees are found in Beacon Hill Park near Blanchard and Southgate streets.

Now we associate the Copper Beech with large estates and parks and institutions which have the space and maybe are old enough to have large specimens of these trees.  When in the open and not competing for sun the become truly huge trees which have many delicate aspects to them. The leaves are small, thin, fine, glossy smooth and at all times of the year are beautiful to look at. They have brilliant color when emerging from their tight sharp pointy buds in the spring and later in autumn turn golden and coppery. In winter the leaves of young trees may stay on the tree and protect it, their coppery color is an unusual site as well as sound in the wind. The branches are also fine and thin giving the tree an overall delicate feeling.

 The fine, thin, pointy-sharp buds are a distinct feature of Fagus sylvatica.

The fine, thin, pointy-sharp buds are a distinct feature of Fagus sylvatica.


The Copper Beech makes a fine tree for a larger property or garden. The like to grow in an area with good humidity or some precipitation throughout the year. They like well-drained soil which is slightly on the acidic side but will tolerate chalky soil as long as it is not clay heavy. Beech grow their best and reach their full potential in a site which gives them full sun. The roots are shallow and help keep the soil around them more fertile by absorbing large amounts of potash which is stored in the leaves of the tree.

 There are many fine forms of Beech including this rare golden leaved Fagus sylvatica 'Zlatia' is found where Begbie and Pandora streets meet in Victoria.

There are many fine forms of Beech including this rare golden leaved Fagus sylvatica 'Zlatia' is found where Begbie and Pandora streets meet in Victoria.

Common Beech grow to be massive trees over many years and can reach 43m(140ft) high by 40m(130ft) wide. They are rated as slow growers but like most trees grow faster when very young.  They are quite cold hardy and are rated as zone 5 or tolerating 25c(-20f) with some cultivars being slightly more tender.

 Many fine forms of Fagus sylvatica have been selected including 'Dwyck' which comes in green, gold and purple.

Many fine forms of Fagus sylvatica have been selected including 'Dwyck' which comes in green, gold and purple.

As Fagus sylvatica have been grown since ancient times many fine forms are available for enjoyment in your garden. You can choose from color forms of green, golden, purple, rosy and even variegated. Their several narrow forms which are much used as street trees. Weeping forms are often seen as specimens and come in very spectacular in the right setting.  There are also interesting leaf forms such as ‘Asplenifolia’ or ‘Rotundifolia’ and the ‘heterophylla’ group. These trees are usually used as specimens or accents, the make excellent park and street trees as they have few pests or disease and are long-lived. Named varieties of Beech trees are usually grown from cuttings that are grafted. You can also grow them from seed which can be collected and stratified at home.

 These leaves are from Fagus sylvatica 'Heterophylla' and the male flowers are seen blooming.

These leaves are from Fagus sylvatica 'Heterophylla' and the male flowers are seen blooming.

 

finding the Fine Fagus:

Check Wiki first: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fagus_sylvatica

Next find out about the myths and lore: http://forums.skadi.net/showthread.php?t=104751

 

 

 

 

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