The rules for posting are simple!

1. Every Friday post a photo that includes one or more flowers.
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When to Post:
inlinkz will be available every Thursday and will remain open until the next Wednesday.

Thursday, 14 September 2017

FFF303 - CEANOTHUS

Ceanothus L. is a genus of about 50–60 species of shrubs or small trees in the family Rhamnaceae. Common names for members of this genus are California Lilac, Wild Lilac, and Soap Bush. "Ceanothus" comes from a Greek word meaning "spiny plant". The genus is confined to North America, with the centre of its distribution in California. Some species (e.g. C. americanus) are found in the eastern United States and southeast Canada, and others (e.g. C. coeruleus) extend as far south as Guatemala.

Most are shrubs 0.5–3 m tall, but C. arboreus and C. thyrsiflorus, both from California, can be small trees up to 6–7 m tall. The species illustrated here is Ceanothus thyrsiflorus (also known as blueblossom or blue blossom ceanothus), which is an evergreen shrub in the genus Ceanothus that is endemic to California. The term 'Californian lilac' is also applied to this and other varieties of Ceanothus, though it is not closely related to Syringa, the true lilac.

In late spring and early summer, this bushy evergreen shrub is smothered in clusters of of dark blue flowers among small, dark green, glossy leaves. It looks great in the middle of a south or west-facing mixed border, or as a specimen at the edge of a terrace or path. It requires protection from cold, drying winds. Each year, after the plant has flowered, take out dead, diseased or damaged shoots and trim back the flowered shoots to the required shape. Apply a 5-7cm mulch of well-rotted organic matter around the base of the plant in spring.

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Thursday, 7 September 2017

FFF302 - AZALEA

Azaleas are flowering shrubs in the genus Rhododendron, particularly the former sections Tsutsuji (evergreen) and Pentanthera (deciduous). Azaleas bloom in spring, their flowers often lasting several weeks. Shade tolerant, they prefer living near or under trees. They are part of the family Ericaceae.

Plant enthusiasts have selectively bred azaleas for hundreds of years. This human selection has produced over 10,000 different cultivars which are propagated by cuttings. Azalea seeds can also be collected and germinated. Azaleas are generally slow-growing and do best in well-drained acidic soil (4.5–6.0 pH). Fertiliser needs are low; some species need regular pruning.

Azaleas are native to several continents including Asia, Europe and North America. They are planted abundantly as ornamentals in the southeastern USA, southern Asia, and parts of southwest Europe.

While azaleas are nowhere near as popular as they were some years ago, they’re still hard to beat when it comes to producing a mass of garden colour in winter and spring. Azaleas vary in size from small, rather delicate shrubs that are happiest in pots, to the large, hardy indica varieties that seem able to survive all the climatic challenges that are thrown at them. The latter group includes salmon-pink ‘Splendens’, purple ‘Magnifica’ and white or bicoloured bloomers that can reach up to more than two metres tall.

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Thursday, 31 August 2017

FFF301 - PURPLE LEAF PLUM

Prunus cerasifera, or the purple leaf plum is a small deciduous tree commonly planted for its deep reddish-purple leaves and white/pale pink flowers that are among the first to appear in Spring. Although it is short lived, it is fast growing and great for use as a specimen or shade tree.

It is in the Rosaceae family, and this like many of the stone fruits are part of the Prunus genus. Purple leaf plum grows to approximately 4-6 m tall and wide at maturity, and has a rounded shape. It should be planted in a location with full sun. The leaves will turn green if grown in the shade. Most cultivars for sale have the reddish-purple leaves, there are ones with green foliage also available.

Flowers are small, fragrant and either white or pale pink. Purple leaf plum is one of the first trees to flower in the spring, with the blossoms appearing before the leaves. Although the fruits are small at only 3 cm, they are edible. These little gems can be yellow, purple, or red, depending on the cultivar chosen. Birds love to eat these fruits off the tree, too.

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Thursday, 24 August 2017

FFF300 - DAFFODILS

Narcissus is a genus of predominantly spring perennial plants in the Amaryllidaceae (amaryllis) family. Various common names including daffodil, daffadowndilly, narcissus, and jonquil are used to describe all or some members of the genus. Narcissus has conspicuous flowers with six petal-like tepals surmounted by a cup- or trumpet-shaped corona. The flowers are generally white or yellow (orange or pink in garden varieties), with either uniform or contrasting coloured tepals and corona.

Narcissus were well known in ancient civilisation, both medicinally and botanically, but formally described by Linnaeus' in his "Species Plantarum" (1753). The genus is generally considered to have about ten sections with approximately 50 species. The number of species has varied, depending on how they are classified, due to similarity between species and hybridisation. The genus arose some time in the Late Oligocene to Early Miocene epochs, in the Iberian peninsula and adjacent areas of southwest Europe.

The exact origin of the name Narcissus is unknown, but it is often linked to a Greek word for intoxicated (narcotic) and the myth of the youth of that name who fell in love with his own reflection. The English word 'daffodil' appears to be derived from "asphodel", with which it was commonly compared.

The species are native to meadows and woods in southwest Europe and North Africa with a centre of diversity in the Western Mediterranean, particularly the Iberian peninsula. Both wild and cultivated plants have naturalised widely, and were introduced into the Far East prior to the tenth century. Narcissi tend to be long-lived bulbs, which propagate by division, but are also insect-pollinated. Known pests, diseases and disorders include viruses, fungi, the larvae of flies, mites and nematodes. Some Narcissus species have become extinct, while others are threatened by increasing urbanisation and tourism.

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Thursday, 17 August 2017

FFF299 - VIOLETS

Viola is a genus of flowering plants in the violet family Violaceae. It is the largest genus in the family, containing between 525 and 600 species. Most species are found in the temperate Northern Hemisphere, however some are also found in widely divergent areas such as Hawaii, Australasia, and the Andes. Some Viola species are perennial plants, some are annual plants, and a few are small shrubs.

A large number of species, varieties and cultivars are grown in gardens for their ornamental flowers. In horticulture the term "pansy" is normally used for those multi-coloured, large-flowered cultivars which are raised annually or biennially from seed and used extensively in bedding. The terms "viola" and "violet" are normally reserved for small-flowered annuals or perennials, including the type species.

Viola odorata is a species of the genus Viola native to Europe and Asia, but has also been introduced to North America and Australia. It is commonly known as wood violet, sweet violet, English violet, common violet, florist's violet, or garden violet.

The sweet scent of this flower has proved popular throughout the generations particularly in the late Victorian period, and has consequently been used in the production of many cosmetic fragrances and perfumes. The scent of violet flowers is distinctive with only a few other flowers having a remotely similar odour. References to violets and the desirable nature of the fragrance go back to classical sources such as Pliny and Horace when the name ‘Ion’ was in use to describe this flower from which the name of the distinctive chemical constituents of the flower, the ionones – is derived. The leaves are edible and contain mucilage.

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Thursday, 10 August 2017

FFF298 - PEACH BLOSSOM

The peach (Prunus persica) in the Rosaceae family is a deciduous tree native to the region of Northwest China between the Tarim Basin and the north slopes of the Kunlun Shan mountains, where it was first domesticated and cultivated. It bears an edible juicy fruit called a peach or a nectarine.

The specific epithet persica refers to its widespread cultivation in Persia (modern-day Iran), whence it was transplanted to Europe. It belongs to the genus Prunus which includes the cherry, apricot, almond and plum. The peach is classified with the almond in the subgenus Amygdalus, distinguished from the other subgenera by the corrugated seed shell.

Peaches and nectarines are the same species, even though they are regarded commercially as different fruits. In contrast to peaches, whose fruits present the characteristic fuzz on the skin, nectarines are characterised by the absence of fruit-skin trichomes (fuzz-less fruit); genetic studies suggest nectarines are produced due to a recessive allele, whereas peaches are produced from a dominant allele for fuzzy skin. China alone produced 58% of the world's total for peaches and nectarines in 2014. Spain accounted for 39% of global export volume in 2013.

Prunus persica grows to 4–10 m tall and has a trunk 15 cm in diameter. The leaves are lanceolate, 7–16 cm long, 2–3 cm broad, pinnately veined. The flowers are produced in early spring before the leaves; they are solitary or paired, 2.5–3 cm diameter, pink, with five petals and delicately fragrant.

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Thursday, 3 August 2017

FFF297 - LEUCADENDRON

Leucadendron is a genus of about 80 species of flowering plants in the family Proteaceae, endemic to South Africa, where they are a prominent part of the fynbos ecoregion and vegetation type.

Species in the genus Leucadendron are small trees or shrubs that are erect or creeping. Most species are shrubs that grow up to 1 m tall, some to 2 or 3 m. A few grow into moderate-sized trees up to 16 m tall. All are evergreen. The leaves are largely elliptical, sometimes needle-like, spirally arranged, simple, entire, and usually green, often covered with a waxy bloom, and in the case of the Silvertree, with a distinct silvery tone produced by dense, straight, silky hairs. This inspired the generic name Leucadendron, which literally means "white tree".

The flowers are produced in dense inflorescences at the branch tips; plants are dioecious, with separate male and female plants. The seed heads, or infructescences, of Leucadendron are woody cone-like structures. This gave rise to their generic common name cone-bush. The cones contain numerous seeds.

The seed morphology is varied and reflects subgeneric groupings within the genus. A few such as the Silvertree, Leucadendron argenteum have a silky-haired parachute, enabling the large round nut to be dispersed by wind. A few are rodent dispersed, cached by rats, and a few have elaiosomes and are dispersed by ants. About half the species store the seeds in fire-proof cones and release them only after a fire has killed the plant or at least the branch bearing the cone. Many such species hardly recruit naturally except after fires.

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Thursday, 27 July 2017

FFF296 - FELICIA

Felicia amelloides, the blue marguerite or blue daisy, is a species of flowering plant of the family Asteraceae, native to South Africa. F. amelloides is synonymous with, and formerly known as, F. aethiopica, Aster amelloides, Aster capensis, and Aster coelestis.

F. amelloides is an evergreen shrublet usually 30–60 cm tall by 50 cm wide, but sometimes up to 1 m tall, with densely branched and frequently dark red stems, and rough, hairy, ovate green leaves. Striking blue composite flowers with prominent yellow centres, about 30 mm in diameter, and borne on naked stalks up to 180 mm long.

This species is much cultivated, and in the temperate world is usually grown as a half-hardy annual in pots, window-boxes, hanging baskets, and other summer bedding schemes for parks and gardens. Drought- and wind-resistant, it requires a sheltered aspect in full sun, and does not tolerate frost.


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Thursday, 20 July 2017

FFF295 - COOTAMUNDRA WATTLE

Acacia baileyana or Cootamundra wattle, is a shrub or tree in the genus Acacia, in the Fabaceae family. The scientific name of the species honours the botanist Frederick Manson Bailey. It is indigenous to a small area of southern New South Wales in Australia, but it has been widely planted in other Australian states and territories.

In Melbourne, this wattle is a very commonly encountered street tree. In many areas of Victoria, this wattle has become naturalised and is regarded as a weed, out-competing indigenous Victorian species. Wattles have been extensively introduced into New Zealand.

Almost all wattles have cream to golden flowers. The small, lightly fragrant, flowers are arranged in spherical to cylindrical inflorescences, with only the stamens prominent. These trees start to bloom in early Winter and different varieties of wattle will continue to flower until Spring. A. baileyana is used in Europe in the cut flower industry, where it is called "mimosa". It is also used as food for bees in the production of honey.

This plant is adaptable and easy to grow. It has gained the Royal Horticultural Society's Award of Garden Merit. Unfortunately it has an ability to naturalise (i.e. escape) into surrounding bushland. Also, it hybridises with some other wattles, notably the rare and endangered Sydney Basin species Acacia pubescens. The fine foliage of the original Cootamundra wattle is grey-green, but a blue-purple foliaged form, known as 'Purpurea' is very popular.

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Thursday, 13 July 2017

FFF294 - STAR MAGNOLIA

Magnolia stellata, sometimes called the star magnolia, is a slow-growing shrub or small tree native to Japan. It bears large, showy white or pink flowers in early spring, before its leaves open. This species is closely related to the Kobushi magnolia (Magnolia kobus), and is treated by many botanists as a variety or even a cultivar of that. However, Magnolia stellata was accepted as a distinct species in the 1998 monograph by Hunt.

This tree grows 1.5 to 2.5 m in height, spreading to 4.6 m in width at maturity. Young trees display upright oval growth, but the plants spread and mound with age. The tree blooms at a young age, with the slightly fragrant 7-10 cm flowers covering the bare plant in late winter or early spring before the leaves appear. There is natural variation within the flower colour, which varies from white to rich pink; the hue of pink magnolias also changes from year to year, depending on day and night air temperatures prior to and during flowering.

The flowers are star-shaped, with at least 12 thin, delicate petal-like tepals—some cultivars have more than 30. The leaves open bronze-green, turning to deep green as they mature, and yellow before dropping in autumn. They are oblong and about 10 cm long by about an 4 cm wide. These magnolias produce a reddish-green, knobby aggregate fruit about 5 cm long that matures and opens in early autumn. Mature fruit opens by slits to reveal orange-red seeds, but the fruits often drop before developing fully. Young twigs have smooth, shiny chestnut brown bark, while the main trunks have smooth, silvery gray bark. Like the saucer magnolia (Magnolia × soulangeana), it is deciduous, revealing a twiggy, naked frame in winter. Plants have thick, fleshy roots which are found fairly close to the surface and do not tolerate much disturbance.

The species Magnolia stellata may be found growing wild in certain parts of the Ise Bay area of central Honshū, Japan’s largest island, at elevations between 50m and 600m. It grows by streamsides and in moist, boggy areas with such other woody plants as Enkianthus cernuus, Corylopsis glabrescens var. gotoana and Berberis sieboldii.

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Thursday, 6 July 2017

FFF293 - CHOCOLATE COSMOS

Cosmos atrosanguineus, the chocolate cosmos, is a species of Cosmos, native to Mexico, where it is extinct in the wild. The species was introduced into cultivation in 1902, where it survives as a single clone reproduced by vegetative propagation.

Cosmos atrosanguineus is a herbaceous perennial plant growing to 40–60 cm tall, with a fleshy tuberous root. The leaves are 7–15 cm long, pinnate, with leaflets 2–5 cm long. The flowers are produced in a capitulum 3-4.5 cm diameter, dark red to maroon-dark brown, with a ring of six to ten (usually eight) broad ray florets and a centre of disc florets typical of the Asteraceae family.

The flowers have a light vanillin fragrance (like many chocolates), which becomes more noticeable as the summer day wears on.

The single surviving clone is a popular ornamental plant, grown for its rich dark red-brown flowers. It is not self-fertile, so no viable seeds are produced, and the plant has to be propagated by division of the tubers, or by tissue culture. It requires partial sun or full sun, and flowers from mid- to late summer. It is frost-sensitive (Zones 6-11); in temperate zones, the tuber has to be dug up and stored in a frost-free store over the winter.

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Thursday, 29 June 2017

FFF292 - RED CHRYSANTHEMUM

Although once referred to as Dendranthema, the florists chrysanthemum is now correctly known under its old name. There are about 40 species in the genus Chrysanthemum, mainly from East Asia. In China, where they have been cultivated for over 2,500 years, the chrysanthemum was used medicinally and for flavouring, as well as for ornament. All chrysanthemum flowers are edible, but the flavour varies widely from plant to plant, from sweet to tangy to bitter or peppery. It may take some experimentation to find flavours you like. The flower is also significant in Japan where it is a symbol of happiness and longevity, and the royal family has ruled for 2,600 years from the Chrysanthemum Throne.

Shown here is one of the Mammoth™ Series of chrysanthemums.  Developed in Minnesota, these plants result from crosses between C. x morifolium hybrids and the very hardy C. weyrichii. This results in tall, almost shrubby plants with single to semi-double flowers, interesting for the middle or even the back of the flowerbed. Do note though that these plants grow slowly, only gaining their final dimensions of about 110 cm x 150 cm in their third year. This series includes the full range of chrysanthemum colours. The Mammoth™ series was originally launched under the name 'My Favorite' and you may still see some of these plants sold under their former name.

This is the Mammoth™ ‘Red Daisy’ (formerly My Favorite™ ‘Autumn Red’.): Semi-double red with a yellow centre. It is making quite a show still in early Winter here in Melbourne. Heroic pruning keeps the plant neat and will ensure repeat blooming in a compact bushy plant. Chrysanthmums prefer full sun and become a bit thin even in light shade. Any garden soil is acceptable, but they prefer a rich, well-drained, slightly acid soil. Add compost or all-purpose fertiliser regularly as chrysanthemums are rather heavy feeders! Chrysanthemums have shallow root systems and won’t tolerate prolonged drought. From Spring right until Autumn, water thoroughly whenever the soil is dry to the touch. Divide in spring or take cuttings in early summer. Their seeds germinate readily, but are not true to type.

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Thursday, 22 June 2017

FFF291 - EURYOPS

Euryops chrysanthemoides (with the common names African bush daisy or bull's-eye) is a small shrub native to Southern Africa that is also grown as a horticultural specimen in tropical to subtropical regions around the world. It occurs in the Eastern Cape, along the coast and inland, to KwaZulu-Natal, Mpumalanga and Swaziland.

It is usually found on forest edges, in riverine bush and in ravines, as well as in coastal scrub, grassland and disturbed areas. It is a compact, densely branched, leafy, evergreen shrub, 0.5 to 2m in height.

The species was moved to Euryops from the genus Gamolepis on the basis of chromosome counts. It is a ruderal weed in New South Wales, although it is not weedy in all places where it is cultivated or has naturalised. This particular variety is Euryops chrysanthemoides 'African Sun'. As you can see it is blooming profusely in our Winter here in Melbourne.

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Thursday, 15 June 2017

FFF290 - NEMESIA

Nemesia is a genus of annuals, perennials and sub-shrubs which are native to sandy coasts or disturbed ground in South Africa. Numerous hybrids have been selected, and the annual cultivars are popular with gardeners as bedding plants. In temperate regions the annual cultivars are usually treated as half-hardy bedding plants, sown from seed in heat and planted out after all danger of frost has passed.

The flowers are two-lipped, with the upper lip consisting of four lobes and the lower lip two lobes. The cultivar 'Innocence', a low-growing bushy perennial with white flowers, has gained the Royal Horticultural Society's Award of Garden Merit. The cultivar shown here is 'Sunsatia Banana', which is a popular ornamental hybrid.

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Thursday, 8 June 2017

FFF289 - CHICKWEED

Stellaria media, chickweed, of the Caryophyllaceae family is a cool-season annual plant native to Europe, but naturalised in many parts of North America, Europe, Asia and Australia. It is used as a cooling herbal remedy, and grown as a vegetable crop and ground cover for both human consumption and poultry. It is sometimes called common chickweed to distinguish it from other plants called chickweed. Other common names include chickenwort, craches, maruns, winterweed. The plant germinates in autumn or late winter, then forms large mats of foliage.

The plants are annual and with weak slender stems, they reach a length up to 40 cm. Sparsely hairy, with hairs in a line along the stem. The leaves are oval and opposite, the lower ones with stalks. Flowers are white and tiny, with 5 very deeply lobed petals. The stamens are usually 3 and the styles 3. The flowers are followed quickly by the seed pods. This plant flowers and sets seed at the same time. This plant is common in gardens, fields, and disturbed ground as a weed. Control is difficult due to the heavy seed sets. Common chickweed is very competitive with small grains, and can produce up to 80% yield losses among barley.

Stellaria media is edible and nutritious for humans, and is used as a leaf vegetable, often raw in salads. It is one of the ingredients of the symbolic dish consumed in the Japanese spring-time festival, Nanakusa-no-sekkuS. media contains plant chemicals known as saponins, which can be toxic when consumed in large quantities. Chickweed has been known to cause saponin poisoning in cattle. However, as the animal must consume several kilos of chickweed in order to reach a toxic level, such deaths are rare.

The plant has traditionally been used medicinally in folk medicine. It has been used as a remedy to treat itchy skin conditions and pulmonary diseases. 17th century herbalist John Gerard recommended it as a remedy for mange. Modern herbalists prescribe it for iron-deficiency anaemia (for its high iron content), as well as for skin diseases, bronchitis, rheumatic pains, arthritis and period pain. Not all of these uses are supported by scientific evidence. The plant was used by the Ainu for treating bruises and aching bones. Stems were steeped in hot water before being applied externally to affected areas.

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Thursday, 1 June 2017

FFF288 - CORREA 'DUSKY BELLS'

Correa ‘ Dusky Bells ’ belongs to the Rutaceae family which includes the commercial citrus fruits. The Australian endemic genus Correa is a small group within this family. The genus Correa is named after the Portuguese botanist Correia de Serra. Correa ‘ Dusky Bells ’ is a probable hybrid of C. reflexa and C. pulchella. It is thought that it may have been cultivated for at least 50 years. In 1986, its registration with Australian Cultivar Registration Authority (ACRA) was applied for by W. R. and G. M. Elliott, though the cultivar was received by the authority in 1980. Its synonyms are: Correa ‘Pink Bells’, Correa ‘Carmine Bells’, Correa ‘Rubra’ and Correa sp. (Pink).

Correa reflexa, a parent species of Correa ‘Dusky Bells’, ranges from southern Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, eastern South Australia and Tasmania. Correa pulchella is pretty much restricted to South Australia. Both of the parent species are mostly distributed in temperate regions. Therefore, it can be inferred that Correa ‘Dusky Bells’ is not likely to grow well in the hot tropics such as northern Queensland.

It is an attractive evergreen shrub which grows to 1m high and to 2-4 m in diameter. The entire plant is stellate hairy. Leaves have stellate hairs and the older leaves lose hairs. The leaves are to 4.5 cm long, and 2.5 cm wide; narrow oval (elliptic) or lance-shaped (lanceolate) to egg-shaped leaf (ovate). The beautiful bell-shaped flowers are up to 2.5cm long. The four fused petals are pale carmine pink.

Hybrid Correas have a tendency to be more compact and heavy flowering than the wild species, which makes them a desirable gardening plant. Correa ‘Dusky Bells’ is drought and frost tolerant. It is great for a shaded environment. It prefers somewhat shady situations rather than full sun. It also attracts birds to the gardens. Many of the Correa species are pollinated by birds such as honey eaters as it normally has a lot of nectar. Flowering time is from March to September. However, it also flowers sporadically displaying its lovely bell-shaped flowers throughout a year.

In general, growing Correa ’Dusky Bells’ is easy. It prefers moist soil, though it is drought tolerant. It grows wells on friable, well-drained and fertile loam. Propagation of this plant is possible by cutting. If it grows tall or wide, you can prune the plant. Regular pruning is good for the plant. It is best to avoid humid areas. Scale infestation of Correa due to insidious black smut was reported, but it is not common. Correa ‘Dusky Bells’ is an excellent evergreen garden plant. It is easy-to-grow, drought and frost tolerant and beautiful.


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Thursday, 25 May 2017

FFF287 - ROSE CONE FLOWER

Isopogon formosus, or Rose Cone Flower, in the Proteaceae family is a shrub that is endemic to areas near Albany and Esperance in Western Australia. It occurs naturally in heathland and woodland areas. It has an erect or bushy form and is usually between 1.5 and 2 metres high. The pink flowers appear from mid winter to early summer. Rounded "drumsticks" containing the seeds appear later, formed from the old flower parts.

The plants leaves are divided, narrow, terete and about 5 cm long. It was first described by Robert Brown in 1810. In 1891, German botanist Otto Kuntze published Revisio generum plantarum, his response to what he perceived as a lack of method in existing nomenclatural practice. Because Isopogon was based on Isopogon anemonifolius, and that species had already been placed by Richard Salisbury in the segregate genus Atylus in 1807, Kuntze revived the latter genus on the grounds of priority, and made the new combination Atylus formosus for this species. However, Kuntze's revisionary program was not accepted by the majority of botanists. Ultimately, the genus Isopogon was nomenclaturally conserved over Atylus by the International Botanical Congress of 1905.

Isopogon formosus requires excellent drainage and full sun. It will not tolerate long periods of dryness or heavy frost. It is usually propagated from seed which germinates readily without pretreatment. Cuttings are also successful using firm, current season's growth. Some limited work has been carried out by enthusiasts on the grafting of western species of Isopogon, onto eastern rootstocks to extend the range where the plants can be grown. This offers the best chance for successful cultivation in humid areas.

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Thursday, 18 May 2017

FFF286 - "PANSY ORCHID"

Miltonia, abbreviated Milt. in the horticultural trade, is an orchid genus formed by nine epiphyte species and eight natural hybrids inhabitants of the Brazilian Atlantic Forest, one species reaching the northeast of Argentina and east of Paraguay. This genus was established by John Lindley in 1837, when he described its type species, Miltonia spectabilis.

Many species were attributed to Miltonia in the past, however, today, the species from Central America and from cooler areas on northwest of South America have been moved to other genera. Miltonia species have large and long lasting flowers, often in multifloral inflorescences. This fact, allied to being species that are easy to grow and to identify, make them a favourite of orchid collectors all over the world. Species of this genus are extensively used to produce artificial hybrids.

Despite the fact that Miltonia is now a well established genus, most of its species were originally classified under other genera as Cyrtochilum, Oncidium, Odontoglossum, and Brassia. All were discovered between 1834 and 1850 with the exception of M. kayasimae, discovered only in 1976. These epiphytic orchids occur from Central to Southern Brazil down to Argentina. They are named after Charles Wentworth-Fitzwilliam, 5th Earl Fitzwilliam, formerly Viscount Milton, an English orchid enthusiast.

These orchids have two leaves, arising from a pseudobulbs, covered with a foliaceous sheath. The inflorescence consists of waxy, nonspurred flowers. The lip is large and flat and lacks a callus at its base. They possess a footless column with two hard pollinia. The flowers have a delicate, exotic scent, some compare to that of roses. The species in this genus are sometimes referred to as the "pansy orchids", but it is the Miltoniopsis orchids that have flowers that closely resemble the pansy. Almost everyone except for the most serious orchid hobbyists use the name pansy orchids interchangeably, which may cause confusion.

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Thursday, 11 May 2017

FFF285 - CAMELLIA

Camellia is a genus of flowering plants in the family Theaceae. They are found in eastern and southern Asia, from the Himalayas east to Japan and Indonesia. There are 100–250 described species, with some controversy over the exact number. The genus was named by Linnaeus after the Jesuit botanist Georg Joseph Kamel, who worked in the Philippines, though he never described a camellia.

This genus is famous throughout East Asia; camellias are known as cháhuā (茶花) in Chinese, "tea flower", an apt designation, as tsubaki (椿) in Japanese, as dongbaek-kkot (동백꽃) in Korean and as hoa trà or hoa chè in Vietnamese. Of economic importance in the Indian subcontinent and Asia, leaves of C. sinensis are processed to create the popular beverage, tea. The ornamental Camellia japonica, Camellia oleifera and Camellia sasanqua and their hybrids are represented in cultivation by a large number of cultivars.

This is a very old shrub in a neighbour's garden, which nevertheless flowers prolifically and early in the season, in late Autumn. It is enjoying the warm sunshine of a lovely fine Melbourne Autumn day in April. I am not sure of the cultivar, but it could be "Mouchang".

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Thursday, 4 May 2017

FFF284 - CHRYSANTHEMUM

Although once referred to as Dendranthema, the florists chrysanthemum is now correctly known under its old name. There are about 40 species in the genus Chrysanthemum, mainly from East Asia. In China, where they have been cultivated for over 2,500 years, the chrysanthemum was used medicinally and for flavouring, as well as for ornament. All chrysanthemum flowers are edible, but the flavor varies widely from plant to plant, from sweet to tangy to bitter or peppery. It may take some experimentation to find flavours you like. The flower is also significant in Japan where it is a symbol of happiness and longevity, and the royal family has ruled for 2,600 years from the Chrysanthemum Throne.

The annual species are referred to Xanthophthalmum and are mainly used for summer bedding or as fillers in borders of perennial flowers. Most chrysanthemums are upright plants with lobed leaves that can be aromatic. The many showy flowerheads, carried at the tips of strong stems, begin to bloom as the days shorten. Florists chrysanthemums (Chrysanthemum grandiflorum) are grouped according to form: Irregular incurved, reflexed, regular incurved, intermediate incurved, pompon, single and semi-double, anemone, spoon, quill, spider, brush or thistle, and unclassified, which is a catch-all group for blooms not yet classified or not falling into one of the existing groups.

Florists chrysanthemums prefer a heavier richer soil in a sunny position, though they like a spot that offers some afternoon shade. The plants require training and trimming to produce their best flowers. Pinch back when young and disbud to ensure the best flower show. Propagate by division when dormant or from half-hardened summer cuttings.

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Thursday, 27 April 2017

FFF283 - AZURE SAGE

Salvia azurea, the azure blue sage, azure sage, blue sage or prairie sage, is a herbaceous perennial in the genus Salvia, family Lamiaceae, that is native to Central and Eastern North America.

Its thin, upright stems can grow to 1.8 m tall, with narrow, pointed, smooth-edged to serrated, furry to smooth green leaves, connected to their stems by petioles to 1.0 cm long. There are no basal leaves. The blue flowers (rarely white), nearly 6.4 to 12.7 mm

The blue (rarely white), flowers  nearly 6.4 to 12.7 mm long, appear summer to autumn near the ends of their branched or unbranched spikes; their calyxes are tubular or bell-shaped and furry. Two varieties are Salvia azurea var. azurea (azure sage) and Salvia azurea var. grandiflora (pitcher sage). It is found on the wild on roadsides, glades, fields and pastures.

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Thursday, 20 April 2017

FFF282 - ROSA 'HOME RUN'

Rosa 'Home Run' (Home Run® Rosa x 'WEKcisbako' USPP 18,552) is easily the best true-red rose with continuous blooms and top level disease resistance to both black spot and powdery mildew. It has a high level of tolerance to downy mildew as well. Plus it's heat tolerant, cold hardy and requires no deadheading.

It prefers full sun, and will grow to 1-1.5 metres in height and width in your landscape. It is hardy in zones 4-9 and will bring wonderful colour to your garden for years. You still have time to plant it this autumn, trim to shape comes spring, then simply sit back and enjoy. Like its father (Knock Out), Home Run has excellent resistance to black spot. Unlike Knock Out, Home Run is also completely resistant to powdery mildew and has a higher level of tolerance to downy mildew as well.

It is a useful in mass plantings and mixed borders. A very low-maintenance yet colourful plant for sunny areas. Little care is needed, with a trim to shape in spring, and application of a controlled release fertiliser. This rose does not need deadheading or winter protection. Prefers moist, well-drained soil.

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Thursday, 13 April 2017

FFF281 - ANGAHOOK FINGERS

Caladenia maritima, commonly known as coastal fingers or Angahook pink fingers, is a species of orchid (family Orchidaceae)endemic to Victoria. It has a single, almost hairless leaf and one or white flowers with greenish backs and only occurs in the coastal district of Anglesea, Victoria, Australia.

Caladenia maritima is a terrestrial, perennial, deciduous, herb with an underground tuber and a single, almost glabrous, linear leaf, 60–150 mm long and 1–3 mm wide. One or two white flowers 20–25 mm long and wide are borne on a stalk 100–200 mm tall. The backs of the sepals and petals are greenish with a dark line along the centre. The dorsal sepal is erect, sometimes curving backwards and is 10–15 mm long and 2–3 mm wide. The lateral sepals are 13–17 mm long, 4–5 mm wide and spreading. The petals are 13–15 mm  long and 4–5 mm wide and arranged like the lateral sepals. The labellum is 7–9 mm long, 5–8 mm wide and white with purple lines and blotches. The tip of the labellum is orange and curled under. The sides of the labellum have a few narrow teeth near the tip and there are two short rows of yellow or white calli in the centre of the labellum. Flowering occurs from September to October.

This orchid was first described in 1999 by David Jones from a specimen collected near Anglesea and the description was published in The Orchadian. The specific epithet (maritima) is a Latin word meaning "of the sea". Coastal fingers occurs near Anglesea in a single population, growing in woodland with a heathy understorey. Caladenia maritima is not classified under the Victorian Government Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act 1988 or under the Australian Government Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 but has been listed as "endangered" in Victoria according to the Advisory List of Rare or Threatened Vascular Plants in Victoria – 2004.

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Thursday, 6 April 2017

FFF280 - YUCCA

Yucca is a genus of perennial shrubs and trees in the family Asparagaceae, subfamily Agavoideae. Its 40-50 species are notable for their rosettes of evergreen, tough, sword-shaped leaves and large terminal panicles of white or whitish flowers. They are native to the hot and dry (arid) parts of North America, Central America, South America, and the Caribbean.

Early reports of the species were confused with the cassava (Manihot esculenta). Consequently, Linnaeus mistakenly derived the generic name from the Taíno word for the latter, yuca (spelt with a single "c"). It is also colloquially known in the Midwest United States as "ghosts in the graveyard", as it is commonly found growing in rural graveyards and when in bloom the cluster of (usually pale) flowers on a thin stalk appear as floating apparitions.

Native American tribes used the plant extensively: They ate the flowers, stalks and fruits, used the fibrous, spiky leaves for cordage, and mashed the pulpy root with water for soap.You do need to watch for ants and other critters in the flowers, as the nectar is irresistible to them, and there is a particular moth that pollinates yucca in return for depositing its larvae on the flowers; larvae are not good eats. But the grubs are rarely on the petals, and it is only the petals you eat.

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Thursday, 30 March 2017

FFF279 - TORCH GLOW BOUGAINVILLEA

Bougainvillea ‘Torch Glow,’ stands on its own amidst the many garden bougainvilleas due to its unique, upright, shrubby form. Bougainvilleas are technically lianas, tropical shrubs with reaching stems that grow into the treetops of their jungles of origin. Yet this selection was discovered in California among a group of seedlings imported from the Philippines. Ordinary plants have fast-growing stems with widely spaced leaves. The leaves of ‘Torch Glow’ are tightly packed together on their branches, which are shortened, resulting in a compact habit, a true a true shrub for the landscape, very different from the massive vines of many bougainvilleas.

At the tips of its short branches, ‘Torch Glow’ blooms in bright magenta bracts densely packed among yellow green leaves. Bracts are modified leaves evolved to lure pollinators to the nearly insignificant true flowers nestled among them. These small, white tubular blooms are pollinated by hummingbirds.

Grow ‘Torch Glow’ in full sun on well-drained, even slightly dry soil. Too much fertiliser and water can reduce the show of colour. Plant with care because it is sensitive to root disturbance. It will not transplant once in the ground. This upright form makes a fine foundation plant or a specimen focal point in the dry garden. The range of uses is almost endless.

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Thursday, 23 March 2017

FFF278 - SNAIL VINE

Vigna caracalla is a leguminous vine from the family Fabaceae, originating in tropical South America and Central America. The species is named "caracalla", from the Latin for "hood or cloak", referring to the hooded shape of the open flowers. Some people suggest that this specific meaning comes from Caracas in Venezuela, but this is probably a misapprehension.

This perennial vine has fragrant flowers reminiscent of hyacinths. The buds, especially have a distinctive curled shape, giving rise to the common names "corkscrew vine", "snail vine", "snail creeper", or "snail bean". This vine is hardy in zones 9 and above, liking full sun and consistently damp soil. It prefers high heat and humidity and can become invasive if these conditions are met. In colder zones, it does well in a pot if it is overwintered inside.

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Thursday, 16 March 2017

FFF277 - KURRAJONG

Brachychiton acerifolius, commonly known as the Illawarra Flame Tree, is a large tree of the family Malvaceae native to subtropical regions on the east coast of Australia. It is famous for the bright red bell-shaped flowers that often cover the whole tree when it is leafless. Along with other members of the genus Brachychiton, it is commonly referred to as a Kurrajong.

Brachychiton acerifolius was first described in 1855 by W. Macarthur and C. Moore. It is sometimes spelled as Brachychiton acerifolium, under the assumption that the genus name Brachychiton is (Greek) neuter. In fact, Brachychiton is masculine, and hence the correct species epithet is acerifolius. The name Brachychiton is derived from the Greek brachys, meaning short, and chiton, a type of tunic, as a reference to the coating on the seed.

The specific epithet acerifolius suggests the appearance of the foliage is similar to that of the genus Acer, the maples. This tree is tolerant of temperate climates and is now cultivated world-over for its beauty. However, the maximum height of 40 metres is reached only in the original, warmer, habitat. It usually grows to be about 20 metres. Similarly to its Kurrajong relatives the leaves are variable, with up to 7 deep lobes. It is deciduous - shedding its leaves after the dry season.

The spectacular flowering occurs in late spring and new foliage is ready for the summer rains. In areas where the winter is not particularly dry, this natural rhythm may become somewhat erratic and the tree may flower only partially. Flowers are scarlet bells with 5 partially fused petals. The pod-like fruits (technically known as follicles) are dark brown, wide, boat-shapes and about 10 cm long. They contain masses of thin bristles that stick in the skin, as well as yellow seeds. These are nutritious and were eaten by Aborigines after toasting.

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