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  • Dianthus

    (Pink, Sweet william, Carnation)
    Caryophyllaceae

    The commonly encountered garden varieties are European plants of garden antiquity grown for their attractive, often perfumed, flowers which pick well. They are on the whole easily grown but demand excellent drainage and plenty of sun and are ideally suited to poor, dryer, well drained, alkaline soils. They are often encountered overgrown and root bound, tucked away in the shade, to which they are intolerant, and once purchased are good naturedly smothered with too much "good" garden practice.


    Pinks are known to all by name, which they lent to the colour, if not in person. Classic perennials of English cottage gardens. They have extensive root systems and most varieties offered are quite hardy in Perth with a good drink once a week over summer. They invariably have narrow, glaucous foliage resistant to dry air and high light intensity.

    Sweet williams (Dianthus barbatus) are biennials that will often persist for several years and typically have tall stems bearing clusters of small fringed flowers. They have broader leaves and require a bit softer conditions than the Pinks. The Nigrescens group seem the hardiest of the bunch and can become quite shrubby, potted colour varieties, often sold by the punnet, are worth growing but usually amount to little more than tender annuals.

    Carnations (Dianthus caryophyllus). Those developed for the cut flower market are mostly ugly plants needing support and are best left to the dedicated enthusiast or florist. Better garden plants are the seldom seen border carnations, they have the same beautiful flowers of the florist types but are less gawky, don't need staking, are often perfumed and are almost as hardy as the pinks.
    • ‘Jennie’   CAG01498

      (Sweet william)
      Height40cm
      Width20cm
      Flowering SeasonSp - Au
      WaterM - L
      LightSun
      Dianthus ‘Jennie’
      for $7.00earn 35 points

      Clusters of saturated (camera defying), darkest magenta, finely pinked, lightly perfumed flowers on tall, slender stems, dark and red tinted as are the neatly clumping, quadrangular rosettes of semi-gloss, lance shaped leaves.

      Remarked on by all and an excellent cut flower of D. barbatus Nigrescens Group heritage, more exceptional and persistent than most.

      Easily grown in light, well drained, sunny soil.

  • Primula
    • ‘Wanda’   CAG01378

      (Primrose)
      Height10cm
      Width20cm
      Flowering SeasonSpring
      WaterH - M
      LightFilt.Shade
      for $7.00earn 35 points

      A true gem, even in a climate ill suited to the genus it is utterly perennial. Vibrant magenta, five petalled blooms with bright yellow centres are arranged posy-like over mats of corrugated, ground hugging, paddle shaped leaves.
      Diminutive and in your face it is an ideal subject for the pot or as groundcover for a storybook woodland, add some smaller Cyclamen for diversity.

      Easily grown in a cool position with moist, well drained soil.

  • Salvia

    (Sage)
    Lamiaceae

    A genus whose popularity has risen exponentially in recent times. Offering a diverse range of form and colour there is a Salvia for nearly every garden situation with more and more being discovered and described all the time. The count now stands somewhere in excess of 1000, including subspecies, according to The Plant List. They are found on every continent except Antarctica.

    From a gardeners perspective they can not all be treated the same, they come from many different climates after all, but as a rule of thumb can be grouped into winter rainfall and summer rainfall species and with few exceptions they all prefer well drained soil.

    Soft leaved species from Central and South America are usually autumn and winter flowering. Coming from summer rainfall areas they typically need protection from dry heat and the accompanying high light intensity and they vary in their tolerance of winter damp. As with most plants the larger the leaves the more water they require, this also dictates how fast they grow with many growing several metres in a single season.

    Species from south western North America, South Africa, the Mediterranean and the Canary Islands are all winter growers and are tolerant or demanding of dry heat and summer drought. Slower growing but usually longer lived these all tend to have small, densely haired, silver or grey leaves or a combination of these traits which help them conserve moisture. Most of these require no additional water in Perth and are well adapted to our climate. They tend tend to flower from spring into summer.


    Prune back to where vigorous new basal growth is seen, never to dead wood, they appear to store little food in their stems and without leaves stand a chance of starving to death or at least struggle to regenerate. The exception is those few that are tuberous or clump forming, these can be cut to ground level once the stems start dying back in late autumn.
    • chiapensis   CAG01003
      Height60cm
      Width1m
      Flowering SeasonAll
      WaterM
      LightLight Shade
      for $7.00earn 35 points

      An evergreen, shrubby perennial from Mexico. Many flowered, long, slender, arching wands of small, bright magenta pink, tubular, lipped flowers are held over glossy, green, oval shaped leaves.
      Extremely floriferous and with good ornamental foliage, this is magnificent plant for any protected position with some shade, where it will lend a lush tropical look.
      It's somewhat lax habit makes it ideal for the foot of larger plants or the top of retaining walls.

  • Dalea
    • purpurea   CAG02646

      (Purple prairie clover)
      Height60cm
      Width30cm
      Flowering SeasonSp / Au
      WaterM - L
      LightFull Sun
      CURRENTLY UNAVAILABLE

      Wand like stems lightly dressed in small divided leaves spring from a deep perennial taproot and are topped with small cone like heads of bright magenta flowers. Found throughout central North America and a natural component of the tall grass prairies, it is an appealing companion for your choice grasses, I might suggest Little blue stem (Schizachyrium scoparium) and/or Big blue stem (Andropogon gerardii) which are both natural and stunning associations, scatter it through a gravel garden to exemplify its form or simply mass it for a swathe of unadulterated summer colour.

      A nitrogen fixing legume well regarded for its ability to thrive in hot dry summers and poor soils in its native home. I will reserve my judgement until I have known it a little longer but strongly suspect we have a winner.

      Winter dormant and attractive in seed. For any sunny reasonably well drained soil, some amount of summer irrigation will be appreciated.

  • Geranium
    • palmatum   CAG00739
      Height1m
      Width1m
      Flowering SeasonSp - Su
      WaterM - L
      LightPart Shade
      CURRENTLY UNAVAILABLE

      An alternative to G. maderense, prima donna of the genus, for those who find it a struggle or just want a more amenable, smaller statured and easier to accommodate plant. Forming evergreen mounds of five lobed, bright green leaves held on long fleshy stems which radiate from a central trunk or trunks. Into summer masses of purple-pink, crimson centred, saucer shaped flowers are produced in large loose clusters. Bold, yet softening and "cottagey", stunning en masse especially against a boldly coloured south wall.

      From the Canary Islands, like its more famous cousin, and ideally suited to a mediterannean climate although more tolerant of heavy soil, excess summer moisture and cold.

      Technically perennial but collect a few seed each year as it tends to be short lived and doesn't always self seed with reckless abandon.

    • sanguineum   CAG01069
      Height20cm
      Width50cm
      Flowering SeasonSp / Au
      WaterM
      LightSun - Shade
      CURRENTLY UNAVAILABLE

      A slowly spreading, semi-evergreen, rhizomatous perennial. Magenta, saucer shaped, (3cm), flowers are produced for a long period through spring to early summer and again in autumn. The stiff, slender stems clothed in finely dissected dark green leaves will form a dense clump or mix well with other plants, wandering between them.
      Tough and easy.
      Cut back hard if looking tired.

      Permanent, excellent and occasionally self sowing.

  • Pelargonium
  • Salvia

    (Sage)
    Lamiaceae

    A genus whose popularity has risen exponentially in recent times. Offering a diverse range of form and colour there is a Salvia for nearly every garden situation with more and more being discovered and described all the time. The count now stands somewhere in excess of 1000, including subspecies, according to The Plant List. They are found on every continent except Antarctica.

    From a gardeners perspective they can not all be treated the same, they come from many different climates after all, but as a rule of thumb can be grouped into winter rainfall and summer rainfall species and with few exceptions they all prefer well drained soil.

    Soft leaved species from Central and South America are usually autumn and winter flowering. Coming from summer rainfall areas they typically need protection from dry heat and the accompanying high light intensity and they vary in their tolerance of winter damp. As with most plants the larger the leaves the more water they require, this also dictates how fast they grow with many growing several metres in a single season.

    Species from south western North America, South Africa, the Mediterranean and the Canary Islands are all winter growers and are tolerant or demanding of dry heat and summer drought. Slower growing but usually longer lived these all tend to have small, densely haired, silver or grey leaves or a combination of these traits which help them conserve moisture. Most of these require no additional water in Perth and are well adapted to our climate. They tend tend to flower from spring into summer.


    Prune back to where vigorous new basal growth is seen, never to dead wood, they appear to store little food in their stems and without leaves stand a chance of starving to death or at least struggle to regenerate. The exception is those few that are tuberous or clump forming, these can be cut to ground level once the stems start dying back in late autumn.
    • iodantha   CAG00791
      Height2m
      Width2m
      Flowering SeasonAu - Wi
      WaterM
      LightSun
      Salvia iodantha
      CURRENTLY UNAVAILABLE

      An evergreen, herbaceous, perennial shrub. Pale green, red stalked leaves are paired along erect, four angled, branching stems. From autumn to winter, one sided spikes of, rich magenta, tubular, hooded flowers are produced. Cut back in spring to the point of new growth at the base.

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