Kalanchoe - Muscari
Plant names highlighted in green have images attached, click to view.
Kalanchoe ‘Tessa’ AGM £4
A lovely, gently trailing plant with hanging, orange red flowers. Easy if kept just frost free in winter.
Kalimeris mongolica £5
A real beauty in a weedy, often thuggish genus, this has big neat astery heads in a clear lilac, facing the sky on top of erect, self supporting stems to 1.2 m or so. Makes a decent clump of interesting, pinnately lobed leaves in a sunny spot, flowering in late summer.
Kirengeshoma palmata AGM £4
Stout clumps reach 1m in flower. The palmate leaves are pleasant enough, but you grow it for the extraordinary fleshy, soft yellow flowers in September. Ideal in light shade on a soil which does not dry out – some say it should not be limy.
Kniphofia ‘Bees’ Sunset’ AGM £5
‘Large heads of rich golden yellow, streaked deep apricot’ reads Bees’ original description; and it has really dark stems. Totally excellent. Introduced over 50 years ago, yet kept its AGM in the recent trial, despite all those upstart competitors.
Kniphofia caulescens ‘Oxford Blue’ B&V67 £8 NEW CULTIVAR NAME
A very choice, rarely offered form of a familiar species – I’m almost certain the name has never been published, but forgive me if it has. The species is well known for making rosettes of splendid greyish green leaves on great thick procumbent stems ‘like elephants’ trunks’ (GST). The chunky pokers open cream from soft orangey red buds, and reach about 1.2m in late September to early October. It is undoubtedly a sun-lover, and is best on a welldrained soil, but not necessarily dry. Given this, it grows happily in some very cold parts of Britain. ‘Oxford Blue’ has especially good glaucous leaves. Grown hard on Cotswold limestone it makes an arresting sight. The B of B&V is the excellent Ken Burras, well known as the boss at Oxford Botanics for years. But did you know he was also the first presenter of BBC ‘Gardeners’ World’ back in the 60s? How times change...
Kniphofia ‘Christmas Cheer’ £5
An exotic winter flowering hybrid, quite tall with long, nicely shaped pokers. The colour is a rather drab pale orange, but in November or December (yes, some years it’s coming out on Christmas Day) you can forgive it that. Hardy? Certainly shrugged off all the recent beastly winters, left outside in pots, with ‘tough’ varieties suffering all around.
Kniphofia ‘Jabulani’ £6 NEW CULTIVAR NAME
John Grimshaw grew this slender yellow flowered plant from seed packeted as K. ichopensis, but he and we agree it must be a hybrid. It has soft clear yellow flowers in early autumn, which hang nicely when open, but in a spike which is denser than would be normal for that species. It is about 60cm tall, and is notable for being extremely floriferous, quite extraordinarily so. John commented on this, and we have found it to be true here as well. ‘Jabulani’ means ‘rejoice’ in Zulu, he tells us (wish I knew stuff like that.)
Kniphofia ‘Jane Henry’ £5
Long, upright, rather slender, parallel sided pokers. Red buds open pink and fade to cream. Lovely. Jane Henry chose this from a batch of unnamed hybrid seedlings at Bressingham many years ago; we named it for her.
Kniphofia ‘Molten Lava’ £6 NEW CULTIVAR NAME
Dave Fenwick’s selection has really rich, glowing red-orange pokers on tall dark stems. We’ve bulked it up rather slowly from a piece Dave gave us years ago, but seeing it in its full glory in the sunny herbaceous border at Colesbourne last July spurred us to crack on. Very eyecatching. Seems the name’s never been published.
Kniphofia thomsonii var. thomsonii ‘Stern’s Trip’ AGM £5.50
The classic form of this elegant, rather variable species from the mountains of East Africa. 1m or more in height, it has tall inflorescences of widely spaced, downcurving soft orange flowers and spreads by stolons. In cold or wet gardens, or in pots, hardiness may be an issue, but I saw a lovely clump a few weeks ago, on an open loamy soil, which sailed through –15oC last winter. If you have the species already, it’s probably this vigorous sterile clone. If you have something labelled ‘snowdenii’ it’s also probably this. If gardening books tell you that you should have snowdenii they definitely mean this, even if they don’t know it… The name alludes to its being a triploid, rather than to psychedelic experiences at Highdown.
Lachenalia aloides var. quadricolor AGM £4
Spikes of long tubular flowers, yellow, tipped red and marked green, from orange buds (yes, that’s four colours!) in winter. It’s water, not cold, that is the real enemy of these dry-climate Western Cape bulbs. They are easy in a cool greenhouse or airy conservatory, given full light and a very gritty compost, watered modestly in winter and given a very dry summer bake. We grow quite a few species, just for enjoyment, and bring them into the house at the peak of flowering for winter interest, although they etiolate and go over too fast if kept indoors for long.
Lachenalia bulbifera AGM £4
Green-tipped tubular red flowers in midwinter; beautifully glossy dark green leaves. Frozen stiff in bud (admittedly kept really dry) for 2-3 weeks during the brutal December of 2010, it went on to look great in early January. So cheering.
Lachenalia orchioides var. glaucina £4
Flowers in a lovely, if hard to describe, shade, somewhere between turquoise and light purple, in winter.
Lachenalia orthopetala £4
White, and one of the last to flower, in April. Narrow leaves and tough as they come - we left the pots outdoors all winter one year and they did just fine.
Lachanelia ‘Romaud’ £4
A stout hybrid with spikes of larger, tubby, outfacing clear yellow flowers on spotty stems.
Lachenalia rubida £4
By complete contrast, broad leaved and one of the first to flower, in October to November. Soft pinkish red flowers.
Lamprothyrsus hieronymi RCB RA K2-2 £5
This little known Argentinian grass attracts great interest from both visitors and fellow nurserymen when we wheel out a big specimen in flower at a late May or June plant fair. It’s a stout clumper with open but fluffy, rather silvery inflorescences to 1m, lasting quite well and sometimes repeating. It seems drought tolerant, and at least as hardy as we can discover in South Devon. Related to, but subtler than pampas grasses. Most of my dodgy jokes and sidelong cultural references go unremarked, which means you either get them, don’t notice them or have better
things to do. My suggestion last year that Simon Armitage might want to attack this plant attracted baffled enquiries, so: contemporary poet Simon Armitage CBE wrote the moderately well known ‘Chainsaw versus Pampas Grass’. However, if you’re into contemporary verse and got this anyway, you should read one-time forester Tim Turnbull hacking Armitage down to size with his Husqvarna 262 in ‘Chainsaw’ – the best poetic evocation of tree felling I know. What a long way we’ve travelled in one paragraph...
Lathyrus laxiflorus £5
A pretty mat-former, rooted at the centre, with violet-blue flowers in summer. Can be trimmed back to tidy up and encourage repeat flowering. Sun. Evergreenish. Thanks to Miss Sylvia Norton, National Collection holder.
Lathyrus vernus ‘Indigo Eyes’ £5.50
A great novelty, combining the blue flowers of ‘Caeruleus’ with the narrow leaflets of ‘Flaccidus’. Very beautiful. A single clone, by division again. Thanks to Chris Brown.
Lepechinia hastata £4
A Mexican Salvia relative, with rather broad hastate leaves (well, well) and spikes of bishop’s-shirt-purple flowers in autumn. It is a substantial and very worthwhile addition to the late-flowering border, for full sun on well drained soil. It is definitely not tender, nor yet fully hardy in every position. As with the woody based Mexican salvias, position is everything. (Trap for the unwary: there is much talk on the internet about it being native to Hawaii – this would be bad news for hardiness, but I’m sure it is simply an oft-repeated error: it may occur on the Hawaiian Islands, but as an introduction.)
Leucanthemum x superbum ‘Eisstern’ £4.50
A very neatly double German shasta daisy, too rarely seen among its shaggy brethren.
Libertia ‘Amazing Grace’ £5
A hybrid with much of the refined character of L. elegans. Arching stems with many small cream flowers in summer. 75cm. Sun and drainage.
Libertia ‘Ballyrogan Blue’ £4.50
A hybrid of caerulescens with more branched and substantial inflorescence. Hardy here.
Lilium ‘Rosemary North’ £6
Everyone wants North Lilies these days, bred in and for Scotland by the late Dr. North. Dark purple spots on a peachy ground. Woodsy conditions.
Lilium xanthellum var. luteum £5
From China: yellow, spotted flowers with recurved tepals on a stout plant. Rather recently described, and rare.
Liriope muscari gold variegated £5
Unusually, the variegation becomes more striking as the leaves age in summer. Spikes of purple flowers provide a nice contrast in late summer. 30cm. For sun (yes, it really does look best in full sun!)
Liriope muscari ‘Okina’ £4
Just a boring ordinary one with dull green leaves and purple flowers in late summer. It shocks you out of this state with a punky tuft of bright, white-all-over new leaves in early summer, which only green up later. Mad.
Lunaria annua ‘Corfu Blue’ £4
OK, it’s an honesty, but the flowers are unusually blue and it’s generally perennial, despite being a form of annua, not rediviva. Really positive feedback from cutomers.
Lupinus ‘Thundercloud’ £5
A clean old (pre-Russell) hybrid in a rather threatening purple. Scarce and in demand.
Lychnis coronaria 'Gardeners’ World' £5
The double flowered prick-nose, (which doesn’t, being sterile) has flowers of a rather deep, purplish pink. Good for it’s different colour. The sterility is good if you want it to stay put, bad if you like rampant self-seeding (increase by spring division, incidentally).
Lychnis ‘Hill Grounds’ £5
A chance find in a Midland garden, this appears to be a hybrid between the two flannel leaved species coronaria and flos-jovis. The deep, loud magenta flowers continue for a very long season (it’s sterile, also meaning that it doesn’t seed around), and the plants have a good branching mutistemmed habit. A sound perennial which may well become one of the classics.
Lysimachia barystachys ‘Huntingbrook’ £5
One of the species which makes a good dense clump on moister soil, with short, dense, kinky-topped spikes of white flowers on leafy 1m stems. This attractive clone was selected in Ireland for its deep reddish stems.
Lysionotus pauciflorus £4.50
This is a woody based, bushy, somewhat suckering evergreen perennial gesneriad for a sunny, well drained spot, covered in beautiful lavender flowers in autumn. It is hardy with us in Devon, and slow-growing. Epiphytic in nature, it’s fine in soil, but someone bought one to try in a tree fern trunk.
Maianthemum bicolor £4
A rather hairy North Korean, about 40cm, with greeny-cream flowers. Rare in gardens.
Maianthemum bifolium ‘Pumilum’ £3.75
A notably tinier version of a favourite woodland groundcover, related to lily-of the-valley. A forest of little bright green leaves spiking up from the dense rhizomes early in the year epitomizes spring. Small white flowers on 6cm stems in May. Ideal on heavy ground.
Maianthemum racemsoum ‘Emily Moody’ £5
Fluffy heads (bigger in this cultivar) of tiny, sweetly scented white flowers on slightly arching stems to 1m in early summer. Makes lovely solid clumps in moister soils.
Manfreda elongata £5
These are the herbaceous agaves, sometimes included in Agave. All these species are suited either to a pot in the cool greenhouse, dryish in winter and watered through the summer, stood out through the summer, or for the experimentally minded, to a sunny, perfectly drained, sheletered bed. This species has low rosettes of soft green leaves and rather tall spikes of red-brown flowers. Few.
Manfreda undulata £6
Narrower, wavy-edged leaves and beige flowers. Few.
Manfreda undulata ‘Chocolate Chips’ £7
Even narrower leaves, very heavily marked with small maroon spots. A selected seedling from a spotty wild Mexican population, made by YuccaDo nursery in Texas. Few.
Marshallia grandiflora £5
We’ve come to love this odd little North American composite for its purple-pink, rather scabious-like heads, over apple green leaves. Mound to 40cm; sun. In nature it’s a streamside plant from the middle Appalachian states, considered endangered throughout its range.
Massonia echinata £4
A very distinctive winter growing South African bulb, producing a pair of broad, rounded, glossy green leaves with prominent sunken veins, close to the ground. Until they flower they look like some mutant sort of twayblade. The flowers themselves are white with conspicuous protruding yellow anthers, clustered into a dense boss between the leaves. Very easy in a pot in the cool sunny greenhouse, bone dry in summer.
Matteucia orientalis £6
A very substantial deciduous fern with a creeping rhizome. When well established, the fronds approach 1m long, broad and arching. The fertile fronds are reduced, and stick up stiff and twisted, rather Blechnum-style, from late summer and stay in shape, though brown and rigid, right through the winter when the vegetative fronds are gone. The reputation for being a bit tender refers, I feel, to young fronds being susceptible to late frosts.
Matthiola fruticulosa ‘Alba’ £4.50
White stock flowers with a heavenly scent, and rosettes of grey leaves. Perennial, given full sun and very good drainage.
Mazus reptans £3.75
You know this densely carpeting little spreader, with tubby toadflax-like flowers down almost at ground level. It spreads ever so quickly to fill gaps, but isn’t terribly hardy so is sometimes best started each spring from bits overwintered in the cool glasshouse. Just in case you need some, it’s here.
Meehania cordata £4
The North American representative of this small genus of creeping woodland labiates has clusters of little lavender flowers in spring, and is perhaps even tastier for slugs than it is attractive to us.
Melianthus major AGM £5
Classic bold, glaucous foliage plant. In its native South Africa it is quite a large gawky shrub, but in all but the mildest gardens it's cut to the base by frosts late in the winter. Fresh shoots come up from below ground soon after. Under this regime it reaches 1m or a little more, and always looks its best, but doesn't produce its strange brown, nectar-weeping flowers which might spoil the effect anyway. Leaves and roots smell of peanut butter...
Mellitis melissophyllum ‘Apple Blossom’ £5
Our native Bastard Balm is a deciduous, tightly clumping hardy perennial, with fuzzy balm-like foliage. The flowers are sage-like, with a big lip and have a lovely lemony fragrance. This exceptional form, propagated vegetatively, is white flushed a beautiful clear pink, especially at the edges.
Miscanthus oligostchyus ‘Afrika’ £5
At about 1.2m, shorter and more restrained than the varieties of M. sinensis, and going red nicely in autumn.
Moraea vegeta brown flowered £3.75
Much smaller, but prolific, with milk chocolate brown flowers, marked yellow in the centre.
Mukdenia rossii dwarf £4
Significantly smaller (as you might have expected) than this normally small species, with rather maplish leaves and heads of white flowers soon after the plant emerges in spring. Good - rather maplish again - autumn colour.
Muscari armeniacum 'Gul' £3.75
Pink flowered version of an easy grape hyacinth. Still uncommon. Thanks to Rannveig Wallace.
Muscari pseudomuscari BSBE 842 AGM £3.75
A scandalously little-known, easy and beautiful grape hyacinth, with short heads of mid-blue flowers contrasting with the pale blue buds. Neither invasive nor a sulky brat. A gift from Bowles-enthusiast Ruth Boundy.
For all those interested in South African plants we've also put all our listings of South African
bulbs and plants onto one website we've called South African Bulbs at Desirable Plants.
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