Friday, 26 December 2014

Agapanthus Christmas

Agapanthus Christmas
Hydrangea heads and Clematis flowers
The Agapanthus here in our part of Australia were all in bloom in time for Christmas this year.
Their blue and white flowers are lining driveways, popping up along roadways, and giving colour under trees all around our home. So I decided to decorate our barbeque area with buckets of these flowers, plus some of the other beauties that are in full bloom in our garden right now – purple buddleia and and pink and blue hydrangea flowers.

The seeds heads of the Agapanthus are also quite beautiful and last autumn I collected some, and this year used them to make my own Christmas wreath.

I’d found some whippy twigs when pruning two months ago, made the circle to form the base and let it dry. Then just before Christmas I stuck on the Agapanthus seed heads and some small pinecones (using a hot glue gun), and then I sprayed the whole with silver paint. It looked just perfect on our front door.

Agapanthus Plants

This fleshy green leafy clumping plant comes from South Africa. The name is derived from two Greek words, agape (love) and anthos (flower), but sometimes they are also called Lily-of-the-Nile.
The Agapanthus species are hardy plants, and easily grown. Although tolerant of drought and poor soil, both flower and foliage production improves with moisture and feeding. They perform best in a position in full sun or part-shade in any well-drained soil. Routine removal of spent flowers will encourage further flowering. If growing in pots, do not use overly large containers as they do better when the roots are somewhat congested and keep well watered.

Propagate by division in winter or from seed. The 10 species in this southern African genus belong to the onion (Alliaceae) family but do not produce true bulbs, though their thickened fleshy roots perform much the same function. Although the various species seem quite distinct, some botanists now believe them to be just one very variable species.

In Australia

The plants in this genus are ideal for borders due to their narrow upright shape, and dwarf forms are superb in rockeries or containers. However Agapanthus is a weed in Victoria as it is beginning to be a threat to native flora. In the Dandenong Mountains of Victoria and in New South Wales Blue Mountains the plants hardiness and drought resistance together with the plenty of rain and mild winters means this plant finds just the right conditions to grow and spread.

What most of us gardeners do however, loving the colour and drama of this plant in our gardens, is to remove the seed heads after flowering to do what we can to prevent its spread.

Most Agapanthus grow to one meter though there are some smaller varieties and some taller varieties. In Australia I  use the smaller variety to line a path. And, as Agapanthus likes a confined position, I keep a few of a tall dark purple (almost black) variety in Australia in pots on the terrace. This variety, beside having this dramatic hight and colour, does not have the same seeding problems.

In Greece

Two years running I have bought pots of Agapanthus from a local nursery on Lemnos. Here in Greece Agapanthus is a sought after plant it is certainly not a weed because it is frost tender and needs more water than it will get on the island.

The first pot I bought I discovered they were white. I kept them in a pot for a while before planting them out - divided into three clumps. They are a plant that adds interest all year round, their strong fleshy leaves all year round, and then in June with their tall globular flower heads. Last year I bought a flowering blue plant that sits in a pot on the terrace.

Christmas in Australia

Our Garden in the Hills 

And the reason we need to keep returning to our home in Melbourne, Australia - to enjoy this garden and to be once again with all our family in this country!

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