RHS Regional talk by Chris Bailes, curator of RHS Garden Rosemoor, Devon, on South African plants which might happily grow in British gardens. The talk was hosted by Kent Gardens Trust and held at Lullingstone Castle where the World Garden was flowering profusely – including many South African plants.

The right conditions are needed to grow these plants, namely wet winters, dry summers, free drainage, low nutrient soil with acidic tendency and wind. South African plants are very adaptive, often with leathery, evergreen leaves. Many will survive outside over the winter if in a sheltered spot – some are quite hardy.

Plants highlighted in Chris Bailes’ talk included: Euryops pectinatus – which will flower 9-10 months (tender – although tysoni should be OK in the South East), Osteospermum (‘Buttermilk’ very dramatic grown next to Agapanthus ‘Midnight Star’), Gazanias, Burkheya purpurea like a purple sunflower on thistle-like leaves, Kniphofia ‘Atlanta’ (with Euphorbia griffithii ‘Dixter’ grown in front of it to great effect), K. ‘Prince Igor’ – for mid-season flowering, K. rooperi with more dumpy shaped heads for even later, Sept/Oct colour and the cool K. ‘Ice Queen’ – ivory with a hint of green. Hardy Aloes with slender, yellow spike flowers, Eucomis – with their lovely, hyacinth-like flowers, topped with a tuft of small leaf bracts looking like the top of a pineapple. Other highlights: Gladiolus cardinalis ‘The Bride’, Dierama trichorizum (a small variety with open bells, unlike pulcherrimum), the late-flowering Crocosmia ‘Star of the East’ with beautiful pale orange flowers, Schostylis coccinea – ‘Mrs Heggarty’ and ‘Viscountess Byng’ (growing naturally at swampy river-edges, water near their roots suits them well, as does the iris-like Moaea and the Phygelius x rectus (a gorgeous colour called ‘Salmon Leap’). Another native of South Africa, the Buddleja salviifolia – known as Sage bush is both scented and vigorous (and does well in CB’s own garden in Devon, as does Lampranthus in pots).

See web page for further information about the World Garden at Lullingstone Castle.

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