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5 Jan 2022

An international cast of plants shine this summer

This month's tour includes plants from three continents and two tropical islands, demonstrating the diversity of our plant collections.

Download the January 2022 Must See Tour Guide and Map here.

Sacred Lotus - Nelumbo nucifera

Lotus flowers are considered sacred in China, Tibet and India and the flower is an important symbol for the Hindu and Buddhist religions. Large round self- cleaning leaves stand above the water and flowers are white to pink on tall flower stems. The flowers are unusual as they can maintain a temperature of 30 degrees celsius to attract pollinators. The seeds pods bend down on maturity dropping seeds into the mud where they can remain viable for hundreds of years.

Wonderful Calabash Tree - Crescentia mirabilis

This endangered species is found growing naturally only in north-eastern Cuba. It is an intriguing small tree with exquisite chartreuse flowers followed by large round fruits. The fruit pulp is traditionally used for respiratory problems, whilst the hard shell when cut in half makes serviceable scoops, cups and containers. Flowers have a musky fragrance at night and emerge directly from woody branches (ramiflory). In their native habitat they are pollinated by nectar feeding bats.

Flowering Gums - Corymbia ficifolia varieties

These small trees are a hybrid between two West Australian species Corymbia ficiflolia and Corymbia ptychocarpa. They are grafted onto root stock to cope with conditions in south eastern Australia. These trees make wonderful garden specimens as they only grow to 5 metres, have attractive weeping foliage and are covered in dense clusters of red, orange or pink flowers in summer that attract nectar feeding birds and bees. Attractive large urn shaped capsules follow flowering.

Paper Gardenia - Tabernaemontana cerifera

This attractive tree from New Caledonia is from the Frangipani family (Apocynaceae). Their white star shaped flowers appear in summer with a wonderful gardenia-like fragrance. The petals are fused at the base making a long thin nectar tube and the fragrance is stronger at night suggesting they are moth pollinated. Green fruit are boat shaped and occur in pairs. Like other plants from this family, it has a poisonous white sap.

Maidenhair Tree - Ginkgo biloba

This tree from China is the only surviving species of one of the world's oldest plant lineages. Fossil records date back 270 million years. Trees are either female or male and we have both types in our garden. Female trees produce round yellow brown seeds covered in a soft fleshy coating, that looks like a small plum. As they mature and fall, they have an unpleasant smell but the nuts inside are edible and often served to celebrate Lunar New Year in China and Vietnam.

Plume Poppy - Macleaya cordata

This is a large herbaceous perennial in the Poppy family (Papaveraceae) native to China and Japan. The genus name honours the Alexander Macleay (1767- 1848) Colonial Secretary of NSW, naturalist and gardener who introduced many exotic plants into the colony. The species epithet refers to the plants beautiful heart-shaped leaves which have a silvery under surface. Plumes of pink buds and white flowers appear in late summer at the end of hollow stems.

Red Tower Ginger - Costus cosmos var. bakeri

This showy Costus variety is native to the humid forests of Central America. The inflorescences are made up of large red bracts each producing one or two yellow flowers. It has long cane like stems from an underground rhizome and glossy long leaves that have downy hairs on the under surface that are soft to touch. The red bracts attract birds with long beaks to access the nectar in the small yellow flowers. In their native habitat hummingbirds regularly visit the flowers.

Swiss Cheese Plant - Monstera adansonii

This climbing plant from the Aroid family (Araceae) is native to West Indies, Central and South America where it grows in tropical rainforests. As the plant matures the leaves develop distinctive holes which allows direct sunlight to get down to the plant, and wind to get through. It is smaller than its famous relative Monstera deliciosa.. The flowers are similar with a white spathe surrounding a columnar spadix covered in flowers. Fruit are not edible. 

Learn more

Download the January 2022 Must See Tour Guide and Map here.

Why not join a Guided Walk of the Garden with one of our knowledgeable Volunteer Guides, on Friday, Saturday or Sunday. Find out more here

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