Anisodontea julii – Mountain Mallow
Painting the slopes of the Drakensberg marshmallow pink are the large cup-like flowers of the Mountain Mallow, Anisodontea julii. This showy shrub flowers throughout summer, reaching mature height in a single season, so is the perfect gift for an impatient gardener. Its generosity does not stop there; though the life span is short – usually 5 years – it both self-seeds easily and suckers from the roots so there are always replacements reader by the time the parent plant dies off. Mimic this generosity by giving unwanted seedlings to friends.
Growth form is slim and neat. Aside from end of season pruning to prevent woodiness, it needs very little upkeep. Flowers show up beautifully against the large pale grey/green leaves. Height is variable; in some areas it grows to 3m with a 2m spread, but it is often smaller. The Mountain Mallow tucks neatly into a mixed bed, part of a shrubbery, or close to the house, a pathway or the patio where the flowers and their visitors can be enjoyed. Anisodontea julii tolerates moderate frost and hot summers, and though it is a summer rainfall species, it does equally well in a winter rainfall garden. It has moderate water needs through the summer and survives the usual winter drought.
Barleria albostellata - Grey Barleria
Another neat, grey-leaved shrub is the almost spherical shaped Grey Barleria, Barleria albostellata. I love this shrub for its versatility and extreme neatness that requires very little gardener input! Hailing from the Limpopo region, the natural habitats are the sandy soils of dry woodland. Happiest is dappled, partial and light shade, it will grow in full sun. The Grey Barleria is one of the prettiest shrubs for summer rainfall gardens. Leaves are large and furry, with just a hint of green, enticing you to reach out and touch; a wonderfully tactile plant. There is firmness to the thick leaves though they do droop and curl inwards when the plant is stressed – whether from drought or excessive sun. Flowering season begins in summer, each pure white petal unfurling from a large, folded flower-head to stand up above the leaves. In a good year, they can cover the shrub, but more often than not, a few flowers are on display at any one time, and this continues for many months. Hairy flower-heads turn brown as they dry, remaining on the shrub for weeks. Even then, the bush looks good.
Euryops tysonii - Tyson's Euryops
Of all the flower forms that have dressed gardens down the centuries, the daisy is surely the most recognisable. Simple, uncomplicated petals surrounding the center ‘eye' create the happiest face in all of the worlds’ floral families, making them some of the most popular garden plants worldwide. South African gardeners have many indigenous daisies from which to choose; Dimorphotheca, Osteospermum, Felicia, to name a few, so the familiar yellow Euryops daisy bushes, are often overlooked. Yet this daisy family has some beauties that deserve to be better known and used in urban gardens, and this includes Tyson's Euryops, Euryops tysonii. Arguably the prettiest of the Euryops family, it has an interesting upright as well as a sprawling growth habit; most of the growth is quite dense and upright, but new growth from the base tends to sprawl. Close-set leaves grow along the stem at various angles, slightly sticky from the resin typically produced by this genus though volumes are less in this species than the others. Bright yellow solitary flowers cluster close together at the branch tips, about 10 mm in diameter, and are sweetly scented. Flowering begins in spring and continues right through the summer and into autumn. They grow in rocky and steep places in scrub and grassland in the Eastern Cape, Free State and KwaZulu-Natal, so plant it in full sun in well-draining soils, as part of a rocky, a mixed bed, or your grassland patch. It will reach mature size (0.5 to 1.5 m) quickly and is an attractive addition to summer rainfall garden. Give water in summer if planted in a winter rainfall garden. It can be pruned back after flowering to keep it bushy, but is not essential and could achieve some unusual shapes if left to sprawl. Tyson’s Euryops is both frost and drought hardy, and the lovely flowers attract many insects, including bees.
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