There are several plants in this garden which are, essentially, Pammy's. It's my job to care for them, but they're Pam's plants. Pictured below is one such plant, looking good.
One day early last year Pam came home from an art course at the Botanic Gardens in Sydney and said "I want an Acacia cognata - it's really cute, very hairy, just like a pet animal." There was a nice specimen growing at the Botanic Gardens and so I had to find one, grow it so it was just as nice and, for ever and ever, keep it alive. (In ye olde days of yore way back when, brave knights rode out to slay dragons for their fair maids. These days, with dragons an endangered species, dragon-slaying is definitely out. And so I have to ride out and grow fussy natives.)
Fussy natives? Well, I only discovered this 'fussy' reputation after I read up on them, and then spoke to one of the gardening experts with whom I work, and the conversation went something like this...
Jamie: "I've just bought an Acacia cognata for Pam. Any tips?"
Expert: "Good luck."
Further enquiries revealed that this plant needs excellent soil drainage, light feeding, steady watering but never too much, and probably some nursing during humid weather (which it hates, and of which we get stacks in summer). Knowing all this, I decided that it would almost certainly die if I tried to grow it in the ground, so I opted for keeping it in a pot as its best chance of survival. Pots aren't perfect, but you can control soil drainage better with them, and you can move a plant to a safe spot during terrible weather.
This is how the new guy looked on Day One, early April, 2009. The first job was to put it in a better pot.
The potting mix was a specialised native potting mix, combined 50:50 with coarse propagating sand. A few weeks later and, in its new pot, it's putting on good growth. In fact this good growth continued all through autumn, then really took off again in spring last year, and by late spring I was sure it looked like it was getting too big for that pot. (What's all this 'fussy' malarky – it's a weed!) Nevertheless, concerned that it might grow too much and get pot-bound in mid-summer, I potted it up into its new (and current) larger, white pot.
So why call this post 'quiet achiever'? Well, this plant doesn't flower. It's just a foliage plant. It doesn't do much else. As it gets bigger the foliage should just keep growing all the way down to the ground. There's one form of Acacia cognata marketed as 'Cousin Itt', named after the very hairy character from the 'Addams Family' cult TV show from the 60s. So you get the picture. Apart from being cute and hairy, that's all it does. (Edit: this one is called 'Limelight', by the way.)
Well, its other trick is to put gardening knights in shining armour on permanent watch. Any moment, any time, it might just sag, then sigh, and say "I feel sick, mystery illness I'm afraid old chap, I think I'm on the way out." Until then, there's really nothing to worry about. Growth is good, foliage green. What could possibly go wrong?