Tuesday, September 11, 2012

The sound of trumpets

There's an old saying about 'what goes around, comes around' and in the case of clivias, they're back in my garden once more. I planted clivias here 20 years ago, grew them happily enough for about 10 years, dug them up and gave them to my friend and workmate Zora, who then planted them in Wollongong, and I think they're doing fine down there now.

And here I am again, about to plant clivias again. This morning I woke up to the sound of trumpet flowers blasting out a showy springtime tune, but instead of the much more familiar orange clivia colours, these trumpets do their cool thing in a lemon sorbet way.

It took no skill whatsoever on my part to produce these
blooms, as I only bought this plant two weeks ago and
it's still in its pot. But it's worth a blog mention anyway.

Alas, there's no fragrance to enjoy, but the good things 
about clivias are many. They're one of the all-time
 champion plants for shade, and they grow so well here
that you see clivias everywhere in Sydney. Though
not native (they're from South Africa) they grow so well
here that we're its home away from home. Their only enemy
of note here are caterpillars, which attack in swarms in
some years, but usually they don't kill the plants, just
disfigure them. Fortunately, new generation sprays which 
are non-toxic to bees (like Dipel and Success) can stop the
 caterpillars but you need to get in early and quick to
win that brief, destructive little war.  
I bought some coloured (ie, not orange) clivias two years ago at a garden show, and due entirely to negligence on my part one of them died (I planted it in a spot so shady and out of the way I forgot it was there, and it succumbed to the rampant competition). The other clivia planted two years ago is perfectly healthy and happy, but as it was only a baby when I planted it, it still hasn't flowered. The terrible/good thing is that I don't know which colour it will be! Could be red, but I think the other option is a peachy-yellow colour, so it could be that. Next year I should know, as it's now a healthy teenage plant. 

Just to balance the odds out, I'm going back to the man from whom I bought the yellow clivia next Sunday, and I'll get a 'classic' orange one to set up my shady grove of clivia colours. From there, if happy, they should spread and multiply over the coming years, and what went around, then went away, then came back home, will be another colourful little story my garden can tell.


Dirtgirl said...

I love that all the 'old style' plants are making a great comeback! I was given a huge clump of Clivias a couple of years back from my elderly neighbour's garden, as her house was being demolished. They are in their full glory this year, flowering like crazy and looking stunning.
I would love a lemon coloured one, can I ask where you buy your lemon Clivias from? Enjoy reading your blog Jamie.

Jamie said...

Hi Dirtgirl
I bought mine from the guy with a great stall at the Marrickville Markets at the Community Centre at 142 Addison Road, Marrickville. They're on every Sunday from 8.30 until 3.

Lithopsland said...

To me, clivias appear to be an old-school, classic plant found in many established gardens, although they're making a comeback on newer gardens around town. I like the orange flowers too, but the lemon sorbet flowers look very special. And if they did smell, they certainly would smell like lemon sorbet or lemon crisps. The imagination can help with that.

Dave said...

How do you pronounce it? Clive? Or Cliv?

Jamie said...

That's a biggie, Dave!

It's like this: its name goes back to Lady Clive, in whose honour it was named, but the spelling of the botanical name is Clivia (not clivea).

So the correct pronunciation is cliv not clive, but in gardening centres everywhere there are secret societies of "clive-ists" still saying the name the way Lady Clive would like to hear it said.

Dave said...

Thanks Jamie. Now I can live in peace and happiness.