Not as contradictory as it sounds, as we do like our oddities as a matter of course. Recent potting on has included a couple of nice ones that you won’t find on offer too often. First up, Pollia Japonica, a native of eastern Asia – and, as you might guess, Japan for this species. It’s a perennial that gets up to 3 feet max, with whorls of pointed leaves that boast a shininess that makes you question whether they are real. In late summer it pokes up stalks bearing white flowers that are followed by blue berries. As a woodland dweller, it likes a bit of shade and will clump up nicely if you plant it in the right spot.
Then there is Sphaeralcea Childerley. Sphaeralceas are relatively small, upright, evergreen or semi-evergreen shrubs that just cover themselves in mallow-like flowers seemingly right through the season. They need a sunny, sheltered position, but – given that and well drained soil – they are hardy enough. We have grown the splendidly vibrant variety Newleaze Coral for the past few years, but have just potted up a batch of a different variety, Childerley, for next season. This one has flowers in a rather distinctive and distinguished orangey apricot shade. So keen is it to flower that we found ouselves having to cut off flowers from the rooted cuttings we were planting up! Let’s hope it is just as impetuous when it’s ready to go next spring or summer.
Rob & Joanna – August 2011