Two ornamental plants have received industry recognition by winning Gold and Silver awards and critical acclaim from the NSW nursery industry. The plants were submitted by Kenthurst Nursery, a wholesale nursery at Kenthurst, and Ozbreed, a plant and turf breeder at Clarendon. Both nurseries are based in north-west Sydney.
The awards were presented at the recent Green Expo Sydney (GES), convened by the Nursery and Garden Industry Association of NSW. The Expo brought together plant growers and suppliers to the nursery and landscape industry, who showcased their wares to garden centre owners, managers and staff, as well as to horticulturists, landscapers, students and the gardening media.
The annual awards are made to new plants that show merit and offer something new and exciting to gardens and landscape plantings.
Fine gardenia gets gold
Gardenia augusta ‘Ken04’ PBR, which is being sold as O So Fine™, won a Gold award at GES. The plant caught the eye of the judges for its extremely fine foliage and dense growth. This new variety was discovered in Australia.
The breeding of new varieties to rival box plant, the traditional choice for a hedge, is a challenge this new gardenia meets head on. O So Fine™ gardenia is a form of Gardenia augusta ‘Radicans’ selected for its dense growth and ultra fine leaves. The new form was noticed as a sport on production stock at Kenthurst Nursery. The odd shoot had very fine leaves (just half the width of normal ‘Radicans’ leaves) and dense flowering.
The sport was observed on the stock plant to ensure it was stable before pieces were propagated to see if the fine growth would persist when the plant was grown on its own roots. More than 10 generations have now been grown with no changes occurring to either leaf size or the plant’s dense flowering.
O So Fine™ gardenia is seen at its best as a compact, fine-leafed hedge or groundcover. It grows to around 30cm tall and a metre wide in either sun or part shade. As a bonus, it has a profusion of fragrant white gardenia flowers during summer. The plant’s short internodes (the stem length between the points on each stem that produce flowers and leaves) create the dense growth and give it the extra flowers for its size.
It is drought hardy once established, but grows and flowers better with extra water in dry times. It needs frost protection in very cold winter areas.
New plants awarded
Todd Layt from Ozbreed, who is growing O So Fine™ gardenia, recommends using 1.5 to 3 plants per linear metre for hedging or as a groundcover. The closer planting rate would give dense coverage to quickly choke out weeds.
He says this fine-leafed gardenia only needs to be clipped occasionally to maintain its compact habit as a hedge or groundcover. He also says it is an excellent choice for containers including troughs.
Silver award winner
Alternanthera dentata ‘LRU30’ PBR, which is being marketed as Little Ruby™, was developed in South America. It has been sent to growers around the world including Australia.
This bold plant gained a Silver award at GES. It is a dense, compact shrub with striking burgundy leaves.
At around 30-40cm high and 60-90cm wide Little Ruby™ alternanthera is ideal to plant as a groundcover or border plant in sun or part shade. It is also a stylish choice for a low-maintenance container plant. Little Ruby™ alternanthera was selected from a breeding program in Brazil, where it was chosen for its dark leaf colour and compact growth. It is a third the size of common Alternanthera dentata.
Foliage plants add colour to gardens all year round, which is why Little Ruby™ alternanthera is a good plant choice for gardeners wanting a colourful low-maintenance garden.
“Instead of growing massed annual flowers to bring colour to a garden or park,” says Todd Layt, who is growing the plant in Australia, “home gardeners, landscapers or those planning public gardens, can grow a bed of Little Ruby™ alternanthera plants for year-round colour.”
It combines well with silver-leafed plants such as westringia, or clumping plants such as dianella. Todd says it has been popular among landscape designers, who are specifying it because of its compact growth habit.
For a weed-suppressing groundcover, Todd Layt recommends spacing Little Ruby™ plants about 30cm apart. They can be pruned in spring and, although drought-tolerant, benefit from extra water in very dry times. Plants thrive in areas of high humidity, but need protection from heavy frost.