Sunday, November 16, 2014

Hot flower

I noticed this striking plant (foreground, right) in several of the gardens that partcipated in Open Gardens Constantia. There is also one waiting to be planted, on my mom's patio.

Turns out Digiplexis "Illumination Flame" is a new and wildly popular hybrid, where Digitalis (foxglove) and a Canary Island native, Isoplexis, were bred to produce a plant that is statuesque, has several flowering spikes, and which produces more when when cut. It is a true perennial, rather than biennial.

Despite its popularity (popularity makes me itch) I liked it here, with this spectacular indigenous Leucaspermum tottum in the background (in Carol's garden, where the OGC tea was held).

Many South African gardeners still seem intimidated by the incredible array of  native plants available to them, frequently choosing invasive exotics over excellent local alternatives. and I hope Marijke's new seminal book, Indigenous Plant Palettes, will help to change their minds. My job at Open Gardens was to sell raffle tickets, and her book is first prize (raffle Abalimi and Soil for Life). I had lots of interesting conversations with people about why they choose what they do.

I will never be a fundamentalist, so have no issues with incorporating roses or other well behaved foreigners into planting schemes as long as the backbone of the garden is true to place. And when the place is South Africa, there is a dizzying list of choices.


  1. Words of sanity in the face of so many "kill it! It doesn't belong!" cries. (Says the old bat who has roses beside cycads and passion fruit slugging it out for fence space with Petrea.)

  2. That is a gorgeous combo!

    According to some friends at Ball, it's officially a Digitalis again as Isoplexis has been reclassified as Digitalis. So, what was thought to be an intergeneric hybrid turns out to be interspecific instead. "Digiplexis" is a trademarked name so you will continue to see it, but you will also start to see similar looking plants (same parentage) with the genus Digitalis. It's yet another unfortunate example of the already confusing field of botanical nomenclature being further muddied for profit. Most unfortunate is it's the end consumer who will be most do they know what to trust?

    Will Marijke's book be available in the US? You two have gotten me hooked on South African plants!


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