You need more flowers – that was the first comment I received when a researcher from ABCTV’s Gardening Australia programme came calling. We were standing at the front of my property, looking at my car space, a.k.a. The Orchard.
I have an urban orchard, A Miniature Orchard as they named the segment that eventually went on air. I grow fruit trees, I said, there can be no fruit without flowers. I pointed to the trees laden with fruit and said, I have flowers.
I knew what she meant; more flowers would look better on TV. Maybe she meant more flowers would attract more bees. I don’t care. I am a poet and a gardener, both occupations allow me to be a despot in my domain.
Apart from the orchard, I do have a number of flowering trees and shrubs. The ornamentals were here before me: a giant jacaranda, a couple of camellias and THREE crepe myrtles in the side passage barely passable for one. For their fragrance I added gardenias, a dwarf magnolia, an osmanthus and a Chinese tea jasmine.
Other flowers must fit into my edible garden scheme and my favourite amongst those are the abutilons. These are called Chinese Lanterns for the way they hang. I eat the petals but I love the pool of nectar in the ‘cup’ at the base of each flower. I have them in white, pink, orange and red; they are all edible and dresses up a salad.
Abutilons are also the easiest thing to propagate. I took pieces from my friend Diane’s garden, stab them in a pot and voila! Trees in no time in Sydney’s climate. They can grow tall but respond well to pruning.
A is for Abutilon. It gets an A+ from me.
http://www.abc.net.au/gardening/stories/s4072376.htm – a video (4:33) on part of my urban orchard