The Price of Silver

9 Apr

There are no white peacocks to show you, but I do have something else to show that is almost as dazzling in moonlight. A flyer from my local garden centre arrived in the post the other day, offering any one plant at half price. The local place have the odd unusual thing, but at high prices, so I had to take advantage. Instantly I thought of some astelia I saw last time, which I passed by because they wanted £30 for them. Looking around at the garden centre with the voucher burning a hole in my pocket, there was nothing else to better that, so at the price of £15 I have myself a large astelia banksii.



It has suffered the depredations of being moved around a few times since I first saw them, but it still looks pretty. Finding cultivation notes online was a little confusing. What I know for sure is that is endemic to coastal areas of New Zealand’s North Island, so hardiness is doubtful. Some sources say it grows on cliffs (think severe drainage, full sun) and some sources say it grows at the edge of beaches as an understory to metrosideros excelsa (think more moisture and partly shaded). I’ve put it where it will receive full sun from morning until early afternoon and added plenty of grit, composted bark and peat to the soil.
It fits in well with the planned colour scheme. I’ve planted it so that it forms part of a silver line of astelia and puya drawing the eye down the garden – and away from the heap of scrap I just pulled out from behind the garage, ready to throw into a skip. I think it (the new plant, not the scrap) will look especially good with black aeonium planted in front of it once risk of frost has gone.


One other thing: seeds. I limited myself to just a handful of packets from Special Plants near Bath. Ricinus communis ‘New Zealand Purple’ (can you see an antipodean theme developing?), Isoplexis canariensis, Eucalyptus nicholii and Cobaea scandens ‘Alba’. All sown.

Patience, my friends.


6 Responses to “The Price of Silver”

  1. Loree / danger garden April 9, 2014 at 4:38 pm #

    Nice purchase! I love that astelia, sadly mine perished last winter (12F).

    • thechthonianlife April 9, 2014 at 6:26 pm #

      I reckon its days are numbered, re hardiness. Lovely though. The great thing about planting new beds is not having to think around existing plants. The worst thing is that my cat thinks he has a massive new toilet.

  2. Peter/Outlaw April 10, 2014 at 6:28 pm #

    Great deal on that huge astelia! You do create the most lovely feline toilets!

  3. Becca April 14, 2014 at 4:49 am #

    That’s a gorgeous plant! I also love silver foliage. My lovely silver artemisia absinthium is coming with me when we move. Everything else can pretty much go to its new owners, and I wish it luck. The only exception is the asphodel–I have to wait until the absolute LAST minute to dig them up before the photographer comes to take pics of the house and garden for the MLS. I’m hoping they can get at least 3-4 weeks more under their belts before the get put in storage for the move. The only other potted plant I MUST take is the cereus I got from a friend that is now in its third or 4th year…it’s finally showing signs it may become big enough to flower one day and it couldn’t possibly mean anything to anyone but me.

    • thechthonianlife April 14, 2014 at 9:03 am #

      How long before you think you will move? I have read of people going to the extremes of even taking their compost heap with them when they move, so sounds like you are travelling light.

      • Becca April 14, 2014 at 4:04 pm #

        I’m guessing about end of June, but it depends whether the market smiles on us. I spent the weekend wandering around with a series of things to dab and touch up stuff that honestly doesn’t bother ME in the least. Paint to dab scratches and scuffs, a toothbrush to scrape dust out of crevices, a sponge to scrub anonymous brown splashes and splotches…Where do they come from? We went to an open house that was vacant but ‘staged’ so it was clean and newly-painted and mostly empty, and it terrified me because THAT is the competition. Oh, and I trimmed part of the rosemary hedge and sprayed around a bunch of miracle-grow. I hate the lawn more than I’ve ever hated it, which is sad because it LOOKS better than ever, but it is taking a ridiculous amount of time to keep it like this.

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