Plants to look for in February

Acacia dealbata - K Keeton Acacia longifolia K Keeton Camellia x williamsii 'Saint Ewe' S Turner Correa 'Mannii' K Keeton
Acacia dealbata
There are a group of Acacias planted in the Australian bed of the Mediterranean Climate Garden. (area L on the downloadable map). One group is Acacia dealbata, the silver wattle, with its beautiful fern like foliage which is evergreen. It has delightful golden fragrant flowers just like puffballs when in full flower, produced in panicles. The buds may remain for some weeks, before a fine warm day, when they will suddenly burst into flower. Some of these acacias are difficult to identify exactly, because the juvenile foliage may be confusing and there are many different varieties of A. dealbata.
Acacia longifolia
Acacia longifolia also known as Sydney Golden Wattle. is easier to identify precisely, because it produces its narrow flat leaves and elongated flower spikes. This is an evergreen small tree or shrub, very vigorous in growth. It is, in fact, classed as a weed and has become invasive in Portugal and South Africa. It is native of Victoria, South Australia and New South Wales.








Camellia x williamsii 'St Ewe'
Also to be enjoyed this month is the large clump of free-flowering Camellia x williamsii 'St Ewe' near the entrance to the bearpit. Although showy and exotic, somehow the plant does not look out of place here, and in winter. This very beautiful shrub is one of the cultivars originating from the cross made by J.C. Williams at Caerhays Castle in Cornwall in 1925 between C. japonica and C.saluenensis. St Ewe was a Cornish saint of the early Celtic church.


Correa 'Mannii'
In the sheltered micro-climate of the Mediterranean Garden some delightful Australian plants can be found. Correa 'Mannii' is a beautiful early-flowering small shrub with rose scarlet flowers, a cross between C. pulchella and C. reflexa. The genus correa was first discovered in South Australia and Tasmania at the beginning of the 19th century by a Portuguese botanist Abbe Correa. Correa backhouseana was discovered by James Backhouse, a Quaker missionary and nurseryman from Darlington, County Durham with a nursery in York.



Correa 'Marian's Marvel' S Turner Hamamelis mollis S Turner Helleborus foetidus 'Wester Flisk' K Keeton Helleborus x hybridus D Hodgkinson
Correa 'Marian's Marvel'
The cultivar, Correa 'Marian's Marvel' also found in the Australian Bed in the Mediterranean Climate garden. This evergreen shrub first arose in the garden of Marion Beek, South Australia in the 1980s. It is a cross between Correa reflexa and Correa backhouseana.
These plants are said to be tender and it is advised that they are suitable only for the mildest gardens or for a cool greenhouse. It is fortunate that these shrubs, planted outside in 2013, are still flourishing.





Hamamelis mollis
For visitors who do not use the Main Entrance, a trip through the arch will be well rewarded in February to view a beautiful specimen of Hamamelis mollis, the Chinese witch hazel, in the bed outside. This shrub has a fine shape and every branch is clothed in clusters of rich gold and red flowers – a cheering sight on a winter’s day. Its delicious scent is another asset, though may not be appreciated unless warmed by the sun, or perhaps by one’s breath. Found in Jiangxi province and introduced in 1879 by the plant hunter Charles Maries who was engaged by the nurserymen, Messrs Veitch.




Helleborus foetidus 'Wester Flisk'
Helleborus foetidus sometimes referred to as stinking hellebore is a strange native plant with handsome deeply divided glossy green leaves. The flowers are borne in airy clusters at the end of the stem each one a perfect bell of green. There is an excellent variety of this plant called ‘Wester Flisk’ which has greyish green leaves and the flower stalks are tinged with red. It was named after the garden in Scotland where it was originally discovered.



Helleborus x hybridus
Helleborus x hybridus sometimes referred to as the Lenten Rose, is thought to have originated from Greece and Turkey, but over the years numerous cultivars have been selected and named. Unfortunately the named varieties are slow to increase and regularly cross and self seed in most gardens. The beauty of this plant is increased if the very large glossy green leaves are removed in the winter to show off the full beauty of the flowers which continue to be produced well into the spring. The main areas where you may see hellebores are the Woodland Garden (area Q) on the map, the Four Seasons garden (area A) behind the Glasshouses, and along the walk between Osborn’s Field (area J) and the Rock and Water garden.
Iris unguicularis A Hunter Parrotia persica K Keeton
Iris unguicularis
30 steps inside Thompson Road entrance, on the right, you will easily find one of winter’s true treasures: the exquisite Iris unguicularis (Algerian iris). From clumps of rather tough, grassy leaves emerge the single buds, successively over several months. The delicate, finely-veined lavender flowers produce a sweet scent when warmed by winter sun. This dry, sunny spot suits these Mediterranean natives.






Parrotia persica
Although the Parrotia is grown mainly for its spectacular autumn colour, it is equally interesting to discover at this time of year. It would be so easy to just pass it by it, but if you look very closely the whole plant is covered in the most unusual clusters of small dark red flowers. Parrotia persica also known as the Persian Ironwood, is a large spreading deciduous shrub or tree, originating from the forest region south and south-west of the Caspian Sea, It was introduced to Kew from St. Petersburg in 1841. There are a few specimens of this plant throughout the Garden, but the one showing its full beauty is situated in the Four Seasons Garden (area A), found along the pathway behind the Glass Pavilions.