The Tea Break Gardener

My Gardening Week – Six on Saturday 30.06.18

My Gardening Week – Six on Saturday 30.06.18

To quote the brilliant TV comedy The Fast Show, this week has been “Scorchio” and the temperature in my greenhouse has been in the thirties. Despite this, the lure of my new greenhouse is unshakeable.

This week I’m focussing my six on ornamental plants in the greenhouse. Some I’ve grown from seed but others have been impulse purchases that have surprised even me.

Come into my crystal palace and take a look

Medinilla Magnifica

This plant is a knockout and whilst it was fairly expensive I couldn’t resist and even bought two.  The leaves have an interesting elongated fluted shape and are glossy dark dark green.  The best thing about this plant though are the crazy dangling pink flowers, like overgrown pendulous earrings.

Ultimately I’d like to have them on a high shelf but right now with the heat as it is and the sun with its midsummer strength, I’m keeping them in a shadier low positions whilst I assess susceptibility to scorching.


Medinilla magnifica

The first is propped on an upturned wine box to make sure the flowers don’t dangle on the floor.

The second I’ve planted in a tall-boy container with my Gloriosa lilies.  There was a space at the front of the pot for a trailing plant and I’ve found just the plant.  Gloriosa and Medinilla are both show-off plants and combined I think they make the perfect stage-school duo.

Aechmea primera

If you’d said to me last week that I would buy this plant I’d have said you were off your rocker.

Part of the bromeliad family, it’s a relative of the pineapple. This pink pineappley efflorescence wouldn’t look out of place in a Carmen Miranda headpiece and just like Miranda, this plant hails from Brazil. Miranda was described as the ‘Brazilian Bombshell’ and this plant is a strong contender for that name also.

It’s other appealing feature is the white powdery coating on the leaves. It looks as if they’ve been dusted with icing sugar.

On paper I dislike this plant, but in my greenhouse my eyes are drawn to it every time and I absolutely love it.


Orange canna

Unlike the Aechmea, I’ve been a fan of Cannas for a very long time.  This year all my rhizomes overwintered well but despite this for some reason only this one sprouted.  My disappointment at the loss of so many of my plants is tempered by my joy at the colour of this flower – a proper tartrazine-filled, orange squash coloured bloom.

It’s loving the heat of the greenhouse and has therefore grown fast.  I usually plant my cannas out in the garden but I’ve decided to give this one a tropical holiday under glass.


Datura seedlings

I wrote in my Six on Saturday on 26.05.18 that I was planting a series of tropical seeds given to me by a friend.

Germination on my Datura was excellent with all 11 seeds supplied in the packet germinating.  They are in the same family as tomatoes and peppers and if you didn’t know otherwise the seedlings could be mistaken for Chilli peppers although every part of this plant is actually poisonous.  They are growing very fast and I hope to see flowers this year.

Datura in Zion National Park

I was very happy to see these plants growing wild in Zion National Park in the USA so thought I’d show you all a photo I took there last summer at sunrise, with white Datura in the foreground.


Protea seed packets

I was delighted to find germination in both seed trays of the two protea varieties I planted.  One is called Protea Telopea speciosissima ‘Waratah’ which is an unusual shaped burgundy flower from Australia.

Giant protea seedling Telopea speciosissima seedling

The other is the Giant or King Protea – protea cynaroides which is the national flower of South Africa.  Only one of the three Giant Protea supplied in the seed packet has geminated so far and it’s looking tiny and far from regal.

Given that germination was described on the seed packet as being “slow and erratic” I’m cock-a-hoop to find this one at all.

The name protea comes from the Greek God Proteus, who had the ability to change his shape and form at will and clearly there is great range in the protea family.  I have no idea how best to grow these on but I shall be researching it carefully to try and coax these amazing plants to flower.



Dahlia ‘Linda’s Baby’

Dahlia Linda's baby

This dahlia is planted up just outside my greenhouse and is pure joy.

It’s a new one for me to grow but already a firm favourite. I love the petal formation on this and the beautiful combination of baby pink and pale orange.  It’s been one of the first Dahlias to flower and already has three blooms on strong stems.

I don’t know who Linda was but her offspring would win any beautiful baby competition.


Six on Saturday is a weekly meme – take a look at the comments at the base of host The Propagator to see more ‘sixes’ from other keen gardeners from all over the world.




  1. Jane June 30, 2018 at 7:47 am - Reply

    What a fabulous and unusual six. Well done on the germination of the proteas. The Waratah is the emblem of NSW and we can see them flowering in the bush in the Blue Mountians area, which always gives us a thrill. The dahlia is beautiful too- so perfect.

    • Katharine June 30, 2018 at 1:14 pm - Reply

      Of course – I remember now about the NSW emblem. I visited friends in Sydney two years ago but sadly didn’t have time to fit in a trip to the Blue Mountains. I was sad at the time and really kicking myself now. I will have to plan another visit. Lovely to hear from you out in Oz.

  2. Fred June 30, 2018 at 10:38 am - Reply

    My datura flowers have arrived for a week and it’s really an amazing time to look at them but also to smell their scent. I hope yours will bloom this summer! About cannas, your orange color is beautiful, mine are yellow and red so far but 3 others will bloom in the coming days. To finish my comment, I also liked the Aechmea. I don’t have bromeliads, but having a greenhouse calls for the purchase of new exotic plants, right?

    • Katharine June 30, 2018 at 1:16 pm - Reply

      Yes Fred, you’ve read me right. I’m pouring over the greenhouse books to decide what to grow where and then I spot a plant I like in a garden centre and all strategy goes out of the window! Hope to see some pics of your Daturas on twitter…

      • Fred July 1, 2018 at 6:49 am - Reply

        Done this morning !

  3. Ciar June 30, 2018 at 11:35 am - Reply

    Oh look at that dahlia – she really is a stunner!

    • Katharine June 30, 2018 at 1:17 pm - Reply

      I know – it’s got such an ethereal beauty on camera and I can say with honestly it’s replicated in real life.

  4. Lis June 30, 2018 at 1:49 pm - Reply

    As someone who has always struggled to grow houseplants well yet alone greenhouse exotics, I am in awe of your fabulous plants! Cannas grow outdoors here 0 usually the ones with chocolate brown foliage – so I do feel inspired by your post to give them a go. I also spied a huge bed of bird of paradise ((Strelitzia reginae) last week but it was down on the coast, maybe not a goer in our mountain stronghold. That dahlia is exquisite!

    • Katharine July 1, 2018 at 3:38 pm - Reply

      It sounds like you have the perfect climate to experiment a bit. Maybe even the Strelitzia would work – you never know til you try!

  5. Lora Hughes June 30, 2018 at 5:08 pm - Reply

    So many interesting plants! Just, wow . . . what leeway a greenhouse gives you. My cannas haven’t done well this year either, sad to say. But that dahlia . . . it’s too perfect. Loved all these interesting sixes. Must be wonderful tending to them.

    • Katharine July 1, 2018 at 3:40 pm - Reply

      It’s lovely to have a new set of plants to try out. Hopefully I’ll master them but certainly the challenges of this extreme heat in the greenhouse mean constant vigilence. At least I’ll know what copes with the hottest temperatures and sun!

  6. Heyjude June 30, 2018 at 7:13 pm - Reply

    The Medinilla Magnifica is magnificent indeed! I like the idea of growing it with Gloriosa lilies too. Exotic plants. Is your greenhouse heated during the winter? I want to buy some exotic plants for my conservatory, but it gets very hot in summer and quite cold in winter, so I need plants that don’t need constant warmth.

    • Katharine July 1, 2018 at 3:42 pm - Reply

      I have a small area which I can choose to heat if I want and given some of my recent purchases I’ll probably give it a try. My worry is the expense of course. Failing that I can move some things indoors but I would like to keep a display going in the winter if I can. What a treat it’ll be to go into the warm bit of the glasshouse in midwinter!

  7. @cavershamjj July 2, 2018 at 6:41 am - Reply

    I canna believe that greenhouse. Your dahlia is well ahead of mine. I do have one flower on the bishops children. But none of my larger varieties are anywhere near flowering yet. Well jel.

Leave A Comment