The cardinal creeper is a lovely addition to the garden.
The cardinal creeper is a lovely addition to the garden. CONTRIBUTED

Creeper will pretty up your place in no time

A LOVELY plant that is not seen often enough in gardens is the Ipomea horsfalliae, better known as the cardinal creeper.

That is certainly a fitting name for it when you look at the individual flowers.

The evergreen cardinal creeper is native to the West Indies, and like other tropical areas and our own region.

Its common name refers to the clusters of lustrous red, starry-faced flowers that appear in profusion from summer right through until early winter, and stand out well against the thick, rich green leaves that are divided into several lobes.

We’ve been fortunate to see this creeper in a variety of situations such as growing along a heavy wire fence, where it is easily trained and creates a picture throughout its flowering months, and looks neat even when not flowering.

It also makes a picture growing over an archway that frames a gate or a pergola.

With very little effort, it can be trained to cover bamboo fencing or the like, to provide a screen for a work area or any unattractive spot you’d like to hide.

The cardinal creeper grows well in our climate in full sun or part shade and grows best in well-drained and fertile soil.

As with many other climbing plants, always grow them in areas well away from any structures, shrubs or trees where they could gain access and take off into other parts of the garden or nearby forestry.

Prune elongated growth well back to encourage these beauties to thicken well.

Another plant worthy of inclusion in our gardens is the variegated dwarf umbrella tree (Schefflera arboricola), that is a native of Taiwan.

This delightful plant has added greatly to permanent colour in our gardens for many years now.

We’ve cut the centre out to stop it growing taller so it becomes a good lower spreader to go with surrounding shrubs and perennials.

The palmate leaves consist of creamy/gold and green leaflets and in spring and summer it produces small yellowish flowers that are not very noticeable. But with that foliage, it doesn’t matter.

Special events

MAROOCHY Bushland Botanic Gardens needs help from all of us to spot koalas next Sunday at 9am.

This should make a great outing, and we’d be assisting with saving those gorgeous animals.

They already have Graham, about eight years old, Charles, about 10, and Lizzie at age five, all checked and tagged. So they would love to find any more residing in the area.

An important workshop will be presented next Saturday at 9.30am at Yandina Community Gardens, at the corner of Farrell and North streets.

The subject will be Banana Bunchy Top, with Barry Sullivan and David Peasley presenting information about that devastating virus disease that is known worldwide, and has been affecting crops here for over 100 years.

The Bunchy Top National Project team has worked for six years in northern NSW and south-east Queensland, and has surveyed all commercial plantations in those zones.

They know it also exists in home gardens and need community support and participation by everyone to help them rid plants of the disease to ensure we all have healthy bananas.

Bookings are not needed, and a gold coin contribution will be appreciated.

Collector’s fair: A quick reminder to readers that the Brisbane Plant Collector’s Fair is on this weekend, finishing this afternoon in the auditorium of the Brisbane Botanic Gardens at Mt Coot-tha.

So if you’re an avid collector of unusual or hard-to-find plants, better be on your way now.

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