Neomarica gracilis

Walking Iris.

The Walking Iris has graceful sword-like foliage and striking white and blue flowers with brownish centers. The flowers last only a day, but with proper care numerous blooms follow over extended periods.

It got its name from its habit of propagating itself, appearing to “walk” through the garden as it fills the area with additional plantlets. When a new plantlet is formed at the tip of the flower stalk, it bends to the ground and takes root. Its leaves spread like a fan from its base.

In addition to propagating itself, the Iris can be propagated by division of offsets. The rhizomes can be planted in the ground or in pots just beneath the soil.

It is low-maintenance but it requires plenty of moisture. It should be watered and fertilized regularly. Mulching will help retain moisture. The Walking Iris tolerates a wide range of soil and light conditions. It looks great when massed together and can be used as a taller ground cover in the shade. It can also be planted in pots. (Info source: Nikki Phipps, through the internet.)

Nephrolepis biserrata ‘Furcans’

Fishtail fern. Bought 1 at P125, 2 at P40; 3 at P15. A fern with 90 cm long leathery, arching and yellow-green leaves. The leaflets are forked at the end. Grows horizontal stems which root on the ground, producing plantlets.

Normambya normanbyi. Black palm

Native of north-eastern Australia; it is referred to as the “black palm” because of the density of its dark timber. This is a tall, handsome palm, growing about 20 metres tall, with a 4 metre leaf read. The trunk is smooth, slender, and closely ringed, and becomes almost black as the palm gets older. There is a pale green crown shaft, topped with a small head of leaves. These are pinnate, plumose (feathery) and consist of many rather wide leaflets, arranged circularly around the leaf stalk, which gives it a very bushy appearance when the palm is mature, very similar to the foxtail palm. In fact, the two palms are difficult to tell apart, the main difference being that N. normanbyi has a silvery tinge to the underside of the leaves. The green inflorescence comes from below the crown shaft, and gives rise to 5cm long pear-shaped, light-brown coloured fruit. Like many palms which come from rainforests, N. normanbyi seedlings prefer shade when younger, growing into full sun as they get taller.


Tropical water lilies. These are either day-bloomers or night-bloomers.

Day-bloomers. I have two varieties of day-blooming tropical water lilies: one has blue flowers (see photo) and the other has pink ones.

The blue water lily has plain green circular pads (leaves) with slightly wavy edges. In the small basin that holds it, the leaves rise just slightly over the water. My plant is just getting established, but it has been producing lovely blue flowers continuously for the past two weeks. I understand that the lily has a long flowering season so I can expect to be delighted by them for several months. The flowers last three days, opening up in the mid-morning and closing down in the mid-afternoon or thereabouts. When they’re spent, the flower head sinks slowly back into the water from whence it came.

Water lilies are heavy feeders. The gardener who sold me my lilies recommended a tablespoon and a half every two weeks of equal amounts of ammonium sulphate and the fertilizer Complete. She cut 2-3 layers of a strip of newspaper, rolled them into a small cone and inserted the combined fertilizer into it, sealing the top edge well before she inserted the cone into the soil in the lily basin.

The lilies require at least 6 hours of sun a day to do well. They should be planted into the soil so that only their crown is showing. They need between 6 to 18 inches of still water above the crown.

The lily grows from a central crown. All leaves and flowers radiate from this point and growth is vertical. It produces a tuber from which plantlets develop. I understand that to propagate the lily, rooted plantlets should be separated from the tuber and planted in their own small pots for growing on.

Night-bloomers. I have one night-bloomer bearing white flowers which open in the late afternoon and close in the morning.

Much like the day-bloomers, night bloomers grow from a single central crown but multiply easily. Though multiple crowns can be desirable in large pots, too many "pups" will prevent the main crowns from attaining good size and bloom.

Night-bloomer pads have very toothy edges and show more venation than the day-bloomers. They can be propagated from tubers, and by division. They often make runners from the tubers and produce new plants. (Information from internet sources.)

Nymphoides indica. Water Snowflake

I consider this the loveliest new addition to my garden. It is not a water lily but resembles it, hence its name. A tiny aquatic plant, it has submerged roots and floating small heart-shaped leaves. It has enchanting elfin white flowers whose five petals are covered in small hairs, giving them a feathery look. The flowers open in the morning and close at night.

The Water Snowflake can be propagated from the plantlets or runners growing from the main plant.