Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Urban Oasis at Bloom in the Park 2010

Urban Oasis Garden at Bloom in the Park 2010

The Urban Oasis

Choice and theme of plants form an integral part of all gardens from the most minimalist Japanese designs to the riotous flower colour of the Victorian perennial border. This year at Bloom in the Park 2010 three professionals from the gardening world from Northern Ireland and Republic of Ireland have come together to pool their years of gardening, artistic and architectural talent into an Urban Oasis which I hope you will agree brings a new outlook on plants in the urban living space.
The plants of Urban Oasis were selected by Designer Dawn Aston predominantly with foliage as a major and crucial consideration. Over the last 10 years I have travelled all over the world both physically and virtually in seek of sustainable foliage colour for the garden and garden containers. Out of this search and foliage lust we have developed a business at FitzGerald Nurseries and MyPlant® which focuses singularly on foliage but should the plant have great seasonal flowering this is of course an important bonus. For what seems forever flower has dominated the visual reporting and public ohh and ahhh of garden shows while foliage sits in the background very evident and giving perfect foil, contrast and sustenance to flower. As a nurseryman it has been a fantastic opportunity to work with Dawn Aston and Crawford Leitch who just like the foliage to the flower give talented and inspired environment for human and plant to interact. I had always wanted to participate in such a project and thanks to Dawn and Crawford for coming up with this wonderful environment giving MyPlant’s this wonderful Urban Garden environment.

The Plants of Urban Oasis.
In 2008 I launched MyPlant® as a brand to represent a range of easy to grow garden plants for small gardens, the concept of such a range was awarded Press Prize at one of the worlds most important professional nursery shows Plantarium. Plantarium is held in Boskoop Netherlands the heart of European garden plant production so this was a great honour. http://www.myplant.ie/news.php?n_id=33

Now in 2010 thanks to this opportunity with Urban Oasis the plants can speak for themselves and show their value in this style of environment I first envisaged the collection would be used in. I hope this information gives you some idea to the background and people behind the introduction of each key plant and its origin. Behind most good garden plants lays a story of search, discovery or breeding. In addition to this work production development must be undertaken to bring this new life form to the world at large. Breeders and selectors must ensure any new plant introduction has some uniquely distinguishable attribute that makes it worth all the fuss. I feel we have chosen plants for this wonderful Urban Oasis which are just that. The following paragraphs will try to give a brief history of these wonderful plants. For more detailed information on the plants you can see http://www.myplant.ie/ .

Key feature plants.
Carex oshimensis Evergreen is similar to the species form of the Oshima sedge from Japan with wonderful simple brown tipped abundances of flower in Spring. Later we will see more selections of the Oshima sedge which I have made over the last few years and are now FitzGerald Nurseries most popular exported plant. Almost 1 million Carex plants will be produced by us in 2010. Evergreen provides a simple natural and relaxing under planting or feature plant in containers and this from was selected for its more compact growth and depth of colour.

Libertia ixiodes Goldfinger selected at Naturally Native Nurseries in New Zealand and marketed in Europe by Plantipp Netherlands on behalf of New Zealand’s Lyndale Nurseries Kiwi Gold native New Zealand plant collection. When I first saw this new Libertia variety on a trip to New Zealand in 2003 I knew immediately it was a must have. Goldfinger sets the gold vein for Dawns artistic theme in Urban Oasis and Crawford in his design catches this with some well positioned gold and mineral finishes in the structure of the garden. Libertia Goldfinger is one of my favourite introductions and is ideal for containers in the colder regions and mass planting in coastal and milder parts. Goldfinger will tolerate temperatures of -5 C to -7 C but below these temperatures will need protection with heavy fleece covering. This fantastic plant has white flowers in May and the foliage colour changes from butter yellow to old gold as temperatures decrease through Autumn and Winter. There is no plant like Goldfinger and it lives up to its iconic name all plants of Goldfinger like all the other plants in Urban Oasis are produced here in Ireland, exported throughout Europe and many other countries worldwide. I am proud to be associated with this wonderful plant and deligted it gets pride of place in the garden
Carex trifida Rekohu Sunrise is Another representative from New Zealand’s native flora. This is the first introduction from the trifida species of Carex and in New Zealand is commonly known as Muttonbird Sedge due to the flowers resembling the feet of the native Muttonbird. Rekohu Sunrise was bred by Mr Terry Hatch of Joy Nurseries in New Zealand, During this harsh and prolonged cold spell of January 2010 I found this plant to be even hardier than first thought and is a wonderful addition to the urban landscape palette. Rekohu Sunrise can be cut right back to tidy it up in March / early April and will produce vigorous but compact shoots of wonderful bright foliage take a close look at the flower of this plant as you walk through the Urban Oasis its most unusual in detail.

Ophiopogon nigrascens and its other mondo grass relatives are some of hardiest, functionally attractive and most versatile dwarf ground cover plants available. Slow growing ground hugging and with wonderful detail in flower and berry what more can one ask from a plant but there is more. Ophiopogon nigrascens is drought tolerant, will grow in shade semi shade and full sun and is hardy to at least -15 C what more can I say? This Japanese native provides attractive ground cover in the garden but look closely and you will see the developing lilac coloured flower spikes which on mature plants set attractive black berries. Well I have a hidden treasure surprise for you! I can say more because three years ago I received an improved variety of this wonderful plant and its called Blackbeard. Since then we have been exclusively working to produce this plant in the MyPlant laboratory to distribute to nurseries worldwide and now I can tell you more! Ophiopogon nigrascens Blackbeard will be available to the gardening public for the first time ever in limited numbers as 9cm pots here at Bloom in the Floral Marquee! Blackbeard was bred by my friend and wonderful plants man Steve Yandell from Penzance (where else would a good pirate come from). Steve selected Blackbeard for its faster growth, longer leaves and more clumping habit. This is what plant breeders do and Steve has added immensely to the value of this the blackest foliage plant on earth suitable for garden use. Dawn has made appropriate and use of Ophiopogon nigrascens in her Urban Oasis.
Canna Tropicanna is a wonderful Tropical perennial plant introduced by Mr Keith Kirsten from South Africa named and marketed around the world by Anthony Tesselaar International. Tropicanna has led to two other varieties now introduced and featuring in Urban Oasis Tropicanna Black and Tropicanna Gold making a wonderful collection of this colourful and exotic plant. Like all of the plants in Urban Oasis you can read more about Tropicanna on http://www.myplant.ie/ Canna Generally has a reputation for being difficult to grow by some people. Over the last 5 years I have been involved in a project to make growing these Canna varieties much easier. I am pleased to say that from work done by our nursey and plant laboratory we now have young vigorous plants which are easy to grow. As Canna is a tropical plant one can easily be put off in cold damp Ireland but I assure you with the same care as you would give Dahlia, Tropicanna can be a wonderful addition to the small garden and should not be ignored for those of us with foliage colour lust. Tropicanna also has spectacular flowering.

Royal Hawaiian Colocasia Collection. You haven’t heard of this series before? This is because its another surprise in the Urban Oasis and another first. These Colocasia are again like Tropicanna tropical plants in the Urban Oasis garden and yet another first time display treat for Irish gardeners looking for something special. Royal Hawaiian Colocasia can be seen in more detail on this website http://www.royalhawaiiancolocasias.com/ and I am sure will decorate future gardens conservatories and patios. They go on sale in Europe generally in Spring early Summer 2011. In the mean time we have some baby plants available at the MyPlant® display in the Floral Marquee for you experienced gardeners who want to try them out in your conservatory or greenhouse and plant them out in 2011 to be ahead of the rest of Europe with this wonderful collection. The sensational collection comes from an internationally acclaimed breeder Dr John J Cho who has achieved outstanding success with his new line of ornamental Colocasias.

Cordyline australis Karo Kiri is a most unusual variety of the common Cordyline we see all over Ireland in our coastal towns and cites. Unlike its species form Karo Kiri is an easily maintained dwarf form which can be cut back to make what you see in The Urban Oasis at Bloom in the Park. Just try it yourself is my only way to describe this plant, you will either love it or leave it. For me it is an exciting option in Cordyline and is versatile in containers or small gardens. Now you can have what looks like a mature muti-branched New Zealand Cabbage Tree but perfectly at home on even a small balcony. Guess what, yes this is another first for the MyPlant Collection and comes from New Zealand breeder and selector Ross Baybliss and now finally after many years of production work we can bring this plant to the European garden plant scene.

Carex oshimensis Everest is another from my breeding work on the Oshima sedge. I have been growing Carex for 20 years now and having been bought stock of the well known Carex Evergold as a birthday present (another long story) the year I set up FitzGerald Nurseries. We are now possibly the largest producer of Carex oshimensis in the world and export many hundreds of thousands worldwide. Carex oshimensis just loves our Irish climate and is a versatile plant for the garden or containers. It is sometimes unfortunately misunderstood and misused leading to unsightly clumps in exposed and sodden landscapes but more about that another time. Everest is ideally suited to sheltered urban gardens, will thrive in semi shade situations and in containers giving the most wonderful white margins seen on any plant. Dawn uses Everest as a total blanket ground cover. Check it out for yourself and use in containers or small garden borders. Everest was picked as an entrant in the recent American Idols plant competition in USA and won a Silver medal at Plantarium in Boskoop Netherlands.

Carex oshimensis Everillo was first launched at the wonderful Hillsborough Show in Northern Ireland earlier in May. Everillo is a wonderfully cheerful addition to the garden only just discovered in 2008. We are now building up the numbers as limited availability launch in Ireland then full worldwide release Spring 2012. This is how long it takes even a relatively fast to produce plant such as Everillo. Take a look at Everillo in the head containers in Urban Oasis I think its a fantastic addition for shade and semi shade I hope you agree! Remember this plant is a Japanese native bred for its colour right here in Ireland and like many of the plants in Urban Oasis is not to be seen in any garden except Urban Oasis.

Phormium cookianum Black Adder
is another selection from FitzGerald Nurseries and now sold internationally by us to as far away as Japan, Australia, its native New Zealand USA and most European countries. Black Adder selected by me over 6 years ago has been a wonderful success story and adopted by many nurseries including leading New Zealand Nursery Lyndale Nurseries as the number one black / purple Phormium. To be accepted in its homeland as such is accolade enough for me to be proud to present Black Adder in an Urban Oasis. You can find plenty of information on how Black Adder is spreading across the world if you Google Phormium Black Adder. Its amazing how this plant has spread around the world with almost all the production coming from Ireland as tiny baby plants to be grown in local markets to planting maturity. Black Adder won best container plant award for FitzGerald Nurseries at the worlds largest professional Horticulture Show IPM Essen Germany in 2008.

Yucca gloriosa Bright Star is another winner for FitzGerald Nurseries at IPM Essen 2009 and first prize for best patio container plant was presented to FitzGerald Nurseries by Germany’s Federal Agriculture Minister Ilse Aigner. Bright Star was discovered at Walberton Nursery West Sussex England by Mr Tim Crowther, promoted by Plants For Europe and introduced into production in Europe by FitzGerald Nurseries. Bright Star is an outstanding colour selection of the hardy and drought tolerant Yucca gloriosa. This plant is a wonderful foliage and flower addition to the Urban Oasis garden or any garden looking for that glow of colour during the dull winter months. A wonderful additional feature of Bright Star is its pink colouring which comes during drought or cold weather conditions.

Cordyline fruticosa Caruba Black is a tropical Cordyline from Anthony Tesselaar and produced exclusively in Europe by FitzGerald Nurseries. Unlike its more hardy cousin C. australis Caruba Black needs temperatures over 3 C to maintain its attractive appearance and colour so must only be used as a Summer dot plant to give a tropical exotic look to borders or containers. During the Winter months Caruba Black makes a fantastic addition to conservatory containers and can even be cut back the following spring to encourage multiple stems.

I hope you get time to see all these and more in Urban Oasis at Bloom 2010. Visit Stand N13 in the Floral Marquee to take home some of our plants to begin your own personal Oasis.

Pat FitzGerald
FitzGerald Nurseries.