Chilean Plants in my Garden
During a wander around my garden recently (*) I was struck by the influence Chilean plants in my garden have on our late spring gardens!
My first stop was by an as yet half grown evergreen that was laden with what looks like ripe red plums!
More often described as red lanterns than plums, the Crinodendron looked spectacular in the evening sun!
This rather upright growing evergreen tree is multi-stemmed. I planted it right on the edge of our garden. Here, when it’s fully grown at about 4-5 m, it will shelter the rest of the garden from the prevailing westerly winds.
These dark red plum shaped blooms look quite exotic but is in fact reasonably hardy.
Bear in mind that this is a lime hating tree and needs an acid soil.
I’ve found that it will withstand all but the most severe winters.
Not far away but in a much more shaded situation I have the Chilean Fire Tree (Embothrium coccineum) shrieking out for attention!
This semi evergreen tree is from right down south in Chile. I hear that it even grows in Tierra del Fuego. For this reason it can take some cold and inhospitable weather!
At the moment it has few leaves but plenty of bright orange-red blooms. It’s these blooms that give this tree its common name. It sure looks as if it is on fire at this time of the year!
This is a plant that is hard to propagate and as a consequence hard to find.
Just like the Crinodendron, it needs soil without free lime in it. Therefore I recommend planting only in soil with a pH of 6.5 or below.
I have to admit that here I’ve cheated a bit to get that acid soil. Every split bale of moss peat – when we used to sell it at Cleeve Nursery – and broken bag of Ericaceous compost has been tipped into this border. This has lowered the soil pH and made the soil acid.
Now it strikes me that a remarkable number of these and other Chilean plants bloom at the same time. Not quite all bloom in late spring as you’l see.
A large upright growing Eucryphia ‘Nymansay’ also enjoys this peaty border. This Chilean plant waits until August to bloom.
Once more this is an upright growing evergreen tree. I find it useful for screening. But when in bloom it is covered with honey bees and clearly a favourite of theirs too!
Enjoying the warmth of a west facing wall and in full sun I have a scrambling potato.
This doesn’t produce any tasty tubers that I can bake, mash or roast!
But the connection with potato is unmistakable when you look closely at the yellow centre slate-blue blooms.
These are produced prolifically in spring. I have planted the improved selection called Solanum crispum ‘Glasnevin’
Not far from this unusual climber I have an Azara bush.
This is planted on the north facing side of another high wall.
This is Azara has the most delightful scent. Some people say it reminds them of vanilla, others cloves and still more chocolate!
Whatever it is those fluffy mustard yellow blooms sure put on a show now!
Sourcing Chilean Plants
Of course all these Chilean plants are easy enough to grow provided that you choose the right micro-climate in your garden.
But finding a plant to grow in the first place may present a greater challenge.
Don’t expect these to be in your local garden centre or DIY store.
These are plants that you may just chance upon when visiting any of those gardens that have them growing in their gardens. The RHS Plant Finder can be a very useful way of tracking down growers of Chilean Plants.
Are you growing any plants from South America in your garden?
Are any of these from Chile?
Happy plant hunting!
If you’ve enjoyed this you may enjoy reading about houseplants that have their origins in Brazilian forests here.
Or you might enjoy reading my blog on Great Brazilian Plants here.
(*) this blog was written about my old garden near Bristol and not about the new one I am creating now in South Somerset