Once you've lived here a while and planted all the jacarandas and mimosas you want to, it can be a little difficult to find trees that are a little out-of-the-ordinary. Following on from last month's article, we've got two more beauties for you in stock at the Garden Centre, and these are both spectacular flowering trees.
The first is tabebuiaimpetiginosamore commonly known as the Pink Lapacho or Pau D'Arco tree. Believed to be indigenous to Trinidad and Tobago, it is widespread through South America and into Mexico. When you learn that it belongs to the bignonia family (like so many of our greatest climbers) you'll know that you're in for a flowering treat!
It forms a large deciduous tree, up to around 30m high and with a very large and imposing canopy – a real jaw-dropper when its massive branches are festooned with pink frilled flowers. To add to the show, as the flowers develop, the tree drops its leaves so you are left with a pink froth like giant candy floss. The flowers, when they first open, have a pronounced golden throat which fades to pink as they mature. Once the magnificent flowering is over, spreading a rosy carpet under its fett, the tree will re-leaf.
The tree becomes very drought tolerant, loving a hot sunny position and tolerant of many soils. It is listed as being hardy down to -7C. The grey bark is tough and the wood is a pleasant yellow colour, extremely hard and often used as structural timbers because of its strength. The inner bark is very well-known for its anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties. It is scraped and made into a tea known for its cool and bitter flavour. It is commonly used to treat malaria, fevers, arthritis, skin problems and syphilis. It is one of the many plants with fame as an anti-cancer drug.
Crossing continents to Africa, we can find schotiabrachypetala, the weeping boer bean, tree fuchsia or African walnut. It is endemic to dry areas of the bushveldtthrough the Eastern Cape and up into Mozambique and Zimbabwe.
The tree is beautiful, medium sized to around 15m high with a handsome and symmetrical canopy. The young foliage is coppery, bright green when juvenile and maturing to a rich dark glossy green. In frost-free areas it will remain evergreen, losing its leaves briefly in colder areas. The springtime flowers are spectacular, produced in masses of rich red on the old wood. They produce copious amounts of nectar which weeps from the tree – hence its common name, the weeping boer bean. Don't plant this one over paved areas or as shade for a car port! Individual trees can flower at distinctly different times to ensure a longer feeding season for nectar-loving birds and bees. In its native habitat it is abuzz with wildlife during the flowering and later seeding period and, hence, it's other popular name of the Drunken Parrot Tree! The boerbean (or farmers bean) is a name given to the entire schotiafamily because of their edible seeds, very like the domestic broad bean. Although low in fat and protein, they have avery high carbohydrate content and were commonly used as a coffee substitute.
It will appreciate a warm sunny position and can be quick-growing if watered liberally during the summer months; it is hardy down to -5C. It is an excellent shade tree and beautiful specimen planting. Like the Pink Lapacho tree, a tea is concocted from the bark but this one is said to be excellent for hangovers! It is also good for heartburn, purifying the blood, heart conditions and facial saunas! The bark also produces a red-brown dye. The heartwood of the tree is a dark walnut colour, almost black, heavy and termite resistant. It is popular for furniture making, flooring and, more traditionally, for beams for wagons.
Try either - or both - of these flaming beauties and light up your garden. Don't forget our SUPER SUMMER SALE – 16TH July to 27th July. Almost all plants at half price!
Lorraine Cavanagh owns the specialist garden centre Viveros Florena, Competa, Malaga (garden centre, designers & landscapers) and is author of the best-selling Mediterranean Garden Plants. .My new book, Citrus, The Zest of Life is now on sale at the garden centre or on-line through their web page.- Keep checking the web page for latest news, stock etc. at the garden centre. Join our mailing list.
June, July, September, 9 – 2, closed for August.
October to May 10 – 4
Always closed Sundays and Mondays.
See us on Facebook – Lorraine Cavanagh's Garden Centre