Quite often when people are choosing plants as part of a garden design they tend to be easily locked into a certain theme or grouping of plants.
Whether it be exclusively natives, cottage plants, formal plants choices, tropical, edible or a dry cacti and succulent garden design. The last group is often where Aloes seem to be lumped. This is unfortunate as they can easily transition and blend quite successfully when being placed in either native, cottage, tropical and even sustainable themed gardens.
I had the pleasure of visiting the Taringa House of Aloes back in July and again in August, on my second visit I had the opportunity to sit down and a have a good chat with the man behind the Aloes, Michael Dent. Michael has a nursery called Aloe aloe and over the past 5 years has been a part of bringing some of the most fabulous selections of aloes that come from a 35-year breeding program to Australian gardens.
In his garden they have been mixed very successfully wit other plants such as daisies, coleus, a variety of grasses and lilies. They can also look fabulous mixed with Gazanias, Zepthranthes spp ’Autumn Crocus’, Tulbaghia violacea ’Society garlic’, Salvia spp, Dianella spp and much more, the possible successful combinations is truly endless.
The constant misleading reputation of being sharp spiny succulents is slowly being broken down. Aloes have no sharp spikes and are actually quite soft to touch. Don’t be put off by their sparse gangly appearance in their pots within nurseries, once established these aloes are bushy substantial plants that give any ﬂowering perennial a run for its money in the ﬂowering department.
To grow aloes successfully choose a sunny well-drained position. They will tolerate periods of rain as well as drought and actually perform better if given reasonable water. Fertilise in spring. Their main ﬂowering starts from late summer through to early spring but with careful selection you can have an aloe cultivar in ﬂower just about every month of the year, these ﬂowers are also bee attracting as well as a great food source for nectar loving small birds.
The named cultivars are arranged into groups – ground covers, shrubs and tree types. So there is an Aloe for every position within your garden and or pots.
This year’s most popular release was ’Sparkler’ an aloe with narrow tall limey green/yellow ﬂower spikes. Watch out next year for new releases such as; ’Spots and Dots’, ’Bumblebee’ and ’Tangerine Tree’ and ’Turkish Delight’. Even if purchased as a small plant they will be a jaw dropping showstopper in your garden in no time at all.
My favourites: ’Moonglow’, ’Big Red’, ’Andrea’s Orange’ ,’Fairy Pink’ and ’Tusker’. Look out them at any good retail garden centre or nursery and take the time to check out their website http://www.aloe-aloe.com.au and see for yourself why their slogan is ’colourful — sculptural — sustainable’.