Monday, August 27, 2012

Tall Red

August is the month that heralds the beginning of spring colour among the Leucadendrons here at Swallows Nest Farm.  This lovely leuco is called Tall Red - an uninspired name for such a wonderful plant, I always think.  It is a selected type of Leucadendron Eucalyptifolium, which is characterised by its profuse, pointy leaves and vigorous growth habit.  It is wonderful as a foliage plant throughout the year, with a lovely red colour and long stems making it very useful.  Sometime in August, depending upon the weather conditions, it starts to sparkle and make itself much more noticeable.  The foliage changes from a rusty red to a pinky, bright red with yellow parts in the areas that get less sun.  Gorgeous lime green cones emerge.  Branches are covered in these flowers making them a beautiful textural cut flower.

In the picture above, you can see the colour variation caused by the level of sun the leaves are getting. The bracts around these cones are creamy with a pink tinge.  The more sun they receive the deeper the red colouring.  Sometimes, the colour will change along a single stem.  There are so many flower cones on each stem that the variation adds to the charm of this plant.

The cones act as pollen presenters and over a period of weeks become yellow as they "present" their pollen.  They look lovely at this stage, like little yellow pom-poms.

This picture shows the lime green of the cones as the stems of Tall Red wait to be put in bunches in the packing shed.  

Tall Red looks fabulous in mixed bunches at this time of the year - imagine how it would be missed in this bunch.  Even though it has lovely long stems, it can also be cut down and the flowers used in box arrangements or posies.  Its multi-flowered stems add texture and colour with a long vase life.  A truly Lovely Leuco!

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