The autumn is the best time to divide Chionochloa, those lovely grasses from New Zealand. Today we divided a clump of Chionochloa flavescens, (pictured). Placing two forks back to back, we prised the roots apart and then cut the clump in half with a sharp knife and finally, into quarters. I think it is best not to shear back the foliage of these plants following division. I once tried to divide another New Zealand species, Chionochloa conspicua, in the spring, cutting back the long foliage and they “sulked” before finally forgiving me. Chionochloa is an excellent woodland margin grass and is always admired, especially when the delicate, diaphanous heads are animated in the wind.
We acquired two exotic plants today. This time last year I took a cutting from the Mexican Giant Groundsel Tree, Telanthophora grandifolia. As the name suggests, the leathery leaves can reach between 3 and 4 feet long. The mustard yellow flowers are borne late and if I’m honest, are not this plants best feature. It is best as a bold, foliage wall shrub. The other I raised from a seed pod this time last year of Paraserianthes lophantha. I soaked the seed for a few hours in initially tepid water and then planted them. A few weeks later I had five babies to nurse over the long, sunless winter on my windowsill. I turned the pot a quarter turn every day to keep them growing up straight. This short-lived small tree grows fast and dies young in our climate, but usually produces seed after a couple of years. In late autumn, the long, white bottle-brush flowers are exciting. Coming from western Australia, this plant does not need any excitement at the roots. It will grow strong in any sandy soil.
Some of the Cornus kousa, the Chinese Dogwoods, are really colouring up at Glenarm. The Chinese variant, Cornus kousa var. chinensis has larger leaves which colour more purple red than the species, (pictured).