If you are going to introduce a new ornamental plant to market and ask growers to grow it, brokers to sell it and architects/designers to spec it, then you better know what you’re talking about! Learned this one the hard way early on…So, whenever possible we like to try our new plants out across a wide array of hort professionals: university trial gardens, Master Gardener programs, architects, designers, and of course growers.
Some years back, I had the pleasure of meeting Jo O’Connell at Australian Native Plants Nursery outside of Ventura CA. Jo is an Aussie native herself and turns out she was more than willing to help test our new plants. Jo has been a wealth of information when it comes to all things green from Down Under so it has been great having her as a sounding board for new ideas and a proving ground for possible new Intros.
I first met Jo because she was interested in growing some of our new Lomandra and Dianella that are part of the Celebrated Plants collection. We quickly realized that we had a lot to talk about and things took off from there. These days, Jo regularly visits our HQ office and trial gardens near Sydney AU when she’s home visiting family. In fact, we joke that Jo has become our “mule” because we usually load her down with a bunch of new plants for her to bring back to trial at her nursery…all imported the legal way with phytosanitary certs, proper treatment, import permits, etc…we play by the rules 🙂
Back to the point: During the Pack Trials of 2010, the breeder of the Celebrated Plants collection (who is also the owner of Ozbreed), some of the crew from Bill Moore & Co, and I visited Jo just to see what she was up to (I guess we had our own mini-Pack Trials!). Among the dozens…hundreds of plants we saw that day, Jo showed us a trial where she planted LINERS of several Ozbreed Dianella selections directly into the landscape. Now, normally we would recommend doing this and neither would Jo, but she was curious to see what would happen… Oh yeah, did I mention that it was November when she did this!
To her surprise, and ours, two of the Dianella performed very well and actually established and grew pretty vigorously through winter: Cassa Blue and King Alfred. I would have expected all of these to croak through the [reported] dry winter of 2009 but these two not only survived but were thriving! I stopped back by Jo’s place in June of 2010, on my way to Australia and snapped these pictures; the plants were then 8 months in the landscape:
Dianella King Alfred in the AU Native Plants trial gardens in Cassitas Springs CA; approx 8 months in the landscape from a c/p 72 liner!! Kids: don’t try this at home
Dianella Cassa Blue in the AU Native Plants Nursery trial gardens in Cassitas Springs CA, June 2010.
In rear, King Alfred (left) and Cassa Blue (right); clearly, King Alfred is the fastest to establish. Enlarge this picture and you will be able to see the remnants of other Dianella (also ours!) in the trial that didn’t not take so well… again, this is planting from liners which we would never recommend for landscape applications.
Since these pictures were taken, the plants have continued to grow and flourish and just today Jo sent some new pictures and I thought they were worth sharing. Same plants, now just shy of 2 years in the landscape:
Dianella Cassa Blue…great color! Picture courtesy of Jo O’Connell at Australia Native Plants Nursery…thanks Jo!
If you are looking for a drought tolerant groundcover with a “grass look”, that is easy to establish and requires little attention, then you may want to check out Dianella Cassa Blue and Dianella King Alfred. By the way, this trial is in California, but both King Alfred and Cassa Blue will work in the southeast US too!!