14 September, 2016

Septemberbossie - Polygala myrtifolia

- gardening for biodiversity
in Cape Town, South Africa

If it's a Septemberbossie, shouldn't it bloom, in September? - Jean asked from Maine. Skimming thru my blog and photos the only month this plant didn't feature is November. But today it is - when I grow up I'll be a dense green shrub covered with flowers. We aspire to Patient Gardener's trim topiary!

July 2013 - Septemberbossie - our future home

When we were driving thru from Porterville looking for our new home on False Bay, this house was 'people are weird' access via the garden gate and the patio with NO front door! But a gracious welcome from the Septemberbossie either side of the gate.

March 2013
Just looking, at the NO front door!

Plain square fibre cement pots. When we moved them for the builders to start, I realised that roots went, thru the drainage hole and deep into the earth. Sorry, but I cut the roots. I had first hoped to plant the shrubs in the garden, and give them a fair chance at a good life. We would have to have smashed the pots. Give in graciously - I kept them in pots, then we grunted them around the garden trying to find the right space.

From the East Patio down Cornish Stripe

In August 2015 they became 'the gate' between the East Patio outside the kitchen and the blue / purple and white of Cornish Stripe and the washing pergola. This is the first September that they are earning their name! (Last September).

from the washing pergola back to the East Patio

I often see carpenter bees on the flowers, so I presume it is buzz-pollinated. That tassel is on the keel - new-born lamb white when the bud first opens, fading to a dusky pink. When bizarre flowers were being allocated it was definitely in the same queue as granadilla. Flowers are almost, but not quite, in the legume family. Muraltia and Nylandtia are other Polygalaceae I know from South Africa.

Septemberbossie flower

Polygala myrtifolia flower detail

I feed lightly on the monthly schedule for the roses and fruit trees. Water weekly on the summer container route. Our weather has tipped from winter to summer, back to T shirts. But early Friday morning we are promised snow on the mountains and heavy rain - winter is still with us. Then I need to get myself back to my watering routine - Tuesday, Thursday or Saturday, before 10 or after 4 - with tighter restrictions looming as our dams are around 60% full.

Septemberbossie flowers

Polygala is Greek from polys meaning much and gala meaning milk, the name given to this genus for some of its members which have the reputation for promoting the secretion of milk. The species name myrtifolia means myrtle-like leaves - from PlantZAfrica for Polygala myrtifolia.

Polygala myrtifolia

With lots of flowers, my shrubs are now big enough to harvest for the vase from the two sides we walk past, and the other two sides which are cram-scaped against Rotheca myricoides (Clerodendrum ugandense) and Plumbago cuttings.

The plant has gifted me with a sturdy volunteer, which I have planted between the lemon tree and our neighbour's glooming hedge.

Polygala mytrifolia flowers

Dozen for Diana. Which plant says September! in your garden? Discovered Treasures number 5. The first four closed with our lemon tree. October is a fresh Discovered Treasure Alstroemeria Inca lilies.

Pam's English Cottage Garden in Pennsylvania's Pocono Mountains has already chosen an exotic canna with striped leaves.

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Pictures by Jurg and Diana Studer
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  1. It is a very interesting flower and anything that flowers for so long has to be a real gift; so for you the only month it doesn't flower is mid summer?

    1. yes, quieter in summer heat, but even then a few flowers.
      Now I could pick bouquet branches!

  2. I grow a dwarf form of Polygala, P. fruticosa, but it doesn't bloom nearly as long as yours, at least in my back border. I had some in the front at one time but they burned themselves out and I pulled them up last year; however, I recently noticed seedlings coming up nearby. I wish I could grow Clerodendrum ugandense - I was successful in doing so when we lived in Santa Monica, California but our current location isn't nearly as hospitable - I've killed it twice here.

    1. I tried a Polygala virgata. A lower species. Which has given up since I planted it a year ago!

      My Clerodendrum is such a different 'animal' from the battling to make leaves ratty plant I potted up from our Porterville garden.

  3. Septemberbossie -- love that name. You placed your square pots in the perfect place. P. x

  4. what a stunning plant, the flowers are so beautiful and to flower for such a long time is amazing!

  5. You also write about buzz pollination of carpenter bees. Unfortunately they have just begun showing in my garden (climate cange?), so I didn't have a chance to see if our carpenter bees also do buzz pollination, but why not?
    Have a nice day!

  6. The Septemberbossie seems to like its new location. The flowers are fascinating!

  7. I'm happy to see your Septemberbossie blooming in September. It reassures me that there is order in the universe ;-). -Jean