Monday, December 7, 2009

Nemesia sp Verlatenkloof

This wonderful annual, or rather semihardy perennial, is from a collection made near Verlatenkloof in South Africa by Panayoti Kelaidis. This area is near one of the coldest areas of the old Cape Province. The original plants I grew were pale flowered, whitish sometimes tending towards light pink, but when I planted some blue flowered similar nemesias I brought one summer at a nursery on the wine route near Seneca Lake in upstate NY, they hybridized with the orginal collection's descendents. Like the original, the hybrids reliably resow every year, providing color from summer till very hard frost. They tend to look their best in fall as neighboring plants fade out, and the flowers are quite frost resistant, a feature not uncommon in high altitude South African plants. This year they are doing fine as I write this, in early December! They do best along a street curb, where competition from taller plants is reduced, and produce copious seed to ensure a new generation the following year. In an exceptionally mild winter some plants can resprout from their base, but here they do best as a resowing annual. Unlike N. strumosa, this nemesia is heat resistant and long blooming, though the flowers are considerably smaller. The pinks and lavenders tend to deepen as temperatures drop, creating a very nice palette of colors in my garden.

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