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Even if you consider yourself as having the blackest of black thumbs I’d guess that you still enjoy a visit to your local garden center. Am I right? Of course I am. Just one step inside the boundary and boom, a world of botanical possibilities… inside, outside, hanging, snapping, a variety of plants for every occasion and situation. But, have you ventured to the dark side, to the section where no one goes, where death is looming and flowers are rare. That’s right the 2nd’s section, where plants go to die or if they’re really lucky (really, really, really lucky), given a ‘2nd’ chance.

Hardenbergia I

The leaves of the Hardenbergia violacea are one of my favourites, almost like Eucalyptus leaves.

A few years ago Dave ventured into the 2nd’s section during one of our garden center visits and low and behold he found the saddest pot of sticks you’re ever likely to see. This thing was in bad shape – no pictures sorry, I didn’t think it was worth it! Many of the leaders were severely damaged, the tendrils were long and becoming woody and there was barely a leaf to identify it as the Hardenbergia violacea that the tag suggested it was.

“No!”, was my response to Dave’s question of “should we get it, see if it comes good?”.

Hardenbergia IV

The flower buds starting to emerge.

Hardebergia V

Taken last year whilst flowering

As a garden designer I want the healthiest, happiest, strongest plants to go into my clients new gardens. As soon as the last bit of back fill is complete and watered in I want those little plants to thrive, to get their roots into the soil and go, go, go. The healthier and stronger the plant is before it goes into the ground the better chance you have of it growing into a healthy, lush mature plant with a good growth habit. So I repeat, no! I didn’t want that sad little plant that was quite rightly destined for the compost.

Hardebergia VI

The purple pea shaped flowers are divine. Yes?

Fast forward a few years and you wouldn’t believe it but that sad little pot of sticks has transformed itself into a fully fledged plant. I can’t believe it, I wish I’d taken a few pictures of it’s unexpected transformation as proof. It is looking healthy and strong, it has lush new foliage and I am happy to report that it is developing many a flower bud for its imminent bud burst. So exciting!

Hardenbergia III

And there it is hiding behind the Correa alba. The next step is to attach stainless steel wire to the fence so that the Hardenbergia can use its tendrils to climb up and decorate the fence.

Hardenbergia violacea is without a doubt one of my favourite Australian native plants. It’s so versatile, you can plant it so that it performs as a climber or as a ground cover or even as a little round bunch of leaves and flowers, although this requires more maintenance. The gorgeous purple, white or pale pink pea shaped flowers emerge in winter and usually stay through most of spring. There is also Happy Duo which flowers with both purple and white flowers on the one plant.

Dear little neglected pot of sticks, I appologise for doubting the possibility that you could resurrect yourself and become a ‘real’ plant!

So, next time you’re visiting your local garden center be sure to ask if they have a ‘neglected plant section’, you might find something that needs your love and attention. However, if there is no label or any other discernible feature to identify the ‘plant’ I’d probably give it a miss.

Until next time