The only downside of being a virtual visitor at the 2020 Australian Horticultural Trials Week in December was that you could not smell all the aromatic foliage plants on display!
One of the ‘upsides’ of COVID-19 has meant that businesses have increasingly adopted new technology to conduct trade. This was evident during the 2020 Australian Horticultural Trials Week in Melbourne in December, with growers opening their premises to visitors via web conferencing. Now some of you may be over Zoom meetings and the like by now. However, for a small business operator like myself working and living in regional Australia (northern Tasmania), web conferencing has created opportunities to connect with industry members that I would not normally have.
During the trials, production nurseries exhibited a range of colourful and interesting foliage plants, no doubt hoping to ride the wave of interest in indoor plants that has only increased during the pandemic. However, the plants that really caught my eye were several varieties on display in hanging baskets at Haars Nurseries. If you are looking for a trailing plant with flair to use indoors, look no further than these new additions to the FanciFillers™ range from Westhoff: Lysimachia x ‘Karat’ and ‘Outback Sunset’, and an edible Indian Mint (Satureja hybrid). All three varieties would make the perfect ‘spiller’ in a mixed combination, especially in a larger pot over which their foliage could drape.
Both the Lysimachia x ‘Karat’ and ‘Sunset Outback’ possess strong trailing opposite foliage. ‘Karat’ is delicate with cascading greenish-gold leaves that turn bright yellow in full sun, whereas ‘Outback Sunset’ is a much thicker, stronger form. According to its breeders, ‘Karat’ is a very durable and cold tolerant perennial and may also be used as a groundcover or in patio pots.
Satureja x ‘Indian Mint’ is a vigorous, evergreen perennial possessing delicate white flowers on long stems. It can grow up to a metre and a half in a single season. This member of the Lamiaceae (Mint family) is edible and supposedly highly aromatic, although being a ‘virtual visitor’ on this tour, I was unable to verify that for myself. Not being able to smell this plant made me try to recall the last time my olfactory sense was engaged by a plant indoors. Besides sneezing at bouquets of cut flowers, I must admit that I cannot remember a time when I have walked through an interior plantscape and thought “Wow, isn’t this scent heavenly.”
How different would an interior plantscape be if it were planted with aromatic foliage? We know a great deal about how indoor greenery can help restore people’s attention spans and improve productivity and general mental well-being. Many of these benefits are perhaps associated with visual cues received by our brains. What about the power of our noses?
That is a question I will put to Michael Casey, one of the new members elected to the IPA Management Committee in January. Michael is President of the Australian Institute of Horticulture and was formerly on the National Council of Therapeutic Horticulture Australia. I reckon he may know a thing or two in this space. Stay tuned for more on this topic!
You can read the full article, ‘Going indoors at the 2020 Australian Horticultural Trials Week’, in the February 2021 issue of Hort Journal Australia (pages 32-33).
Gabrielle Stannus / Inwardout Studio
IPA Committee Member