Saturday 22 February 2020

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Monkeys’ bum a great garden asset

Wednesday, 23rd October, 2019 4:16pm

By Margaret Griffin

One of the most dramatically beautiful garden plants at this time of year is the Fascicularia from Chile. Often called the monkeys’ bum plant, it has red flowers at the centre of the rosette of leaves, which have given the plant this rather unflattering common name, but it is a descriptive one!

It is a member of the pineapple family and has spiky-leaved rosette structure. The leaves are tough, often waxy on the surface and armed with sharp, slightly hooked spines.

The flowers are bright blue, held in a tight cluster at the centre of the rosette. As the flower buds form, the bases of the leaves adjacent to the leaves colour to a bright crimson or bright red. The colour extends about 10cm or more along the leaves as an attraction to pollinators. It is not totally hardy, but it is tougher than it is given credit for and survives in many gardens, especially near the coast.

Sometimes it can get a touch of frost on the upper leaves and the lower ones remain undamaged. It can be grown in a large pot and brought into a greenhouse or conservatory in winter in colder areas. It can be used as a greenhouse plant all year round as it has an exotic touch.

This plant hates wet and damp which can so easily cause its crown and leaves to rot off in winter. Poor soil is fine providing the plant is grown in full sun. Without sun, you will not see the central leaves turn crimson and the flowers appear.

It grows well in a sheltered rockery or on a sunny bank where its roots remain dry and never get waterlogged. A raised bed is ideal as well although frost protection with fleece may be required or as said already, choose a pot that you can move. It’s definitely one that we should try in our gardens.


Hellebores (sometimes known as the Christmas or Lenten Rose) are perennial garden plants with elegant flowers, perfect for brightening up shady areas during late winter and early spring. Some species are grown for their striking evergreen architectural foliage. The Helleborus Chrstmas Carol is a new variety with an abundance of flowers and a longer flowering season. Truly beautiful bowl-shaped, snowy-white flowers, which turn shades of pink as they age, across the festive period and beyond, year after year. A must have for all year round container or border.


This creeping miniature shrub grows to six inches with scalloped or bristly toothed, glossy, dark green leaves. Its foliage has a strong wintergreen scent when crushed.

Urn-shaped white or pale pink flowers appear in summer and mature to aromatic scarlet fruit that often persists into the following spring. It is a very easy shrub to grow if you want something small and dainty looking all year round. Its really nice glossy foliage gives this little shrub a very cheerful appearance.

Nandina Blush Pink

This is an outstanding new and improved variety of the nandina family. It features new leaves that emerge pink in the spring and mature to lime green in the summer, culminating in a spectacular display of pink and red foliage in the autumn and winter. Its very compact size makes it an excellent choice for a mass planting or a border or even a small accent plant. As the temperatures plunge in winter, the foliage turns deep crimson-red. When the new lighter coloured pink growth comes in spring, it gives the plants a blushing appearance.


For lots of autumnal and winter colour, drop into Griffins this Bank Holiday weekend. We are open on Saturday from 9am-6pm, Sunday from 10am-6pm and Monday from 9am-6pm.

Shh, don’t tell anyone, but Griffins have opened the first section of their Christmas shop. For inspirational displays and unique piece for your home this festive season, visit our Christmas store at Griffins Dripsey or phone 021-7334286.

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