Tuesday, December 26, 2006

The many types of Agapanthus

I don’t know what it is like where you are, but driving around the outer Melbourne suburbs in the Summer time, one can’t avoid seeing lots and lots of Agapanthus plants in Flower and making quite a show of it too. This got me to ruminating about the many varieties of the Agapanthus plant and to its out -standing qualities that make it what it is today.

I believe that there is around 31 different types and colours of Agapanthus and I knew a (supposedly) retired Nurseryman who grew and marketed around 8 types, just to keep his hand in!

You can get various shades of blue white and red. You can get dwarf Types and even variegated types.

The main characteristic of the Agapanthus is its hardiness and versatility. You can grow them under almost all conditions from moist to extremely dry areas. They will grow in full sun or heavy shade. They are tolerant of salt and sea spray making them ideal for Beach homes etc. They can grow in all types of soil from sand to heavy clay. In fact if you dig up a reasonably large clump of them with roots attached you can even leave that clump on concrete and with just a minimum of moisture they will not only survive but thrive.

It is its hardiness and durability that leads to its popularity in many of the varieties. However there is one variety that, although once very popular and still very common, is no longer desired and has been put on the List of invasive plants and thus it is now technically illegal to sell or plant new plantings of this variety.

The banned variety is the common, original Blue flowering plant that you see in most places still today. The problem with this particular variety is that it is a vigorous grower and spreads from both multiplication of bulbs and also from seeds, and it is a ferocious seeder! Thus it tends to not only dominate an area but also to choke out other plants giving them no room or nutrients to survive let alone grow and prosper.

In its original setting it was a valuable member of the garden, often flourishing in conditions and settings where other plants had failed to survive let alone brighten up the surrounds like the Agapanthus’ dominating flower head does. However it’s aggressive spreading nature results in it spreading to areas occupied by other plants and choking out their growth and dominating the Garden with this single variety, if left unchecked.

So on the one hand, while we admire the plant for its versatility, strength and determination to continue on under hard conditions, we find ourselves on the other hand decrying its over-whelming domination and destruction of the rest of the garden plants. As admirable as it is, we find that instead of helping and highlighting the rest of the garden plants with its strengths, the Agapanthus is guilty of over-crowding and choking out the other varieties of plants and resulting in a sameness in the whole area. Instead of a complementary assortment of colour, size, shades and shape in the garden, we have a dominance of a single characteristic.

But enough about the plant and on to you. If you were an Agapanthus, what type of Agapanthus would the others in your organization, group or church, classify you as?

And what about you? How do you see yourself? Some people see themselves as a dwarf variety and feel that they are often dwarfed by the others around them. They often forget that the dwarf varieties have their own worth as they are able to fill the gaps that the other varieties can’t?

When you consider what type of Agapanthus you might be, ask yourself the following questions. Does my size and/colour dominate the group, or do I highlight and accentuate the others? Does my size/colour attract others to those around me or just to me?

So often, whether in our garden’s or in our groups, we are attracted to the wrong variety and ignore the better ones. Sometimes we let that one variety dictate our thoughts to the whole group, often negatively, rather than judge that one plant on its own. Again, what type of Agapanthus are you in your group?

Over to you.

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