Phil DudmanSay Aloe to colourful winter flowers

Garden colour is welcome any time of year, but especially in winter. If you’ve been searching for something to brighten up a cold and dull winter landscape then look no further than aloes, an incredibly colourful and varied group of plants that will open your world to options you never thought possible. They’re almost bullet proof too… even black thumbs can grow them!

A mass planting of aloes (like these hybrids from aloe-aloe Horticulture), is an arresting sight, especially welcome during the colder autumn-winter season

A mass planting of aloes (like these hybrids from aloe-aloe Horticulture), is an arresting sight, especially welcome during the colder autumn-winter season

Aloe flowers last for weeks & come in pretty pastels too

Aloe flowers last for weeks & come in pretty pastels too

The only experience of this group for many of people is the common Aloe vera… which doesn’t have a particularly interesting flower at all. Don’t let this confuse you, because the modern aloe hybrids I’m referring to feature show-stopping blooms that vary immensely in colour, shape and size. Many come in warm shades of red, orange and yellow, perfect for creating welcoming winter views as well big loud ‘here we are’ announcements in the garden, then at the other end of the spectrum you’ll find whites, pale pinks and yellows that sit beautifully in borders amongst other soft coloured flowering perennials.

Aloes are tough enough to use in public landscaping, like the Roma St Parklands in Brisbane

Aloes are tough enough to use in public landscaping, like the Roma St Parklands in Brisbane

 

The foliage and architectural plant forms are just as interesting and wide-ranging, from dainty rosettes of slim, spiny leaves to single trunk and multi-stemmed shrubs, some featuring chunky rosettes of thick succulent leaves that make the boldest statements even when there are no blooms.

Aloes grow well in a wide range of climates, from subtropical to dry Mediterranean climates with little maintenance or fuss like these Aloe 'Topaz' in the centre of Adelaide, South Australia

Aloes grow well in a wide range of climates, from subtropical to dry Mediterranean climates with little maintenance or fuss like these Aloe ‘Topaz’ in the centre of Adelaide, South Australia

 

 

 

I first discovered their appeal a few years ago while attending the Qld Garden Expo. Since then I have acquired quite a valued collection which I’ve planted amongst my natives in my front garden. These plants hail from areas of Africa where they need to be tolerant of similar weather extremes, so they work beautifully with Australian natives both culturally and visually. I always knew aloes where incredibly drought tolerant, but what I’ve been most delighted to discover through experience is how they cope with months of relentless rain, like we experience here in the northern rivers region of NSW.

Aloe 'Outback Orange' in the Roma St Parklands, Brisbane

Aloe ‘Outback Orange’ in the Roma St Parklands, Brisbane

Some, I dare to say are in quite heavy soil beside a deep stormwater channel which carries a constant torrent of water when the rain sets in… and they’ve never looked back… in fact they’re blooming right now. These are tough plants folks… and they get absolutely no attention.

Aloe 'Bush Bay Yellow' is a low growing aloe with pretty lemon-yellow flowers & narrow, fresh green leaves

Aloe ‘Bush Bay Yellow’ is a low growing aloe with pretty lemon-yellow flowers & narrow, fresh green leaves

This explains why they are turning up in gardens and public landscapes all over the country. I’ve seen them used en masse in medium strips surrounded by cars and concrete, in front of high rise office buildings in cities, covering dry exposed banks with dreadfully rocky impoverished soil, beautifully maintained city parks as well as some of very gorgeous open gardens created by leading garden designers.

Rich nectar makes aloes very attractive to birds

Rich nectar makes aloes very attractive to birds

You can find a spot where aloes will work just about anywhere there is a splash of sunshine in the garden. Even if you don’t have a garden and you just want something to grow in a pot, big or small, out on a sunny balcony, then seriously… give these plants a try. You’ll rarely need to water them, and you can guarantee they’ll still be alive when you come back from that extended holiday… they might even be in bloom!

If you want to give them try to find out what I’m raving on about, then head to your local nursery now while many are coming into bloom or contact aloe-aloe to find your nearest stockist.

Magnificent vibrant red Aloe 'Super Red'

Magnificent vibrant red Aloe ‘Super Red’

 

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2 thoughts on “Say Aloe to colourful winter flowers

  1. They are fabulous bought 3 some years ago at a garden expo. where can i get more, can find the whole salers online but not the retailers. only ones have found turn out to be aloe vera

    • Hi Pamela, Yes my aloe collection is looking stunning right now too, and they have been flowering for about 3 months, a big plus in the colder months! Let me know where you’re located

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