Saturday, 11 September 2010

Boronia

One sure sign of spring in Australia is boronia.  I used to find it in Santa Cruz, CA, in September, and I knew that it must have been flown from the southern hemisphere...  but here it is a sure sign of spring in September.
I have tried to grow it in the past, with little success.  This time I have a plant that I have taken extra special care of... pretty ordianry looking,  even in flower....
...... it doesn't look very spectacular, but the flowers are very unusual....
(I remember using a cross-stitch to duplicate the flower as an embroidery piece when I was a child.)  In fact, though,  it is the perfume that is so impressive, though I have also read today that some people can't smell it at all.
I have planted this outside the back door and every time I walk out,  I am reminded of it by the perfume.
Having had little success with boronia plants in the past,  I bought some new soil and some compost... I dug a big hole in my alkaline clay soil and replaced it with the kind of soil that one uses for azaleas or rhododendrons...  more acid and more friable than the soil here....  brown boronia is a native of southern Western Australia.
This boronia is called Boronia megastigma.  Presumably the "megastigma" refers to the large stigma inside the flower that I represented with a big cross stitch years ago.  "Boronia"  is named for  Francesco Borone, an 18th century Italian botanist.

A few facts that I found today....
 "Boronia is used almost exclusively in the perfume industry and for it's aromatic signature. Amongst absolutes used in perfumery, Boronia is considered one of the most exotic."


" Boronia has a very complex floral base undertone with sweet melon and fruit notes."


" Boronia blends well with Sandalwood, Clary Sage, Blackcurrent,Bergamot, Violet, Helichrysum, Costus, and any oil from the floral family."
 Interestingly, one of my other favourite perfumes in teh garden is that of Clary sage leaves.


"Now in terms of fragrance, most orchids can not compete with landscape trees or shrubs like Daphne odora or Boronia megastigma."


My boronia is doing well. I found some information here.  Apparently it is always hard to grow... not just for me....  but now I will look at the possibility of propagating it to make it last. I found some instructions for commercial growers here,  so I think I'll have a serious attempt after Christmas.   In the "farmnote" about boronias,  it even mentions the fact that Boronia megastigma is grown for essential oil production.  They also suggest that boronias are all hard to propagate and to maintain.
From the Australian Native Plant Society website....
"Many plants in the Boronia family are readily propagated by cuttings using hardened, current-season's growth. Cuttings about 75-100 mm in length, taken in January in southern Australia would normally be suitable with the leaves carefully removed from the lower two-thirds. "Wounding" the lower stem by removing a sliver of bark and treating with a "root promoting" hormone both seem to improve the success rate."
Who knows,  it might even work this time!

I have been weeding outside as well.  There is a lot to do with the weeds growing so well after all of the recent rain.  I have uncovered the artichoke plants... these will be able to produce some hearts while the broad beans are abundant... or at least that's my plan....
The big plants are the ones that should produce the most this year... the smaller plants in the front are the ones that have been started from the division of the biggest one at the beginning of winter.  (I usually divide the biggest one to produce the new plants, each year.)

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