The name Rhapis excels is derived from the Greek ‘rhapis, meaning needle, and the Latin ‘excels’, meaning tall – but this palm does not grow tall. Known as Lady Palm, it is unknown in the wild and was first collected from China by the Japanese in the 17th century for the exclusive possession of the Imperial palaces. It is a slow growing dioecious palm which is not fussy about the soil, drought resistant, and prefers to grow in dappled shade. It grows well in pots but can also be grown as a hedge or used to cover ugly walls.
Rivinia humilis is a real beauty but a pest too. We brought one plant to the garden – now it is growing everywhere you turn. It is an attractive, delicate looking plant with small white flowers and masses of red berries, making a great low maintenance ground cover. It grows in full shade or filtered sunlight. it does not need watering and is tolerant to salt spray and saline soil. I wouldn’t be without it.
This is the only rose I have been able to grow at the coast. It does well in full sun though it pefers to grow in dappled shade and the flower is sweetly scented. It needs plenty of top dressing mixed with cow manure to keep it growing well.
Ruellia tweediana has an attractive flower which it generously puts on a show every morning. The flowers last until mid day and then disappear to make way for another flush the next morning. Planted beside Tabernaemontana, the two plants complement each other but this is an invasive exotic. It is happy growing at the coast, in most soils, and withstanding dry conditions but be careful that it does not take over the garden. As the plant ages, it becomes rather woody and should then be taken out and replaced.
Russelia equisetiformis is native to Mexico. It is a weeping shrub with long grass-like stems up to twelve inches long that carry a mass of small bright red flowers and it blooms continuously. It can be hard to find a place for it to grow and show its beauty because it needs to be sited so that the stems can dangle off the ground, otherwise it can become straggly. It attracts birds and butterflies. This is another plant that is recommended as a sea front plant but does not live up to its reputation. The stems and small leaves get burnt and become a horrid ugly brown.
Ruttya fruticosa is native to eastern tropical Africa (Ethiopia, Somalia, Kenya and Tanzania). It is named in honour of John Rutty 1697-1775, the English physician and naturalist.
I have it growing in a large pot and it flowers continually, giving great pleasure to me and the birds. It needs to be kept in shape by careful pruning. It is not particular about the soil but prefers a slightly acidic mixture.