Melianthus major

Plant of the month: January

A tender evergreen from southern Africa, it has the most handsome blue green leaves which if brushed against have a surprising smell.  Its common name is ‘honey bush’ because its flowers smell of honey, unfortunately it needs a long growing season to produce the deep orange flowers and our summer is too short.  The Gardens are on the upper limit of its hardiness zone – most winters the leaves survive, but if it gets frosted the plant grows again from the base.  A second species, M. cosmos can be found on the Loudon Terrace.