GARDEN: Angel's trumpet

I was wandering around the gardens the other week (as I get paid to do!) when I noticed the most stunning display of angel's trumpets I have seen these plant produce.

They always look good through the summer months but for some reason this year they were amazing, just dripping with flowers.

Angel's trumpets are known botanically as brugmansia and some people still refer to their older name of datura and they hail from the sub-tropics of South America.

They are a very fast grower and once established need very little care, although the more you feed them the better they will do.

In colder areas they will suffer from frost damage and look considerably messy but as the weather warms up they erupt into a most stunning display.

Few plants can claim to be more impressive at this time of the year with the trees dripping with trumpet-shaped flowers over 20 centimetres long and most as sweetly perfumed, particularly in the late afternoon.

It is not uncommon for a mature tree to have more that 500 flowers on it at any one time. Originally they were available in just a few shades of cream, white and soft yellow, but there are now many colours available.

The plants in general can get a few leaf-eating bugs and grubs which can cause the plant to look scrappy, but you won't even notice it once they are in flower.

They are extremely easy to grow, with no pruning needed and it is best if you don't as it will ruin their shape.

They are best grown in the garden as they will struggle if put into a pot. When planting make sure you give them a little protection from hot summer winds as they will get a little bit of burning on the flower.

It should be noted that you do need to have a bit of respect for this plant as it is toxic. It should not be ingested or burnt, so if you can live with that then it is a must-have plant.

The only problem you will have is that they are hard to find. They do not present well in pots in the nursery so many places will not stock them so you may need to ask your local nursery to order them in for you.

Sean O'Brien is the horticulture manager of Hunter Valley Gardens. 

Readers can email questions to weekender@theherald.com.au.

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