When I was in HortPark late last year for GardenTech 2007, I was surprised to see a flowering shrub that bear orangey flowers shaped like an interesting way. The plant, apparently, is not a commonly grown plant in our local streetscape. Hence I am not surprised to see its absence from the 1001 Garden Plants in Singapore book by NParks.
Just yesterday evening, I happened to be browsing a book at the Orchard Road Kinokuninya bookstore and pounced upon a profile of this plant. I breathed a sigh of relief and told myself, “Ah… I have found the identity of this plant. At last!” Knowing the exact and correct botanical name of a plant is important, I feel, because it can help us to understand the plant and its growth requirements better.
A member of the Verbenaceae family, this flowering shrub is known by a number of common names, all inspired by the appearance of the flowers – Chinese Hat, Mandarin’s Hat, Cup and Saucer and Parasol Flower, depending on how you want to imagine the flower to look like. Botanically, it is known as Holmskioldia sanguinea. The cultivar grown in HortPark’s Flower Walk appears to be ‘Bronze’.
The plant is a scrambling shrub and hence not a well-behaved tidy plant. It calls for frequent pruning to keep it in shape and form. If left on its own, it can become a straggly eyesore. On the other hand, the long, trailing stems also make the plant suitable for growing over planter boxes.
The flowers are prominent as they appear in dense clusters and luckily, the plant’s small oval leaves do not fight with the flowers for attention. There are also yellow- and bronze-flowered forms.
Like most woody flowering shrubs, Holmskioldia sanguinea prefers to grow in full sun. Direct light is essential for its flowering.