Menziesia ciliicalyx 'Buchanan's Dwarf'
A beautiful Japanese member of Ericaceae. My Farrer Medal plant has, after more than twenty years, reached 40cms in height. The light green foliage is a perfect foil for the 1.5cm long rose-pink flowers. Most parts of the plant are covered with stiff hairs except the underside of the leaves.
I grow it with protection from the east in a semi-shaded bed in acid oak and beech leaf mould. Composted bark and course sand or grit. Late frosts can damage the flowers, the umbels can contain up to twenty flowers, these need to be removed with care after flowering. A few can be left if seed is needed. A few weak feeds with Miracid in summer seem to help.
Propagation can be by seed, cuttings or layers. Seed should be collected as soon as the seed cases start to open. I mix it with some fine dry sand to help sow evenly the very fine seed. Compost is 50% perlite crushed through a fine sieve, use a mask to avoid the dust, and 50% sieved ericaceous compost or composted bark. Water well and firm gently. Sow but do not cover the seed. A glass or polythene cover in a shaded north facing border. Cuttings taken before terminal buds form will provide plants true to the parent. Layers will take at least two years before removing.
If showing, pot up before growth starts and plunge in a cool place.
Here is Menziesia ciliicalyx as shown by Ian Leslie at the Malvern Show in 2007.
And here it is in autumn colour at Newcastle, 2008.