Southern hemisphere plants feature strongly in our garden. I am not sure why this is but South African, New Zealand and Australian specimens abound. It is certainly not a conscious decision we are open to all comers, the more the merrier. Are they more exotic, better suit our temperament or conditions, what is the connection between these countries? Well the answer is they were all formerly part of Gondwana. No I haven’t made that up. Gondwana, which admittedly sounds like somewhere out of a Boy’s Own comic perhaps where King Solomon’s Mines were situated, is the name of one the two supercontinents, the other being Pangaea. It existed between 510-180 million years ago and consisted of most of the present southern hemisphere but also India and the Arabian Peninsula. Over the millenia these two great landmasses have dispersed but left behind is evidence of this great continent in the form of closely related flora and fauna which can be found in countries many thousands of miles apart. A good example of this is the Proteaceae family which have members in South America, Australia and South Africa. So my theory is that once North Devon was also a part of the great Gondwanaland and at some point broke off and headed north attaching itself to the end of England. All native Gondwanans died (probably eaten by the deer) but all the reintroduced ones thrive. What do you think?
If you want to find out more about this little Australian Fuchsia, Correa backhouseana, then you can find some ramblings at http://www.hardy-plant.org.uk/plantmonth/2012/february.htm. Happy Australia Day!