Aloe arborescens ‘candelabra aloe’
Every winter these tall aloes (Aloe arborescens, a relative of the familiar but low-growing Aloe vera, A. barbadensis) produce wonderful displays of orange-red flowers, their distinctive branched display earning them the name ‘candelabra aloe’. They’re one of many South African plants in the Elizabeth Farm garden, such as pots of bulbs - ixias, sparaxis, and bright blue babiana flowers - that open in late Spring, while in late Summer dense clumps of crinum bulbs (The pink Belladonna Lily or ‘Naked Lady’, Amaryllis belladonna) explode into colour.
Tough, fast-growing and drought tolerant, and easy to grow from a cutting, the candelabra aloe is a striking sculptural form in a garden even when not in flower. Frost sensitive, it enjoys full sun, and a rich but free-draining soil. These winter flowering aloes will be in flower at Elizabeth Farm for another few weeks, with even the spent infloresence remaining quite distinctive.
Elizabeth [Jnr.] interests herself about the garden – but really we have had such a succession of untoward seasons that she had almost given it up – she has a fine collection of bulbs from the Cape, in addition to those that you brought, the Archdeacon [Thomas Hobbes Scott, who rented Hambledon] had a great variety which he had planted at the cottage, some of them still remained there and a great portion have been removed into our garden – amongst these is the celebrated Amaryllis Josephine – it bloomed last season in great perfection together with many others equally beautiful, and extraordinary.
Elizabeth to Edward Macarthur. Written at Parramatta, May 31, 1828 ML A2906.