Plant of the Month
In 1807 William Kerr, a plant collector from Kew Gardens brought back over a thornless, floriferous climbing rose. He named it Rosa banksiae var. banksiae or Lady Banks’ rose, after Dorothea, the wife of the then director of Kew Gardens, Sir Joseph Banks.
Very few plants provide the same reliable charm and blue colour of Anemone blanda at this time of year. If you consider the colour too purple or pink, keep an eye out for other shades as there are variations in other blue tones and even a white variation.
The lesser known daffodils tend to be the more interesting varieties or species. For example, not everyone realises that some flower in autumn, such as Narcissus serotinus and the green daffodil, Narcissus viridiflorus. In spring however, arguably one of the most attractive wild species is Narcissus cyclamineus. It is one of the earliest to flower, and unlike some of the other miniature species does not need to be grown in pots or in an alpine house as long as it is in damp soil.
When choosing flowers for the winter garden, the oriental hybrids are worthy of their place as they provide more large and colourful flowers than many other plants at this time of year. They bulk up quick and by having avoided the more woody group, do not take up awkward space once flowering is over.
Chimonanthus praecox is one of six species in the genus, all of which are from China. It is a deciduous shrub that grows up to 13m tall. Leaves are oblong shaped, 2-12cm long and papery. The waxy, buttery coloured flowers are each about 2-3cm wide and are formed on the branches of previous year’s growth.
Mistletoe, or Viscum album, currently in the Santalaceae family, grows on mainly deciduous trees throughout most of Europe, central and northern Asia to Japan, south to North Africa. Common in central and southern England, it becomes harder to find north of Yorkshire. When looking for mistletoe, common host trees are apple, poplars and limes.
Neoshirakia japonica is a hardy shrub/small tree native to Korea, China and Japan where it grows in moist forests at an altitude of 100-400m. In the wild they can reach a height of 25ft, but in cultivation they don't often get this big.
It is the potential use for delicate interest under trees and shrubs, alongside their cheery yellow that make Sternbergia so appealing to me, and popping a few in the ground next year may provide you with a pleasant surprise when you least expect it.
Phygelius the 'Cape Fuchsia' in the Scrophulariaceae family, is a fabulous but still underused garden plant. As the common name suggests it resembles the well known Fuchsia with long tubular pendant flowers and similar foliage. However they are not closely related, stemming from different plant families.
As recalled in the well worth a read, 'Growing Guide to Penstemons', the founder of what is now 'Thompson and Morgan' wrote in 1855 that should he have to pick just two plants to sell, they would be the Penstemon and the Salvia.
There is something very special about Meconopsis and crowds are often seen admiring them when displayed at shows or in gardens. The bright blue flowers occur from late spring-early summer on open heads of up to 6 flowers per spike and can be 5cm in diameter.
Trees such as the Foxglove tree (Paulownia tomentosa), the Judas tree (Cercis siliquastrum) and perhaps, most gloriously, the elegant Snowdrop tree (Halesia tetraptera), reveal charms of the garden border high up along the skyline.
Arum is a genus of tuberous perennial plants belonging to the Araceae family, the genus is made up of around 25 species native to Europe, Northern Africa and Western Asia to the Western Himalayas. Many of the genus are known for the foul odour they give off whilst in flower, often described as resembling rotting meat or the smell of death.
It is a sure sign that spring has settled in once the 'Galanthophiles' and 'Croconuts' have had their fix and quietly, another group of plants, perhaps one for the more discerning gardener, start to make their presence known in the woodlands. Erythronium is a genus of spring flowering ....
This is my final contribution for ‘Plant of the month’ and as it’s February (probably the worst month of the year in which to find photographs), it was suggested that I might reflect on what makes a good choice for ‘Plant of the Month’. This intrigued me, as although I’ve gaily scribbled many monthly pieces, I’ve never considered specific criteria.....
I must admit to a little hesitation over this month’s choice, on two counts. First, maybe this slot should go to a truly hardy November plant that shrugs off harsh weather and still shines through, for example, one of the glowing hardy chrysanthemums now lighting up the border. And second, reliable information on this plant is hard to come by, and includes two differing descriptions, from two unimpeachable sources....
I’m sorry that the word ‘jewel’, applied to gardens, has received such celebrity endorsement over the last few years. A bit like Hovis and the New World symphony, it has given it a ubiquity that de-values its description of a very particular characteristic. September is a special month, when the quality of light ...