Sunday, 1 November 2015


I am very limited in what I can do over the next few days, and as for the excruciating pain... [Ed. There is NO pain. Stop trying to milk sympathy and get on with it!] 

Anyway, I can't drive yet and am only allowed to walk for short distances, so I potter around the garden champing at the bit.

Our native plants have recognised the approach of winter and are behaving appropriately: there are few flowers to be seen in the wild and most of our broad-leaved trees are shedding their leaves apace. Exotic plants fail to take note of long-range weather forecasts and are in for a shock.

Begonias like this appear to be complex hybrids.
Stefen Hill, Daventry. 1 November, 2015
Begonias are blissfully unaware of of what is about to hit them and are flowering freely. I am not a great fan of begonias but these plants came as part of a deal and I hadn't the heart to discard them. This individual came unnamed but is clearly one of the picotee type derived, I believe, from Andean species found in Bolivia and Peru. The genus Begonia contains some 1,800 species but are all from more or less tropical regions so none is hardy.

Passiflora caerulea in flower, Stefen Hill, Daventry.
1 November, 2015

Passion Flowers are similarly tropical and of the 750 or so members of the genus Passiflora, only one species, Passiflora caerulea, is hardy in Britain. I have two plants of this species and they too are making no obvious preparations for winter; indeed, they currently flowering! 

Another specimen from our garden. Stefen Hill, Daventry.
1 November, 2015

Our two Passiflora plants differ slightly in the flower coloration. Bees have paid both the occasional visit but I wouldn't champion the species as a bee plant. No fruit have been produced but they are, I find, insipid. The usual fruit on sale are from Passiflora edulis, which is not hardy in Britain.

The flower structure is bizarre and has given rise to a strange pseudo-religious interpretation:

The pointed tips of the leaves represent Christ's thorns
The tendrils by which it climbs represent the whips used in his flagellation
The ten petals represent Christ's ten faithful apostles, i.e. all except for Peter (who denied him) and Judas Iscariot.
The 40-50 radial filaments are the crown of thorns.
The three stigmata represent the nails used in the crucifixion
The five anthers are Christ's five wounds (four nails plus a sword thrust)

Three nails or four nails? The discrepancy is not explained.

Like the begonias in the earlier photograph, the species is native to South America. The floral structure was apparently used by missionaries to 'educate' the indigenous people of the region.
The palmately compound leaves of Passiflora caerulea.
Stefen Hill, Daventry. 1 November, 2015

Whether early missionaries recommended it to cover a garage wall is unclear but certainly that is the use to which I put it. I grow mine in a very large container and, with the palmate leaves being vaguely cannabis-like, it gives a whole new meaning to the term 'pot plant'. Incidentally it is quite unrelated to cannabis but some botanists argue a kinship with the Cucumber Family, Cucurbitaceae.

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