Thursday, 22 September 2016

Garden developments

Many people have the  aim of having something in flower every month of the year. This is a perfectly laudable aim and certainly flowers can be a cheerful, uplifting sight in midwinter. But my aim is to attract insects to the garden so, in the coldest months of the year, when insects are few and far between, flowers are of little value.

We are moving into autumn and many flowers are now fading from the scene, but there is still much to enjoy. Cirsium atropurpureum flowered for several weeks during the summer but eventually I gave it the chop as it was becoming untidy.

A second season of bloom for Cirsium atropurpureum....

Surprise, surprise! It has now flowered again and is weaving its way through the Morning Glory.

... as it threads its way through Morning Glory.
 Stefen Hill, Daventry. 22 September, 2016

Beneath the Morning Glory grows the striking Salvia known as 'Hot Lips'. There is some dispute over its origin but is was apparently developed in the USA and is often regarded as a hybrid, Salvia x jamensis. But it may simply be a form of the variable shrub, Salvia microphylla. Hot Lips is regarded as being a slightly tender plant but I suspect it will be ok where it is. Nevertheless I'll take a few cuttings as insurance - and this is a good time to take cuttings anyway.
Salvia 'Hot Lips' is in full bloom. Stefen Hill, Daventry.
22 September, 2016

The genus Salvia includes our Sage of culinary use, Salvia officinalis, and I have found that the leaves of Hot Lips have the same pleasantly pungent odour. Even without the characteristic flower structure, this smell would have marked it out as a member of the Mint Family, Lamiaceae.

The Passion Flowers continue to bloom vigorously even though the first of the fruits are still there. These are now fully ripe and have taken on a rich golden colour.

Passion Flowers are still in bloom. Stefen Hill, Daventry.
22 September, 2016

They look delicious even though, as I have remarked in an earlier blog, the taste leaves something to be desired.

Some fruit is now fully ripe. Stefen Hill, Daventry. 22 September, 2016
I'll have to face up to a problem within a month or so. The banana I bought about ten weeks ago has put on a great deal of growth. Of course you could justifiably argue that is not a true banana at all since true bananas belong to the genus Musa whereas this is an Ensete, to be precise, Ensete ventricosum. Nevertheless the plant is commonly called the Abyssinian Banana and indeed several botanists have placed in the Musa genus as, for example, Musa arnoldiana.

Whatever, it has waxed mightily in these ten weeks and, as it cannot stand the slightest touch of frost, I must formulate a plan to give it winter protection.

Ensete ventricosum at Stefen Hill, Daventry.
2 September, 2016
From a very large herb to something quite tiny, I have been delighted by the show put on in the front garden by Cyclamen hederifolium. The plant was already here when we arrived but all I found was one small tuber. (Incidentally, in the case of Cyclamen species this is often referred to, wrongly, as a corm.) Perhaps I overlooked one or two more but whatever the truth of the matter, there has been a lovely display over the last few days and I have been amazed at how many bees have paid the flowers a visit. Cyclamens are members of the Primrose Family, Primulaceae, so the insect visits should not be too much of a surprise.
The cyclamens have multiplied amazingly. Stefen Hill, Daventry.
22 September, 2016

An old name for this plant is Sowbread. The tubers are rich in starch and it would be reasonable for pigs to feed on these - but there is a problem. In Britain, even if this is a native plant (as is remotely possible) it would always have been extremely scarce and certainly not common enough for pigs to batten on it and for the plant to have so acquired a common name.

These are deep waters, Watson.

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