Friday, 26 May 2017

Goings-on in the front garden

It's now late May, and things are really moving. Twelve months ago I put in one plant of Rhodanthemum hosmariense, a member of the Daisy Family from North Africa. By June it was putting forth flowers and then continued to do so for the next eleven months - really. It flowered throughout the winter and has even in December and January it was in full bloom - an amazing plant. Perhaps it is getting rather large for its position but I can live with it.
Rhodanthemum hosmariense has put on an astonishing display of flowers.
Stefen Hill, Daventry. 26 May, 2017
Even larger is a specimen of Helianthemum chamaecistus (still frequently sold under its old name of H. nummularium). It has rose-red flowers but the wild plant - it is a native of Britain - has buttercup-yellow blooms. I delight in the fact that it receives a steady procession of bee visitors. It is a member of the Rock-rose family, Cistaceae and indeed its Latin specific name translates as dwarf or low cistus.
Helianthemum chamaecistus is spreading just a little too much.
Stefen Hill, Daventry. 26 May, 2017
Creeping over some of the stones like a silver-grey crust is Raoulia australis. It is a native of New Zealand, where it is apparently called Scabwort! It is said that some specimens of the related Raoulia eximia are so large that from a distance they can be mistaken for sheep. Almost unbelievably it too is a member of the Daisy Family but I am not expecting it to flower.

Raoulia australis is a curious rather than beautiful plant.
Stefen Hill, Daventry. 26 May, 2017
Some species of Pratia are also New Zealanders but I grow Pratia pedunculata, an Aussie, and I almost wish I didn't. This member of the Campanula Family is undeniably pretty, with sky-blue flowers and a neat habit. But it spreads inexorably by means of its stolons and I am constantly tugging up bits of these procumbent stems. Ideally the plant needs to be confined in some way.
A carpet of starry blue flowers. Pratia pedunculata at Stefen Hill, Daventry.
26 May, 2017
Chiastophyllum oppositifolium is a delight. It does not look like a Sedum but, like them, it is a member of the Crassulaceae and is the only member of its genus. Its arching stems of yellow flowers explain its name of Lamb's Tail and it does indeed put one in mind of giant hazel catkins. Despite coming from South Africa, it seems completely hardy. It should spread gently and allow me to detach some rooted pieces.

Chiastophyllum oppositifolium in our front garden at Stefen Hill,
Daventry. 26 May, 2017
Finally, an oddity. A cactus acquired, unlabelled, some years ago has become a bit too large for its window-sill location. A number of cacti are reasonably hardy, with some enduring very cold conditions in the Andes. Their real enemy in most cases is damp and I have placed this specimen in a rather dry but sunny corner.

Mystery cactus in our front garden.  27 May, 2017
It has, as they say, two chances. It may be Cleistocactus hylacanthus but unless it flowers I have no real idea what it is.

Tony White.

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