Sunday, 21 October 2018

October colour in the rock garden

It may be mid-October but there is still much to see in our front garden.

Pinks and reds seem to the fashion and Gypsophila repens is putting on a good display of shell-pink flowers. The word 'gypsophila' can be translated as 'chalk lover' and this knowledge, together with the fact that it comes from the mountains of south and central Europe, gives lots of clues regarding its needs.
Gypsophila repens is easy to obtain and easy to grow.
Our garden, Stefen Hill, Daventry. 21 October, 2018

In truth, providing the soil is well-drained and getting plenty of sunshine, it is easy to grow. Our soil is no more than neutral and yet it is happy enough.

It grows alongside a clump of Parahebe catarractae. The two plants may look vaguely similar but any more than a cursory glance reveals considerable differences. Gypsophila is in the Pink Family, Dianthaceae, alongside Sweet Williams, campions and so on, but Parahebes are related to speedwells. For most of my life they have been members of the Scrophulariaceae but, along with veronicas and hebes, they have moved to the Plantain Family, Plantaginaceae (Note 1).

Parahebe catarractae is a delight, despite being a little too vigorous.
21 October, 2018
The wild species is isually white or vaguely pink but I grow a more strongly coloured form called 'Delight'. It is tough, evergreen and vigorous. In fact I have to be ruthless with it and cut away over-enthusiastic growth.

Yet another pink flowered plant currently in bloom is Sowbread, Cyclamen hederifolium. A friend once suggested to me that this genus of plants, related to primroses, should be pronounced kiklamen. Whilst that may be classically correct it is a road full of pitfalls: we would have to refer to rhinoceras as rhinokeras. I don't think I'll go that way!

Our clump of Sowbread, Cyclamen hederifolium is blooming prolifically.
21 October, 2018
Anyway, our patch of cyclamens have been flowering for about a month now, and they have done so for the last 2-3 years, with the consequence that we now have lots of seedlings around the parent plant.

Finally, nearer red than pink, is our clump of Schizostylis coccinea. There is potential for confusion here too. Schizophrenia is pronounced as though there is a 't' before the 'z' but not so with plants: Schizostylis is pronounce skyzostylis. In both cases the word is bases on the Greek schistos - split. The style of Schizostylis is split into three parts.

The South African Schizostylis coccinea is making strong growth in our
front garden, Stefen Hill, Daventry. 21.October, 2018

Our plants are steadily spreading and in a couple of years time may need to be divided.

Note 1  The plantains referred to here are completely different from the banana-type plantains, Musa paradisiaca.

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