As observed during June 2013
Just one cloud during Elspeth’s holiday
On the hot hillsides of Crete Elspeth saw the potential of Silene italica. A feature of the Mediterranean macchi or its poorer relative the garigue scrub vegetation it was growing in association with
Helianthemum and Pistachia species. These short lived perennials were growing at c. 772 metres on goat grazed hillsides as isolated plants. Due to the baking sun, thin soil and impoverished nature of the terrain the plants were a maximum height of 600mm; here in the rock garden the benefits of rainfall and a deeper soil give growth to one metre height. The massed white flowers appear as a cloud, each has a quiffed trio of anthers adding to the spectacle.
Hedge cutting with an eye for a nest
Now is the time to be cutting hedges for the first time this season. Where a formal appearance is required then trim using sharp hand shears. The fastigiated Yew, Taxus baccata ‘Fastigiata’can be seen in the attached image. This is in need of a gentle look over to preserve form and shape. Occasionally rogue shoots appear at odd angles for this upright form of the common Yew. Get right to the juncture from where these arose and with secateurs remove.
Before commencing work check along the length of the hedge for nesting birds. Should active nests be present delay cutting to prevent disturbance until the end of the breeding season which may be as late as the end of August.
Bristly leaves, pearly racemes
It is now flowering well at the Botanics, flattened inflorescences comprised of double rows of pearly white scented bell shaped flowers. These develop from leaf axils and as terminal inflorescence settling down within the foliage canopy. Thick leathery leaves with rough surfaces are ideal to withstand their natural windswept environment. The minute surface hairs preventing desiccation.
Ae Fond Kiss
P.kisoana is easily grown but an uncommon plant of cultivation, preferring a cool moist soil with partial sun through dappled shade. Deeply indented large soft hairy leaves, the hairs more predominant on the reverse side of the leaf and the stalk, than the top side.
A strong flower spike arising to 300mm from the foliage clump bears a multitude of flat faced flowers with rose coloured petals.
As observed during June 2012
A giant out of season daffy.
Paramongaia weberbaueri is a tender bulb native to Peru. The genus is in the family Amaryllidaceae as are Daffodils. Growing to one metre plus; the long linear foliage holds up well in a glasshouse environment.
Suited to container culture provided adequate drainage is given, results in magnificent yellow trumpet like flowers on sturdy stems. These are marked on the inner corolla with outlandish green veins. The scent is heavy and floral; one of my colleagues is convinced it smells of washing up liquid.
Translucent yellow foliage
The leaves unfurling from tight bud are a pale lemon yellow. When young translucent almost, but as the season progresses the green pigment evolves.
It will tolerate full sun if the root zone is moist. Where the soil dries out and a high temperature prevails the foliage shrivels and burns. The alternative is to plant in a shaded corner with damp soil but then the risk of slug damage increases.
The Olympic torch passes through Edinburgh this week. Our own Olympic double has been showing promise thriving in the south border for many a year. Forming a thicket of growth, vigorous, whippy stems can race up to 2 metres in the season.
Rubus spectabilis ‘Olympic Double’ is a vigorous suckering deciduous shrub. The species, a native to the west coast of north America. It is now naturalised in Britain. This double flowered cultivar bears magenta red flowers packed with petals. Suited to full sun where it flowers in profusion.
Ask a botanist
Adiantum aeluticum, the “Western Maidenhair” is found in a wide distribution range through Western North America. Growing in crevices on steep slopes where shade is available. It is semi evergreen although has died back completely during the winter in the Biodiversity garden. It will reach 600mm in optimum conditions; here it manages 300mm at most.
Adiantum pedatum, a close relative is found predominately on the N. E. of America and into northern Asia. The specimen growing in the atrium of the John Hope Gateway was grown, collected from spores on a plant 600mm tall with a spread of 1.5m. This was by the side of a forest track beneath dense woodland.
Both species are delicate plants to grow, have rounded rigid black stems. Both are appreciated by pteridologists and make fine additions to a fern collection; the difference? Ask a botanist.