As observed during September 2013
Planted in the border at ground level this liana from tropical South America and the West Indes will rapidly cover any support. Naturally reaching 30 metres it romps up into forest trees using the strength of the trees branch framework as support.
The flowers are exceptional, in form, colour and scent but short lived. The buds etiolate, swell like puffed up nostrils and burst open. Five anther pads are covered in ash brown pollen which sheds onto the cream yellow, striated brown, inner corolla. To experience the headiest scent visit during the late evening or night when the chalice shaped corolla amplifies the scent. The pistil protrudes out with the edge of the fused corolla. This, the longest lasting part of the flower, remains as a wand held between the sepals.
Relegated to the back of our memories during the past dismal summers and severe winters, a Fig tree has cropped well this year. A handsome specimen, Ficus carica, is on a south west wall it has produced a crop in this warm dry season. Though the fruit may not be as plump as those bought in a Turkish market.
A much branched deciduous wall shrub with us, reaching 5 metres in height and more than this in spread. The foliage is deeply lobed and large, 250m x 250mm. The immature figs are held tight in the leaf axils of this year’s and the previous year’s growth. Individual flowers are held within what becomes the skin of the fruit and are all female. On ripening the stalk elongates and the fruit adopts a hanging position.
We now rely on a temperate winter allowing the immature flower buds to survive the cold and wet then swell to maturity in late summer 2014.
In warmer climates two or three crops are possible through the year. We must consider ourselves lucky to pick fresh figs as they do not travel well and grown commercially, the majority are dried then sent to market.
A late Lilium
Lilium leichtlinii var. maximowiczii; tall growing and bright of flower. A welcome splash of colour in the woodland area at the start of autumn. At a height touching two metres this is a giant Asiatic Lilium. The scaly white bulbs revel in a well-drained soil. Preferring sun to shade these plants can be found in a raised section of the peat walls. The pendulous flowers are composed of reflexed orange petals, spattered with brown spots. The anthers hang proud of the flower on extended filaments. This is a reliable flowering species to consider where space is not a limiting factor.
Colour combo in the potager
In the attached image can be seen: Rudbeckia hirta ‘Prairie Sun’, Centaurea cyanus ‘Blue Boy’, Kale ‘Redbor’, Hordeum jubatum, Cosmos ‘Purity’ Other species and cultivars are growing through the circular bed and attracting all manner of pollinating insects.
Colour, form and thus combination make for a good planting display. Movement is the third aspect, often missing, from a planting scheme. With the two grasses, (Hordeum and Pennisetum villosum ‘Cream Falls’), both light of stem, the slightest breeze adds movement to this sucessful planting scheme.
As observed during September 2012
“The Apprentices Potager”
Growth was held back this year due to the coolness of the season and low sunlight levels. The brassicas were almost stripped of their leaves by Pigeons.
Height is provided by Sweet Pea cultivars ‘Matucana’ and ‘Almost Black’. Carrot ‘Black Night’ and the smooth leaves of Beetroot ‘Bulls Blood’ adding foliage shape texture and colour. Look out for the Pea ‘Purple Podded’, dark black pods contains seed of a contrasting paleness, yet with the sweet taste of the best garden pea.
Passiflora vitifolia a native to Central America. A sturdy and vigorous plant that soon covers a sizeable section of the Orchid and Cycad glasshouse it is growing in. The specific epithet gives a clue to the foliage shape; resembling that of a Vitis. Tightly wound tendrils in the leaf axils gain support for the long scandent growth from adjacent plants.
The genus Passiflora has flowers of intricate shape. These are like three dimensional puzzles; when fully formed it is scarcely believable that all of the flower parts are capable of fitting within the bud. Within the base of the flower beneath the profusion of white filaments, which form the corona, is a reservoir of sweet nectar.
Brightness to end a poor summer
Distinct in the south facing border of the Front Range this native to Eastern South Africa is a show stopper. The orange red flowers open gradually from the base of the spike to the tip resulting in a long spell of colour.
The sword like foliage shoots out from a corm, these can be divided to increase the size of the clump. Needing a well drained soil and a sunny position to give of its best. When established and in flower the spikes reach one metre or more in height.
Large Ligustrum; yet compactum
There is a huge specimen of Ligustrum compactum on the hillside, striving upwards to maximise exposure to the light. It is presently covered in terminal panicles of white flowers giving off the rich scent associated with this genus. Pass an overgrown Privit (Ligustrum sp.) hedge and this scent will pervade around during the flowering season.
Collected by Roland Edgar Cooper in 1914 while travelling in the wooded valleys near Thimpu, Bhutan. Here it grows as understory in woodland at c.2500m. In Edinburgh it has formed a sturdy trunk with a wide open canopy. Nothing compact about the specimen and definitely not one to use as a hedging plant.