Flowers on Friday

Annuals come into their own this month and none more colourful than the Cosmos which was introduced into this country in 1800 from Mexico. These big, bright and beautiful daisy-like flowers come in many colours and heights. The most common variety C. bipinnatus with large yellow-eyed daisy flowers in the burgundy-red-pink-white colour range include the taller ‘Purity’ that will grow to 1.2m and suited to the back of the border. The shorter varieties like ‘Apollo’ are good to grow in containers and new types include ‘Xanthos’ the first yellow-flowered variety. Keep the containers fairly large though as even the shortest plants reach 45cm tall and as much across.

Varieties derived from C. sulphureus have smaller flowers in scarlet, orange and yellow shades set against slightly broader, darker leaves. [unfortunately I do not have any images of this type]

C. atrosanguineus is the Chocolate cosmos which is hugely popular with richly chocolate-coloured, and chocolate-scented, flowers. This is a half-hardy perennial that develops tubers like those of a slimline dahlia and may need to be overwintered indoors. This is also a good candidate for containers.

Cosmos enjoy plenty of sunshine and any reasonable soil, although rich, moist conditions encourage exuberantly leafy growth at the expense of flowers. If you ensure to deadhead throughout summer into early autumn, you’ll continue to get beautiful flowers right through the season.

Flowers on Friday

A type of ornamental onion, also known as round-headed leek, drumstick allium (Allium sphaerocephalon) is appreciated for the egg-shaped blooms that appear in early summer.  These unique flowers open green, then start to turn a purple/crimson colour from the top, creating unusual two-tone drumstick flower heads.

And the bees love them!

Flowers on Friday

Musk Mallow (malva moschata) is the perfect wildflower plant for adding of bright splash of pink or white to a summer flowering meadow. It is well suited to all wide variety of soils, but grows best on well-drained ground in full sun. Musk Mallow has large showy flowers that grow in dense clusters and are often visited by bees. Plants also host the Painted Lady as a breeding butterfly which will lay its eggs on the plant.

The flowers appear from July to September, and blend particularly well with other meadow plants  such as Oxeye daisy, Meadow cranesbill, Knapweed, Scabious, and Birdsfoot trefoil.

Mine were grown from a packet of wildflower seeds two years ago and have come back every summer even though I dug a lot out last year as they are big plants and dominate the small raised bed. I will be cutting them back to the ground in September to make room for the other late flowering plants they share this bed with. Meanwhile I am enjoying the show.

 

 

Flowers on Friday

If you are looking for something different to grow on an obelisk, cane teepee or trellis then why not try a Black-eyed Susan. Thunbergia is completely unrelated to Rudbeckia hirta, an herbaceous annual or short-lived perennial in the daisy family.

thunbergia grandiflora

Above is Thunbergia grandiflora an evergreen vine. The blue to mauve flowers are about 8 cm across with a 4 cm long tube that is pale yellow inside. Common names include Blue Skyflower and Skyvine. It is a houseplant in temperate climates.

thunbergia-alta

Thunbergia alata – Black Eyed Susan is a herbaceous perennial climbing plant species in the Acanthaceae family. An eye-catching day beautiful five petalled flower with a jet black eye. This easy annual used to be regarded as a conservatory climber for growing in tubs, soil borders or from hanging baskets, but in recent years it has become a popular subject for outdoor cultivation, both in baskets, pots and in more protected corners of the garden

Thunbergia salmon shades

Thunbergia alata salmon shades

T. ‘Salmon Shades’ is a tender, evergreen, twining climber, often grown as an annual, with triangular to ovate, toothed, dark green leaves and, from summer to autumn, flowers in shades of pale yellow, salmon, and pink until the first frosts. A similar variety is T. alata ‘African Sunset’ which has flowers in all the colours of a spectacular sunset and looks lovely with other apricot and purple shades.

Flowers on Friday

The most eye-catching flower to bloom here in Cornwall during May and June is the ungainly named Gladiolus communis subsp. byzantinus (Byzantine Gladiolus) or better known here as Whistling Jacks. They are native to the Mediterranean area and have narrow sword-shaped leaves and deep magenta coloured flowers, each one with an iridescent sparkle. Coming back each year this plant will naturalise if grown in favourable conditions – they like moisture and being sheltered from strong winds and may like a warm mulch to get them through the winter months.

They are hardy in most Southern regions of the UK and in other colder areas they can be grown in containers and brought into a warmer space for the winter.

A relic of the Scily bulb fields it is extensively naturalised throughout the Scillies, where it is called Whistling Jacks, a name also used in Cornwall. Along the George V walk in Hayle they are grown in profusion amidst contrasting lime green Euphorbia

or toning pink Cistus (rock roses) and daisies.

Flowers on Friday

This month is when the Allium comes into flower filling the gap between tulips and summer perennials. These plants, known as the ornamental onion, are grown for their showy flower heads which come in a wide range of sizes and shades of purple, blue, white and yellow. Even when the plant dies back the seed heads remain as attractive sculptures in the garden.

Bees love them too.

Flowers on Friday

A charming, old-fashioned cottage garden plant with bonnet-shaped flowers, often two-tone and with long graceful spurs these herbaceous perennials are invaluable for flowering in May and early June .

Aquilegias fill the seasonal gap between the last of the spring bulbs and the first of the summer flowers. Self-sown they can look charming naturalised amongst shrubs and roses although some people find the colours become muddied. They lend themselves to cottage or semi-wild settings. Most relish dappled shade. They love deep, rich soil.

Two different birds lend their names to this flower – Eagle and Dove (in Latin, eagle = aquila and the dove = columbus). The petals are supposed to resemble the outspread wings of these birds, and the spurs their arched necks and heads. All aquilegias have wonderful foliage that emerges early in the year, creating clumps of bright green among the sharp verticals of daffodils and other bulbs.

Flowers on Friday

Iris confusa

Iris confusa or  the bamboo iris. It is a rhizomatous perennial plant, native to Western China. It has flowers which range from white to a soft lavender or pale blue in colour, with orange-yellow crests and purple dots. The plant’s broad, shiny leaves are attached to bamboo-like stems. Wikipedia

Flower of the Month: April

Tulips are like exotic birds. They come in different shapes, heights, colours and flowering times.  You have early single and doubles and late singles and doubles. The early flowering ones open in cooler weather, right when winter is just disappearing, and tend to last longer. Their flowers have a distinct cup shape consisting of six petals. The single late tulip is one of the last to bloom, and is also the tallest variety averaging heights of 18 to 30 inches. Also known as the May flowering tulip, these tulips come in the widest variety of colours. Doubles are often known as ‘Peony’ tulips and have heavy heads so need a sheltered position and may require staking.

‘Apricot Beauty’ is an early flowering single and although I found it to be rather a wishy-washy colour to begin with, the more mature the flower the deeper the colour, silvery salmon pink on the outside and spectacularly apricot and yellow on the inside. This started flowering in March and finished in mid-April.

Another early one to flower is ‘Cairo’, with a rich orange colour which lights up in the sun. This is a Triumph style tulip and long lasting and is scented so a bonus. It is very similar to ‘Brown Sugar‘ also scented and in the same orange, copper, red colours.

The next to flower in my collection this year was ‘Ronaldo‘ a delicious blackcurrant coloured Triumph which starts off a deep carmine red but darkens with age. This flowers for absolutely ages and looks gorgeous with the oranges and the pinks.

Cairo was soon followed by ‘Apricot Foxx‘ a golden orange with hints of pink. This is a Triumph, a single mid-season flower which doesn’t grow too tall. Handy in the wind.

A late flowering double is ‘La Belle Epoque‘ which actually opened in early April and has been flowering for a couple of weeks now. An unusual colouring of coffee, pink and apricot this is probably not the best tulip for my windy spot, but it is a wonderful flower.

Lily-flowered tulips are late spring bloomers. Their star-shaped flowers have long pointed petals that arch outwards.  I am a big fan of this shape of tulip, finding it very elegant. Among those I have grown are ‘Ballerina’ and ‘Purple Dream‘.  Ballerina (below) is very good at repeat flowering and is also scented. ‘Sarah Raven‘ is a delightful deep red one (seen centre of the collage)

Purple Dream has rich, purple petals which open as the flowers age, revealing a glowing white eye (as seen in the header image).

There are many other types including the Botanical or  Perennial species of tulip, which are smaller and more delicate than modern hybrids, but are normally very hardy and long lived. ‘Whittallii’ is among these, a lovely deep coppery orange.

I have grown Kaufmanniana Hybrids which are supposed to come back every year, but mine haven’t been too successful. Last year the leaves appeared but no flowers and the leaves were eaten by slugs I think. I also grew Parrots, a cultivar with unusual fringed, curled and twisted petals. Mainly late-flowering. I didn’t like them and the heads are too large and heavy for a windy garden.

Next year I will try some more of the Viridiflora which are distinguished by having green streaks or markings on their petals and are normally late flowerers. Given the choice of tulips I am sure there is one that must appeal to you.