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.
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.
(click to enlarge to full size)
Genus Ipheion (starflower, spring starflower) are small bulbous perennials with onion-scented, narrowly strap-shaped leaves and sweet-scented star-shaped flowers in late winter and spring. These started flowering later than the accompanying blue muscari, but together they make a wonderful sight. As they are all planted in shallow terracotta pots they can be moved around the garden, but they do seem to love being in a sunny spot. Next year I think I will add some of the blue and purple ones to the mix.
Muscari (Grape Hyacinths)
Muscari armeniacum is a lovely deep blue grape hyacinth – the classic. Together with Silver Grape Hyacinth ‘Valerie Finnis’. A lovely silvery-blue which contrasts nicely. Bees love them both.
Muscari armeniacum ( Hyacinthaceae )
Silver Grape Hyacinth ‘Valerie Finnis’. These lovely Grape Hyacinths produce delicate flowers heads of an unusual sky blue colour with a silvery sheen. Bees are attracted to them and hopefully they will spread over the years. Currently grown in a pot, but once they are over I will transplant them into the border.
Muscari armeniacum is a lovely deep blue grape hyacinth – the classic.
Grape hyacinths are very easy to grow and are brilliant for pots as well as flower beds. They will thrive inside or out in a sunny position but don’t mind a bit of shade.
In the period leading to Christmas some people buy an Advent Calendar to check off each day before December 25. Usually intended for children, it appears that in recent years there has been a rise in the popularity of luxury ones aimed at indulgent adults who feel the necessity to treat themselves on the run-up to the big day itself – from expensive candles and perfume to miniature bottles of Prosecco or Whisky and even chunks of cheese.
So I thought to balance all this extravaganza I would offer you an alternative in the form of a flower a day from Sunday 3rd December until Sunday 24th December.
All images taken on a mid-November day along the George V Memorial Walk alongside Copperhouse Pool in Hayle using my Olympus OM-D E-M10 and 40-150mm lens
Becky from “A life of a 40 something” is posting a flower a day throughout September, in the square format. She’d love you to join her.
Nerine bowdenii / Guernsey Lily
The genus Nerine, named after the sea nymphs of Greek mythology, belongs to the Amaryllidaceae (amaryllis) family of herbaceous perennials, as do daffodils and snowdrops, although the flowers look more like lilies. Their native home is South Africa, especially the Drakensberg mountains. There are about 30 species, but only a couple are reliably hardy outdoors in the Britain — N. bowdenii and N. undulata.
They make a welcome splash of colour (white, red and pinks) to the autumn border, flowering from September to November. I just love these sparkling pink and white ones.
(Please click image to enlarge)
Confusingly called Amaryllis (which is another lily type bulb from South Africa, but grown outdoors), the name Hippeastrum, given to it by William Herbert, means “Knight’s-star-lily”. This plant is commonly grown indoors around Christmas time and is from South and Central America.