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.
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.
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.
Crocosmia ‘Emily McKenzie’
Crocosmia grow like weeds in the hedgerows down here in Cornwall, but their leaves become very tatty. I have a couple of more elegant varieties in my garden including the red ‘Lucifer’ and another tall orange one (no name), and this one is very desirable. [Seen at Beth Chatto nursery]