Archive for June, 2008
Sunday, June 22nd, 2008
A close relative of wallflowers, Erysimum perofskianum grows wild in the mountains of Afghanistan and Pakistan. This biennial plant was the principal ancestor of the hybrid Erysimum x allionii, from which quite a number of lovely cultivars have been developed. Basically biennials, they are grown mainly as annuals and then marketed, in flower and without a name, in April-May.
Wednesday, June 11th, 2008
The flower spikes of this tropical miniature grass are a very special shape – in fact, they are split. At the top of the stem, between one and eleven spikelets jut out in all directions. In most grasses, there are three or four of them. The grass grows to no more than 12 in in height, but continually produces new shoots from its creeping roots. Frost is guaranteed to put an end to that, and the plant will not, therefore, grow rampant. Sow directly in the garden in April-May, or in a field intended for cut flowers, because Eleusines are very suitable for that purpose. The flower spikes are also used in dried flower arrangements.
Monday, June 2nd, 2008
The fact that Alexandre Cassini’s attention strayed briefly during his Latin lesson in about 1800 has caused a lot of bickering among botanists. Cassini originally described the botanical genus as Brachyscome (‘brachys’ is Greek for short and ‘home’ stands for hair). According to Latin linguistic rules, the ‘s’ should be dropped when the two words are joined. Cassini himself subsequently corrected his error and changed the name to Brachycome. Such a change, however, is not allowed according to the strict rules for the nomenclature of plants, so the linguistically incorrect name is the acknowledged one. Since everyone should be allowed to correct their mistakes, I have opted for Brachycome.
Sunday, June 1st, 2008
Geraniums do not primarily suggest plants for just one season. Genuine enthusiasts bring them indoors before the first night frost and put them, almost dry, in a cool, frost-free place, either indoors or in a greenhouse. Even without such facilities, it is still possible to enjoy the plants – huge quantities are propagated by seed or cuttings to provide flowers for a single summer. Geraniums cost less than a bunch of flowers and you can enjoy them for much longer. In May, flowering plants are on sale everywhere. Do not put them out-of-doors until all danger of frost has passed, because just a few degrees of frost are fatal to the plant. From the end of May, they will flower non-stop until they are killed by the first frost in October, or sometimes later.