Lily Lion Heart

Saturday 12 November 2011

Crocus Ochroleucus

This beautiful white Crocus has a lovely yellow throat and is currently blooming in my cool greenhouse.  We have been blessed with a beautiful Autumn with more sunshine than normal and the Crocus love it. This tiny crocus occurs in the wild from southwestern Syria through Lebanon to northern Israel and is hardy in the garden in my experience with a little mulch. They are much nicer in a pot than in the garden as they bloom late October to November and are best enjoyed in the shelter of a cool greenhouse.

Sunday 23 October 2011

Crocus pulchellus (pretty) and Crocus speciosus (showy)

Crocus pulchellus and speciosus are found growing all around The Black Sea from Crimea on through the Caucasus Mountains and northern Turkey. They are both at their peak bloom mid-late October. Sadly our weather at this time becomes overcast and rainy for the most part.  What this means for the Crocus blossoms is flopping over from the rains, the leaves falling around them and on them and the winds.  The result crocuses laying on the ground some damaged some undamaged and some still standing upright. Given that they only bloom when it is sunny you can understand my anticipation  as I wait for them every Fall. I bathe in the pulchritude of this flower.

The flowers are purple and cup-shaped with a yellow throat and orange stigma. They both like moisture during the summer as well as a hot baking from the sun.

As I work full-time, I cherish the weekends and pray for sun as this is my only chance to see the charm and beauty of these fall stunners that evoke thoughts of treks through the Caucasus.

Wednesday 12 October 2011

Nerine bowdenii


These long-blooming seldom seen beauties are the highlights of our pots in September/October. Tall 60cm stems are topped by an open umbel of 3" funnel-shaped flowers with waxy petals. They're super easy to grow in part to full sun and bloom for 4-6 weeks.  Fantastic! Nerines come from the mountains of Cape Province, South Africa. They will continue to grow indoors in a sunny window for the winter.

Saturday 1 October 2011

Ode to Autumn and Colchicum and Sternbergia

Oh how I love autumn. My favourite time of the year. A time of re-birth much like spring as many plants that were dormant during the hot summer are waking up and growing or blooming. They show of their wares to prospective pollinators such as bees and flies.
The colour and light of the sky changes as it does with each Equinox. The fall sky is truly Caerulean with generally no clouds in sight. The hummingbirds have now left to make their arduous 3000km journey to their winter home in Mexico while the Monarch butterflies have also. There are still some stragglers. What fascinates me is how they gently glide through the air in traffic or in the garden. I am afraid that those left behind to enjoy these last warm days will perish. You can hear and see the kinglets and fall warblers flitting about.
Now is also damsel and dragonly time. They enjoy stitting on my stone troughs or bricks warming themselves in the autumn sun. They come in many different colours and are delightful to watch. They climb into the sky if you fix your gaze above ususally congregating in small groups. 
The first half of September started out dry and sooned turned into the rainy season. Rain the giver of life awakened some of the fall blooming bulbs after a perfect hot dry summer of baking the bulbs. The best conditions for these fall stunners.

Sternbergia and Colchicum are found in Central Asia, Turkey and the Mediterranean.  In the trade they are often referred to as Autumn crocus which exasperates me because these plants are not Crocuses nor do they belong to the same family. Don't misunderstand; I am a Crocus fanatic but they are distinct. These two genera are lovely harbingers of fall.

Sunday 25 September 2011

From China with Love

Petrocosmeas hail from China and most form these tight succulent basal rosettes that conjure up images of the tightest and neatest high alpines. It is a genus of the family Gesneriaceae the African violet family. Most of the species within this genus are endemic to high-altitude areas in Western China, although some are native to other parts of Asia. It generally grows on wet mossy rocks or forests of limestone in shady areas.  There are approximately 13 species, 7 of which I grow. The plants featured in this post are Petrocosmea flaccida which comes from a shaded ledge on a sandstone cliff near Mount Emei. It was previously unknown outside of China, but is now admired in Europe and North America because of its deep purple flowers. The other two species that are currently blooming are P. formosa and P. barbata.

These plants like cool shadier conditions and so most are grown under two flouresecnt tubes or in an east facing windowsill.  The flowers are floriferous and quite long-lasting. I adore this little know genus.

Correa "Carmine Bells"

Correa is a lovely genus and shrub I have been growing for a few years. My fellow gardener and friend Barry gave me a cutting of this. It comes from Australia and is not hardy here in the Northern Hemisphere. I quite likes the heat and cool weather equally. In late summer you get a flush of these gorgeous fuschia pink bells. This plant will bloom until early spring in the cool greenhouse which is where it will spend its winter. This plant is rare grown or found in collections as it is difficult to come by. It is an evergreen plant which never goes dormant. The plant is probably a hybrid between reflexa and pulchella.

Saturday 17 September 2011

Clematis heracleifolia

Is a beautiful herbacious perennial not a vine.It comes from China and is 3-4' tall. It blooms from July to Fall and is therefore an excellent additon to the garden for fall colour. Even more pleasant is that fact that it has a delicate scent and the flowers are a tubular purple colour.

Sunday 28 August 2011

Salvia guaranitica ' Black & Blue '

Salvia guaranitica is a lovely annual shrublike plant from South America. The common name is Anise-Scented Sage which I feel does not aptly describe its scent. If you want to attract Hummingbirds to your garden this is the plant to do it with.  Just yesterday I saw the lovely Ruby-Throated Hummingbird sipping its sweet nectar. What a sight to behold! This plant also generates garden interest from other gardeners.  It is one of my favourites as the combination of the flower a lovely deep blue set against the deep purple calyx make this a sensational Salvia.

This Salvia forms tubers that can be stored over winter like Dahlias to be replanted in the garden next summer. Who knew!  This is a plant of great garden interest that is now garnering appreciation from keen gardeners.

Sunday 21 August 2011

Great Balls of Fire!

Scadoxus multiflorus is a gorgeous bulb from South Africa.  I have not grown it for many many years and decided to grow it again,. Boy I am glad I did. I had forgotten the hypnotic beauty it possesses. This Genus use to be under the Genus Haemanthus which translates to Blood flower. It is very slow to get going after planting in mid April as it requires a great deal of sun and heat to prode it into growing. We had an abundance of both this summer. The spectacular flower is a huge spherical umbel consisting of up to 200 flowers held clear of the foliage. The flowers last 1-2 weeks. I have a great affinity for South African plants and they are some of the most biodiverse in the plant kingdom not to mention respledent!  This fact will be revealed in future posts. Enjoy the firework display!

Sunday 7 August 2011

Chirita Dielsii

This delightful plants hails from China and is a Gesneriad. It hs been blooming in the shade of my outdoor greenhouse since June.  It is one of my favourite plants in my collection. I adore it.