Above the ground all plants are relatively similar they all have leaves and flowers, just in different shapes and sizes. It is under the ground that their diversity becomes more distinct. Some plants have fibrous roots which are thin wiry roots travelling in all directions whilst others have a central tap root (looking similar to a carrot), with tiny roots dangling from it. There is another group of plants that have bulbs or rhizomes, these have a distinctive shape and the flowers and leaves emerge from them. This group has two main planting and flowering times. The spring flowering bulbs are usually planted in autumn; these are the ones we are well acquainted with, like daffodils and tulips, and the other type are usually planted in spring to flower the following summer. Very few bulbous plants flower in the months of May and June. Towards the end of July begins the new era of the summer bulbs, and from this group we will choose this week’s flower of the week to brighten your home – the crocosmia – which is now in full flower.
Botanical Name: Crocosmia. Common Name: Montbretia .
It is quite a common plant but as it has an exotic look most people don’t appreciate how easy it is to grow. From its strap shaped leaves rise the arching flower stems, which are topped with rows of small trumpet shaped flowers. The flowers range from a fiery red through orange hues to a pure yellow. The older text books claim that they are not fully winter hardy but nowadays I find them fully hardy without any protection, maybe due to the warmer winters we are experiencing. Also, I tend to leave the dried out leaves on the plant over winter which might give them a little extra winter warmth.
Buying and planting guide.
They are cheap bulbs to buy, usually sold in bags of 10 or 20 in the spring. Common varieties include Crocosmia masoniorum, or Crocosmia Lucifer. Plant them anywhere – sun or semi shade but remember – they spread. They form clumps of inter connected bulbs and the clump gets larger annually. It is very possible that a friend will be happy for you to cut away part of his oversized clump and plant it in your garden (don’t be shy to ask), – this is best done between autumn and spring. The taller ones grow to about a metre high and may therefore be a bit untidy for a formal garden, so keep them at the back of the border.
Cutting Guide :
Crocosmia has a long flowering period as the flowers open gradually along the stem. The best time to cut them for your vase is when the first flowers begin to open and they will then continue to blow their trumpets in your vase. Pick of the spent flowers as they die.
They are known to be beloved by flower arrangers as their long arches bring momentum to even a simple flower arrangement, so even without any flower arranging experience this flower will make you a winner!
Whilst working in the garden or allotment our fingers and hands often get scratched and grazed, even if you are not attacking a large bramble bush but just picking a rose or a few gooseberries, more likely than not, your hands will end up with some damage.
A common healing plant is the Aloe Vera plant, as you break open a leaf , a thick juice exudes from the plant which if placed on the wounded area it is said to work as an antiseptic for all types of cuts and grazes. As it is a type of cacti I always assumed that it was a plant that needs a warm climate. However, last year I mistakenly left an aloe vera plant outside, right through the winter- it was quite near the house and sheltered from heavy rain. The leaves turned a bit brown but new growth came rapidly through in the spring and it is still growing strong – some plants enjoy a bit of neglect!
I happened to notice on the plant stand in IKEA that they were selling Aloe Vera plants for just £2.50! Its a cheap price for an everlasting supply of antiseptic cream and much cheaper in the long run than a tube of Savlon!
Have an enjoyable gardening week!
Next week : Going on holiday? Don’t come back to a dried up desert!