Flower of the week – Snowdops

Snowdrops white flowers
Snowdrops white flowers

Snowdrops are usually the first of the spring flowering bulbs to appear in January, signifying that spring is just around the corner. Their beautiful white flower buds are often seen poking out of ice and snow – looking quite similar to the ice and snow surrounding them (hence the name snowdrop).

Common name: Snowdrop

Botanical names: Galanthus

Family: Amaryllidaceae.

There are approximately 20 species of Galanthus. Common species are Galanthus nivalis, Galanthus elwesii. Single flower or double flower snowdrops (with extra layers of petals) are available.

Snowdrops usually begin to appear from around mid-January and into February. They grow in groups and usually look best where they cover a wide area. Old churchyards are often good places to see large areas covered with their tiny white flowers.

Snowdrop flowers only last for a few weeks, and as soon as the weather begins to warm their flowers wither and give way to the next of the early spring flowers – the crocus. However they are hardy perennials and they should return every year.

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Flower of the week – Schizostylis

Schizostylis pink flowers
Schizostylis pink flowers

Schizostylis is a great plant to add some colour to the garden in autumn and winter – a time when there are not many other plants flowering.
It has stunning brightly coloured flowers (usually pink or red) which usually begin to appear in autumn. It will typically produce flowers from September through to March (but will stop flowering during very cold weather).

Names: Schizostylis or Hesperantha coccinea.
also known as kaffir lily, Crimson flag lily, Cape lily, river lily, or scarlet river lily.

Many plant growers and gardeners will know this plant as Schizostylis, but its correct name is now Hesperantha coccinea. So there can be a lot of confusion around the naming of this plant and its many varieties.

Schizostylis/Hesperantha are very easy to grow in any moist but well drained soil. They do not like very dry soil or waterlogged soil.
They prefer full sun, but can also tolerate light shade.

They are good planted at the front of a border, in front of a garden wall, or in front of or at the bottom of a rockery, but do ensure that the soil is not too dry or waterlogged.
It can also be grown in pots, but will need a rich, moist compost and will need to be fed to get a good show of flowers.

Schizostylis/Hesperantha is part of the Iris (Iridaceae) family, and is native to South Africa and the surrounding regions, with many coming from the Drakensberg mountains, like many other plants commonly grown in the UK such as Crocosmia, Nerine, Kniphofia (red hot poker) and Aloe.

They are rhizomatous perennials, often with small corms. They will grow to around 40-60 cm tall, and will spread to form a clump.
Schizostylis can spread quite rapidly in rich damp soil, and can easily smother small delicate plants, so do allow some space for it to spread out. Clumps can easily be divided when they get too large for the space.

We recently had a plant sale and during the sale I divided up a large clump of deep pinky red Schizostylis which had just started to flower. It was very popular and I sold more than 10 clumps of it, many of which were dug up on request when people saw them.

Flower of the week – Sunflower

Sunflower
Sunflower

Correct name – Helianthus annuus

Sunflowers are stunning large, tall summer flowers which look like the sun – although they get their name (from the Greek helios “sun” + anthos “flower”) because they tend to follow the sun during the day when the plants are younger, through a process known as Heliotropism.

They are wonderful plants for children to plant from seed, as they grow quickly and often reach amazing heights.

They are important plants for insects, especially honey bees and bumble bees. The centres of the flowers can hold thousands of individual florets which contain nectar and pollen.

The seeds which form in the centre have many culinary uses and contain vitamins and other nutrients.

This photo shows a sunflower in our garden, at the height of the August heatwave.

Flower of the week – Mesembryanthemum – this one is a real star

Mesembryanthemum flowers
Mesembryanthemum flowers

Mesembryanthemum – Livingstone daisy

Correct nameCleretum bellidiforme

Mesembryanthemums are sun loving, succulent plants with stunning, brightly coloured, daisy-like flowers of around 4cm across.

They are low growing succulent plants, with grey-green thick fleshy leaves and large daisy-like flowers. They are native to the Cape Peninsula in South Africa.

  • They are usually grown as a summer annuals.
  • Flowers appear from early June.
  • Easy to grow from seed, which is sown into seed trays in Feb – April.
  • Protect young plants from slugs and snails and dead head regularly.

Cleretum bellidiforme – also sold as Livingstone Daisy or Mesembryanthemum.
A number of plants which were previously grouped under Mesembryanthemum have now been renamed and regrouped into different plant groups.

Their colours include various shades of pink, purple, red, orange, yellow, cream and white.

Their flowers react to sunlight and they will only open when the weather is dry and sunny. Once they are no longer in direct sunlight, they will close their flower petals to protect the internal flower parts from rain or frost.

To do well, they need to be grown in a sheltered south facing position in well drained gritty compost.

Mesembryanthemum flowers
Mesembryanthemum flowers

Flower of the week – is this a Coronavirus Flower?

Our little boy spotted this flower growing in a pot in our garden – and commented that it looked like a coronavirus.

Anthyllis montana 'Rubra' - is this a Coronavirus Flower?
Anthyllis montana ‘Rubra’ – is this a Coronavirus Flower?

As it looked quite a lot like the pictures of coronavirus, we have nicknamed it the coronavirus flower.
It is actually Anthyllis montana ‘Rubra’ – also known as mountain kidney vetch ‘Rubra’.

Anthyllis montana ‘Rubra’

Anthyllis montana ‘Rubra’ is small, low-growing, shrubby plant which will come back every year when grown in a suitable location. It grows well in rockeries, gravel gardens and in pots.

It is a small spreading, clump forming, woody perennial which grows to around 10cm high.

It produces small, clover-like, bright crimson flower-heads in late spring and early summer.

It is happiest in a sunny site and well drained soil. It may not successfully overwinter if planted in a cold damp site.

Seeds can be collected and sown next spring to grow new plants.

Aspect: Full Sun
Soil Type: Well-Drained
Colour: Red

Anthyllis montana ‘Rubra’ received the RHS Award of Garden Merit.
Anthyllis montana ‘Rubra’ on RHS website.

Anthyllis montana 'Rubra' - is this a Coronavirus Flower?
Anthyllis montana ‘Rubra’ – is this a Coronavirus Flower?

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