Summer Flowers Part 2: Abutilon

I’m off to the UK later today for a brief stay, hoping to get some nice photos of my Mum’s garden again. My garden will be left to frazzle, but my blog will go on as usual! And my summer pots and remaining veg/herbs are in good hands, being watered and tended by my man of many talents… 😀

Yesterday I highlighted the Blue Potato Bush, which has been enjoying the heat and has flowered wonderfully all summer. In the second part of this series on summer container plants, an old favourite and some new varieties…

Abutilon pictum

I kept this standard abutilon in a light cool room over winter and it has done well for its second year. Last year I put it in the full sun – a mistake! It loves warmth and some sun, but suffers if the roots get too hot and can get scorched leaves too. This year it is in a sheltered, but airy spot, with partial shade on the balcony, and loves it!

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Abutilon “Bella Mixed”

Planted from seed, sown in late April, these pretty plants took ages to get started, but have been beautiful, flowering since mid-July. Most of the flowers are “twin”, and last much longer than the Abutilon pictum flowers. They also love the heat and are much tougher than the Abutilon pictum, basking in the full sun on a baking hot patio!

The pink and orange ones have done best, but the creamy yellow ones have struggled a bit. These two will be rewarded and may spend the winter in our cellar…

I hope they overwinter as well as their cousin above!

😀

Tomorrow the last summer plant in this mini-series; the Dipladenia…

Summer Flowers Part 1: Blue Potato Bush

Some pots on the patio, a few near the front door and some under cover on the balcony add colour and cheer all summer long. In this series I will present a few that have done well here this year.

Lycianthes rantonnetii (Solanum rantonnetii)

(Blue Potato Bush)

This bush produces masses of deep blue flowers with a golden “eye”. It resembles the potato or aubergine, also in the Solanaceae family. It loves the sun, but is a thirsty plant, cultivated for summer containers – the larger the container the better!  (Sadly it is not hardy).

In the German language it is often called an “Enzianstrauch”, Gentian Bush, due to its gentian blue flowers.

It flowers and continues to grow all through the summer, but apparently if overwintered it takes a while to get going in spring. This is the first time I have grown it, and I am not sure I have space to bring it in for winter. However, the cost of a small plant – which grows quickly –  is definitely worth it for the display of colour!

😀

Tomorrow, the Abutilon…

Basil Pesto

I’ve mentioned several times that I have a forest of basil in containers on my balcony… 😀  It has done extremely well this year, probably due to the early warmth we had in May, and the relatively mild nights since then.

If grown where it does not get rained on, it thrives!  It also loves heat and sunshine – of which we have had plenty.

As you can imagine, basil pesto has made a regular appearance in my kitchen over the last few weeks. We usually eat it with pasta, but it is also good dolloped on just about any summery dish!

Basil Pesto

  • 3 cups (750ml if placed in a measuring jug) fresh basil leaves (no stems!)
  • 3/4 cup (45g) pine nuts
  • 1/4 cup (15g) cashew nuts
  • 1 or 2 garlic cloves
  • salt and black pepper
  • 1/2 cup (125ml) olive oil
  • 1/2 cup (50g) grated parmesan cheese

Whizz everything except the cheese in the food processor until creamy. Add the cheese and give a final brief whizz. You can add more oil if it’s too thick, or more cheese or seasoning – whatever your taste buds tell you!

Enjoy as often as possible before the basil goes over!

😀

Note: Buy the best pine nuts you can afford – they are horrendously expensive here, but the cheaper ones can have a bitter aftertaste… Read about why here…

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Link for conversion tables:

http://www.traditionaloven.com/tutorials/conversion.html

Frosted Pearls

Dipsacaceae, or the teasel family contains 350 species of herbs and shrubs in Europe, Africa and Asia. Some of these have already reached other continents.

The Fuller’s Teasel (Wilde Karde), Dipsacus fullonum, is common here, as in the UK, and is an attractive plant – but do not let it go to seed near your garden!

The Scabious (Skabiosa) is also in the teasel family, as well as the similar Knautia. They can be pretty invasive too.

But I also have another member of this family in my garden – the relatively unknown (here, at least!) Succisella inflexa (Moorabbiss), almost the same as Succisa inflexa.

It starts flowering in July and hangs around till the first frosts. Like Scabious, the bees and butterflies love it…

(Summer Map Butterfly -Landkärtchen – Araschnia levana)

The buds are slightly pink, the flowers icy white, with just a tinge of violet to them.

The common name for the Succisa plants is Devil’s Bit, since the tubers appear to have a bite in them! They are supposedly happiest on damp ground or wet meadows… well, I have three beautiful, healthy plants thriving on dry, well-drained soil in the full sun! However, I should point out that mine is a cultivated specimen: Succisella inflexa “Frosted Pearls”, which differs from the wild ones in that it is a little shorter (about 2ft high), and has longer leaves.

My reasons for loving this plant are:

It is very pretty.

It attracts bees and butterflies.

It is not invasive.

It overwinters with no problem whatsoever.

It tolerates heat and drought.

It likes poor soil.

It needs no attention and is not tempting to snails and slugs.

😀

Have you ever seen this plant before? I’d love to hear if you have!

Incredible Edible

Todmorden, the north of England

(Photo:Wikipedia)

A community project to grow food in every available space has taken off. Founded three years ago, “Incredible Edible” has planted fruit trees, vegetables and herbs in car parks, at roadsides, public parks… and all with volunteers alone! The produce is for the community to then harvest themselves.

Pam Warhurst, co-founder of the project, tells their story with passion and humour… Do watch if you have a moment. This is great stuff!

Pam Warhurst: How we can eat our landscapes

Links:

Todmorden Website

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