Himalayan Foxtail Lilies

In the autumn of 2020 I planted three strange roots that reminded me of an octopus – Eremurus himalaicus, Himalayan Foxtail Lilies.

Here is a photo I found online which shows what I mean about the octopus…

They were carefully positioned in the new Moon Bed, between the giant white Alliums ‘Mount Everest’ – after all, I wanted them to feel at home! 😉

Well, in the spring of 2021 only one showed any signs of life, with no flower. So I had more or less written them off. But this spring three clumps of leaves appeared mid-April. Hooray!

They are a bit difficult to distinguish from the allium foliage in this photo

One fell victim to slugs I think, but soon buds appeared on the other two plants. The excitement mounted, and suddenly the buds seemed to have doubled in size overnight! (Things like that happen here in May! 😉)

Or tripled?! This photo was taken on the 13th of May.

My attention was now well and truly focussed and I have been checking them daily since. By May 16th these imposing and majestic spikes had just started to open…

May 16th

The next day a few more flowers opened from the bottom upwards, clambering towards the blue skies…

May 17th

They love sunny, dry spots, and I have heard them called ‘Desert Candles’, as well as ‘Cleopatra’s Needles’. Maybe you know them by those names? Eremurus himalaicus was the first of the lilies to be taken to Europe in the early 19th century. It is also the earliest flowering one.

By May 18th both stems were open over halfway…

 

The bees like it too. 😃

On May 19th they were almost completely open. Who would have thought just two plants could make such an impression!

Well, here we are on May 21st, and I am completely bowled over by these flowers.

It is a plant with character, shining out above most of the other plants. It has presence. Whereas with other favourites  my reaction might be to grow more of them in a clump, with the Himalaya Foxtail I feel these two flowers are enough to make a statement. Well, three would also be lovely of course, and perhaps the third one will flower next year. I have since read that they can take a year or two to get started. But there are several other species that have different coloured flowers, some of them even taller than these…. perhaps I will be tempted to try some orange or yellow ones in another part of the garden. 😉

This is one of the loveliest plants I have ever grown. 😃

Would you give this plant space in your garden? Or perhaps you already grow them?

 

Fascination of Plants Day, 2022

Fascination of Plants Day is May 18th every year.

Steve, from ‘Portraits of Wildflowers‘, alerted me to this date the other day, which I must admit I had not heard of before. I don’t feel guilty about that though, as there is zero awareness of it in Germany. All the more reason for writing something to mark this day. 🌷

 

First, a definition:

The sixth international “Fascination of Plants Day” will be launched by plant scientists across the world under the umbrella of the European Plant Science Organisation (EPSO).

The goal of this activity is to get as many people as possible around the world fascinated by plants and enthused about the importance of plant science for agriculture and sustainable production of nutritious food, as well as for horticulture, forestry and the production of plant-based non-food products such as paper, timber, chemicals, energy and pharmaceuticals. The role of plants in environmental conservation is also a key message.

As a gardener and plant lover, I find plants fascinating full stop.

But as a vegan there is the additional interest because they form the basis of absolutely everything we eat. We substitute oat and soya drink for milk, coconut milk for cream, and use nut ‘milk’ for sauces. We eat products made with wheat, lupin, pea and soya protein. Amazing… meat alternatives made out of lupin protein… 😃

We consume leaves, fruits, roots and tubers, seeds, vegetable oils, pulses and grains.

Like many Germans, we heat with wood in the form of wooden pellets. We all wear clothes made of plant fibres.

And since becoming vegan I use far more herbs and spices for flavouring than before.

To put it in a nutshell, plants are our life, and not just for vegans!

But as I said, I am a plant lover at heart and the flowers that I grow fascinate me for so many reasons…

Their shapes..

Their resilience…

Hellebore on a frosty morning

A couple of hours later

The way they produce pollen and seed…

 

And their ingenious strategies for surviving…

For example, this year has been a mast year for spruce, which means they are producing more flowers/seed and hence pollen than usual, rather than putting their energy into new growth.

Spruce this spring

This is often considered to be a reaction to drought or disease; to reproduce as quickly as possible to preserve the species for the future. It does happen at irregular intervals regardless of climate or environmental conditions though.

Here a few fun facts I found while thinking about what to write for this post:

  • The average strawberry has 200 seeds. It’s the only fruit that bears its seeds on the outside.
  • Peanuts are not nuts! They are in fact legumes, related to beans and lentils.
  • It can take up to 50 years for an oak tree to produce its first acorn.
  • An estimated 100 billion bananas are consumed worldwide each year!

What fascinates you most of all about plants? And have you heard of this special day before? Maybe a botanical garden near you is marking this day in some way. Why not check and see. And if you know any unusual facts about plants, do share in the comments below! 😃

I will certainly be giving plants a bit more thought today while drinking my coffee, picking my radishes, or cooking some vegetable or other with herbs for dinner!

 

Have a great day and happy gardening!

In a Vase on Monday: Totally Tangerine!

I am totally in love with Totally Tangerine!

I had been looking for this Geum for years, seeing it regularly (with growing envy! 😉) on other blogs. It seemed unknown in Germany. But the choice of plants here slowly improves each year, and more and more nurseries in the north of Germany have websites and online shops. A couple of weeks ago I finally tracked one down… well, actually I ordered three!

I was so surprised that they arrived in flower too. 😃

Naturally, one had to appear in my vase this week, as I join our host Cathy, at Rambling in the Garden, for this weekly meme.

The tulip is Ballerina, which can hardly be beaten for a splash of red/orange in May. The seedheads are Pulsatilla, and the foliage is Heuchera and Alchemilla.

I had to rinse the pollen off the Heuchera leaves, as everything is coated in a thick layer thick of it. Can you see it on the Pulsatilla?

It is not so much the oilseed rape at the moment, but the evergreens… in this photo below the oilseed rape is a pretty picture, but can you see the clouds of pollen in front of the dark evergreens? (Click on the photo to enlarge)

(Anouk has yellow legs most of the time! 😉)

I love the fiery colours of Geums and they have done well for me in the past, so I have sown seed of Fireball and Red Dragon this spring. They are coming along well. I also have a few other Geums in the garden; Blazing Sunset (grown from seed several years ago), Gold Ball, Mai Tai, Scarlet Tempest and Red Wings. Do you grow any?

May is such a busy month, but I will try and take time to enjoy the garden today instead of just rushing around weeding, sowing, shuffling seedlings around, etc.

Hope you have time to enjoy your gardens this week too. Happy Gardening!

 

 

In a Vase on Monday: Late Winter Flowers

Some recent sunshine has helped along the Hellebores and most of them are starting to open now. The first ones I picked two weeks ago are, AMAZINGLY, still presentable! (Possibly because they each had their own little vase and did not have to share with any other plants?)

Photographed last Friday, day 12 😃

But for today’s vase I picked some fresh ones and continued the experimentation with how best to make them last. Today they are all in one vase, with nothing else added.

As with the last ones, these have not been conditioned. That will be the next experiment, as I have never tried it. (Any tips would be welcome!)

Very cold nights are forecast, but my hellebores don’t mind a bit of frost and perk up as soon as the morning sun shines on them. So hopefully I will have more to pick soon. 😃

I am linking in Cathy at Rambling in the Garden for her weekly meme. Why not visit her and see what everyone has found to put in a vase this Monday. 😃

Happy gardening!

🌷❄️🌷

 

In a Vase on Monday: Allium Praise

I am joining Cathy at Rambling in the Garden for her Monday meme while also bathing in the glorious shower of flowery photos being posted on my Week of Flowers. I am a little behind with visits and comments, but as I write it is already getting dark and I will spend another pleasurable evening poring over my iPad, wrapped up in a blanket with a big mug of tea. 😃

My vase today is simple: an Allium seedhead

 

Actually, to be precise, Allium ‘Mount Everest’.

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I found a lovely poem praising the Allium, and here is the opening line and a link to the full poem. It is rather charming, and by a poet I didn’t know of until now, Denise Levertov:

In Praise of Allium
by Denise Levertov
 
No one celebrates the allium.
The way each purposeful stem
ends in a globe, a domed umbel,
makes people think,
‘Drumsticks,’ and that’s that.

https://voetica.com/voetica.php?collection=2&poet=821&poem=7919

And this is what the Allium looked like when it was in flower. Only one remains standing now, but I managed to save a couple for vases. 😃

Have a lovely week everyone!

The Garden in November, 2021

The garden is still doing well in November, which somehow surprises me – but perhaps it is always so!

(I managed to get almost all the beds onto this one photo, taken from the terrace – albeit on Sunday 31 st October, so cheating a bit!)

Our first frost this year was October 10th, so a little later than previous years. Since then a few more have followed, so quite a few flowers have gone over now. But there is still loads of colour to cheer up these grey November days. 😃

Let’s start with the Butterfly Bed, sporting the Chrysanthemum ‘Anastasia’ I used in my vase the other day. It takes over from the adjacent pink Aster in mid October and will flower for another 2 or 3 weeks at least.

Another highlight in this bed is the leaves of perennial Geraniums changing colour… I like this unplanned combination with the lime green Euphorbia still looking lush.

At the back of the Butterfly Bed is my lovely ‘Red Chief’ Miscanthus. It isn’t as large as some, but from late October onwards the leaves and seedheads add some drama with their deep pinky red.

Moving across to the Oval Bed, two tall Miscanthus and the now faded Aster ‘September Ruby’ dominate. A mix of ground cover plants will provide winter interest for a month or two. I wonder if we will get much snow this winter….

The Miscanthus on the left is ‘Beth Chatto’, and the other one is ‘Federweißer’ – my favourite. To give you an idea of their size, the Aster is just short of 2 metres. I would recommend both Miscanthus, although my ‘Beth Chatto’ is a little later in gaining size and flowering than my others.

Beyond the Oval Bed is the Moon Bed, which was mostly planted in autumn last year and added to in the spring this year. Almost all the plants were in 9 cm pots, and still managed to put on so much growth, benefitting from the damp summer.

The colour scheme is white, cream and blue, drifting into purple. The white Aster ‘Ashvi’ and the Boltonia ‘Snowbank’, along with Aster ‘Barr’s Blue’ have kept this going into November, so I am pleased they seem to have settled in so well. Looking at it now I find it hard to believe that I could barely see the woodchip mulch only a few weeks ago. White Cosmos, Cleome and Gaura filled the spaces.

This Prickly Poppy, grown from seed, has flowered for months on end.

And naturally there are several grasses in this bed too. The Pennisetum is looking lovely at the moment.

Now a brief look at The ‘Edge, where my sunflowers were in the summer. The seeds were devoured in record time by the birds (and mice?!) and the remains are now on the compost heap. But there is still a lot of colour in this bed from plants like Cornus, Physocarpus and Pyracantha ‘Orange Charmer’.

A small yellow Chrysanthemum also adds some sparkle late in the season. 😃

The Herb Bed is simply glowing with another Pennisetum and my Witch Hazel adding golden hues…

And finally the Sunshine Bed, which is very very dry due to the trees behind it, and yet the Helianthus did well and the Chrysopsis does not seem bothered even now…

November is not such a bad month after all, as long as the sun keeps popping out every now and then! Still, I am glad I have managed to get all my spring bulbs in as it is rather chilly these days.

Hope you have plenty of mild and sunny days ahead now the nights are drawing in. Happy gardening and thanks for reading!

🤗

 

Bavarian Horticultural Show, Ingolstadt 2021

 

As many of you know already, I live in Bavaria in the south of Germany. Bavaria is one of 16 federal states in Germany, and every year each has their own regional horticultural show. The 2020 show was postponed last year, but took place this year instead, and was in Ingolstadt (known perhaps best for being home to Audi car manufacturers). This is just a 90 minute drive from us, and having lived there for many years I could not miss this opportunity! So I picked up a friend on the way and we made a day of it. 😃

Here are some of my impressions…

There were some long beds of perennials leading off the main square like sun rays and I was impressed with both the dramatic planting and the size and vigour of the plants…

(Click on any photo to enlarge)

A lot of lilies were still flowering, and the combination with Coreopsis, Agastache and Heleniums made quite an impact.

The first asters were also flowering. Grasses played a major role in all the gardens, which appealed to me in particular.

A few beds along pathways were reserved for annuals. And these were amazing!

Color themes were red and orange, orange and blue, or grey and pink…

Some of the small show gardens were really imaginative…

I really loved this view…

 

A few were nothing special, but there was always an element for inspiring, such as the raised bed idea here, and the firepit using decorative stone and paving with a cute little bench…

Inspiration…

Not sure we need one of these…

But one of these is on my wishlist. It rocks gently, and of course we tried it out! 😉

And this grass is on my wishlist too: Panicum virgatum ‘Northwind’…

So many lovely vistas, flowers and ideas…

The show is being held all summer and covers 23 hectares on the edge of the city, with large open expanses, and a small lake on one side. It will remain a park after the show, and will be such a treasure for the city dwellers. I do hope more trees will be planted there, making it into a haven for birds and insects as well as people.  😃

Have you been able to visit a garden show this summer? (I might even visit this one again soon! 😉)