Thursday’s Feature: Evening Primrose

This Thursday I am featuring a plant I often overlook. However, this year it has seeded itself in a rather prominent position at the front of a flower bed and is demanding attention!

Oenothera odorata ‘Sulphurea’

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This perennial does not die down completely in winter but it still needs time and warmth to start producing its long stems, which have buds all the way up them. It starts flowering in June and will continue to flower all summer, even until October if it is mild. It is a very hardy plant – coping with extremes down to -28°C.

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The cup-shaped flowers open when it is not too hot, and although it is called Evening Primrose I find it often opens flowers in the morning too. They are short-lived, but just as beautiful as they curl back up. This creamy yellow one turns pinker as it fades. Quite a remarkable colour.

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Oenothera are noted for their importance for pollinators such as hummingbird hawk moths, and many of the common ones – Oenothera biennis – grow nearby on undisturbed ground. I have only seen a few bees on mine this year though…

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This one is supposed to smell wonderful in the evenings. Unfortunately I haven’t ever detected more than a faint fragrance. It is still an enrichment for any garden though, but it will settle where it is happiest and not necessarily where you originally plant it!

I am linking in to the Thursday’s Feature meme at Cosmos and Cleome. Do visit Kimberley there to see what she has featured this week. And do join in!

Thursday’s Feature: Anthyllis vulneraria

Last week Kimberley at Cosmos and Cleome decided to revive an old meme called Thursday’s Feature. She has asked us to join her in focussing on a plant each Thursday and posting about it. So, here is my first contribution. Please join in if you can, and do visit Kimberley too!

So today I am featuring this pretty little plant: Anthyllis vulneraria ssp coccinea.

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Hiding under some Evening Primrose foliage

I bought this at a plant sale two years ago, with the hope it would spread like mad in my rockery. Well, this year another small plant has flowered next to it, but it hasn’t seeded around as much as I had hoped. Still, the bright orange-red flowers are quite eye-catching and a small plant does stand out well.

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I am really happy with it as it needs no attention at all, and is therefore perfect in a rockery where accessibility is tricky, or as edging to a driveway or lawn; it only reaches a height of around 20cm.

Anthyllis vulneraria ssp coccinea is commonly known as Red Kidney Vetch and flowers prettily from May to June and then intermittently throughout the summer. In the wild the yellow flower (which has orange tinges as it goes over) can be found more frequently and is native to Europe, whereas this red subspecies originates from the hillsides of Latvia or Estonia. It prefers chalky well-drained and poor soil – which means its habitat is shrinking as the use of agricultural fertilisers expands – and it is hardy down to -23°C.

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The common name in German is ‘Wundklee’, which translates as ‘wound clover’ and reminds us of its use as a herbal remedy for wounds and ulcers. It can be pressed directly onto the skin making it handy for hikers with a blister! It is also an ingredient in some of the vegan cosmetic articles stocked by my local health food shop! However, it can also be used as a tea for many other ailments including digestive disorders and coughs.

I haven’t got enough of it yet to start making tea, but will be looking out for the native yellow flowers on future walks.

Have you seen this flower before, either yellow or red?