Wordless Wednesday – Wild Hybrid Creation

I love it when this happens …


Tragopogon x mirabilis, a naturally occurring hybrid between Salsify and Goat’s-Beard, complete with mating fruit flies and swollen-thighed beetle

Tragopogon pratensis (Goat’s-Beard) x Tragopogon porrifolius (Salsify) -> T. x mirabilis


Salsify, Tragopogon porrifolius, aka the Oyster Plant



Goat’s-Beard, Tragopogon pratensis

Mixed in a field = >


Hybrid Tragopogon x mirabilis


Beardy relatives of the Tragopogon kind

The Tragopogon x mirabilis hybrid is fairly rare in southern England and is not generally seen elsewhere in GB. It rarely persists since it has low levels of fertility (and it has been a couple of years since I last saw it in the meadow).

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Honey lilies – A sweet moment in the year

This week the honey lilies (Nectaroscordum siculum) have broken out of their pale papery calyces en masse and are making a wonderful display in our shady front garden.


Before this happened the florets were tightly wrapped in upright bundles and looked rather like candles on an altar.


But now the bell-shaped flowers are free to hang down and spread out as soft green and pink-blushed umbrellas.


And if you look up into the flowers the petals almost look hand-painted with cerise and maroon brush strokes.


With the sun behind them (yes, I am on my knees here), they shine like stained glass windows or murano glass jewellery.


They are even more delectable with rain drops clinging to the petals:



The bumblebees adore them, but I more or less gave up trying to photograph their swift visits to the beautiful bells because I couldn’t get the camera to focus on the bees quickly enough. Here are a couple of slightly out of focus attempts:


Interestingly the bees seem to revisit flowers very quickly, so maybe the nectar replenishes immediately?


Do they have a down side? Well, they are alliums and one of their common names is Sicilian honey garlic, so yes they smell very oniony when brushed or crushed, but mostly you won’t smell this (it is nothing like the strong, unsolicited stink of Imperial lilies for instance!).

If they are happy, they will seed around quite freely, but I don’t mind this. They like damp, shady, woody environments. However, my garden is shady and dry, so there is a lot of leeway in the moisture levels.

Once the flowers are finished the seed cases revert to upright candelabras, which are equally decorative. Right now though I am enjoying the busy, beautiful umbrellas!


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Wordless Wednesday – An almost Georgian Black Widow


A rather fabulous, self-seeded Geranium phaeum (aka the black widow/mourning widow or dusky crane’s-bill) in the shady, dry front garden

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In a Vase on Monday – Happy Weeds


Sunny Meadow Buttercups

It is a dull day today. It has been drizzling on and off for most of the morning. Good for the garden, but not so great for raising one’s spirits. One thing guaranteed to cheer me up though is to take a walk through the billowing clouds of cow parsley and buttercups in the meadow by the river. There is something very restorative in pushing through the waist-high wafting flower heads. So I though I would share this cheerful countryside vignette, in a vase on Monday for Cathy’s fun weekly meme.


A simple, but cheerful bunch of meadow weeds



Cow parsley


Sow thistle


The simple colour combination and contrasting flower forms work perfectly.

A joyful bouquet arranged by nature. Happier now? Well, I certainly am.

Don’t forget to take a look at the many beautiful and diverse vases being linked today for this burgeoning IAVOM meme.



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The sad tale of a frost damaged wisteria


Having missed a year, this year’s early spring pruning of the wisteria over the pergola was certainly an overdue, dramatic and necessary affair. In fact the whippy offcuts were so entangled that my usual trick of weaving them together into decorative circles for the sweet pea cane obelisks was impossible. I resorted to using the shredder to dispose of them and that was like pushing springs into the grinder’s opening.

But a month later things were budding up nicely and a grand display looked to be in the offing.


By mid April the first flowers were just beginning to show purple.


Fresh lime green leaves were unfurling, appearing almost golden in the morning sunlight. The flowers were going to be spectacular.



But then we had two sharp frosts.

Hard enough to damage quite a lot of the trees and shrubs just opening their leaves: the cercis, hydrangea, walnuts, foxglove tree. Most heartbreaking was the effect on the wisteria. The racemes around the edge of the pergola continued to unfurl, so I didn’t notice at first, but the rest was burnt. The entire top growth had been stopped in its tracks. Unopened flowerbuds started to drop and the leaves turned brown and wilted, hanging down like fishing rods.


Now there is very little flower or leaf coverage left, except around the protected sides.


So sadly, when we sit beneath that lovely pergola we can only imagine what might have been and if we only look outwards, towards the pond, not up at the sky, we can just about pretend.



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Wordless Wednesday – Looking into the heart of the stars


Phlomis fruticosa, a handsome grey shrub with star-shaped flower buds


and soft yellow centres

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Great Balls of Fire


I’ve mentioned before that I had an RHS course lecturer who was keen on quick-fire quizzes of the kind ‘Name 6 blue flowers , 10 herbs etc’ and as I was taking some macro photographs of some rather lovely London Plane tree flowers recently, it got me to wondering if I knew any more trees whose flowers are distinctly ball-shaped. Since I surprised myself by getting to six, I thought that I would pull them together into another little collection of odd horticultural interest (to me at least – see here for previous posts on selections of bark, catkins, muscari, tree-lined avenues and yellow wayside flowers if interested).

So here we start with London Plane:


London plane (Platanus x hispanica) with bright flame-like red hooks

Then, one of my absolute favourites, Paper Mulberry


Paper mulberry (this one is Broussonetia kazinoki) with its pale lilac corona. flailing in an imaginary solar wind …

and its dramatic fruit


which then develop into awesome painted-finger fruits!

Next is Liquidambar:


The Liquidambar (Liquidambar styraciflua) flower is a squirming mass of ‘pink worms’ …


which transform into vicious looking medieval weapons!

The Osage orange can grow up to 15cm in diameter. It is also from the mulberry family.


The Osage orange (Maclura pomifera) is a pretty large fruit – and yes, it is completely green!

The Dove tree/ Hankerchief tree:


White bracts drape protectively around the ball of flowers on the Hankerchief tree, Davidia involucrata


which gradually dries into a very hard brown nut

The Powder Puff tree (small tree/medium shrub):


Calliandra haematocephala seemingly explodes with bright red optical fibre-like bundles

And the whole Mimosa genus


Mimosa (a huge genus) has small powder-puff flowers (often scented) in shades of yellow

Not fiery, but nevertheless possible alternative entries are Viburnum opulus and V. × carlcephalum (which qualify for the ball of flowers, but are more bushy) and, of course, the mulberry tree (which is only marginal because neither the flowers or fruit are strictly ball-like).

Any more ideas?


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