This year I grew a spotted petunia. Its called “Nightsky” and apart from looking spectacular, flowered for months and months.
I think its my new favourite hanging basket flower!
This time of year, Dahlias really come into their own. Here are a selection from my neighbours garden. Jim is in his late eighties, but spends all day in his garden growing vegetables mainly, but also has a bit of a penchant for dahlias.
Pom Pom Dahlia
Some facts about dahlias :
- Dahlias were originally grown as a food crop, as they apparently have edible tubers.
- They are native to Mexico, but now grown all over the world.
- There’s no such thing as a black dahlia. They come in just about every shade under the sun, except true blue and black. “Black” dahlias are actually burgundy. You can see from my picture
- Best time to plant tubers is May.
- There are 42 species and about 20,000 cultivars of dahlia.
- In the mid 19th century a London newspaper offered £1 to the first breeder to produce a blue dahlia. The reward has never been claimed and breeders are still striving for the elusive blue colour. There have been several near blue cultivars.
Snowdrops are known as the harbingers of Spring. This year is seems to be a long time coming!
So here are some things you may not know about these welcome little flowers
- Snowdrop Day is celebrated on March 1st in Russia
- If a girl eats the first snowdrop she finds in the spring, she will not get tanned in the summer. From – “Encyclopedia of Superstitions, Folklore, and the Occult Sciences of the World.” 1903
- Snowdrops are often represented as shy flowers, afraid to raise their heads because of some misdemeanour or other. The real reason for their drooping flower heads is that their dusty pollen must be kept dry and sweet in order to attract the few insects flying in winter. No mean feat in the February winds, snows and rains.
- ‘Snowdrop’ in its modern form comes from the latin ‘Galanthus nivalis’, clearly classified by Carl Linnaeus, the remarkable Swedish botanist, in his pioneering work ‘Species Plantarum’ 1753. Galanthus translates as having ‘milk-white’ flowers and Nivalis as ‘snowy’.
- These perfect little blooms are not wild British natives. It’s thought that the bulbs were first brought to Britain in the 15th century by Italian monks, who introduced the bulbs into the gardens of monasteries.
- In the United States, the snowdrop shares its symbolism with the carnation, as they are both the birth flower for the month of January.
- Medicinal: Galanthamine, an alkaloid found in the snowdrop flower, is currently approved for the treatment of Alzheimer’s in several countries. It may be effective in treating diseases of the nervous system and is being studied for its effectiveness in treating HIV.
- Snowdrop collectors or Galanthophiles can spend hundreds of pounds on some rare bulbs, and seed company Thompson and Morgan broke records in 2012 by paying £725 for a single specimen.
- When Bishop and Grimshaw published their snowdrop monograph in 2002 it included 500 varieties. In 2012 the reprint estimated they include up to 1,500 new cultivars.
- Snowdrops are a pest-free plant. Rabbits and deer won’t eat them and most mice and other rodents will leave them alone.
The nights are drawing in, and the cold damp weather is taking a grip on Exmoor. To bring back some of the colour of the brighter months, I have decided on a series of posts celebrating some of the wild and cultivated flowers that bloom here.
The first flower I have chosen is the dahlia. A flower that is out of favour generally, but is beloved by amateur Flower show exhibitors and my next door neighbour in particular. At 87 he lovingly tends these big blousy flowers which bloom without fail in time for the local village show in late summer.
Here are 10 fun facts about dahlias :
- Dahlias originated as a wild flower in the high mountain regions of Mexico and Guatemala. That’s why they naturally work well and bloom happily in cool Autumn breezes.
- The Aztecs utilized the dahlia for medicinal purposes.
- There’s no such thing as a black dahlia. They come in just about every shade under the sun, except true blue and black. “Black” dahlias are actually burgundy.
- A compound known as Atlantic starch, an extract from the dahlia tuber, was once used to treat diabetes.
- The dahlia is Mexico’s national flower and San Francisco’s official flower.
- Dahlias belong to the Asteraceae (Aster) family along with daisies and sunflowers.
- There are more than 30 species and over 20,000 cultivars of dahlias.
- Well-draining, rich and fertile soil that is slightly acidic is a must for growing dahlias. Dahlias cannot abide soggy roots.
- Dahlias range from dwarf plants which are ideal for bedding, to giants such as Dahlia imperialis found growing in the wild from Guatemala to Colombia where it can grow upwards of 6m tall.
- Dahlias attract butterflies to your garden.