Flowering now

This post has the subtitle, ‘or has been recently’ as I haven’t posted any photos from my garden for a while.

I finally got a Leonotis leonurus last year, after admiring it for some time, particularly the orange-flowered variety (it also comes with white flowers). Native to South Africa, this perennial should be cut back in winter. Mine’s a year old and already quite large for its spot (although striking) so I’ll look at dividing it in autumn and having two!

Leonotis leonurus is native to South Africa. Photo: Sandra Simpson

The flowers, which grow like pom-poms on stems as tall as 1.8m, produce copious nectar that attracts birds, bees and butterflies. Its common names include lion’s ear (for the leaves) and wild dagga.

The excellent PlantZ Africa website (also linked to above) says that in its native setting the plant is primarily pollinated by birds and is an example of co-evolution – the flowers contain nectar to attract birds but have also developed as a tubular shape to accommodate the curved beaks of the nectar-feeding birds. The website also goes into the plant’s medicinal properties, both as folk remedies and some modern testing that’s been done.

Leonotis leonurus, the website says, is mentioned in European gardening literature as early as 1673.

Mrs Cholmondeley clematis (her name is pronounced Chumley) is putting on her best show yet. I grow her in a pot under a climbing frame, partly because I’ve never been able to decide where to plant her permanently and then because I rather liked the arrangement. Read more about her here. I agree that she’s an early, but also an extended bloomer. Another website notes that her registration was in 1873 so she’s been popular for a while.

Mrs Cholmondeley. Photo: Sandra Simpson

Here are some clematis notes from the wonderful Monty Don (northern hemisphere seasons). Given that I’ve killed several (expensive) clematis over the years I always approach pruning with caution!

Blush Babe’s second flowering. Photo: Sandra Simpson

Intrigued to see that our Blush Babe apple is flowering again! Some fruit has set from the first flowering, which was relatively meagre and during poor weather, so I’m pleased the tree is having another try, but I’m not sure how common a second blossoming is. Blush Babe is a dwarf (to 2m) mop-top tree. Read more about growing apples in small spaces.

Now I know Feijoa Bambina is bird pollinated I promise I won’t shoo the blackbirds off it! (Live and learn, live and learn.) Photo: Sandra Simpson

Read more about Feijoa Bambina, another dwarf plant.

Closing with another flower in the orange range – Rosa Charles Austin. I’ve had my bush for 20 years or more and it’s so reliable (at least 4 flowerings if you keep the water up) and stays healthy in our hot and humid summers and wet winters. Multiple flowers on one stem – reasonably orange in the bud and fading to a pale apricot in full bloom – and a light, pleasant fragrance.

Rosa Charles Austin. Photo: Sandra Simpson

The plant is named for the father of the renowned rose breeder David Austin. It was released in 1973 but, I read, has been ‘retired’ in favour of newer, better varieties. I don’t think I could get much better than this. Read more about Austin roses.