I recently spent some time with my parents on Madeira. It is seriously a plant-lover’s paradise! There will be more posts at a later date, but today I want to focus on some of the crazy-looking plants I saw…
This wonderful creature is called the Mickey-Mouse bush. The yellow flowers fall off to reveal these cute red sepals, and eventually produce black fruits which give the plant its common name. Isn’t it lovely?
And this is the kapok tree. Earlier in the year it has striking red five-lobed flowers which are apparently very attractive to bats, but its main importance is the fruit: a light fibre which is used as an alternative to down as stuffing for soft toys and upholstery. I’m told that the fibres loosen and float off, to the great annoyance to residents…but to me they are just cool!
November saw the opening of Descanso Gardens‘ Oak Woodland.
Designed around the existing lake, the project aims to showcase the native landscape of the area, a mix of oaks and other trees, California meadow and chaparral plants.
Though still very young (most of the planting was done in March), the garden promises to be a wonderful resource for gardeners looking for inspiration for xeriscaping and native planting – a must in these drought-ridden times in California…
Bowood House, near Calne in Wiltshire, is a fine example of an English Country House. The gardens and part of the house are open April-November and are well worth a visit. Every spring the owners open their justly famous Rhododendron Walk to the public, and this year I was able to go. But though the rhododendrons are spectacular, my interest was elsewhere…
And then I realise just how pitiable my own efforts were this year! Back to the bulb catalogues…
More technical issues this month, but I did manage to make one successful trip…
I fell in love with some new trees. This (I think) is the redbud I photographed before, now in full leaf.
What a beauty!
A strawberry tree in the entrance courtyard.
This is a magnolia, I think. Just beautiful.
A huge bottle-brush tree by the Bird Observation Station.
And I was captivated by the tulip tree outside the Boddy House.
March is a colorful – and busy! – month at Descanso Gardens. While the camellias are still giving their best, joined now by the clivias planted beneath them,
other trees and shrubs are getting in on the act. The cherry blossom in the Japanese Garden warrants a festival all to itself, well-deserved when you see how beautifully they combine with the azaleas and acers with which they share space.
is holly. I’ve never seen it blossom before.
– a real reminder of English springs!
The dogwoods (though not strictly a blossom) deserve an honorable mention.
And a relatively new plant to me – the redbud.
And don’t get me started on the bulbs…!
If bluebells are the shy beauties of spring, tulips are the chorus girls. They are typically colourful and wildly effective en masse. Attractive enough to have caused arguably the world’s first speculative bubble and to have inspired some of the world’s most best artists.
I was late planting mine and so I’m only just seeing flowers.
Descanso Gardens is more organised and the results are spectacular!