Flowers in the Lower Greenhouse

That’s the good thing about planting out. With the lower greenhouse clear of all the annual and perennial ornamental stock there’s both time and space to appreciate the flowers on some of our exotic specimens.

Most exciting this week has been the appearance of the first bud on the Zingiber mioga. The flowers of this semi-hardy native of Japan and South Korea are prized as a delicacy in both those countries’ cuisines. Z. mioga needs warmth but it also needs shade. The flowers are basal, (they shoot directly from the rhizome and are not on the main stems), and since the specimen is hiding behind a shady wall of bananas and cannas it can be hard to spot. Ask at the greenhouse if you’d like someone to point them out to you. In the photo the compost has been lifted free of the pot. The bud is centre left. All the white material is also buds forming. For more information about cooking with Myoga try this link http://dosankodebbie.wordpress.com/2009/09/28/cooking-with-myoga/

Also blooming this week is the greenhouse’s very own passion flower. It is the species Passiflora incarnata or maypop and it’s  rooted directly in the soil at the south west corner and clambering up toward the roof – you can’t miss it. Traditionally, the fresh or dried whole plant has been used as a herbal medicine to treat nervous anxiety and insomnia.  A sedative chewing gum has even been produced. In cooking, the fruit of this variety is sometimes used for jam and jellies or as a substitute for its commercially grown South American relative Passiflora edulis – the fruit is of comparable size and juice yield. We have hope for some fruits later.

Our canna specimens are all in full bloom now. C. ‘Ambassadour’ is as close to white as cannas get and has a gorgeous inflorescence  – flowers are open, the labellum has pale pink markings, stamen is cream with pale pink markings and petals are green. This cultivar seems to be an introduction by Longwood Gardens in the US.

C.’ Wyoming’ is not yet open in the walled garden but our specimen in the greenhouse is well into flower. This cultivar is the only Canna to have to have been twice recognised with an AGM from the RHS – in both the 1909 and 2002 trials. Wyoming too is an all-American canna having been introduced in the first decade of the twentieth century by Antoine Wintzer of The Conard & Jones Co., West Grove, PA, USA. There are budding ‘Wyoming”s for sale.

C. ‘Roi Humbert (or Red King Humbert) is the result of an F2 (second generation) crossing, namely C. ‘Madame Crozy x C. flaccida produced C. ‘Italia, then C. ‘Madame Crozy was crossed with C. ‘Italia. This reinforced the characteristics of the Italian Group, as the cultivars derived from the C. flaccida cross have subsequently been named. The cultivar is a triploid (It has 3 sets of chromosomes). It was Introduced in 1908 by Carl Ludwig Sprenger, a prolific hybridiser, and received an AGM in 1909. There are a couple of mature clumps about to flower for sale at the greenhouse.

C. ‘Assaut was the first canna I grew. Kew grows it especially for its distinctive bronze foliage which is so waxy it never gets wet. It is usually placed by the doors of the glasshouses in Kew gardens and is the canna nearest to our lower greenhouse door where you can admire its magnificent inflorescence.

Why not visit us on Sunday between 1pm and 5pm to see these lovely flowers? If you’d like there are specimens about to bloom as well as foliage cannas for sale at between £10 and £25.

Chris Smith

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