Monday 20 October 2014

The Quirky Life of Cobaea Scandens

Goodness me it seems an age since I last wrote a blog and I have missed it.

This blog post is dedicated to the annual climber Cobaea Scandens (also known as the Cup and Saucer Plant, Mexican Ivy or Cathedral Bells).  I love watching the quirky growing habit of this plant through the season, from sowing the flat seeds to seeing the hollow ‘capsules’ turn into flowers that then change colour and finally form their substantial seedpods.

In most parts of the UK the cup and saucer vine behaves as an annual climber. Only this year, on a south facing wall, it has behaved like a perennial and overwintered in the mild winter of 2013/2014 and now, at the end of October, it is still going strong, spreading every which way along the old framework of the glasshouse.  This year I have had a little insight into why New Zealand has listed Cobaea Scandens under the 'National Pest Plant Accord' although for me, even though it has grown so prolifically outdoors this year, it is still manageable and easy to restrain and a total joy to have in the garden, flowering its little heart out since April! So as an ode to the cup and saucer vine here are a few pictures to share from 2014.

From such humble beginnings.  The spindly stems that I nearly cut back in January...

... to this beautiful monster!

The flower stages.
The young green, furry and veiny stage.
Maturing to my personal favourite stage, the pinky/blue. Perfect landing strips included!
Then finally the last deep purple stage.
Then the seedpods start to grow and ripen!

Stripped back to reveal seeds.

The seed 'fins' are already well defined at this stage.

Once the seedpod matures the 'collars' are left on the stem leaving something that seems to be masquerading as a hellebore?

Another fascination for me is the gorgeous coiled, metallic coloured tentrils.

When gathered together they look like intricate wirework.

Let's see if Mother Nature let's you overwinter again!

Thursday 22 May 2014

Chelsea Flower Show 2014

I love quintessential English events like the Chelsea Flower Show where large groups of people gather for a day to enjoy a similar interest and if the weather behaves, well, all the better.  Chelsea is a peak experience for all gardeners and personally I just love the whole ritual of it from getting up early, taking the train to London, deciding whether to walk from Victoria or Sloane Square, where to have breakfast, the initial excitement of arriving at the show, planning where to start first, chatting to other garden enthusiasts, overhearing little snippets of conversation, the Chelsea pensioners and a bit of celeb spotting. Here are a few pictures to share.

Star spotting
He just wouldn't leave me alone!

They can design my garden anytime!

This was meant to be the very serious Dan Pearson, I had a huge crush on him in the 90s but instead of Dan I got the enthusiastic Thomas Heatherwick.
A trifolium of Chelsea Pensioners?

Ooh 'ello!

On with the gardens

I waited to see what he would look like with these hanging down.
Ooh now, I could use one of these in the walled garden!


Into the pavilion!
Like a sweet shop

It's still a no

Then back outside

And homeward bound

... ahh, Chelsea.