Sunday, 15 April 2012

Pinks (15 APR 2012)

I'm not a fan of pink flowers but I've been thinking about which twelve plants I would choose if I had to start a garden all over again from scratch, it was Diana@Elephant'sEye's suggestion, and I can reveal that at least two of my twelve are this colour.

I decided to limit my selection to plants that I have grown for at least a year, their pros & cons understood yet still recommended. (Now is not the time to indulge my gardenia fantasy.)



bergenia - definitely not included in my Dozen for Diana


Continuing to follow Diana's guidelines :


My favourite tree would have to be a choice between apple and cherry blossom as they're the only trees that I've lived with in the garden. The down-side of a home-grown apple tree is clearing the rotten, squelchy, windfall apples and cutting out the maggots from the remaining edible fruit. Generally ornamental cherry trees are either sterile or have inedible fruit.  I would be prepared to compromise my fluffy, double blossoms for a variety with simpler flowers optimised for delicious fruit with a hint of tartness, but I have yet to confirm from my own experience if organic cherries are guaranteed maggot-free.

There's no shortage of cherry blossom trees in London, they can be seen while out and about, lining avenues of the suburbs - do I really need one in my garden too?  As I gaze up at the pink clouds this week, and look forward to the scattering of the delicate petals over the woodland, I can't imagine my garden without it - cherry blossom tree despite its cracked bark and gummy deposits goes into my dozen. (I reserve the right to change my mind in early autumn when the waft of apple crumble is in the air.)


cherry blossom - my favourite tree ?



I originally assumed that pioneer plants must be a South African phenomenon, as I'd never heard the phrase before Diana mentioned it. Little did I know that there was one right under my nose ...

Second succession pioneer plants revitalise land which was previously soiled and planted but suffered a man-made or natural disaster. British heather moorlands are an almost unique man-made habitat for specialised flora and fauna, created by native heather pioneering cleared land. It's not known how much of the moorland today was initiated by nature or by farmers cutting down woods centuries ago.

Moors are exposed to controlled fires which burn patches of older heather (their seeds germinate better if they are exposed briefly to intense heat), without this intervention they would eventually revert back into woods. Managing moorland in this way is made economically viable by using it for sheep grazing and grouse shooting.

Heather flowers for at least six months of the year, calluna during summer and autumn, erica during winter and spring. I collect the dried ericaceous leaves shed from the past year which accumulate under the bush to mulch my azalea pot. The only disadvantage of this disease-free plant is that the inner parts of the bush become woody while it continues to flower at the ends of the branches.


bluebells are in bloom but I'm focussing on Heather today


Heather is not the most spectacular plant by itself, but the vision of rolling moors covered in it was impressed in my imagination by reading Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte :
"He said the pleasantest manner of spending a hot July day was lying from morning till evening on a bank of heath in the middle of the moors, with the bees humming dreamily about among the bloom, and the larks singing high up overhead, and the blue sky and bright sun shining steadily and cloudlessly. That was his most perfect idea of heaven’s happiness"

I've yet to walk across a moor or lie on a bank of heath - my heather plants are reminders that I should do that one day, so they make it into my dozen.


Bleeding heart is in its prime now - it was invisible a month ago. Rising, blooming and dying within a few weeks, it doesn't stay around long enough to attract pests or disease. I'll make sure to secure its marker while it's here to remind myself not to plant anything a handspan radius around it, though sowing annual seeds on top of it didn't seem to do any harm.  Will it be my splash of colour ?


bleeding heart - for a splash of colour ?


Crimson and black oriental poppy which flowers later is a stronger contender in terms of bold colour, the bees went crazy for it, not so much for bleeding heart. The purposeful restriction in the flower's form forces the bee to rub pollen from a previous flower on the stigma, its own pollen doesn't get a chemical signal to activate. Some bees cheat and pierce the base of the heart-shaped petals to access the nectaries without cross-pollinating the flower - I've yet to witness either approach.

Oriental poppy is striking as a stand-alone plant but it can't support itself and doesn't blend into my garden like the bowed racemes of bleeding heart. I need to think about this one and the remaining eight later in the year so that my Dozen for Diana isn't biased towards spring-flowering plants ...

These photos were taken in my garden this week.
Please visit Carol's MayDreamsGardens blog on the 15th of every month to see what's blooming in gardens around the world.

 
©Copyright 2012 b-a-g. All rights reserved. Content created by b-a-g for http://experiments-with-plants.blogspot.com/2012/04/pinks-15-apr-2012.html

22 comments:

Elephant's Eye said...

I will add you to my Reader, your posts are fascinating. What about the pioneer on bomb sites in London after WWII - London Pride, that Noel Coward sang about?

In the spirit of change, which gardens constantly do, I'm busy choosing a second dozen. Not the wishlist dozen, but the grows happily dozen.

b-a-g said...

Thanks Diana - I've never heard of London Pride in that context. I googled the flower, it's a pretty little thing, certainly recognisable but I've never seen it.

Donna said...

I am not a fan of pink but do have much in the garden anyway. It is hard not to marvel at those pink cherry trees. And the bleeding hearts, a really artistically formed flower. I love heather and I can imagine the beauty in the Moors. I learned what Moors are too. Never knew.

NellJean said...

My bluebells all bloomed pink. Your bleeding heart is lovely. It's hard, isn't it, choosing only a dozen?

Alistair said...

I am happy with your plant choice b-a-g.In fact I don't care so much what the flower colour is, anything that grows well in these northern climes does it for me. I would even like your Bergenias if they behaved in a more grateful manner. As for man made habitats, take a look at the Highland clearances.

HolleyGarden said...

If cherry trees grew well here, I would definitely pick that, too! What a gorgeous tree - even if it is pink! ;) Heath doesn't grow here either, and I love seeing it in pictures. I've actually never seen it in person, but I hope you get to lay on a bank of heath some day. It does sound lovely in Emily Bronte's description.

Ronniejt28 said...

Following the blues and yellows of the Spring flowers in my garden the Summer heralds a lot of pink in my garden which is strange because I have never intentionally designed the garden to be pink but then it's probably due to the fact there is no design as such!

Crystal said...

I love heathers but my dog doesn't. I might try growing them again in a part of the garden he can't reach. Sorry to hear about the maggots in your apples. I don't have a problem with maggots, just wasps.

Donna@Gardens Eye View said...

I planted a native Black Cherry and crabapple in the meadow for the critters to enjoy. The sight of heather is beautiful not to mention bleeding hearts...all the pants you have considered are lovely choices!

Karin / Southern Meadows said...

I had to laugh at your opening line. I like pink but it isn't my favorite color either. That being said it is probably the most prominent color in my garden especially because of all my pink roses and azaleas, and cherry trees. I am trying to balance it now with all the other plants I add to my garden.

Andrea said...

That first plant is so amazing most especially because of its very wide leaves. I haven't seen flowering plants like that here in the tropics. I wonder why they grow so much wide leaves, when their blooms are not as big.

Mark and Gaz said...

Cherry trees are a fab choice, and so is Bleeding Hearts (Dicentra) which is a must :)

debsgarden said...

Very interesting post! Moors and heather are stuff of romance novels and fantasy; not something I experience in real life! Bleeding heart would make it onto my list if only for the name, except I haven't yet successfully grown one!

Malar said...

Pretty pink! I like your bleeding heart! It look like miniature latern!

Stacy said...

It's funny how pink creeps up on us. I don't care for it either, but keep planting thing with pink flowers despite myself and then when they bloom think, "Well, that wasn't so painful after all." I'm glad your cherry tree made it into your dozen--it's hard to imagine your garden without its "woodland" corner anchored by the cherry. My one brief sighting of British moorland didn't include heather but was memorable (in a good way) nonetheless.

PatioPatch said...

a pioneer is a double-edge sword - often they are opportunists which readily grow/adapt and out do the residents or slower shyer ones.i.e Silver birch forestate heathland and hence the heather dies. Which mine always have so you are doing something right b-a-g as yours are in the pink. :)

linniew said...

When I saw the post title I kind of expected Dianthus, although mine are just coming to life and no blooms for ages yet. Like you I love & grow the graceful Bleeding Heart.

Carolyn @ Carolyn's Shade Gardens said...

I really love old-fashioned bleeding-heart. It's almost like a shrub in my garden it gets so big. I really like the white and gold cultivars too.

b-a-g said...

Thanks Donna - I have yet to visit the moors myself, even though I don't live so far away.

Thanks NellJean - it is difficult to choose just twelve. Nostalgia will probably win over beauty for my selection.

Thanks Alastair - I thought of you when I read that 12% of Scotland is moorland.

Thanks Holley - I've lost count of how many times I've read Wuthering heights. Difficult to believe that Emily Bronte wrote this book when she was less than 30 (when she died).

Thanks Ronnie & Stacy - Yes, pink creeps in. It's supposed to be a pacifying colour.

b-a-g said...

Thanks Crystal - I haven't heard of apple wasps. They sound even worse than maggots.

Thanks Donna GEV - I never thought of planting fruit trees for the critters. I'm not so generous!

Thanks Karin - your bank of roses is spectacular.

Thanks Andrea - I think bergenias grow big leaves to shelter slugs & snails. (That's what I keep finding under them.)

Thanks Linnie, Carolyn, Mark&Gaz, Malar & Deb - It seems that bleeding heart wins the vote.

b-a-g said...

Thanks Laura - Its the law of succession, annuals are overtaken by shrubs which are finally overtaken by trees. Until I wrote this post, I never thought about this - it didn't occur to me that moorland was unnatural.

Indie said...

I had no idea that the moor was man made. From the images that I had built in my mind from reading books like The Secret Garden, it had seemed so vast and wild. Pictures of it in flower are so gorgeous!

Bleeding heart is such a graceful plant. It's one of my favorites as well!

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