Saturday, 21 July 2007

The Beauty of Little Things

This flower will soon turn into a bright red, juicy tomato. Isn't that amazing? When I was taking this picture yesterday, I didn't even know that I knew what a tomato flower smelled like. But I did. It's a sharp, green smell that we probably all know but are not even aware of it.
This is a Costus or spiral ginger. They come from the Botanical family Costaceae. Many costus grow wild but there are several varieties that are commonly used in landscaping. One of the most popular is the C.Speciosus "Variegatus" which has variegated leaves and is very useful in creating the layers needed to make an interesting bed. I don't know the name of this one so if anyone out there can help identify, please do. :) The bracts from which the flowers emerge are cone shaped and not unlike the shampoo gingers. I got a piece from Peter and Chancy Moll last year of one called "French Kiss" which had a lovely red and yellow flower. It has done well and I am hoping that it will bloom this year.

Cordylines deserve a book all of their own. In fact, if you were up to it and put some thought into the design, you could probably landscape a whole bed with nothing but cordylines and still manage to create the height, texture and colour for a really superb show. I always thought that they were indigenous to our region but apparently they originated in Asia. Extensive cross breeding has resulted in a truly amazing vairiety of leaf shapes and colours. They all grow on cane-like stems and can be pruned to keep short or left to grow tall. Depending on the amount of sun they receive , the leaf colours can differ dramatically on the same plant. They catch very easily from piece and are useful in flower arranging because of the malleable leaves.I think that this is a Maranta from the botanical family Marantaceae but it may also be Calathea?I got a piece from my neighbour and have used it all over my garden. It does well in shady, moist soil and is useful to provide light in dark corners. It does have a tendency to take over and once a year, I have to ruthlessly pull out the older ones and let the younger plants come in.